Saturday, October 20, 2012


                                                 Dr K Prabhakar Rao

                          Nana Saheb was the adopted son of last Peshwa Baji Rao II. He was not accepted as a Peshwa by the East India Company and this was the sore point in his relations with the company. His original name was Dhondu Pant and he maintained very good social relations with the English officers although he was not recognized as the Peshwa. He was popular among them. He actively participated in the first war of Indian Independence in 1857 and Tantya Tope his close aide was his commander in Chief. Nana saheb initially agreed to help the Englishmen after the revolt broke out. General Wheeler of Kanpur and his soldiers along with families and civilians were making arrangements for escape by river at sati Chaura Ghat at Kanpur and Maratha soldiers reportedly attacked them without any provocation ( This is debatable ) and most of the English soldiers, civilians including women and children were done to death. This incident has become famous as Sati Chaura Massacre in history books. Obviously the Army of East India Company soon attacked Nana Saheb and his army at Bithoor a strong hold of Nana Saheb and defeated him. Bithoor was ransacked and fort was badly destroyed. Nana Saheb escaped from the place and after this, his where about became a matter of discussion and speculation. It was reported that he escaped to Nepal where he was killed by a Tiger. Some state that he was captured and hanged. Claims have also been made by few that Nana Saheb was never captured and he lived as a ascetic in a cave and died at ripe age. Real truths are yet to be dug out and his disappearance has been a great mystery.
                             It is also believed that Nana Saheb had great treasure hidden in the palace. After the defeat and escape of Nana Saheb from Bithoor, his palace was ransacked and damaged by the attacking English troops. Lt Malcolm of Royal Engineers who led the English team drained a well completely off water and treasure was detected. There were seven wells in the palace complex. It is learnt that information about the treasure was given by an Indian spy. The treasure consisted of a gold plate, silver items, Silver Howda and boxes of gold coins neatly packed and kept. It was estimated that the cost was about Rs 2 lakhs value of the coins at those times. But it was also believed that Nana saheb took away major portion of treasure with him during his escape to Nepal. The question is where Nana sahib had hidden the treasure in Nepal. It is also not sure whether his treasure was completely un- earthed in his destroyed palace. More than 155 years have passed since the revolt and the above questions still remain unanswered.
                                It is learnt that the Royal Government of Nepal conducted digging operations after 100 years of the revolt at a place close to Kathmandu in search of the treasure of Nana sahib that was believed to have been hidden buried by the widow of Nana Saheb and his followers. This was the place where they took reportedly took refuge. This was reported in a news paper 0f March 27, 1957. However it is not known whether any thing was un earthed. It has been also learnt that Nana saheb had to leave some heavy items in the river Ganges while escaping as the burden was high. This reportedly included a golden Ganesh statue of 20 Kg that was recovered by a fisherman after 60 years of escape and that it was sold to a person in Kanpur. It is believed that the idol is worshiped by the family. Some researchers are of opinion that Nana sahib probably could not have taken the great amount of treasure with him in view of the circumstances and the prevailing situation at that time after his defeat. The suspense still remains and the mystery is alive.

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