The badlands of the Chambal-Yamuna ravines were witness to many of the final battles and skirmishes of the – depending-on-your-allegiance – Indian: First War of Independence or the British: Mutiny of 1857. Etawah was overrun in the early days, causing the District Collector, if local gossip is to be believed, A. O. Hume to beat a hasty retreat disguised in a burqa. He returned, at the head of a relieving army, subduing the rebellion with brutal retributory force.
Hume, however, went on to become an exemplary administrator, modernising the district, providing able & just governance, and establishing institutions of learning. He built a reputation as a keen naturalist and ornithologist (one of the most prominent contributors to the Natural History Museum in London, and has been referred to as both the Father, and/or Pope, of Indian Ornithology), advocated reform and eventually resigned from the service to set up the organization that went on to fight for Indian Independence – the Congress Party.
The tour of Etawah takes in the many buildings associated with Hume’s time in the district, including his residence (built by him and retaining several of the original features), the four public buildings each designed to form a single letter of his name H-U-M-E, the Victoria Memorial – a strange amalgamation of styles built through local subscriptions, the St. Mary’s Church, the British cemetery, the old bazaar and the Jama Masjid mosque.
Etawah is 50 km – 60 minutes drive from the Chambal Safari Lodge.