Sitaburdi fort is located in middle of Nagpur city atop a small hillock. The fort was build by Appa Sahib or Mudhoji II Bhonsle of Kingdom of Nagpur just before he fought against the British during the Third Anglo-Maratha War. The area surrounding the hillock is now known as Sitabuldi and is an important commercial hub for Nagpur. The fort is now home to Indian Army's 118th infantry battalion.
Battle of Sitaburdi
During the Third Anglo-Maratha war, the British had taken control of Pune; capital of Maratha empire. Meanwhile Appa Sahib taken over the throne of Nagpur Kingdom. On getting the news of Peshwa's debacle in Pune, Appa Sahib quickly expelled the British emissary. The British embassy was on the other side of Sitabuldi hillock from Nagpur city. On November 25, 1817 all communication with the British was severed and Appa Sahib sent his family members and valuables out of city foreseeing a war. The British quickly took over Sitabuldi hill and camped at the fort. The British were heavily outnumbered having only 1400 sepoys, 3 troops of Bengal cavalry and four six-pounder guns. The British were lead by Captain Fitzgerald. Appa Sahib on other hand had 18,000 men, 4000 arabs and 36 guns.
On December 26, 1817 at 6 P.M. Appa Sahib's forces attacked the Sitaburdi fort. Initially, the British were heavily outnumbered and completely surrounded. British were heavily resisting a strong attack from Arabs too. Later, Captain Fitzgerald ordered the three Bengal cavalry troops to charge the Arabs. The surprise attack created panic and the Arabs retreated. British sepoys later charged down the hill into the Maratha army to disperse them further, creating confusion and panic. The fiercely fought battle continued till December 27 noon and ended with the British achieving victory. Appa Sahib fled after the defeat and the British ambassador established the Appa Sahib's grandson as king while taking control of the kingdom.
After the Battle of Sitaburdi the barracks and other structures were constructed to convert it into a stronger fort.
During British Raj
Graves of British soldiers who died in the battle of Sitaburdi remain in the fort. After the crushing of the 1857 rebellion, Tipu Sultan's grandson Nawab Kadar Ali and his eight associates were hanged on the ramparts of Sitabuldi fort for fighting against the British East India Company. A mosque is maintained in the fort to mark the hangings. The graves along with the mosque are maintained by the Indian army as a mark of respect for the gallantry of all those who died. A memorial has also been constructed to the soldiers who fell during the colonial period.
Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned in the fort from April 10 to May 15 1923. King George V and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom gave audience to the people of Nagpur from the fort during their visit to British India. A pillar to commemorate the event stands in the fort. The royals were greeted by a huge crowd gathered at the area towards the present Nagpur Railway Station.
How to Reach
The fort is easily accessible from Nagpur city, in fact it's in the heart of the city. One can descend at Sitaburdi railway station & the fort is in walkable distance from there.