Jajmau on the eastern outskirts of present day Kanpur is regarded as one
of the most archaic townships of Kanpur district. Upto the 1st half of
the 18th century Kanpur continued to survive as an insignificant
village. Its fate, however, took a new turn soon after. In May, 1765,
Shuja-ud-daula the Nawab Wazir of Awadh, was defeated by the British
near Jajmau. It was probably at his time that strategic importance of
the site of Kanpur was realized by the British.
European businessmen had by this time gradually started establishing
themselves in Kanpur. In order to ensure protection to their lives &
property the 'Awadh local forces' were shifted here in 1778. Kanpur
passed into British hands under the treaty of 1801 with Nawab Saadat Ali
Khan of Awadh. This forms a turning point of the history of Kanpur.
Soon Kanpur became one of the most important military stations of
British India. It was declared a district on 24th March, 1803. Kanpur
was soon to become the epicentre of the outbreak of 1857, as some of the
leading luminaries of the War of Independence hailed from here, namely -
Nana Sahib, Tantiya Tope, Azimoolah Khan & Brigadier Jwala Prasad.
The three strategic events of the 1857 war at Kanpur were the fight at
'wheeler's entrenchment', the 'massacre at Sati Chaura Ghat' and the
Nana Sahib had declared independence on the 7th of June, 1857 at
Kanpur. The British under Commander Hugh Wheeler retreated into a
shallow earth entrenchment in the cantonment area, later known in
history as 'wheeler's entrenchment'. The English garrison surrendered in
the last week of June 1857 on terms of safe passage to Allahabad.
But when on the morning of 27th June, the soldiers along with the women
& children were about to embark into the boats at Sati Chaura Ghat,
fighting broke out and most of the men were killed. The survivors, women
& children were rescued who were imprisoned into the Savada Kotihi &
later shifted to Bibighar in the cantonment magistrates' compound. But
when it became clear that relieving force under General Havelock were
nearing the city and defeat was inevitable, the captives-all women &
children, were massacred and their dismembered bodies buried in the well
of the compound on 15th July, 1857. The Bibighar was dismantled by the
British on reoccupation of Kanpur and a 'memorial railing and a cross'
raised at the site of the well. The well is now bricked over. Only
remains of a circular ridge survive, which can be still seen at the Nana