The Great Wall of India

Almost a decade earlier I had a habit of collecting newspaper cutting related to my areas of interests. This no-profit business ended in 2001 with two files containing more than 4000 paper cuttings, covering various fields like science, geography, history, sports etc. But all of them were from Hindi newspapers so half of them were unreliable. Hindi newspapers are one of the worst sources of information; they are good for only local news.

Once my eyes caught a small article bearing a heading “Bharat ki Mahaan Deewar” (The Great Wall of India). Though the article contained only two small paragraphs, the information it contained was astonishing. It said there used to be a wall running no more than 2,300 miles, from Himalayas to Orissa. It was not made of concrete or bricks but of bushes and plants, and it was built by Alan Octavian Hume (founder of Indian National Congress). The article said nothing about the objective of the wall but there was information about the year when it was built, it said around 1870s. But when you search over internet about any such information you get nothing. Even biographies of A. O. Hume don’t say anything about 3,700 kilometers long wall. And when you search ‘The Great Wall of India’ on internet, the results will display content related to famous cricketer Rahul Dravid.

Historians always ignored it and therefore very few people knew about it, the people who saw it. In 2001 a tea planter Roy Moxham published a book on this subject and named it “The Great Hedge of India”, in which he explained the objective of the hedge was to prevent salt smuggling, 12000 people guarded this hedge. There were heavy Salt taxes imposed by British rule and therefore there were salt smugglers. There was hardly any relationship with A. O. Hume with the hedge. The hedge was built by East India Company, and was fourteen feet high and twelve feet thick.

For more than a century a significant part of history of this country remained unconscious. And now when we know about it, we know very little. The hedge vanished and there are hardly any remains left today. Roy Moxhan found some remains in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh but no one can be sure about the remains of a hedge which existed almost 140 years before. The history is lost!

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