Friday 15 February 2013

The little England across the border

The British called Bangalore a little spot of England. They liked the place so much that they built a Cantonment town and also settled down in Whitefield on its outskirts.
However, did you know that there is another “ spot of England” or “little England” a little distance away from Bangalore. This is the land of cliffs and vales and craggy hillocks and small puddles of water with an enticing wildlife.
The wildlife are gone and the place is no longer as green as it was a few decades ago. The British too are long gone but the epithet remains and so does the salubrious climate.
The place is just across the border of  Karnataka and it is in Tamil Nadu. It is 25 kilometers from Hosur, a well-known border town on the Tamil Nadu side.
This is Thali, the place whose climate closely resembles that of England minus its snow, seas and fierce storms. However its cool and pleasant weather all round led the British to call it after their motherland.
Thali is surrounded by several hills, each more beautiful than the other. The cloudy weather, the swirling winds and moderate temperature captivated the British who set up camp here and called it “Little England.”
Thali comes under Denkanikottai taluk of Krishnagiri district. The Chinnar or Sannathakumar Nadi rises in the Devarabetta nearby and flows near Tali. It then traverses a lazy path towards Kelamangalam and from there to Pikkili Hills. It then flows down towards Hogenkal where it joins the Cauvery.
By the way, Thali has a long and historic link with the British. It was here that the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. General Harris camped during the fourth Mysore War with Tipu Sultan.
General Harris was in charge of the British troops and he had camped at Thali in 1799. A master of subterfuge and military tactics, General Harris wanted to keep Tipu in the dark about which route he would take towards Bangalore and from there to Srirangapatna.      
General Harris has an fairly good intelligence wing under his command. They had done their job well and identified three routes to Srirangapatna.
The shortest route was from Kelamangalam via Tali, Maralavadi and Kankanhalli/Kanakapura. The second route was via Anekal and Kanakanahalli  and the third was Anekal and Chennapatna.
General Harris had one advantage if he passed through Thali. Lord Cornwallis had already taken that route in May 1791 during an earlier war with Tipu.
The General then decided to storm Srirangapatna by taking the Anekal Kanakanahalli route. This, he thought, would be the perfect plan to deceive Tipu into thinking that he wanted to attack Bangalore first and then move to Srirangapatna.
The British Army then camped at Kalugondapalli, presently the  Hosur-Tali road, for the night, on March 11, 1799. The next day the British resumed the march and after reaching Kanakanagiri, made a lightning dash to Malavalli where they defeated Tipu on March 27, 1799.
They then marched towards Srirangapatna where they were joined by other forced. On May 4, 1799, the British stormed Srirangapatna and killed Tipu.
Today, no trace of the British presence or their camp remains in Thali. All that can be seen is a broken stone tablet dated 1799 which refers to Hamilton, the collector, and gives details pertaining to the takeover of Srirangapattana, by the East India Company, on the afternoon of Saturday, Chaitra, Bahula. This is found near the Thali tank bund. Three other inscriptions in Kannada show that this place was part of Kannada Nadu during earlier years.

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