Saturday 30 January 2016

Republic Day Heritage Ride to Vellore - 24th January 2016

A crown is mearly an hat that let's the rain in quoted Frederick the Great of Prussia probably he never knew that the hat could also let in jitters to the crown to be specific the British Crown aftermath of the Vellore Mutiny. Provoked by the ill advised orders of British Officers at Madras on wearing of new hat (existing one already an eyesore), the dress code, prohibition of beard and caste marks most importantly the influence of Tipu's sons held as hostages the earliest revolt against the British in India took place at Vellore on 10th July 1806, the theatre of action being the Vellore Fort. The Fort which stood as a mute spectator to the revolt was built in 16th Century by Sinna Bommi Nayak a subordinate chief under Vijayanagar Kings. The earliest revolt just lasted for a single day and many Europeans at various places like the gateway, sallyport, magazine, garrison were massacred. The leader of the garrison was killed and Mysore Flag  was hoisted by the mutineers, but victory was short lived  Col.Gillespie of 19th Dragoons arrived on time from Arcot and suppressed the insurgents, recaptured the Fort killing large number of Sepoys. The revolt sent ripples across the British Empire and consequently the order was withdrawn ironically to see a similar drama to be enacted again after 50 years during the First War of Independence in 1857.

Having this in the agenda, the 67th Republic Day of India was commorated with an heritage ride to Vellore and importantly to the Fort where all the action took place. Never minding a 5.00 am start which requires one to wake up by 3.30 am around 100 members including the riders, volunteers and guests decended to the starting point Santhome Inn located in Santhome High Road. Completing the formalities a peloton of 80 Riders began their 142 KM ride to the historic city of Vellore. Navigating past the city roads on a cold January morning riders and the support crew reached the breakfast point Decathlon Poonamalle by 7.00 am just after the breakfast a groupie was clicked which also included some cheering friends a few of them who rode along till this point for a warm send off to all the participants.

 Breakfast Point - Decathlon Poonamalle

Now on to the National Highway it was nothing but pedalling all the way before the hot midday sun drains ones energy, between 11.00 am -12 noon majority of the riders crossed the pit stop at the town named Damal, just as Wallajah Toll approched all the riders looked cheerful and energetic never keeping in their thoughts that toughest part of the ride had arrived, luckily the Sun god was merciful and the final stretch with 8 flyovers en route to our destination Vellore was done and dusted. By 2.00 pm most of riders including the first 100 km finishers had reached the finish point Fort Vellore.

100+ Cyclist with Vellore Mayor

A sumptuous lunch with the scenic backdrop at the St.John's Church welcomed the gathering. After a brief break the arrival of guests the Vellore Corporation Commissioner followed by Mayor of Vellore,  Pro Vice Chancellor of VIT along with their NCC Unit enlightened the business end of our program. The Medal Distribution was followed by a ride around the historic Fort which included the chief guest Vellore Mayor, students from Katpadi Government Boys High School, NCC Unit of VIT and all our partucipant riders, the highlight of the day being this ride around the Fort Vellore with 100+ Riders. The last in schedule was a grand group picture with the Fort in the background and the regular chorus of uploading the bicycles in the transport vehicles and getting set for return to Chennai being a Sunday the roads looked devoid of traffic thus making our return as planned between 8.30pm -9.00pm to the starting point and as we all bid farewell to each other after a long day one of the remarks from the participant that the ride brought me the memories of my joyous school days had a deep impact as the night went by ... knowing one's heritage on a bicycle is by far the best one can contribute to its glorious future.
Group Picture @ Fort Vellore

Newspaper Clippings

TOI -Chennai

Daily Thanthi