Revolt of 1857: First War of Independence

By Karishma Singh|Updated : September 4th, 2022

Social Studies is an important section in Paper 2 for CTET, UPTET, State TET, and other teaching exams as well. Social studies are the main subject in which a total of 60 questions comprise 60 marks. In the Social Studies section, various subjects are included i.e., History, Geography, Economics, Political Science and Social Studies Pedagogy.

40 questions are covered from the subject contents and the rest 20 questions have come from the Pedagogy part. Here we are providing the Social Studies Study notes on the Revolt of 1875 topic. This is an important topic in the Social Studies section in CTET, UPTET, HTET, REET and Other TET Exams. Read here the Revolt of 1875, Social Studies Study Material.

The revolt of the 1857 event in Indian History was an important landmark. It is also known as the "first war of Independence". In this article, we are sharing you with complete notes on the Revolt of 1857 in Hindi & English.

Revolt of 1857: Causes, Leaders

Nature of the revolt

  • The revolt of 1857 began as a revolt of the sepoys but eventually secured the participation of the masses.
  • V.D. Savarkar called the 1857 revolt the First War of Indian Independence.
  • Dr S.N. Sen describes it as "having begun as a fight for religion but ended as a war of independence."
  • Dr R.C. Majumdar considers it as neither the first, nor national, nor a war of independence.
  • As per some British historians, it was just a peasant sepoy mutiny.

Causes of the Revolt


  1. Highly unpopular revenue settlement
  2. Heavy taxation – causing peasants to go for a loan from moneylenders at usurious prices
  3. British policy discouraged Indian handicrafts which were not accompanied by the development of modern industries
  4. Excessive interference by Britishers: loss of status for Zamindars


  1. Subsidiary Alliance – of Lord Wellesley
  2. The doctrine of Lapse – of Lord Dalhousie
  3. Religious Disabilities Act, 1856 –change in religion would not debar a child to inherit property


  1. Rampant corruption in the Company's administration – especially at a lower level (police, petty officials)
  2. No focus on Indian development


  1. Britisher’s attitude of superiority
  2. Activities of Christian missionaries
  3. The attempts at socio-religious reform such as the abolition of Sati, support to widow-remarriage
    and women's education
  4. To tax mosque and temple lands


  1. General Service Enlistment Act – decreed future recruits to serve anywhere even beyond seas.
  2. Inferior emoluments compared to his British counterpart.
  3. News of mixing of bone dust in wheat flours
  4. The cartridge of the Enfield rifle was made of beef and pork fat


  1. First Afghan War (1838-42)
  2. Punjab Wars (1845-49
  3. Crimean Wars (1854-56)
  4. Santhal rebellion (1855-57)

Important facts of the Revolt

  • Meerut incident - 19th Berhampur Native Infantry refused to use the newly introduced Enfield rifle and mutiny broke out in February 1857, later dissolved in March 1857.
  • The 34th Native Infantry's young sepoy, Mangal Pandey, fired at his unit's sergeant major at Barrackpore.
  • The 7th Awadh Regiment was also disbanded
  • Meerut rose to revolt on May 10, they released their imprisoned comrades, killed their officers and moved to Delhi after sunset. 
  • Delhi- Centre of the Great Revolt

Leaders of the Revolt

  • At Delhi, the symbolic leadership was to the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah, but the real command was led by General Bakht Khan.
  • Kanpur rose under Nana Saheb, Tantia Tope, and Azimullah Khan. Sir Hugh Wheeler, commanding the station, surrendered. Nan Saheb declared himself the Peshwa and Bahadhur Shah as Emperor of India
  • Begum Hazrat Mahal took over the reign of Lucknow and Birjis Qadir, her son, was declared Nawab. Henry Lawrence, the British resident, was killed. The remaining Europeans were evacuated by Sir Colin Campbell, the new commander-in-chief.
  • At Bareilly, Khan Bahadur, in Bihar, Kunwar Singh, Zamindar of Jagdishpur and Maulvi Ahmadullah of Faizabad led the revolt at their respective places.
  • Rani Laxmibai, the most outstanding leader of the revolt, was driven out of Jhansi with the application of Lapse's Doctrine as Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General refused to allow her adopted son to succeed to the throne.

Suppression of the revolt

  • On September 20, 1857, the British captured Delhi. John Nicholson the leader of the siege, succumbed to injuries later.
  • Bahadur Shah was taken prisoner and exiled to Rangoon where he died in 1862. Royal princes were publicly shot point-blank by Lieutenant Hudson. With the fall of Delhi, one by one all local revolts were suppressed.
  • Sir Colin Campbell recaptured Kanpur and Lucknow.
  • At Benaras, a rebellion was mercilessly suppressed, by Colonel Neil.

Causes of Failure of the Revolt

  • Bahadur Shah has gone old and weak, so unable to lead the revolt.
  • Limited territorial spread
  • Most parts of India remained more or less unaffected.
  • Many Big zamindars supported Britishers.
  • Modern educated Indians viewed the revolt as backwards-looking
  • The Indian soldiers were poorly equipped materially.
  • The revolt was poorly organized with no central leadership or coordination.
  • The revolt lacked a clear understanding of British rule and was poorly prepared.


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