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When the British arrested Annie Besant, who, with Tilak, demanded Home Rule

Last updated on: August 16, 2017 10:38 IST

The Stockbridge House where Dr Annie Besant was imprisoned

Dr Annie Besant, an Englishwoman, was part of India's freedom movement.
100 years ago, she was placed under house arrest by the British in a bungalow in Ooty.
It was here she unfurled the Home Rule flag as a symbol for India's right to self government.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/


Places of lived history, like a house, lead one to wonder what the past must have been like.

Stockbridge House in Ooty is where Dr Annie Besant was placed under house arrest by the British for three months 100 years ago, between June and September 1917.

She was 70 at that time.


Outside the house, by the garden, is a memorial stone where Dr Besant unfurled the Home Rule flag.

The gate to Stockbridge House

Dr Besant arrived in India in 1893 to spread the message of the Theosophical Society, a religious movement based on the principles of karma and reincarnation.

A champion of social and political reform, she soon became involved in India's freedom struggle.

She launched the Home Rule movement, to achieve self rule from the British, along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1916.

The movement contributed to the Monatagu Declaration in 1917 which advocated increasing association of Indians in administration, and the gradual development of self governing institutions.

Stockbridge House, Annie Besant was interned here

The bungalow was called Gulistan when Dr Besant was interned here. It was renamed Stockbridge and in 1947 sold to Sir Harold and Lady Colam.

On the passing of Lady Colam in England in 1962, it was auctioned and bought by the Gwalior Rayon Silk Company in 1964 for Rs 40,000.

It is now called Stockbridge Birla House and serves as a holiday home for staff of the Aditya Birla group. The caretakers graciously allowed us a peak inside, the well preserved property.

Fireplace with an iron grate

A few months after her internment, Dr Besant took over as the first woman president of the Indian National Congress.

She was the international president of the International Theosophical Society till her death in 1933 in Adyar, then Madras.

Besant Nagar in Chennai as well as several roads in India are named after her.


Archana Masih /