A Quick Glimpse
British ruled India for over many years. The British acquired domination one-by-one over different parts of India by defeating various Kingdoms. Many notable generals and kings revolted against the British rule to remain Independent but were defeated. Out of the various revolts, the 1857 uprising in which Rani Lakshmibai played a very significant role against the Company Raj was a turning point in the history of India which lead to a dissolution of Company Raj in India. It is believed that Mangal Pandey, an Indian soldier, was the reason behind the Rebellion of 1857.
Birth and Early Life
Rani Lakshmibai, born on 19 November 1828, was named Manikarnika Tambe and nicknamed Manu. The legendary queen was born into a Maratha Karhade Brahmin family. Her Father’s name was Moropant Tambe and her Mother’s name was Bhagirathi Bai. Unfortunately, Bhagirathi Bai died when Manikarnika was only four years old.
Moropant Tambe was under the service of Peshwa Bajirao II of Bithoor District. The Peshwa used to call Manikarnika as “Chhabili”, meaning playful. Manikarnika was thus educated at home itself. She was more independent than children of her age. Mostly, her studies consisted of horsemanship, fencing, Mallakhamba, and shooting. She used to perform all these skills with her childhood friends Nana Saheb and Tatya Tope.
Manikarnika used to do horse riding between the palace and the temple. Sometimes she was also carried by palanquin. Mainly she included three horses, namely, Sarangi, Pavan and Baadal. As mentioned by the historians, Rani Lakshmibai rode Baadal while escaping from the Jhansi Fort in 1858.
Manikarnika was married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Newalkar, in May 1842. She was later addressed by the name Lakshmibai, in honour of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi. In 1851, Maharani Lakshmibai gave birth to a boy, who was named Damodar Rao. Unfortunately, the baby boy died four months after his birth.
Adoption & Further Situations
Later, Maharaja Gangadhar adopted a child called Anand Rao and was renamed, Damodar Rao. In the presence of a British political officer, the child was adopted, and the officer was given a letter instructing the British officials that the child should be treated with respect and the Government of Jhansi should be handed over to Rani Lakshmibai after the Maharaja’s death.
After Maharaja Gangadhar passed away on November 1853, the British East India Company, under the Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, applied the Doctrine of Lapse also known as the annexation policy. The company rejected Damodar Rao (previously Anand Rao) ascending the throne of Jhansi, because he was an adopted child, thus the state to be annexed by the Company itself. When Rani came to know about this news, she expressed her anger loudly by saying, “Main meri Jhansi nahi dungi” (Meaning, “I will not surrender my Jhansi”). But in 1854, Rani Lakshmibai was offered an annual pension of Rs. 60,000 and ordered to leave the fort and the palace.
Beginning of the Indian Rebellion: 1857
The Indian Rebellion started on 10 May 1857 in Meerut. When Rani Lakshmibai learned about the news of Rebellion, she asked Captain Alexander Skene, the British political officer, to raise a body of armed men for her own protection. The Captain agreed to this. The Rani arranged a ceremony of Haldi Kumkum in great display, in order to assure her subjects that the British were cowards and not to be scared of them.
Right from August 1857 to January 1858, Jhansi was at peace under Rani Lakshmibai’s rule. The British had announced that they will send troops to maintain control but, surprisingly, nothing arrived. But in March, when the British troops finally arrived, they found that the Fort had heavy guns which could fire a long way. Hugh Rose, a British General, demanded the surrender of the city, and if his demand was refused, the city would be destroyed. After learning about this, Rani issued a proclamation: “We will fight for Independence. In the words of Lord Krishna, we will if we are victorious, enjoy the fruits of victory, if defeated and killed on the battlefield, we shall surely earn eternal glory and salvation.” Thus a battle began, and Rani Lakshmibai defended Jhansi against the British troops when Sir Hugh Rose surrounded Jhansi on 23 March 1858.
According to famous folklore legend, Rani Lakshmibai jumped from the fort on her horse Baadal, with Damodar Rao on her back. Rani and her son survived, but the horse died. Rani then escaped with her son, surrounded by guards. Her protectors included commandant Khuda Bakhsh Basharat Ali, Dost Khan, Lala Bhau Bakshi, Gulam Gaus Khan, Moti Bai, Sunder-Mundar, Deewan Raghunath Singh and Deewan Jawahar Singh.
Battel of Kalpi
After the battle of Jhansi, Rani decamped to Kalpi, where she joined Tatya Tope and his rebel force. Sir Hugh Rose also marched towards Kalpi. Rani Lakshmibai and her force including Tatya Tope fought bravely with British. however, they were forced to step back and thus the Britishers won the battle of Kalpi.
Battle of Gwalior
Rani Lakshmibai, along with Tatya Tope and Nawab of Banda, went to Gwalior to capture the strategic Gwalior fort. Rani Lakshmibai conquered the city without any opposition. Rani knew that Hugh Rose will attack the city very soon. However, to fight against the British, Rani wanted the support of other leaders to protect Gwalior. But it was late as General Rose and his troops attacked the city and a great fight took place between Rani Lakshmibai and the British. The Queen of Jhansi was dressed as a cavalry leader. Because of continuously fighting against the British forces, Rani was badly injured. As a result, she did not wish to be captured alive. Thus Rani told a hermit to burn her body after her death. A few local people thus cremated her body with all the rituals. In the end, after three days, Gwalior fell in the hands of General Rose.
Hugh Rose mentioned in the British report of the Rebellion,
Rani Lakshmibai is “Personable, Clever and Beautiful”, and she is “The most dangerous of all Indian leaders”.
Rani’s tomb is located in the Phool Bagh area of Gwalior. Colonel Malleson stated in the “History of the Indian Mutiny” as follows:
“Whatever her faults in British eyes may have been, her countrymen will ever remember that she was driven by ill-treatment into rebellion and that she lived and died for her country. We cannot forget her contribution to India.”
Many books are written on Legendary Rani Lakshmibai depicting her life and the sacrifice she made for the country. Many patriotic songs, poems are also written about Rani Lakshmibai. A poem was also written on her by – Subhadra Kumari Chauhan
Sinhasan hil uthe, rajavanshon ne bhrikuti tani thi,– Subhadra Kumari Chauhan
boodhhe bharat mein bhi aayi, phir se nayi jawaani thi,
gumi hui azadI ki keemat sab ne pahachani thi,
door firangi ko karne ki sab ne mann mein thani thi.
chamak uthi san sattawan mein, woh talwaar puraani thi,
bundele harbolon ke munh ham ne sunI kahani thi,
khoob ladi mardani woh to jhansI wali rani thi.
A Television serial was also telecasted based on her life and recently, a film portraying Rani Lakshmibai’s life was also released. The film was titled as Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi in which Kangana Ranaut was playing the lead role of Rani Lakshmibai.
There is a park in Jhansi that is named after Rani Lakshmibai. Also, a statue of Rani Lakshmibai is built in Pune. Many colleges are also named after the GREAT LEGENDARY QUEEN.
Facts about Rani Lakshmibai
- Rani Lakshmibai jumped from the fort with her adopted son on her back on her horse Baadal. The place of the Fort from where she jumped is so heightened, many people won’t even imagine. Such a daring Queen was Rani Lakshmibai.
- In 1942, an all-women regiment of the Indian National Army was formed and the regiment was named Rani of Jhansi Regiment.
FAQs on Rani Lakshmibai
Rani Lakshmi Bai was married to the King of Jhansi Maharaja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar.
Rani Lakshmi Bai had a son named Damodar Rao Newalkar.
Rani Lakshmi Bai married on 19 May 1842, at the age of 14 years.
Rani Lakshmi Bai came under the cause of Doctrine of Lapse, as a result, she revolted against the British.
Rani Lakshmi Bai died on 18 June 1858. She is respected and remembered all over India for her sacrifice.
The real name of Jhansi ki Rani was Manikarnika Tambe and was nicknamed Manu.