Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jhansi Ki Rani , Jhashi-chi RaNi

Rani Lakshmi Bai after
her marriage which took place
in 1842. Made on Illustrator
By Milind Chakraborty
You may have heard the name Rani Lakshmi Bai many a times in your life. She was the Queen of Jhansi. People know her by the name Jhansi ki Rani (झांसी की रानी marathi झाशीची राणी). She was born on 19th november 1835 in Kashi (Varanasi). She was the daughter of Moropant Tambey and Bhagirathi bai. Her father and mother lived in Bithoor and Moropant worked at the court of Baji Rao II. Primarily Moropant worked at the court of Baji's elder brother Chimunji Appa who ruled over the court of Pune, Maharashtra. After his death and the  defeat in 1818's Anglo Maratha war, Baji Rao had to flee to Bithur with 10000 families in which one was Moropant's. Lakshmi Bai was not Lakshmi Bai by birth. Her father named her Manikarnika on her Namkaran Sanskar (naming ceremony). She lost her mother  at a tender age of four. She was educated at home. Manikarnika's nikname was Manu. Manu was the apple of Baji Rao Peshwa's eyes. He called her chhabili. At that time in India females were not allowed to get independent and learn self defense, instead of that Manu learned horsemanship, animal controling and shastra vidya (self defence, sword manship, archery etc.) at Raj mahal (palace), females at the court were good wishers of Manu but being conservative they never liked the freedom that Moropant gave her. At the age of 7 or 8 in 1842 she got married to King of Jhansi Gangadhar Rao Newalkar. She was given the name Lakshmi Bai after her marriage according to Maratha Tradition of that time.Lakshmi then led a simple traditional queen life for few 8 or 9 years from then on.

Rani Lakshmi Bai after
The Death of the Maharaja
on 21th November 1853.
Made on Illustrator
By Milind Chakraborty
Rani Lakshmi Bai gave birth to a son in 1851, however this child died when he was about four months old. After the death of their son, the Raja and Rani of Jhansi adopted Damodar Rao on 19 november 1853, on the birthday of the queen. However, it is said that her husband the Raja never recovered of his son's death, and he died on 21 November 1853 of a broken heart. Rani for the next one year Rani led a simple widow life, she did prayers and donations to the poor regularly. Since Damodar Rao was adopted and not biologically related to the Raja, the East India Company, under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, was able to install the Doctrine of Lapse, rejecting Rao's rightful claim to the throne. Dalhousie then annexed Jhansi, saying that the throne had become "lapsed" and thus put Jhansi under his "protection". In March 1854, the Rani was given a pension of 60,000 rupees and ordered to leave the palace at the Jhansi fort. Rani Jhansi was determined not to give up Jhansi. She threw the famous statement on the british when the british officer read the paigam before her, "Mi Majhi Jhansi Naahi Denar" it was in Marathi. She strengthened its defences and assembled a volunteer army. Women were also given military training. Rani's forces were joined by warriors including Gulam Gaus Khan, Dost Khan, Khuda Baksh, Lala Bhau Bakshi, Moti Bai, Sunder-Mundar, Kashi Bai, Deewan Raghunath Singh and Deewan Jawahar Singh.While this was happening in Jhansi, on May 10, 1857 the Sepoy (soldier) Mutiny of India started in Meerut. This would become the starting point for the rebellion against the British. It began after rumours were put about that the new bullet casings for their Enfield rifles were coated with pork/beef fat, pigs being taboo to Muslims and cows sacred to Hindus and thus forbidden to eat. British commanders insisted on their use and started to discipline anyone who disobeyed. During this rebellion many British civilians, including women, and children were killed by the sepoys. The British wanted to end the rebellion quickly. Meanwhile, unrest began to spread throughout India and in May of 1857, the First War of Indian Independence erupted in numerous pockets across the northern subcontinent. During this chaotic time, the British were forced to focus their attentions elsewhere, and Lakshmi Bai was essentially left to rule Jhansi alone. 

The Rani was a great administrator, this image is taken from
Jhansi ki Rani comic of Amar Chitra Katha.
During this time, her qualities were repeatedly demon- strated as she was able swiftly and effici- ently to lead her troops against skirmishes breaking out in Jhansi. Sadashiv Rao a far of nephew of the late Raja claimed himself the king of Jhansi but was easily defeated by the queen. Through this leadership Lakshmi Bai was able to keep Jhansi relatively calm and peaceful in the midst of the Empire’s unrest. Up to this point, she had been hesitant to rebel against the British.
Indian Rebellion of 1857 accordingly found Jhansi's ripe for rebellion. In June a few men of the 12th Bengal Native Infantry seized the fort containing the treasure and magazine, and massacred the European officers of the garrison along with their wives and children on 8 June 1857. The massacre is commemorated in the poem 'In the Round Tower at Jhansi, 8 June 1857' by Christina Rossetti, in which a British army officer takes his wife's life and his own so that they do not have to face a horrific and dishonourable death at the hands of the rebelling sepoys. Four days after the massacre the sepoys left Jhansi having obtained a large sum of money from the Rani, and having threatened to blow up the palace where she lived. Following this as the only source of authority in the city the Rani felt obliged to assume the administration and wrote to Major Erskine, commissioner of the Saugor division explaining the events which had led her to do so. On July 2 Erskine wrote in reply that he requested her to "manage the District for the British Government" until the arrival of a British Superintendent. The Rani's forces defeated an attempt by the mutineers to assert the claim to the throne of a rival prince who was captured and imprisoned. There was then an invasion of Jhansi by the forces of Orchha and Datia (allies of the British); their intention however was to divide Jhansi between them. The Rani appealed to the British for aid but it was now believed that she was responsible for the massacre and no reply was received. She assembled forces including some from former feudatories of Jhansi and elements of the mutineers which were able to defeat the invaders in August 1857. Her intention at this time was still to hold Jhansi on behalf of the British. From August 1857 to January 1858 Jhansi under the Rani's rule was at peace. The British had announced that troops would be sent there to maintain control but the fact that none arrived strengthened the position of a party of her advisers who wanted independence from British rule. When the British forces finally arrived in March they found it well defended and the fort had heavy guns which could fire over the town and nearby countryside. Sir Hugh Rose, commanding the British forces, demanded the surrender of the city; if this was refused it would be destroyed. After due deliberation the Rani issued a proclamation: "We 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 field of battle, we shall surely earn eternal glory and salvation." She defended Jhansi against British troops when Sir Hugh Rose besieged Jhansi on 23 March 1858. The bombardment began on 24 March but was met by heavy return fire and the damaged defences were repaired. The defenders sent appeals for help to Tatya Tope. An army of more than 20,000, headed by Tatya Tope, was sent to relieve Jhansi but they failed to do so when they fought the British on 31 March. During the battle with Tatya Tope's forces part of the British forces continued the siege and by 2 April it was decided to launch an assault by a breach in the walls. Four columns assaulted the defences at different points and those attempting to scale the walls came under heavy fire. Two other columns had already entered the city and were approaching the palace together. Determined resistance was encountered in every street and in every room of the palace. Street fighting continued into the following day and no quarter was given, even to women and children. "No maudlin clemency was to mark the fall of the city" wrote Thomas Lowe. The Rani withdrew from the palace to the fort and after taking counsel decided that since resistance in the city was useless she must leave and join either Tatya Tope or Rao Sahib (Nana Sahib's nephew). The Rani escaped at night with her son over the wall and fled from her city, surrounded by her guards, many of whom were from her women’s military. 

Lakshmi Bai getting off from the palace at night with her child
Made on Illustrator, By Milind Chakraborty

After riding continuously for 24 hours covering a distance of 102 miles, the Rani reached Kalpi. Peshva judged the situation and decided to help her. He provided his squads of army to her as per her requested requirement. On 22nd May, Sir Hugh Rose attacked Kalpi. Rani Lakshmibai rushed to the front like lightening whilst holding her sword. Her forceful attack resulted in a setback for the British army. Sir Hugh Rose disturbed with this setback brought his reserved camel troops onto the battlefield. The fresh reinforcement of the army affected the ardor of the revolutionaries and Kalpi was taken over by the British on 24th May. Defeated Raosaheb Peshva, Nawab of Banda, Tatya Tope, Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and all the chieftains gathered at Gopalpur. Laksmibai suggested taking over Gwalior. Jiyaji Rao Scidia, the Ruler of Gwalior, was an ally to the British. The Rani and Tatya Tope and the Peshva moved on to Gwalior, where the combined rebel forces defeated the army of the Maharaja of Gwalior after his armies deserted to the rebel forces. They then occupied the strategic fort at Gwalior. However on the second day of fighting, on 18 June 1858, the Rani died.  She was only twenty two or three when she died.

She died on 18 June, 1858 during the battle for Gwalior with 8th Hurjas that took place in Kotah-Ki-Serai near Phool Bagh area of Gwalior. She donned warrior's clothes and rode into battle to save Gwalior Fort. She had fought bravely all two days. She was completely surrounded by British. She fought fiercely, it was her last battle. No British could recognize her as being covered with dust in male disguise and she was always seen with two of her female servants both in male disguise. She got an opportunity and spurred her horse and no sooner that it got the signal, it started to run. Some of the Hurjas also followed her.

When the Maharani broke the siege and ran away, the whites of the Hurjas platoon chased her, firing their guns. The Maharani was racing ahead, maneuvering her safety from bullets. But unfortunately one bullet hit her. That slackened her. As a result, she could not run her horse fast. She again got engaged in a battle with the chasing soldiers. The British soldiers were many in number, but even then the Maharani was running ahead, slaying and killing them. 

Two maid servants, Sundar and Kashi, and two servants, Ram Chandra Rao Deshmukh and Raghunath Singh, were here most loyal and trusted servants. When the Maharani broke out of the British siege, they also came out, and were coming behind the Maharani on horseback. Maharani's adopted son, seven or eight-year-old Damodar Rao, was with Ram Chandra Rao on the horseback. The Maharani was advancing on her horse along with these trusted servants, and simultaneously she was fighting with the soldiers of the Hurjas platoon, and those enemies were attacking and hitting from behind. In this confrontation, she was wielding her sword, riding her horse fast and negotiating an uneven path. Suddenly, she heard a touching, loud cry of her maid servant. "Bai Saheb! Mar Gayi! Mar Gayi! (Ma'am I am killed. killed)." 

The Maharani turned her head back and saw that one white soldier chasing the Maharani had shot her. Seeing this tragic end of her maid servant. the Maharani pounced upon that white man with lightning speed and rolled his head on the ground by one stroke of her sword, and then instantaneously raced her horse forward. The horse was already wounded with bullets but was managing to run forward. Then it came near a nullah. On seeing the nullah the horse stopped. Instinctively, it had assessed that it was not possible to cross it with its present strength. Seeing the horse stopping the Maharani understood everything. But even then she spurred it, encouraged it to take a leap. But no result. The horse was helpless and the Maharani, too, was dead tired due to last three days of continuous fighting. The enemy soldiers were advancing from behind. They thought it to be a good opportunity to capture her alive and came very close. They all swooped upon the Maharani together. The Maharani continued to wield her sword. Like a wounded lion, she was ferociously fighting with her sword. When the enemies saw her wielding her sword so well even in this situation they stepped back and became cautious. At this time the enemy was also facing her with swords. Blows and Counter-blows began to be exchanged from both sides. Swords struck swords. Then the sword of a soldier hit her head. Then with one blow of her sword she cut and rolled on the ground the head of that soldier. But at the same time she also fell down. The blow of that soldier had cut her head on right side and her eye also popped out. When she fell on the ground then another white soldier bayoneted her. The end was at hand, even then she was fully conscious. By indication, she called her servant Ram Chandra Rao Deshmukh close to her. 

The death of the Rani took place on 18th june, 1858. It took
place after twelve at night. Made on Illustrator,
By Milind Chakraborty
When Ram Chandra Rao, on coming near, saw the condition of his Swamini (mistress) he cried aloud. He lifted the Maharani in that wounded state to a nearby hut of a saint, Ganga Das. The Maharani was dying of thirst. She was given water to drink. She was given the water of the Ganges also. Her entire body was covered with blood. She was undergoing crucial pain. but there was a supernatural glow on her face. Her last words were "Koi firangi meri laash ko chhoo bhi na paaye." After this she looked at her adopted son Damodar Rao once, and then closed her eyes forever. It was the seventh day of Shuklapaksh of Jyeshth month, Samvat 1915. The Maharani had died after twelve in the night.

The place where the great queen's cremation
took place. Obtained from this website.
After this Ram Chandra Rao, honoring the last wish of his dead mistress, cremated her at a nearby place. The Britishers never knew this fact. In this way a brave woman, Veerangana, who was an inspiring chapter of history disappeared after showing a flash on her light.
The British captured Gwalior three days later. In the report of the battle for Gwalior, General Sir Hugh Rose commented that the rani "remarkable for her beauty, cleverness and perseverance" had been "the most dangerous of all the rebel leaders".However, the lack of a corpse to be convincingly identified as the Rani convinced Captain Rheese of the so called "bravest" regiment that she had not actually perished in the battle for Gwalior, stating publicly that:"[the] Queen of Jhansi is alive!". It is believed her funeral was arranged on same day near the spot where she was wounded. One of the her maidservants helped with the arrangement of quick funeral.Because of her bravery, courage, and wisdom, and her progressive views on women's empowerment in 19th century India, and due to her sacrifices, she became an icon of Indian independence movement. The Rani was memorialized in bronze statues at both Jhansi and Gwalior, both of which portray her on horsebackHer father, Moropant Tambey, was captured and hanged a few days after the fall of Jhansi. Her adopted son, Damodar Rao, was given a pension by the British Raj and cared for, although he never received his inheritance.

Contemporary Evidences
Rani Lakshmi Bai's Real Image the picture is taken in about 1850

The real photograph of Rani Lakshmi Bai that is kept in the Sangrah of Waman Thakrey's friend Ameet Ambalal. Photographer Ameet bought the picture of Rani in 1968 at the rate of Rs. 150000 from Jaipur. Waman enlarged it for an exhibition in Bhopal.

A rare account about her looks is available from the contemporary Australian novelist and journalist John Lang who met her in 1854. Later Lang wrote about her in his newspaper, The Mofussilite: "Her face must have been handsome when she was younger (the Rani was about 19 years old when Lang met her), and even now it had many charmsthough according to my idea of beauty it was too round. The expression also was very good, and very intelligent. The eyes were particularly fine, and the nose very delicately shaped. She was not very fair, though she was far from black. She had no ornaments, except a pair of gold earrings. Her dress was plain white muslin, so fine in texture, and drawn about her in such a way, and so tightly, that the outline of her figure was plainly discernible – and a remarkably fine figure she had. What spoilt her was her voice."

He also added to the report, about the meeting that took place that day.

Rani Lakshmi made as per Lang explained her appearence also
showing the incident due to which Lang was able to see her.
Made on Illustrator, By - Milind Chakraborty

At his meeting with her, she strictly adhered to the Indian Tradition and wore white garments. She even concealed herself with a curtain or a purdah... He wrote in his news paper..."At the end of the room was a purdah or curtain, and behind it people were talking. I could hear female voices prevailing upon a child to 'go to the Sahib', and could hear the child objecting to do so. Eventually, he was 'launched' into the room... his dress and jewels on his person, satisfied me that the child was the adopted son of the late Rajah, and the rejected heir to the little throne Jhansi. He was rather a pretty child, but very short for his years, and broad-shouldered—like most of the Mahratta children that I have seen. Whilst I was speaking to the child, a shrill and discordant voice issued from behind the purdah, and I was informed that the boy was the Maharajah, who had just been despoiled of his rights by the Governor-General of India. I fancied that the voice was that of some very old woman..; but the child having imagined that he was spoken to, replied, 'Maharanee!' and thus I was told the error of my conclusion ...I had heard from the vakeel that the Ranee was a very handsome woman, and I was very curious indeed to get a glimpse of her; and whether it was by accident, or by design on the Ranee's part, I know not, my curiosity was gratified. The curtain was drawn aside by the little boy, and I had a good view of the lady . It was only for a moment, it is true; still I saw her sufficiently to be able to describe her... When the purdah was drawn aside, she was, or affected to be, very much annoyed; but presently she laughed, and good-humouredly expressed a hope that a sight of her had not lessened my sympathy with her sufferings nor prejudiced her cause. 'On the contrary', I replied, 'if the Governor-General could only be as fortunate as I have been, and for even so brief a while, I feel quite sure that he would at once give Jhansi back again to be ruled over by its beautiful Queen.' She repaid to this compliment, and the next ten minutes were devoted to an interchange of such matters. I told her that the whole world resounded with praises of her beauty and the greatness of her intellect; and she told me that there was not a corner of the earth in which prayers for my welfare remained unsaid. We then returned to the point—her 'case'."

Although there aren't much records known related to the Great Rani, but I was able to collect some, if you are really interested to know about the contemporary records of the Rani, I have made a small webpage using a book having a chapter that talks of the same.

The Contemporary Records of the Rani

Hope You All Have Liked This Info... Please follow and comment....!!
By Milind Chakraborty
13 years
of 8th standard
(This blog was first made on 12th March 2010,  3:09 AM  This is the updated and improved version of the same.)


  1. Very nice in your age excellent.
    We all should have interest in History.

  2. wow drawing is also nice, not nice
    out standing

  3. Very informative blog and the presentation is also good. Thanks!

  4. it is so good i like this serial which could be telecast on zeetv i love this serial

  5. this is a very interesting and enjoyble serial.I like this serial.

  6. it's really amazing.i.m very happy to see the images of rani laxmibai

  7. i am so be proud on my self that i am seen a great women real photo after my 35 year age



  10. Milind excellent work but the photo of the queen is the photo of some actress i think so I dont know. But its not hte rani's. Gangadhar rao's image is the rani's image. Did you notice the nose ring in the picture? Change it later but your drawings are nice. I am also studying 6th only. tum kis school me padthe ho?

  11. I have now entered 7th but Thank you. I study in Saint Xaviers, Jaipur

  12. Rani Lakhsmi Bai

    I like her very much . She was very intelligent & powerful . we hould also take some idea.

    from manpreet.

  13. Rani Lakshmai Bai was very intelligent and brave.
    Rani Lakshmi Bai ki jai

  14. wo jo pic hai 1850 ka
    wo abhi konse musium me hai ???

  15. It's kept in the Sangrah of Waman Thakrey's friend Ameet Ambalal. Photographer Ameet bought the picture of Rani in 1968 at the rate of Rs. 150000 from Jaipur. Waman is enlarging or may be, enlarged it for an exhibition in Bhopal.

  16. nicely wrote. one qua i am having , what happed about Damodar rao exactly.pls tell me.

  17. Anand Rao was the real name of Damodar and he was 5 at the time of adoption and was renamed Damodar Gangadhar Rao on 19 November 1853 while the Maharaja died on 21 November 1853. This means he was born sometime in 1848.

    After the death of LakshmiBai , Ram Chandra Rao Deshmukh and Kashi Bai , two close confidants of the late queen looked after Damodar Rao who was a 9 years old child.

    After wandering here and there in hiding for long , they reached Agra with the help of Nanhe Khan ( an old aide of Rani )and came in contact with a british officer Pleak or Flick. Pleak was an admirer of the late queen and he , through Col.Shakespeare, the political agent of Indore, got Ram Chandra, Kashi and Damodar Rao pardoned and as a consequence of the efforts of these two gentlemen the Governal General allowed to give an annual pension of Rupees 1800 to Damodar Rao.Col Shakespeare too proved to be very kind. He appointed a Munshi Dharam Narayan at his bungalow to teach Damodar Urdu, English & Marathi.

    After settling at Indore and reaching majority ,Damodar Rao's Aunt - who was the wife of Damodar' natural father, got him married at Indore. His first wife died shortly and he was married again in Shivre Family.

    In 1904 , Damodar became father of a son who was named Lakshman Rao and after that his descendents lived in Indore.

    On 28 May 1906, the luckless Damodar breathed his last at the age of fifty-eight at Indore while amongst the attendents of Rani Lakshmi Basi ,Deshmukh passed awy in 1885 and Ramchandra Rao in 1888.

    Damodar's son Lakshman Rao died in 1959 and the Govt of UP had presented him a Sanad and a monetary award to him on 10 may 1957 in commemoration of his grand mothers contribution after 100 years of 1857.

    visit for more info

  18. Very nicely gathered info. which will definitly inspire our new generation to do something for our country.

    Last but not the least I must appreciate the little master's effort. The synchronised pictography is making the scriot more interesting..

    Keep it up.

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