Remembering Rani Laxmibai, The queen of Jhansi: Today marks the 192nd birth anniversary of Manikarnika, popular as queen of Jhansi Rani Lakshmi Bai. She is known as one of the fierce freedom fighters of India, who stood firm against British rule in India.
Here are interesting facts about Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and stories of her valour:
- Rani Lakshmibai was born as Manikarnika Tambe on November 19, 1828 in Varanasi. She was the daughter of Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi Sapre. She lost her mother when she was four years old. She grew up under the training of her father Moropant, who worked for Peshwa Baji Rao II of Bithoor district.
- Manikarnika was educated at home. Apart from reading and writing she also trained in shooting, horsemanship, fencing and mallakhamb. She trained in these skills along with her friends Nana Sahib and Tantia Tope. She also took part in many cultural events that women rarely attended in the patriarchal society.
- Manikarnika married Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Newalkar, in May 1842. She was called Rani Lakshmibai after their wedding.
- Lakshmibai had three horses named Sarangi, Pavan and Baadal. Reports claim that she rode Baadal when escaping from the fort in 1858.
- Lakshmibai had a son named Damodar Rao. But he died when he was just four months old. Then the couple adopted a cousin’s child, Anand Rao and renamed him Damodar Rao on November 20, 1853. A day later the Maharaja died after a brief period of illness.
- After the death of Gangadhar Rao, the British refused to accept Damodar Rao as successor to Gangadhar Rao citing doctrine of lapse. But Rani Lakshmibai refused to accept Lord Dalhousie’s decision.
- In March 1854, Rani Lakshmibai was given an annual pension of Rs 60,000 and ordered to leave the palace and the fort.
- Until 1857, the start of the Indian rebellion, Lakshmibai too did not revolt against the British. But she started the fight when rebels of the 12th Bengal Native Infantry seized the Star Fort of Jhansi containing the treasure and magazines.
- On June 23, 1858, when British forces demanded the surrender of the city, Lakshmibai refused to do so. It is said that her answer was: “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.”
- The city was under siege for two weeks. It is also said that Lakshmibai strapped her little son Damodar Rao, on her back and fought with swords against the British.
- Rani Lakshmibai died while fighting a squadron of the 8th Hussars led by captain Heneage, on June 18, 1858, in Kotah-ki-Serai near the Phool Bagh of Gwalior.
- The Rani Mahal, the palace of Rani Lakshmibai, has been converted into a museum. It houses a collection of archaeological remains of the period between the 9th and 12th centuries AD.
- Rani Lakshmibai is praised for her valour. One of the poems in textbooks reads: Bundel Harbolon Ke Munh Humne Suni Kahani Thi; Khoob Ladi Mardaani woh toh Jhansi Wali Rani Thi. (Meaning: From the bards of Bundela we have heard this story / She fought valiantly like a man, she was the queen of Jhansi.)