Rani Chennamma was the first woman independence objector of India. She stood all alone with a lively burning eye next to the British Empire. She did not succeed in driving them away but Rani Chennamma did incite many women to rise against the British rule. She was Queen of Chennamma, the princely state Kittur in Karnataka. Today she is well known as Kittur Rani Chennamma.
Kitturu Rani was born on 23 October 1778 in Kittur, Karnataka.It was a small village of 5 KM distance from Belgaum in Karnataka in 1778. She got guidance at her early days itself for sword fighting, horse riding and archery.She became the queen of her native kingdom and married Raja Mallasarja, of the Desai family.She had a son also. After her son’s death in 1824 she adopted Shivalingappa, and made him heir to the throne. Her strong conflict against the British gave them enough indication that their policies which won’t be taken by the Indians hands down.
The creation of one of India’s first warrior queens
In 1824, 33 years before the 1857 war of independence the British were going to take control of Kittur under the policy of lapse as there was no male successor. The battle ended with her martyrdom and she is remarkable today as one of the earliest Indian rulers who have fought for independence. She is much respected in Karnataka as an icon of courage and bravery and women’s superiority.
Rani Chennamma and the local people opposing strongly against British high handedness. In the battle that ensued hundreds of British soldiers were killed along with Thackeray.The degradation of defeat at the hands of a small ruler was too much for the British to ingest. They brought in bigger armies from Mysore and Sholapur and bounded Kittur.
Rani Chennamma tried her best to avoid the war. She also negotiated with Chaplin and Governor of Bombay Presidency under whose command Kittur fell. But she was failed,for that reason she compelled to declare war. For 12 days, the valiant Queen and her soldiers defended their fort. But as is the common peculiarity, traitors sneaked in and mixed mud and manure in the fine particles in the canons.
Rani Chennamma sent a letter to Governor at Bombay to implore the cause of Kittur. However Lord Elphinstone turned down the request leading to all out war. The British tried to take away the treasure and jewels of Kittur and attacked them with a force of 200 men and four guns. In the first round of war, during October 1824, British forces lost heavily with St John Thackeray, Investor and Oopinionated, killed by the Rani’s forces.
On 11 September 2007, a statue of Rani Chennamma was unveiled at the Indian Parliament Complex by Pratibha Patil, the first woman President of India. On the occasion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Lok Sabha Speaker Somanath Chatarjee, BJP leader L.K.Advani, Karnataka Chief Minister H.D.Kumaraswamy and others were present, marking the importance of the function. The statue was donated by Kittur Rani Chennamma Memorial Committee and sculpted by Vijay Gaur.Her statues are installed at Bangalore and Kittur also.
She released the hostages with an understanding with Chaplin that the war would be ended. But Chaplin deceitfully continued the war with even more soldiers. Chennamma fought fiercely with the aid of her lieutenant, Sangolli Rayanna, but was ultimately captured and imprisoned at Bailhongal Fort, where she died on 21 February 1829. Sangolli Rayanna continued the guerrilla war up to 1829 until his capture, but it was in ineffective, and was caught due to deceit and hanged.
Rani Chennamma strong resistance against the British gave them enough indication that their policies won’t be taken by the Indians hands down. Her victory in the first phase of the battle against the British is still remembered fondly in Kittur and surrounding areas. The tales of her bravery have inspired many folk dance and music performances in Karnataka that still continue to be a part of the popular tradition. The Kittur Utsava (22-24 October every year) commemorates her memorable victory that dented the British pride severely and showed everyone that the British forces were far from invincible.
Rani Chennamma has become a legend. During the freedom movement, her brave confrontation to British created theme of plays, songs as well as song stories. Folk songs or lavanis were a legion and freedom fight got a good improve through singing bards who moved all over the region.
After ending up in captivity, Kittur Rani Chennamma devoted herself in reading holy texts and praying for her free. But as time passed by, she ultimately lost hope. The fighter in her could not stand the disgrace and helplessness owing to which her health started weakening. Kittur Rani Chennamma breathed her last breath on 21 February 1829 in the Bailhonghal fort.Rani Chennamma’s samadhi or interment place is in Bailhongal taluk.Although it is in neglected state with poor maintenance and the place is surrounded by a small park maintained by Government agencies. During the Kittur Utsava of every 22nd to 24th- October these memories are renewing and t2he people giving the loyal salute to them.
Her violent passion to save the state greatly inspired Sangolli Rayanna another most well known freedom fighters of Karnataka who continued to fight on her behalf. He was arrested and afterwards hanged by the British a few years later. Her adopted son Shivalingappa was also taken into custody. However, the brave queen’s life was cut short, her chaos against the British had given the people of Kittur the bravery to take on them.