Rani Laxmibai: The Queen of Jhansi
Rani Laxmibai, also known as Manikarnika, was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British rule. She was the queen of the Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi in North India. She is remembered for her courage, bravery and patriotism in the face of overwhelming odds.
Rani Laxmibai was born in 1828 in Varanasi to a Brahmin family. She was raised by her father, Moropant Tambe, and her uncle, Peshwa Bajirao II, who was the last Peshwa of the Maratha Empire. She was educated in martial arts, horse riding, archery and sword fighting. She married Gangadhar Rao, the king of Jhansi, in 1842 and was given the name Laxmibai.
After the death of her son Damodar Rao in 1851, she and her husband adopted a child named Anand Rao, who was renamed Damodar Rao. However, after the death of her husband in 1853, the British East India Company refused to recognize the adoption and applied the Doctrine of Lapse, which allowed them to annex any princely state that did not have a male heir. Rani Laxmibai challenged this decision and decided to fight for her rights and her people.
In 1857, when the Indian Rebellion broke out, Rani Laxmibai joined forces with other rebel leaders such as Tatya Tope, Nana Sahib and Rao Sahib. She defended Jhansi from the British siege for several months with a small army of loyal soldiers and volunteers. She also led several successful raids and attacks on the British forces in nearby regions. She became a symbol of resistance and a source of inspiration for many Indians.
In 1858, when Jhansi was finally captured by the British after a fierce battle, Rani Laxmibai escaped with a few followers and joined Rao Sahib's forces in Kalpi. She then moved to Gwalior, where she fought alongside Tatya Tope against the British army led by General Hugh Rose. On June 17, 1858, she died on the battlefield while fighting valiantly against the enemy. She was cremated by her loyal followers at an unknown location.
Rani Laxmibai's legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of millions of Indians who admire her for her courage, sacrifice and love for her country. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest women leaders in Indian history and a national hero. Her life story has been depicted in various books, films, songs and poems. One of the most recent films based on her life is Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (2019), starring Kangana Ranaut as Rani Laxmibai .