Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi was born on 19 November 1828. She was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and became a symbol of resistance to the British Raj for Indian nationalists. Laxmibai was born in a brahmin family in the holy town of Varanasi. Rani Laxmibai was named Manikarnika and was nicknamed Manu. She was more independent in her childhood than others of her age; her studies included shooting, horsemanship, fencing. Also, her childhood friends were Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope. Manikarnika was married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, in May 1842. And afterwards, her name changed as Laxmibai in the honour of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi.
In addition, Rani had a son, who died after four months. In 1853, Maharaja died. Then the British Council gave her Rs. 60,000 as pension to leave the place. At that time, she cried and told that “I shall not surrender my Jhansi” (Mai Meri Jhansi nahi doongi). Where Rani Lakshmibai has been known to the British most commonly as “the Rani of Jhansi”; in Hindi, she is often known as “Jhansi ki Rani”.
On 10 May 1857 the Indian Rebellion started in Meerut; when news of this reached Jhansi, the Rani asked the British political officer, Captain Alexander Skene, for permission to raise a body of armed men for her own protection and Skene agreed to this. But the Britishers seized the fort containing the treasure and magazine, broke their words. The Rani appealed to the British for aid but it was now believed by the governor-general that she was responsible for the massacre and no reply was received. From August 1857 to January 1858 Jhansi under the Rani’s rule was at peace. 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. Four columns assaulted the defences at different points and those attempting to scale the walls came under heavy fire. At least a quarter wasn’t given to women and children. According to tradition with Damodar Rao on her back, she jumped on her horse Badal from the fort; they survived but the horse died. The Rani escaped in the night with her son, surrounded by guards. She decamped to Kalpi, on 22 May British forces attacked Kalpi; the Indian forces were commanded by the Rani herself and were again defeated.
The leaders came to Gwalior and joined the Indian forces who now held the city. The Rani was unsuccessful in trying to persuade the other rebel leaders to prepare to defend Gwalior against a British attack. Rani Lakshmibai put on a Sowar’s uniform and attacked one of the hussars; she was unhorsed and also wounded and died on 18 June 1858.
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