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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Remembering the valour of Jhansi Rani Laxmibai - 185th birth anniversary

Today 19th Nov is historically important … it marks the 185th birth anniversary of …………..

As you travel by Grand Trunk Express from New Delhi, your train halts at Raja Ki Mandi, Agra, Dholapur, Morena, Gwalior, ………. , Bina….. ~ it is 410 km from Delhi and 1770 km from Chennai….

Recently, BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Narendra Modi's Vijay Shankhnaad rally here at ………… attracted huge crowds …… in the Bundelkhand region.

The Betwa river, a tributary of Yamuna also known as Vetravati flows here…….

If you have not guessed it yet, it is Jhansi, a historic city of northern India, located in the region of Bundelkhand on the banks of the Pahuj or Pushpavati River, in the extreme south of Uttar Pradesh. Jhansi is the administrative headquarters of Jhansi District and Jhansi Division. This district is on the banks of the Betwa River.

Sure we have read in our history books, the legend of Jhansi Rani Lakshmibai who valiantly fought the British and died in the battle on 18th June 1858.  In the annals of Indian freedom struggle, Laxmibai the ruler of the then princely state of Jhansi has a significant place, remembered as a brave and fearless woman of raw courage.  She died in the battle at Gwalior.

Wikipedia and other sources put her date of birth as 19th Nov 1828 ~ in the holy town of Varanasi into a Brahmin family. She was named Manikarnika and was nicknamed Manu. Her father was Moropant Tambe and her mother Bhagirathi Sapre (Bhagirathi Bai). Manikarnika was married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao, in 1842, and was afterwards called Lakshmibai

By simply reading Indian history books, we may never understand the fierce battle of independence nor the way the British suppressed the Indian subjects.  Jhansi Rani’s son died at a very early age and the King adopted another.  After the death of the raja in November 1853 because  the son was adopted, the British East India Company, under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, applied the Doctrine of Lapse, rejecting the legitimate claim of the adopted son.  In  1854, Lakshmibai was given a pension and ordered to leave the palace and the fort.

There are many horses of valour like the famed Chetak (Rana Pratap Singh), Bucephalus (Alexander), Nelson (George Washington), Neelaveni (Desingu Maharaja) …  Jhansi ki Rani Laxmibhai is always depicted as riding a horse and fighting valiantly….. Her horses  are named as : Sarangi, Pavan and Badal; according to tradition she rode Badal when escaping from the fort in 1858.

The first major uprising against the British dubbed as Sepoy Mutiny was a Great war of Indepedence…. Which first started on 10th May 1857 at Meerut and spread to other parts including Jhansi

It is reported that British forces surrounded the fort under Sir Hugh Rose who demanded surrender – Lakshmibai fought defending Jhansi but was killed in action.  According to the historical legend,  with her son  Damodar Rao on her back she jumped on her horse Badal from the fort; days later she died in the battle.

Jhansi Rani Laxmibai statue in Solapur

Equestrian statues of Lakshmibai are seen in many places of India, which show her and her son tied to her back. Laxmibai National University of Physical Education in Gwalior and Maharani Laxmi Bai Medical College in Jhansi are named after her. The Rani Jhansi Marine National Park is located in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. A women's unit of the Indian National Army was named the Rani of Jhansi Regiment. Patriotic songs have been written about the Rani. In 1957 two postage stamps were issued to commemorate the centenary of the rebellion.

India remembers her on her birth anniversary on Nov 19th

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

PS:  most inputs and photos of the Rani on horse attributed to   Wikipedia article.

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