Rani Chennamma The Valiant Queen:
Rani Chennamma was born on October 23, 1778, the Queen of Kittur in Karnataka, Southern India. From childhood, she has shown great bravery and courage in fighting with enemies. She was brilliant in horse riding and learned sword fighting and archery techniques. At an early age, she became queen of her native kingdom and did administration with profound knowledge. Today she is well known as Kittur Rani Chennamma.
Rani Chennamma Struggles in her Life:
Rani Chennamma married Raja Mallasarja, who belongs to the Desai Family. They had a son, but he died in his childhood days. After her son’s death, she adopted Shivalingappa and announced him as her heir to the throne. In those days, the British East India Company had brought the policy of Paramountcy, which indicated that no heir paternally had those kingdoms would merge into the British rule and not accept the adoptions.
Chenamma Against British Policy:
Chenamma would lose her kingdom with this policy, so she completely defied the order and agitated against the British. She also sent a letter to then Governor Elphinstone to plead the cause of Kittur, but lord Elphinstone has not accepted her plea, and instead of that, he prepared his army to capture the Kingdom of Kiittur. The British force of 200 men and four guns attacked the Kingdom of Kittur. Then Rani Chennamma fiercely attacked the Britishers with her staff. In the first battle, the Britishers lost heavily; the Chennamma’s soldiers killed their collector St John Thackeray. Two British officers, Sir Walter Elliot and Mr Stevenson, were also taken as hostages.
Captured by the British:
With the confession of understanding not to make the war again, Rani Chennamma released the hostages. But the British again started their war against Rani Chennamma. In the battle, Rani Chennamma entered the battlefield with her lieutenant, Sangolli Rayanna and fought against the British with fierce force. Finally, she was captured and imprisoned at Bailhongal Fort. There she spent her later days and died on February 21, 1829. But her Lieutenant Sangolli Rayanna continued his fight against the British in a Guerrilla war. He was also captured in 1829 and hanged.
Rani Chennamma in the People’s Heart:
Chennamma died 175 years ago. Still, her victories and brave activities have culminated among the people in Karnataka, especially in Kittur’s surrounding areas. In her memories, people celebrate Kittur Utsav every year during 22-24 October. The artists perform scripts about her life and adventurous incidents during the Utsav, which still inspire the present generation. On September 11, 2007, the first women President of India, Pratibha Patil, unveiled the statue of Rani Chennamma at the Indian Parliament complex. Her burial place is in Baihongal Mandal.