Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi

Manikarnika Tambe was born in November, 1928 in Varanasi India. She was only 4 when her mother died, and her father, a court advisor, was left to raise his children alone.  She learned horsemanship, archery, self defense and shooting – unusual skills for an Indian girl. She was married at 14 to Gangadhar Rao Newwalker, the Maharaja of Jhansi. Known after her marriage as the Rani Lakshmibai, Manikarnika had one son in 1851 but the boy was weak and did not survive four months. The couple adopted a cousin’s son, to secure the ruling line, and called him Damodar. When the Maharaja died two years later, the Dutch India company attempted to take over Jhansi, refusing to recognize Damodor’s rights. Rani Lakshmibai went to war with the company and the British, fighting for the freedom of her people. She was martyred on June 17, 1858,in Gwailior and Sir Hugh Rose carried the news to the Duke of Cumberland. “Although she was a lady,” Rose wrote, “she was the bravest and best military leader of the rebels. A man among the mutineers.” She is now known as a national hero, with statues in her honor in Jhansi and Gwailior.