Rani Lakshmibai, popularly known as Rani of Jhansi, was born into a Maratha brahmin family on 19 November, 1828 in Varanasi. She was named Manikarnika. Among the many freedom fighters, Lakshmibai was one of the leading figures of the rebellion which started on 10 May, 1857. With her valour and courage, she became an icon for the freedom struggle against the British Raj.
Rani Lakshmibai played an important role in the revolt of 1857, which was known as the first war of independence. While bravely fighting against the imperial forces, she succumbed to battle injuries on 17 June, 1858 near Gwalior.
Who is Rani Lakshmibai and how did she become the 'Queen'?
Rani Lakshmibai, who lost her mother at a young age of four, was raised in an unconventional way by her father. He worked as an advisor in the court of Peshwa. It was her father who advised her to learn horse riding, archery, self-defense, and shooting.
Rani Lakshmibai got married to King Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, in 1842. He was the Maharaja of Jhansi and henceforth she got the name Rani Lakshmibai. Later in 1851, she gave birth to a boy, whose life was short-lived as he died after four months. As the couple did not have a legal heir to the throne, they adopted a baby boy named Anand, who was later renamed, Damodar Rao.
Months later, the Maharaja died due to an illness in 1853 and Lakshmibai became the ruler of Jhansi. She was only 18-years-old then. Following the King's death, the East India Company took advantage and applied the Doctrine of Lapse in the kingdom as they did not accept Damodar as the legal heir.
Unhappy with the new order, Lakshmibai even appealed the matter to a court in London which later got rejected. Despite all efforts, she was determined not to give up on the Dominion of Jhansi and so began an army of rebellions. Among the many great warriors, who came to her defence, Lakshmibai also had an army of women.
The unfortunate moment happened when the British army entered Jhansi, on hearing this, Rani Lakshmibai tied her son Damodar to her back. She also fought the men bravely using two swords in both her hands. While fighting for her kingdom, she died martyring her life for India's freedom.