Born on 19 November, 1828, Rani Lakshmibai or the Queen of Jhansi was one of the leading figures of the Rebellion of 1857. She was born as Manikarnika Tambe in Varanasi into a Marathi Brahmin family. On her birth anniversary, we have listed some rare and interesting facts about one of the warriors of India's struggle for Independence.
1. Rani Lakshimibai lost her mother at the age of four and was raised in an unconventional way by her father who worked as an advisor in the court of Peshwa.
2. She was educated at home and her studies included horsemanship, shooting, archery and self-defence. Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope were her childhood friends. Her horses include Sarangi, Pavan, and Baadal.
3. As per the historians, Lakshmibai rode Baadal when escaping from the fort in 1858.
4. Manikarnika’s father was professionally working for a court Peshwa of Bithoor who called her ''Chhabili'', which means ''playful''.
5. Lakshmibai got married to Gangadhar Rao Newalkar in 1842, the maharaja of Jhansi. After the marriage she got the title of Rani Lakshimibai.
6. In 1851, Manikarnika gave birth to a boy but he couldn't survive and died after four months. Lakshmibai and Gangadhar Rao then adopted Rao's cousin's son, Anand Rao, who was later renamed as Damodar.
7. Maharaja died in 1853 due to an illness. Rani Lakshmibai was just 18 at that time.
The revolt of 1857: The revolt of 1857 started mainly because of the introduction of greased cartridges by the East India Company. The sepoys had to bite the cartridge of the rifle by their teeth and it was unacceptable to the soldiers as the cartridges were greased with beef and pork. The soldiers joined hands in the collective mutiny due to the Britishers' attempt to taint their religion. It is believed that prior to sepoy mutiny, Lakshmibai was unwilling to rebel against the British but when commanding officer of the British forces, Sir Hugh Rose, demanded the surrender of Jhansi, she changed her mind. Britishers refused to recognize the adopted heir and annexed Jhansi in accordance with the doctrine of lapse. Lakshmibai gave a great fight to the British as the siege of Jhansi lasted for about two weeks. She died on June 17, 1958, martyring her life for India's freedom.