Rani Laxmibai was one of the leading warriors of the India’s first struggle of independence in 1857.
Rani Laxmibai’s courage, deeds of valour and heroic battle against the British and her progressive views on women’s empowerment in 19th century made her an icon of Indian Independence movement. She is an epitome of female bravery, patriotism and honour. She was born on 19th November, 1835 at Kashi. Her father Moropant Tabme was a court advisor, and mother Bhagirathi was a scholar. At a very early age she lost her mother. Her father raised her in an extraordinary way and supported her to learn the ways of the war – horse and elephant riding, sword fighting and to use other weapons effectively. She grew up with Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope, who were also active participants in the first revolt of independence.
In 1842, Rani Laxmibai was married to Raja Gangadhar Rao who was the Maharaja of Jhansi. After the marriage to Gangadhar Rao she was called Lakshmi Bai. Her original name was Manikarnika. In 1851, she gave birth to a son but unfortunately he died in his fourth month. After this tragic incident, Maharaja of Jhansi adopted Damodar Rao as his son and made him heir to the throne. Moved by the death of his son and his poor health, Maharaja Gangadhar Rao also died on 21st November 1853. When the Maharaja died, Rani Laxmi Bai was just eighteen years old, but she didn’t lose her courage and took up her responsibility.The British Governor General Dalhousie refused to recognize her adopted son as heir to the throne and ordered annexation of Jhansi into British Raj. Rani Laxmibai refused to part with Jhansi. As a result, a fierce fight took place which continued for about two weeks. The Rani fought the British fearlesslyleading her forces from the front and showed great courage and skill. However she was fatally wounded on 18th June 1858 and lost her life.
Because of her bravery, courage, wisdom and her progressive views on women’s empowerment in 19th century India, and due to her sacrifices, she became an icon of Indian independence movement. The Rani was memorialized in bronze statues at both Jhansi and Gwalior, both of which portray her on horseback.