Rani Lakshmibai, the queen of Jhansi, was one of the important figures of India's independence movement. She was born on 19 November 1828 at Poona and was a symbol of bravery, honour and patriotism. Lakshmibai also known as Manikarnika had a significant contribution in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
While her father Moropant Tabme was a court advisor, mother Bhagirathi was a scholarly woman. Laxmibai lost her mother at a very tender age and was raised by her father in a unconventional way. Her father supported her to learn elephant and horse rides and also gave useful lessons to handle various kind of weapons effectively. She grew up with Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope, who were active participants in the first revolt of independence.
In the year 1842, Rani Lakshmi Bai tied her knot with Raja Gangadhar Rao who was the Maharaja of Jhansi at the time. After her marriage, she came to be known as Lakshmi Bai. In 1851, she gave birth to a son who unfortunately died in his fourth month.
After this tragic incident, a boy namely Damodar Rao was adopted by both Laxmibai and Raja Gangadhar. Being moved by the death of his son Gangadhar Rao also breathed his last followed by a very bad health. Rani Lakshmi Bai was just eighteen years old when Maharaja breathed his last and took all her responsibilities without shedding tears.
Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India at that time, was a very shrewd person who tried to take advantage of the misfortune of Jhansi to expand the British Empire.
The British rulers did not accept little Damodar Rao, as the legal heir of late Maharaja Gangadhar Rao and Rani Lakshmi Bai. Their plan was to annex Jhansi on the ground that it did not have any legal heir.
In March 1854, Rani of Jhansi was granted an annual pension of 60,000 and was ordered to leave the Jhansi fort. She was firm on the decision not to give up the dominion of Jhansi to the British.
For strengthening the defence of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmi Bai assembled an army of rebellions, which also included women. For this great cause she was supported by brave warriors like Gulam Gaus Khan, Dost Khan, Khuda Baksh, Sunder-Mundar, Kashi Bai, Lala Bhau Bakshi, Moti Bai, Deewan Raghunath Singh and Deewan Jawahar Singh. She assembled 14,000 rebels and organised an army for the defence of the city.
In March 1858, when Jhansi was attacked by the British, Rani Lakshmi Bai's army decided to fight and the war continued for two long weeks. The army fought very bravely, even though the end was tragic.
After a long tight battle with the British forces Jhansi finally lost the war. After a fierce war when the British army entered Jhansi, Rani Lakshmi Bai, tied her son Damodar Rao to her back and fought bravely using two swords in both her hands.
She escaped to the fortress of Kalpi under the cover of darkness and was accompanied by many other rebellions. She departed to Gwalior and a fierce battle was fought between the British and the Rani's army. On the unfortunate day of 17 June of 1858, this great warrior martyred her life for India's freedom.