Kittur Rani Chennamma: Warrior queen who lead an armed rebellion against the British East India Company in 1824

She had been trained in sword fighting, archery and horse riding at a young age

One of the first warrior queens of the country, Kittur Rani Chennamma lead an armed rebellion against the British East India Company in 1824. She was later arrested but her courage and her fight against the British started the independence movement in India. Here are certain things that you need to know about Chennamma and her role in the freedom movement of India.

Early Life:

She was born on October 23, 1778, into a Desai family in a village which was part of former Kingdom of Kittur, located 5 km north of Belgaum in Karnataka. She had been trained in sword fighting, archery and horse riding at a young age.  At the age of 15, she was married to Raja Mallasarja Desai and had a son with him. In 1816 her husband passed away and after a few years in 1824, her son also died after which the responsibility to save her kingdom from British fell on her shoulders.

Role in Freedom Struggle: 

Rani Chennamma, after his husband and son’s death, adopted a boy Shivalingappa and made him her successor, which did not go down well with the British East India Company and it ordered the removal of Shivalingappa by using Doctrine of Lapse. But that did not deter her and she put in all her efforts to save her kingdom from coming under the British control.

Rani Chennamma wrote a letter to the governor of Bombay requesting him to take action against the British but he did not entertain her request. With an army of two hundred men, British troop attacked Kittur on 21st October 1824, which was huge in comparison to the army of the queen.

However, the British army was defeated and two of its officers, Sir Walter Elliot and Mr Stevenson, were also taken, hostage. Later she agreed on returning the officers if the British army ends the war. However, the Britishers, who were humiliated by their previous defeat, did not want to let it go easily.  A few members of the army betrayed her and she lost to the British troops when they attacked Kittur the second time. She was captured and imprisoned for life at the Bailhongal Fort.

Also Read: Kalpana Dutta: The freedom fighter who made bombs for revolutionaries


In prison, she spent her time reading holy textbooks and after some time her health started deteriorating. On 21 February 1829, she passed away in the Bailhonga Fort.  The courage with which she fought was an inspiration to other freedom fighters to take on Britishers.

Also Read: Rani Avanti Bai: The queen who raised an Army of over 4,000 and fought against the British

As India celebrates 70 years of independence, we bring you stories of women who were part of the Indian Independence Struggle. You might have heard about some of them but most do not find a mention in our history books or popular memory. These were ordinary women from all walks of life who managed to make extraordinary contributions to the cause of freedom.  This series is our tribute to these women and their exemplary work. We bring you 70 stories of courage and valour over the next one week leading up to 15th August 2017. Write to us, if you have any names to add to this list. Email:


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