Maharani Lakshmibai was the queen of Jhansi and one of the first valiants of the freedom fight. She was born in Maratha Brahmin Family in a village named bhadeini of Varanasi on 19th November 1835. Her childhood name was Manikarnika but her pseudonym was Manu. Her mother’s name was Bhageerathibai and father’s name was Moropant. She lost her mother when she was four years old. The responsibility of her upbringing fell upon her father who worked at the court of Peshwa Baji Rao II who raised her as his own daughter. While pursuing studies, she also took formal training in martial arts, horse riding, shooting and fencing, for safeguarding her religion and nation, under Tatya Tope. At the age of 14 years she was married to Raja Gangadhar Newalkar in 1842 and she became the Rani (Queen) of Jhansi. After her marriage she was named as Lakshmibai, named so, in honour of the goddess Lakshmi. Rani Lakshmibai gave birth to a son who died when he was four months old. The king never recovered from his son’s death and died on 21st November 1853, at that time Rani was just 18 years old.
After the death of the king ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ got implemented in Jhansi, by Lord Dalhousie, that allowed the British government to take over any kingdom if ruler died without leaving a legal heir. Raja before his death adopted a son whose name was Anand but later on he was named Damodar. But the British government refused to allow the adopted son to become Raja. The state jewels were confiscated and the rani and her son were asked to leave the palace and the fort. And a letter written by Raja, a day before his death, instructing that his son be treated with respect and that the government of Jhansi should be given to her widow for her lifetime, was not considered. When she was informed, she cried out “I shall not surrender my Jhansi” (mai apni Jhansi nahi dungi). She was firm in her decision not to give up the dominion of Jhansi to the British. For strengthening the defence of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmibai assembled an army of 14000 rebellions which also included women and organized an army for the defense of the city. She received the support of other great Indian warriors in her efforts. In 1858, when British attacked Jhansi, Rani Lakshmibai’s army decided to fight and the war continued for about two weeks. After a fierce war, when the British army entered Jhansi, Rani Lakshmibai 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 17th June of 1858, this great warrior martyred her life for India’s freedom and became a symbol of resistance to the rule of the British East India Company in India.