The State Government of Karnataka organized the Kittur festival this year on October 23 and October 24 in memory of Rani Chenamma. Chief Minister Jagadish Shetter inaugurated the festival.
Here is a small piece on one of the first freedom fighters of Karnataka. She fought against the British several decaded before Jhansi Rani Lakshmibai. She, therefore, deserves attention and our respect. So, here goes.
Indian history ranks her among the first women to have taken on the British. The Queen of a small principality in
North Karnataka, she took a strong stand against British highhandedness and fought for her rights. Unfortunately, her own men joined hands with the British and betrayed her. Though she died without realising her dream of an independent kingdom, the legacy of Rani of Kittur, Chennamma, still lives on and inspires millions of people.
Chenamma was born in 1778 in Kakati, a village neat
Belgaum city She was married to Mallasaraja Desai in 1793, whose family was ruling over the . kingdom of Kittur
Chenamma was only 15 years of age when she married. She however seemed to be marked for kingship as she easily slipped into the task of managing the royal household. She was the second wife of Mallasarja.
The marriage proved tragic as Mallasaraja died in 1818. Both Chenamma and Mallasaraja had a son who died in 1824.
Chenamma then took on the role of leading the(Dalhousie, who was the Governor-General of East India Company in
. She decided to adopt a child. The British resident of Dharwad, which is near kingdom of Kittur , J.M. Thackeray was an overzealous officer. He pointedly told Chenamma that as per the Doctrine of Lapse, the British had the right to annex kingdoms whose rulers did not have biological male heirs. Belgaum
The British refused to recognize either Chenamma and her adopted son. Thackeray demanded that Chenamma hand over the kingdom. He said Kittu would come under the administration of Dharwad province of which he was the head. The Queen refused to comply and hostilities broke out between the British and Chenamma.
Chenamma then wrote to the Commissioner of Bombay, Chaplin, about Thackeray and sought to prevent the outbreak of a war. Dharwad came under the control of Bombay Presidency. However, both Thackeray and Chaplin stood firm. Give up your kingdom, they said.
Chenamma refused and both the Britsh and Kittur went to war. Thackeray, for some reason, had underestimated Chenamma. He was also overconfident of annexing Kittur. What he did not know was that Chenamma was trained in horse riding, archery and sword fighting.
The British were defeated in the battle in 1824 and Thackeray even lost his life. This victory was shortlived as the British could not digest the defeat. They decided to wage another battle with Chenamma and this time around they used their usual trick-of identifying a traitor and luring them into their camp.
The trick worked and the Kittur camp could not fire the cannons as cowdung and mud was mixed with the gunpowder. The canons proved useless and despite the best efforts of Chenamma and her able lieutenant, Sangoli Rayanna, Kittur fell after 12 days and the queen was taken prisoner.
Chenama was house in the British prison in Bailhongal, near
Her tomb is at Bailhongal. There is boarding school for girls in Kittur named after Chenamma.