73rd Republic Day: India's Fearless Female Warriors

73rd Republic Day: India's Fearless Female Warriors
Brave warriors who fought in silence, Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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Here are stories of women whose contributions to India's freedom struggle can never be forgotten

Kashish Sharma
January 26 , 2022
04 Min Read

For years, freedom struggle has been a narrative seen through eyes and heard through words of a few fighters. While many know about  the revolutionary hero Bhagat Singh who fearlessly fought against the British and was later executed, few of us have heard the brave tales of Uda Devi who had shot colonialist soldiers from a Peepal tree.

Today as India celebrates its 73rd Republic Day, let us take a moment to recognize the lives of these fearless women whose struggles remained anonymous for a very long time.

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Matangini Hazra 

Known as Gandhi buri, this revolutionary woman was born to a poor peasant in a village near Tamluk town of West Bengal. Widowed at a young age, she started internalizing Gandhian principles and was a part of the Civil Disobedience Movement. She was arrested for revolting against the abolition of the Salt tax. She even took to spinning her own Khadi. At the age of 72, she had led a procession of 6000 women supporters to free Tamluk Police from the clutches of colonialists. She was shot three times by the police as she continued stepping  towards the station despite the warning. She died with the tri-colour in her hand. One can visit the Statue of Hazra on the Maidan in Kolkata, the same spot where she was killed. Many schools and streets also go by her name in the city.

Side view of the Matangini Hazra Statue

Kittur Rani Chennamma 

One of the first woman rulers to lead an armed rebellion against the East India Company, the warrior queen was born in a small village Kakati in Karnataka. From a young age, she was proficient in horse riding and sword fighting. Married to King of Kittur, she had lost her son young. When her adopted son was not recognized under the Doctrine of Lapse, the brave queen had raised a battle against the East India Company and is known to have won the first round of the battle despite having a small force. She was captured by the British in the second round of battle and was imprisoned for life at Bailhongal Fort where she eventually passed away. One can visit the Kittur Chennamma Fort in Karnataka which is an important archaeological site. The fort also houses a museum where one can find antiques like swords, shields and other interesting things.

A view of the Kittur Fort in Karnataka

Rani Abbakka Chowta 

The only woman ruler to take on Portuguese invaders was the queen of Ullal, a port town between the Western Ghats and Arabian sea. With the increasing influence of the Portuguese over Indian trade, a paid permit had become a necessity for Indian, Arab and African ships who otherwise enjoyed free trade. Being King of Ullal’s heir to the throne, Abbakka was crowned as the queen.  Understanding the threat posed by the Portuguese on the coastal areas, she was determined to resist it with all her might. Most of the early attacks by the Portuguese on Ullal were wasted due to the queen’s brilliant tactics and diplomatic decisions. She had once along with 200 soldiers had raided the Portuguese and had killed their general with seventy other men. The Somanatheshwara temple in Ullal stands to date which the queen had protected from the Portuguese destroying it.

A view of the Ullal city in Karnataka

Jhalakaribai ( 1830- 1858)

This extraordinary woman soldier played a huge role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Born in a small village near Jhansi, Jhalakaribai was known for her bravery since childhood when she had killed a tiger with an axe and also a leopard with a stick she used to carry. With her extraordinary skills as a warrior and her uncanny resemblance to Rani Lakshmi Bai, she was instantly taken in her army. When the British had attacked the Fort of Jhansi leading to Rani escaping with her adopted son, Jhalakaribai had at once disguised herself as the queen and had declared herself to be the same in front of the British army. It was because of her sacrifice that Rani Lakshmi Bai was able to buy time to escape. A museum has been set up inside the Jhansi Fort in her remembrance.

A bottom view of the Jhansi Fort


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