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Kittur Chennamma
Born (1778-10-23)23 October 1778
Kakati, Kittur, British India
Died 21 February 1829(1829-02-21) (aged 50)
Nationality Indian
Known for Indian freedom fighter
File:Kittur Rani Chennamma (postal stamp).jpg

Postage stamp depicting Kittur Rani Chennamma, issued in 1977

Kitturu Rani Chennamma (Kannada language: ಕಿತ್ತೂರು ರಾಣಿ ಚೆನ್ನಮ್ಮ) (born October 23, 1778 in Kakati, Kittur, Karnataka, India – died February 21, 1829) was the Queen of Kittur, India. She was best known for leading an armed rebellion against the British East India Company in 1824. The resistance ended with her arrest and she became a symbol of the independence movement in India. In the state of Karnataka, she is celebrated along with Abbakka Rani, Keladi Chennamma and Onake Obavva.[1]

Early life

Chennamma was born in Kakati, a small village in the kingdom of Kittur, which is around 5 km north of Belgaum in Karnataka. Born five decades earlier than Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, who also fought the British,[2] she received training in horse riding, sword fighting and archery in her youth.

Fight against British

She became queen of her native kingdom and married Raja Mallasarja, of the Desai family, and had one son. After their son's death in 1824 she adopted Shivalingappa, and made him heir to the throne. The British East India Company did not accept this and ordered Shivalingappa's expulsion, using a policy of paramountcy and complete authority (doctrine of lapse officially codified between 1848 and 1856 by Lord Dalhousie), but Chennamma defied the order.

Thackeray killed

File:St John Thackeray's monument at Dharwad, India.jpg

Monument for Thackeray at Dharwad, Photographed by Henry Cousens in 1880s

Rani Chennamma sent a letter to the governor at Bombay to plead the cause of Kittur, but Elphinstone turned her down, and war broke out.[3] The British tried to confiscate the treasure and jewels of Kittur, valued around fifteen Lakhs of rupees.[4] They attacked with a force of 200 men and four guns, mainly from the third troop of Madras Native Horse Artillery.[5] In the first round of war, during October 1824, British forces lost heavily and St John Thackeray, collector and political agent,[6] was killed by Kittur forces.[3] Amatur Balappa, a lieutenant of Chennamma, was mainly responsible for his killing and losses to British forces.[7] Two British officers, Sir Walter Elliot and Mr. Stevenson[6] were also taken as hostages.[3] Rani Chennamma released them with an understanding with Chaplin that the war would be terminated but Chaplin continued the war with more forces.[3] During the second assault, Subcollector of Sholapur, Mr. Munro, nephew of Thomas Munro was killed.[6] Rani Chennamma fought fiercely with the aid of her lieutenant, Sangolli Rayanna, but was ultimately captured and imprisoned at Bailhongal Fort, where she died on 21 February 1829.[3] Chennamma was also helped by her lieutenant Gurusiddappa in the war against British.[8]

Sangolli Rayanna continued the guerrilla war to 1829 until his capture in vain.[3] He wanted to install the adopted boy Shivalingappa as the ruler of Kittur but he was caught and hanged. Shivalingappa was arrested by the British.[3] Chennamma's legacy and first victory are still commemorated in Kittur, during the Kittur Utsava, 22–24 October.

Statue at Parliament House complex, New Delhi

On 11 September 2007 a statue of Rani Chennamma was unveiled at the Indian Parliament Complex by Pratibha Patil, the first woman President of India.[9] On the occasion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Lok Sabha Speaker Somanath Chatarjee, BJP leader L.K.Advani, Karnataka Chief Minister H.D.Kumaraswamy and others were present, marking the importance of the function.[2] The statue was donated by Kittur Rani Chennamma Memorial Committee and sculpted by Vijay Gaur.[2]

Rani Chennamma's statues are installed at Bangalore and Kittur also.[10]

Burial place

Rani Chennamma's samadhi or burial place is in Bailhongal taluk, but is in neglected state with poor maintenance and the place is surrounded by a small park maintained by Government agencies.[10]

In popular culture

The heroics of Kittur Rani Chennamma are sung by folk in the form of ballada, lavani and GiGi pada.[11]

  • "Kittur Chennamma" 1962 film in Kannada, directed by B. Ramakrishnaiah Panthulu[12]
  • Coast guard ship "Kittur Chennamma" was commissioned in 1983 and decommissioned in 2011.[13]
  • The popular daily Indian Railways train Rani Chennamma Express connecting Bangalore and Kolhapur is named after this former warrior.

External links


  1. Freedom fighters of India, Volume 4. Delhi: ISHA Books. 2008. pp. 192. ISBN 81-8205-468-0. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Kittur Rani statue unveiled". 12 September 2007. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Gopalakrishnan, Subramanian (Ed.); Gopalakrishnan, edited by S. (2007). The South Indian rebellions : before and after 1800 (1st ed. ed.). Chennai: Palaniappa Brothers. pp. 102–103. ISBN 9788183795005. 
  4. Disturbances at Kittur and the death of Mr. Thackeray. London: Parbury, Allen, and Company,. 1825. pp. 474–5. 
  5. Asiatic Journal Vol.3 (1830). The Occurrences at Kittur in 1824. London: Parbury, Allen, and Co. pp. 218–222. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 O'Malley, Lewis Sydney Steward (1985). Indian civil service, 1601-1930.. London: Frank Cass. pp. 76. ISBN 9780714620237. 
  7. "‘Restore Kittur monuments'". 1 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  8. "Kambar calls for research on Chennamma". 25 October 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  9. "Pratibha unveils Kittur Rani Chennamma statue",
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Kittur Rani Chennamma's samadhi lies in neglect". 30 October 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  11. Datta, Amaresh (Ed.) (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: devraj to jyoti, Volume 2. New Dehi: Sahitya Akademi. pp. 1293. ISBN 9788126011940. 
  12. "Kittur Chennamma (1962)",
  13. Varma, Dinesh M (28 June 2011). "Coast Guard to acquire 20 ships, 10 aircraft". Retrieved 13 November 2012. 

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