Rani Chennamma was born on October 23, 1778, in Kagati, a small village in present-day Belagavi district in Karnataka.
At the age of 15, she married Raja Mallasarja of Kittur, the province’s ruler until 1816. After Mallasarja died in 1816, his eldest son, Shivalingarudra Sarja, took the throne.

Revolt Against the British

  • Succession Crisis: Shivalingarudra had no natural heir and Chennamma had lost her son. Before his death in 1824, Shivalingarudra adopted a child, Shivalingappa, as the successor. However, the British East India Company refused to recognize Shivalingappa as the legitimate heir under the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’.
  • Doctrine of Lapse: This doctrine stated that any princely state without a natural heir would be annexed by the British. John Thackery, the British official at Dharwad, launched an attack on Kittur in October 1824.
  • Battle and Initial Victory: According to historian Queeny Pradhan’s book Ranis and the Raj, Thackery ordered two horse artillery pieces and an infantry company to enter the fort. The Kittur army, led by Rani Chennamma, responded with devastating fire. Thackeray was killed, and Rani Chennamma emerged victorious.
  • Subsequent Defeat: This success was short-lived. On December 3, 1824, British troops attacked and seized the Kittur Fort. Rani Chennamma and her family were imprisoned at the Bailhongal Fort, where she died in 1829.


Legacy and Inspiration: Even while in prison, Rani Chennamma maintained contact with local leaders such as Sangoli Rayanna. Despite knowing the might of the Company’s forces, she chose to revolt, embodying the spirit of resistance.

Impact on Women’s Rights: Commemorating the Kittur revolution, led by a woman, can inspire more women to fight for their rights and enter politics. This act of defiance by Rani Chennamma serves as a beacon of courage and leadership for women across India.


Legacy Editor Changed status to publish June 7, 2024