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Rani Laxmi Bai: A Woman to Remember – The Queen of Jhansi who Rewrote the History of India

Rani Laxmi Bai was born in 1828 in Varanasi as 'Manikarnika'

Rani Laxmi (Lakshmi) Bai of Jhansi
Rani Laxmi (Lakshmi) Bai of Jhansi
  • Rani Laxmi Bai was born in 1828 in Varanasi as Manikarnika
  • Rani Laxmi Bai got married to Gangadhar Rao, King of Jhansi, when she was just seven years old
  • Her marriage was short lived and hence became Rani of Jhansi when she was just 18 years old

Over the years, several battles took place, led by heroes- irrespective of their gender, has changed the shape of India’s history. One such hero was Jhansi of Rani, who was brave and ferocious in every sense of the term. Born to a Maratha family in Varanasi, Rani Laxmi Bai was one of the most leading personalities of the first war of India’s independence, which started in 1857. This year, 2017 marked her 159th death anniversary on June 18. Very few women marked their name in History of India’s struggle of independence and Rani of Jhansi, was one of them.

Rani Laxmi Bai (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Rani Laxmi Bai (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Rani Laxmi Bai enjoyed more freedom than any other women of that era as her father used to work in the Peshwa Court of Bithoor. She not only practiced self defense, archery, horse riding, but also formed an army of women in the court. Rani Lakshmi Bai was born in 1828, in Varanasi as ‘Manikarnika’, however, her date of birth remains disputed.

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Rani Laxmi Bai got married to Gangadhar Rao, King of Jhansi, when she was just 7 years old. Her marriage was short-lived and therefore, at the age of 18, she became Rani of Jhansi. Soon after, the Britishers took advantage of her lack of experience and seized Jhansi from her. They asked her to leave the fort as the ruler and offered her Rs. 60,000 as pension. But Laxmi Bai was so determined to defend Jhansi that she denied them and form an army of their own. The army not only included men but also women.

Army of Rani laxmi Bai (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Army of Rani Laxmi Bai. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Rani not only defended Jhansi from Britishers but also from neighboring states. In September to October 1857, she fought with King of Orchha and Datia.

British appointed Sir Hugh Rose to capture Jhansi. In 1858, Britishers tried to enter Jhansi. They looted common people and killed many people, including Women and children. Hence, Laxmi Bai decided to fight against Britishers along with the army. The war continued for about two weeks. Women were not only equipped with arms but were also supplying food to the people in need. But when Britishers attacked Jhansi on March 31, they were able to enter Jhansi.

Fort of Jhansi in 1857 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Fort of Jhansi in 1857. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

After Britishers were able to capture Jhansi, Laxmi Bai tied her adopted son Damodar Rao on her back and start fighting with two swords, left Jhansi to ask Peshwas to support her against the Britishers. Peshwa decided to help her by sending his army. When Kalpi was attacked by Britishers, Laxmi Bai came in front and fought. Her attack set-back the British Army.

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On June 18, Britishers captured Gwalior from all four sides. Rani decided to fight the enemies instead of surrendering herself to the Britishers. She started fighting, but fell down from her horse during the war and started bleeding. As she dressed like an army man, nobody was able to recognise her. Then her faithful servants took her to nearby Gangadas Mutt and gave her ‘Gangajal’.

Her last wish was that she should not be touched by any Britisher and hence was burnt by a hermit and she died at an early age of 29.

-This report was compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram. 



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Not just Kohinoor, the Amaravati Stupa sculptures were looted too

The Britishers not only pillaged our Kohinoor, but made us devoid of these marvelous sculptures too

Amaravati Stupa sculpture Image: Wikimedia

In a recent article published at Scroll.in, Ruchika Sharma observes that we as a country limit our conversation to the prized ‘The Kohinoor’ whereas many other sculptures were also looted and taken away by foreigners.  Here is a brief summary of the article.

As the writer mentions “The only gain that one can foresee is the purely symbolic joy of telling our erstwhile colonial masters: We are getting our own back.” Demanding the very pride of Britain ‘The Kohinoor’, what exactly is the Indian government is expecting in return… (Probably ‘affirmative’). But that’s not how this world goes.Today we follow the concept of ‘Survival of the fittest‘. Debates and foreign tours can go on and on but it hardly changes the fact that those Britishers will return it. Instead, we can demand our other possessions back which will enhance our ancient heritage. It will help the archaeologists and researchers to dig in deeper into our historical glory.Things like various Buddha sculptures, heavy metals, Chola bronzes etc can be demanded instead.

Those Britishers looted us to our very core. As mentioned by our elders often, India was used to be a Golden Bird. So much was the wealth in our land but time to time strangers came and took whatever they were able to in every possible manner they could have.

Amaravati Stupa sculplture Image: Wikimedia Commons
Amaravati Stupa sculpture
Image: Wikimedia Commons

One of the most scandalous act done by those Britishers was that of ‘looting of the Amaravati stupa’.The Amaravati was one of the most glorious prized possessions of India.Starting from 1797 they looted it piece by piece completely and presently it is being displayed in the British museum named as ‘Amaravati gallery‘. Indian Government should focus on bringing these possessions back to our land.

Related article – History of Kohinoor by William Dalrymple

Amravati Gallery Image: Wikimedia Commons
Amravati Gallery
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Facts reveal that the stupa was built in 3rd century BC in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. With no proper use, it gradually lost its significance. Again in 1796 local workers of a Zamindaar discovered the ruins. Digging deeper into the ruins they found white marbles .They even used those marbles in building their structures with which they were working on.

After then came the first British ‘Colin Mackenzie’ to discover those ruins.In 816, he prepared some docs and pictures and ultimately transported those white stones to London.However, some were given to Bengal Asiatic society.But that was not the end of story.Most famous of people related to this temple was ‘Sir Walter Elliot’.Not knowing anything about archaeology he did some major damage to those ruins. Recklessly he carried out several operations at the site, prepared some sketches and continuing the trend he also transported nearly 121 sculptures pieces to London,which were later renamed as ‘Elliot marbles‘.
These sort of teleportation of the sculptures continued. Adding to the list was ‘JG Horsefall’. Putting the nail in the coffin he found ‘Relic Casket’ (and that was the most important part of the temple). However, its present location is still unknown.

A replica of Amaravati Stupa in the museum at Amaravati Image: Wikimedia Commons
A replica of Amaravati Stupa in the museum at Amaravati
Image: Wikimedia Commons

‘On-site preservation’ was a concept which wasn’t yet followed by any of the Britishers. Not even by some experienced archaeologists such as ‘James Burgess. He proposed to take 175 pieces .Then came ‘Captain Cole‘ (Curator of ancient monument in India).The first one to make a case on ‘on site preservation’.He proposed the erection of small buildings where they would be safely displayed. He even made one strong point that Indian belongings should not be taken to England.Instead, if required duplicate copies should be displayed in the museum.
However nothing good came out of it and a debate arose between Burgess and Cole which was ultimately in the favor of Burgess. Cole tried his best to make his point valid but his proposal was ignored. Eventually, the whole sculpture was sort of displaced to England or to Madras.

Cole was the person who sowed the idea of on-site preservation into the people’s mind. His belief was a monument should be given respect by not dislocating it. Today England owns it proudly irrespective of the fact that it is ours .It is high time that our government pressurizes British Government to give us back these belongings. So that the Stupa regains its dignity and original place where it once was.

Twitter handle – @pritam_gogreen

(Pritam, a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. A simple person who tries to innovate and improvise himself.)

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Curry masala restaurants at risk of closing down in London



London: Who does not know curry in the UK? Solely identified with Indian food menu, curry has become a palatable source of ethnic food for Britishers. But it seems that things are changing now as the Indian food industry faces a threat of losing business in England.
NewsGram brings you an exclusive report by Reuters from London.

The great British tradition of going for a curry on a Friday night appears to be dropping by the wayside, with an estimated 12,000 curry houses disappearing. As Joel Flynn reports, culture, not just cuisine, might be to blame.It’s lunchtime in the Bengal Clipper kitchen, and chicken tikka masala a British favourite is being prepared. This isn’t the busiest time of day, but that’s not slowing down head chef Mohammed Asrar, from the Bihar region of India.

It’s lunchtime in the Bengal Clipper kitchen, and chicken tikka masala a British favourite is being prepared. This isn’t the busiest time of day, but that’s not slowing down head chef Mohammed Asrar, from the Bihar region of India.

He has worked for years to be able to blend spices, but when it comes to customers, the Clipper and its curry competition are facing slimmer pickings than ever.

Business is down and changing tastes are to blame, according to Bengal Clipper owner, Mukit Choudhury. He said, “The old generation, they’ve gone back behind and the new generation took over the place, and since then I find the Indian restaurant is slowly, slowly coming down.”

Costs too are a big problem. While the price of a curry might barely have changed in the last few years or even decades, the weakness of the pound and the rising price of spices is hitting the bottom line. Rents in the capital, in particular, have also risen, but it’s staffing that’s the biggest worry.

SOUNDBITE: Reuters Reporter, Joel Flynn, said “Much is at stake and not just for the industry itself. Curry houses employ 100,000 people in Britain, many of them famously here on Brick Lane in London, and as far as sales are concerned, according to a government committee on curry, it’s worth more than 4.2 billion pounds a year.”

If current trends continue, the Bangladeshi Caterers’ Association expect up to a third of curry houses to go bust. But while many might publicly lament the dying off of a great British institution, restaurant footfall suggests curry might not be on the menu much longer. (image: Manjula’s kitchen)

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Communal tension in Gwalior, curfew imposed


Gwalior: Curfew has been imposed in Gwalior city on Saturday post the indulgence of a Muharram procession in violence. Police had to resort to baton charge and tear gas to restore order.

According to police, the passing of a Muharram procession in front of a Hindu religious site in Sevanagar area was opposed on Friday night, leading to a clash between members of both communities. Police intervened and brought the situation under control.

However, another spat took place on Saturday afternoon and led to heavy brick-batting between the two communities, leading to police using force to disperse the mobs.

Superintendent of Police Harinarayan Chari Mishra told IANS that curfew was imposed in the area as a precautionary measure but the situation is now under control.