Chennabhairadevi : The Pepper Queen

NationFirst | Unsung Warriors | Rani Chennabhairadevi

Stories of kings and queens always attract the young and the old alike. Indian history is abundant with interesting tales of brave queens. In India, where women strive to emulate Sita, and are often docile and meekly submit without resisting , there were valiant women taking up arms against enemies and often succeeded in their attempts. One such brave ruler was Rani Chennabhairadevi, the queen of Gerusoppa, who ruled for 54 years — the longest reign by any Indian woman ruler.

Gerusoppa, situated on the banks of the river Sharavathi in Uttara Kannada, was under the control of the Vijayanagara kings. In the decentralised Vijayanagara empire, various regions were ruled by royal families known as Mahamandaleshwaras. By the early 1550s, Chennabhairadevi, who belonged to the Saluva dynasty, became the queen. As per the inscriptions, her kingdom extended from south of Goa to Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Malabar. This region is known not only for harbours like Bhatkala, Honnavar, Mirjan, Ankola and Baindur but also for pepper.

Raina De Pimenta

Honnavar and Bhatkala served as internal and international, flourishing trading centres. Arabian horses and weapons were imported from the West. Pepper, betel nut and nutmeg were exported to European and Arab countries. #Chennabhairadevi found herself at confrontation with the neighbouring rival kingdoms as well as the #Portuguese. The attempts of the Keladi kings and Bilgi chieftains to pull the queen down proved futile.

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