“She is a woman, what can she do”, grunted Aurangazeb as his marauding force attacked Keladi. Keladi Chennamma fought the war and Mughals were in for a shock. Aurangazeb who wanted to win Keladi was forced to sign a treaty with the ferocious warrior queen.
Early life of Rani Keladi Chennamma
Keladi Chennamma was the queen of Keladi Kingdom in Karnataka. She took birth in the household of a man called Siddappa Shetty, who was a native merchant in the region of Kundapur, Karnataka. She was from the Lingayatha community. Chennamma married King Somashekara Nayaka in 1667 CE. After Somashekhara Nayaka’s death in 1677, Chennamma efficiently handled the administration of the Keladi Nayaka dynasty.
During her reign of 25 years, she repelled the advance of the Mughal Army led by Aurangzeb from her military base in the kingdom of Keladi located in Sagara, Karnataka, India. She adopted Basavappa Nayaka, one of her close relatives who succeeded as Hiriya Basappa Nayaka. She also rendered a trade agreement with the Portuguese involving commodities like pepper and rice. Channagiri is named after her.
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Face off with Aurangazeb
She provided shelter to Rajaram Chhatrapati, son of Shivaji who was fleeing from the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb after a meeting with her cabinet and treated Rajaram with respect, but Aurangazeb attacked Keladi. Keladi Chennamma fought the war without defeat and battle with Mughals ended in a treaty.
A subordinate of Keladi Kingdom, Sadasiva of Swadi also helped Rajaram through a loan. Keladi kingdom was probably the last to lose autonomy to Mysore rulers and subsequently to British. Her cabinet was headed by Timmanna Naik, who was the descendant of a commander of Vijayanagra.
She is considered as the epitome of the Kannada women’s valor along with Rani Abbakka, Onake Obavva and Kittur Chennamma.
Chennamma was known to be a very virtuous and pious woman, and a pragmatic administrator of her times.
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