"I won't give up my Jhansi!"
―Lakshmi Bai, refusing to cede Jhansi to the British, 1854.[src]

Lakshmi Bai

Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi (19 November 1828 – 17 June 1858) was the rani (queen) of the Jhansi State in the north-central part of India. She was a leading figure in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.


Originally named Manikamikka at birth, Lakshmi Bai is believed to have been born on 18 November 1828 in the city of Varanasi. Growing up in a Maharashtra Brahmin family, she was educated and trained in martial arts and sword fighting, which was unusual for someone of her gender. At a young age, Lakshmi Bai married the Maharaja of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao. Her husband soon died however, leaving her without a male heir. Briefly before her husband's death, in accordance with formal Hindu tradition, Lakshmi Bai adopted a boy to inherit the throne.

However, the British governor general of India, Lord Dalhousie, refused to recognize the heir, and immediately annexed the territory of Jhansi, justifying his actions with the Doctrine of lapse. Ordered to leave the palace of the queen, the Rani Mahal, and leave Jhansi, Lakshmi Bai refused to cede the territory to the British, declaring "Mi Maghi Jhansi Nahi Denar", meaning "I won't give up my Jhansi". At the outbreak of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, she became a vital figure in the insurrection against the British. She organized troops and assumed military duties against British forces in the Bundelkhand region.

After weeks of fighting, the British captured Jhansi Fort, although Lakshmi Bai managed to escape and join the other rebels. They then attacked the city-fortress of Gwalior, where Lakshmi Bai fought dressed as a man with her adopted son strapped to her back. Although she fought the British troops aggressively, she was mortally wounded by a stray bullet in the heat of battle, and died soon after.