Kittur Rani Chennamma
Statue of Rani Chennamma in Bengaluru

(1778-10-23)23 October 1778
Kakati, Belagavi District, present day Karnataka, India
Died21 February 1829(1829-02-21) (aged 50)
Other namesRani Chennamma, Kittur Rani Chennamma
Known for1857 Revolt against the British East India Company

Kittur Chennamma (23 October 1778 – 21 February 1829) was the Indian Queen of Kittur, a former princely state in present-day Karnataka. She led an armed resistance against the British East India Company, in defiance of the Paramountcy, in an attempt to retain control over her dominion. She defeated the Company in the first revolt, but died as a prisoner of war after the second rebellion. As one of the first and few female rulers to lead kittur forces against British colonisation, she continues to be remembered as a folk hero in Karnataka, she is also an important symbol of the Indian independence movement.

Royal standard of Kittur Chennamma, at Kittur Fort

Early life

Kittur Chennamma was born on 23 October 1778, in Kakati, a small village in the present Belagavi District of Karnataka, India. She belonged to the Lingayat community and received training in horse riding, sword fighting and archery from a young age. She married Raja Mallasarja of the Desai family at the age of 15, after looking up to him since the age of 9,[1][2]

Rebellion against the British

Chennamma's husband died in 1816, leaving her with a son and a state full of volatility. This was followed by her son's death in 1824. Rani Chennamma was left with the state of Kittur and an uphill task to maintain its independence from the British. Following the death of her husband and son, Rani Chennamma adopted Shivalingappa in the year 1824 and made him heir to the throne. This irked the East India Company, who ordered Shivalingappa's expulsion. The state of Kittur came under the administration of Dharwad collectorate in charge of St John Thackeray of which Mr Chaplain was the commissioner, both of whom did not recognize the new rule of the regent, and notified Kittur to accept the British control.

This is seen as a predecessor of the later Doctrine of lapse Policy introduced later by Lord Dalhousie, Governor General of India, to annex independent Indian States from 1848, a doctrine based on the idea that in case the ruler of an independent state died childless, the right of ruling the State reverted or "lapsed" to the suzerain.

In 1823, Rani Chennamma sent a letter to Mountstuart Elphinstone, Lieutenant-Governor of the Bombay province pleading her case, but the request was turned down, and war broke out.[3] The British placed a group of sentries around the treasury and crown jewels of Kittur, valued at around 1.5 million rupees upon the outbreak of war in order to protect them.[4] They also mustered a force of 20,797 men and 437 guns, mainly from the third troop of Madras Native Horse Artillery in order to fight the war.[5] In the first round of war, during October 1824, British forces lost heavily and St John Thackeray, collector and political agent,[6] was killed in the war.[3] Amatur Balappa, a lieutenant of Chennamma, was mainly responsible for his killing and losses to British forces.[7] Two British officers, Sir Walter Elliot and Mr Stevenson[6] were also taken as hostages.[3] Rani Chennamma released them with an understanding with Chaplain that the war would be terminated but Chaplain continued the war with more forces.[3] During the second assault, subcollector of Solapur, Munro, nephew of Thomas Munro was killed.[6] Rani Chennamma fought fiercely with the aid of her deputy, Sangolli Rayanna, but was ultimately captured and imprisoned at Bailhongal Fort, where she died on 21 February 1829 due to health deterioration..[3]

Sangolli Rayanna continued the guerrilla war to 1829, in vain, until his capture.[3] Rayanna wanted to install the adopted boy Shivalingappa as the ruler of Kittur, but Rayanna was caught and hanged. Shivalingappa was also arrested by the British.[3] Chennamma's legacy and first victory are still commemorated in Kittur, during the Kittur Utsava held on 22–24 October every year.



Burial place

Rani Chennamma's samadhi or burial place is in Bailhongal.[12]


Parliament House, New Delhi
Statue of Kittur Chenamma near Belagavi town hall.

On 11 September 2007 a statue of Rani Chennamma was unveiled at the Indian Parliament Complex by Pratibha Patil, the first woman President of India.[13] On the occasion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, BJP leader L. K. Advani, Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy and others were present, marking the importance of the function.[14] The statue was donated by Kittur Rani Chennamma Memorial Committee and sculpted by Vijay Gaur.[14]


There are also statues commemorating her at Bengaluru, Belagavi, Kittur and Hubballi.[12]

In popular culture

Kittur Rani Chennamma on a 1977 stamp of India


  1. ^ "Rani Chennamma of Kitturu". Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Rani Kittur Chennamma: India's Valiant Freedom Fighter". 12 June 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Gopalakrishnan, Subramanian (Ed.) (2007). The South Indian rebellions : before and after 1800 (1st ed.). Chennai: Palaniappa Brothers. pp. 102–103. ISBN 9788183795005.
  4. ^ Disturbances at Kittur and the death of Mr. Thackeray. London: Parbury, Allen, and Company. 1825. pp. 474–5.
  5. ^ Asiatic Journal Vol.3 (1830). The Occurrences at Kittur in 1824. London: Parbury, Allen, and Co. pp. 218–222.((cite book)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b c O'Malley, Lewis Sydney Steward (1985). Indian civil service, 1601–1930. London: Frank Cass. p. 76. ISBN 9780714620237.
  7. ^ "Restore Kittur monuments". The Hindu. 1 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  8. ^ "ಖರೇ ಖರೇ ಕಿತ್ತೂರು ಬಂಡಾಯ". Retrieved 22 October 2022.
  9. ^ "ಕಿತ್ತೂರು ಸಂಸ್ಠಾನ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ -ಭಾಗ ೩". Retrieved 22 October 2022.
  10. ^ "ಕಿತ್ತೂರು ಸಂಸ್ಥಾನ ದಾಖಲೆಗಳು". Retrieved 22 October 2022.
  11. ^ "ಕಿತ್ತೂರು ರಾಣಿ ಚೆನ್ನಮ್ಮ". Retrieved 22 October 2022.
  12. ^ a b "Kittur Rani Chennamma's samadhi lies in neglect". The Times of India. 30 October 2012. Archived from the original on 20 July 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  13. ^ "Pratibha unveils Kittur Rani Chennamma statue" Archived 6 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine,
  14. ^ a b "Kittur Rani statue unveiled". The Hindu. 12 September 2007. Archived from the original on 7 January 2008. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
  15. ^ Datta, Amaresh, ed. (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: devraj to jyoti, Volume 2. New Dehi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 1293. ISBN 9788126011940.
  16. ^ "Kittur Chennamma (1962)",
  17. ^ Varma, Dinesh M (28 June 2011). "Coast Guard to acquire 20 ships, 10 aircraft". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 November 2012.