Jhansi: The Epitome of Bravery Queen Lakshmi Bai

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Jhansi fort holds a revolutionary testament of courage and honour that stand tall, depicting the saga of a true queen that fought for her kingdom. Like Rani Laxmi Bai, the Jhansi fort, too, was bold and beautiful, reflecting Bundelkhand’s culture. But with time, the beauty has dilapidated; now, we see the ruins of patriotism, chivalry and extreme sacrifice. The drive from Orcha to Jhansi was of min, & we reached Jhansi fort by 9.30 am. It was a sunny day and was bound to get hot during the day. Hence we decided to wrap up the tour quick. Since the Jhansi Fort is managed by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), we bought entrance tickets. Our Orcha guide Sunil was accompanying us, so he took the lead in narrating the history.

Jhansi: The Epitome of Bravery Queen Lakshmi Bai
Entrance to fort

As I entered the fort, a giant cannon that caught my eye was the Kadak Bijli cannon used in the 1857 revolution. Then we walked towards the Ganesha temple, where Rani Laksmi Bai got married to Gangadhar Rao. Dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the temple holds fascinating and exciting works of sculpture. An intricate design and exquisite artwork are all over the temple, making it an architectural marvel.

Jhansi: The Epitome of Bravery Queen Lakshmi Bai
Ganesha Temple

As we walked towards the main entrance, our guide confirmed in the ancient era, Jahnsi fell under the region of ‘Chedi Desa’ or ‘Chedi Rashtra’, ‘Jejak-Bhukti’ and Bundelkhand, respectively. Raja Bir Ju Deo built the fort on a hilltop known as Bangara in 1613. The fortress remained with Bundellas for twenty-five years and was taken over by the Mughals for the next 100 years. In 1729-30, it came into possession of Maratha rulers.

Jhansi: The Epitome of Bravery Queen Lakshmi Bai
Way to Jhansi Fort

Per a legend, Raja Bir Singh Deo sits on the roof of his palace with his friend, the Raja of Jaitpur. And he asked the latter about the new fort built on Bangara hill. Raja of Jaitpur replied that he could see it as ‘Jhainsi’ (meaning rather indistinct). This ‘Jhainsi’, over time, became corrupted by Jhansi. It was one of central India’s most strategically constructed on an elevated rock rising out of the plain. And it commands the city and the surrounding country.

Jhansi: The Epitome of Bravery Queen Lakshmi Bai
the circumference of the fort

The fortress demonstrates both the Maratha and Bundela styles. And it spreads over a sprawling 15 acres, and this monumental structure measures about 225 metres in width and 312 metres in length. Also, a mammoth wall was constructed, along with 22 other supports, to strengthen the fort. Moreover, the defence was an army stronghold with 20-foot thick granite walls and a wall on the south end connecting the fort with the city.

Jhansi: The Epitome of Bravery Queen Lakshmi Bai

The impressive part of the forts is the gates. A total of 10 gates can access the fortress: Khanderao, Datia, Unnao, Orchha, Baragaon, Lakshmi, Sagar, Sainyar, Bhander and Jhirna. Here the first eight still have wooden doors, and of the last two, the former is entirely closed, and the latter is open. Hugh Rose’s batteries made a breach during the assault on the fort in 1858; the wall between Jhirna gate and Sainyar gate also exists.

Ruins of fort

As I entered the main gate, I realized the fort was divided into three stages. And my guide confirmed the same by naming it Baradari, Shankergarh and Panch Mahal. The Panch Mahal was the home to Maharaja Gangadhar Rao and Rani Laxmi Bai. The Britishers destroyed a 5-storey structure, out of which two. Presently three stories exist. Where the ground floor was used as the conference room, and the Rani Lakshmi Bai stayed on the first floor. I could admire it from the outside. 

Jhansi: The Epitome of Bravery Queen Lakshmi Bai
Panch Mahal

The fort is almost ruined, but some walls still stand tall, reciting the saga of patriotism. After his death, Damodar Rao, his adopted son, ascended to the throne under Rani Laxmi Bai’s regent ship. But the British did not recognise their claim to the throne. Furthermore, they declared the state had been handed to the British government. A great discontent among the region’s Maratha and Bundella chiefs was created due to the illegal annexation of Jhansi. Further, it aroused the freedom struggle waged in 1857. 

The fort entrance

Rani Lakshmi Bai issued a proclamation appealing to all Hindu & Muslim brethren to join the fight against British rule on Feb 14, 1858. Nana Saheb and Raja Mardan Singh of Banpur assisted her in this proclamation. Even Tatya Tope joined her in March, and the great struggle began. Rani Laxmi Bai prepared her army and showed exemplary courage, bravery and organising capacity to lead her troops from the fort. 

The fort part

The British forces fought in command of Hugh Rose for seventeen days. The besieging British battalions and cavalry kept pounding the defence with their artillery. But failed to breach the walls exceedingly thick and of great strength. Moreover, Rani put forward a committed and spirited defence and returned the fire with equal vigour. 

The overview

Even engaging in fierce fighting while escaping from Jhansi Rani Rode onto Kalpi. She further rode to Gwalior and captured the fort. On the other hand, after losing many battles, on June 19, Hugh Rose finally won the Gwalior battle. And Rani died mortally wounded. Hence her body was cremated. And her last wish that it should not fall into the British hand was fulfilled. 

The place where Lakshmi Bai jumped

Rani Laxmi Bai has been given a place amongst the most remarkable women in history and is an illustrious figure in Indian history. The British generals were shocked at her daring. Hugh Rose described her as ‘the bravest and best military leader of rebels. The story is fascinating about a woman whose patriotism for her country was immense. I took a walk around the fort, where I saw the Tomb of Gulam Gaus, who was a trusted adviser & gunman. His grave is present in the fort world; he lost his life while saving Jhansi from the clutches of Britishers.

Jhansi: The Epitome of Bravery Queen Lakshmi Bai

There is a Jumping point from where Rani Lakshmi Bai jumped off on horseback to save herself from the Britishers. There were few Kal Kothri (prisons) still intact constructed by the Marathas. Like most old forts, there are several interesting passages, temples, and buildings. Though we were there for 2hrs, I could not thoroughly explore the fort. There were a few temples we did not climb up to, some structures we did not go inside, and some sections of the wall we couldn’t walk on. 

Jhansi: The Epitome of Bravery Queen Lakshmi Bai
The ruin of a fort

Alas, It was time to leave, as we had to reach Gurgaon by night; hence we could not delay our stay further. We bid goodbye to our guide & Jhansi and headed towards our home. On my way now, I realised the true essence of the poems we used to recite for Rani Laksmi Bai- “Bundele Harbolo Ke Muh Humne Suni Kahani Thi, Khub Ladi Mardani Wo toh Jhansi Wali Rani Thi.”

How to Reach

By Air: 

The nearest airport is Jhansi, approximately 103 km away from the city. At the airport, hire taxis to reach the city.

By Rail:

The Jhansi is a well-connected railway station with all the major cities in India. You need to hire private cabs or take a shared taxi from the station to reach the city.

By Road:

Jhansi is well-connected via road with Delhi, Agra, Mathura, Jaipur & other nearby city of Madhya Pradesh. Buses, private cabs, and shared taxis ply to Gwalior from these places. You can also book a private cab or a shared taxi. One can drive to Jhansi too.



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