Digital Dimdima
-By Jayanthi Mahalingam
Down to the sea
The Narmada in Gujarat
A Hill With A View
The Monuments Of Mandu
An Ancient City
An Island In The River
Beyond Hoshangabad
Steeped In Legends
Narmadey Har
The Cult of Thuggee
The Splendour of Marble Rocks
Original Inhabitants
The World Of Verrier Elwin
Tribal Queen
The Jewel Of Kanha
The Narmada In Mythology

 

Tribal Queen

Mandla town derives its name from the Sanskrit word mandala meaning a circle; because the river Narmada girdles it on three sides. A crumbling fort stands in the loop of the river, with only some of its bastions still standing. It was once the capital of the Garha Mandala empire founded by descendants of Gonds who inter-married with the Rajputs. The Gond rajas established their supremacy over an extensive area which came to be called Gondwana. Its most well-known rulers were Sangram Shah and his daughter-in-law, Rani Durgavati (1548-64). Durgavati was married to his son Dalpat. After her husband’s untimely death in 1548 A.D., Durgavati became the regent, as her son, Bir Narayan, was a minor.
Rani Durgavati was not only endowed with beauty and grace, she also had the qualities of a good warrior. She was a fine horsewoman and an excellent shot. She led an army of 20,000 cavalry and 1000 elephants and forced the petty rulers around Garha to pay her tribute. News of Garha’s supremacy in the south reached Emperor Akbar’s ears and he sent an army to invade Gondwana in 1564.
When the Mughal army came into sight, the gallant queen mounted her favourite elephant Sarman and with burnished lance in hand, inspired her vastly outnumbered troops to twice repel the invaders.Eventually, the Mughal army overwhelmed Durgavati’s forces. Her officers advised her to retreat or surrender, but she was reluctant to adopt either course. Two arrows struck her. One lodged in her neck and the other pierced her temple. She pulled out the arrows and though bleeding profusely, continued to fight. But now the Mughals were closing in on her and capture seemed imminent. She ordered her mahout to stab her. When he refused, she threw herself on her dagger. Her last words were:“I am overcome in battle... God forbid that I also be overcome in name and honour.”
Her tomb was erected at the place she fell, in the hills between Mandla and Jabalpur and can still be seen there.


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