Rani Lakshmibai (Rani of Jhansi) was born on 19 November 1828 in Varanasi into a Marathi Brahmin family. She was named Manikarnika and was nicknamed Manu.
Manikarnika father was Moropant Tambe and her mother Bhagirathi Sapre (Bhagirathi Bai). Her parents came from Maharashtra and was cousin of Nana Sahib. Her mother died when she was four years old.
Her father worked for a court Peshwa of Bithoor district. Peshwa brought up Manikarnika like his own daughter. The Peshwa called her “Chhabili”, which means “playful”.
Manikarnika was educated at home and was more independent in her childhood than others of her age. Her studies included shooting, horsemanship, fencing and mallakhamb with her childhood friends Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope.
The young Mannikarnika became Lakshmibai when she married Raja Gangadhar Rao, the Maharaja of Jhansi in 1842.
In 1851, Laxmi bai gave birth to son but died within 4 months. After their child died they adopted a baby boy and named him Damodar Rao. Damodar Rao was son of Maharaja Cousin.
Maharaja Gangadhar Rao passed away on 21 November 1853. Rani Laxmi bai was only twenty five years old.
After Maharaja Gangadhar Rao’s death, the British refused to recognize the legitimacy of the adopted son, Damodar Rao, under the Doctrine of Lapse.
British government proposed an annual pension of sixty thousand for the queen and asked her to vacate the Jhansi Fort. Rani Laxmi Bai refused the offer and strengthened the defense system of Jhansi.
When the Sepoy Mutiny broke out at Meerut in 1857, Lakshmibai was declared the regent of Jhansi, and she ruled on behalf of the minor heir Damodar Rao.
In order to consolidate her position, she organized her army and trained women in the art of warfare. In all of things, her trusted warriors provided her with all the help she needed.
People of Jhansi also supported in her in her cause, irrespective of their religion or caste, who were ready to lay down their lives for their motherland.
In 1858, when the British attacked Jhansi, Lakshmibai fought bravely for almost two weeks. but could not save the city. It fell to the British forces after big battle. On the day of the battle, Lakshmibai, dressed as a man, with her son tied to her back, fought fiercely.
According to tradition with Damodar Rao on her back she jumped on her horse Badal from the fort; they survived but the horse died. Her horses included Sarangi, Pavan and Badal; according to tradition she rode Badal when escaping from the fort in 1858.
she left Jhansi and went to Kalpi where many other rebels, including Tantia Tope joined her. From there, they went to Gwalior where a battle took place.
Rani Lakshmibai died on 18 June 1858 at the age of twenty-three.
Damodar Rao surrendered himself to a British official and he has been allowed a pension of Rs. 10,000, seven retainers only,
In final battle Rani Lakshmibai put on a sawar’s uniform and charged the enemy; she was badly wounded and unhorsed. She sat bleeding by the roadside, she recognised the soldier and fired at him with a pistol.
Sir Hugh Rose, the General of the British forces, called her ‘the best and the bravest of them all’.
After her death a few local people cremated her body. She had been buried under a tamarind tree under the Rock. Her tomb is in the Phool Bagh area of Gwalior.