Great Daughter of India : Rani Abbakka Chowta

The year is 1555.

India was witnessing the rise of an invader on herself- the Portugese.

Zamorins of Calicut and sultans of Bijapur had fallen on their knees on being defeated and destroyed by the hands of the Portugese in the 1500s.

They snatched Daman from the Sultans of Gujrat, established a colony in Mylapore, captured Bombay and declared Goa as their headquarters.

The unchallenged and undefeated army of Portugese were intoxicated with power and paramouncy. They were instilled with a feeling of being superior over the Indian culture and traditions.

They went on to ruin the ancient Kapalakeshwar Temple to build a church over it.

Their next target was the ultra profitable port of mangalore.

How would Portugese know what awaits them in this land where beautiful meets brave where art meets architecture and ferocity meets feminity.

14 km from the Mangalore in the South direction lied a small settlement of Ullal which was ruled by a bold 30 year old woman- Rani Abbakka Chowta.

Initially, Portugese thought Rani Abbakka to be a small clan leader who isn’t even worthy of being called an enemy. They sent a few boats and soldiers to capture her and bring her to Goa. Those boats never returned.

This event shook the walls of Portugal supremacy.

They sent a huge fleet of ships this time under the command of much celebrated Admiral Don Álvaro da Silveria. The admiral soon returned ; not with the news of victory but the burden of a humiliating defeat.

Thereafter, another Portugese fleet was sent- only a few injured from the crew managed to make it back.

Portugese had realised that this is not a tiny opponent who could be crushed simply by showcasing the might of the Portugal army. They learnt that they have to actually engage with Rani Abbakka.

The Portugese went on to capture the Mangalore port and the fort in every direction possible. Perhaps their plan was to tackle Rani Abbakka from a convenient distance from the Mangalore fort.

After the successful capture of the Mangalore fort, a huge army under the leadership of a celebrated general João Peixoto was sent to Ullal.

The motive of this military campaign was simple- subjugate Ullal and capture Rani Abbakka. Their plan was based on the ‘fact’ that a 30 year old lady with a few men cannot withstand an army of thousands of Portugal soldiers armed with weapons far ahead of her in time.

How would the portugese knew? That, soon this ‘fact’ will soon turn into an ‘opinion’.

The portugese reached Ullal only to find it deserted. Rani Abbakka was nowhere in sight.

They roamed around, relaxed and thanked their stars as they themselves knew how anhilative can be an Indian warrior be. At the moment when they were declaring victory- Rani Abbakka with her chosen warriors attacked the portugese. Chaos and fear struck harder in the hearts of Portugese soldiers than the swords of Indian warriors.

General Jao Peixoto was assasinated and about 70 soldiers were taken as prisoners of war.

Rani Abbakka advanced towards the Mangalore fort the very same night and laid a seige on the Mangalore fort. The perpetuator of the Portugal power in the South- General Mascarenhas was assassinated during the attack and the remaining soldiers were forced to vacate the fort.

She didn’t just stop at this, but went on to even capture the Portugal settlement at Kundapura which was 100 km from Mangalore. Why? Just to prove a point to Portugese.

The Portugese were finally able to capture Rani Chowta. How? The method famous among every foreign invader of India. The method of deceit. They convinced her estranged husband to betray for money. Rani Chowta was imprisoned and was later killed in her pursuit to escape.

Rani Abbakka was a jain and commanded an army of both Hindus and Muslims, which was 300 years before the revolt of 1857.

We Indians every year pay homage to her for her extraordinary courage and bravery which was way ahead than her time. Exactly the way we do to other Freedom Fighter- we forget them.

Author: Aditya Bhuyan

I am an IT Professional with close to two decades of experience. I mostly work in open source application development and cloud technologies. I have expertise in Java, Spring and Cloud Foundry.

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