10 Brave And Inspiring Female Warriors From Indian History

Our textbooks contain elaborate stories about the valour of great generals and presidents- all of them male. The prevalent system often tends to overlook their female counterparts who have had an equal and sometimes even bigger contribution to the greatness India holds today. Just because they are not discussed as often doesn’t mean they aren’t a part of India’s history. To make sure that these valiant women are not forgotten, we are here with a list of 10 inspiring female warriors that deserve as much recognition as others.

1. Maharani Tarabai 

Wife of Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj, Tararani led the Maratha struggle for Independence against Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb with great valour. She acted as a regent after Rajaram Maharaj’s death with her son Shivaji II on the throne. She did an excellent job at assimilating great officers of the Maratha Kingdom under her reign who fought against the Mughals united. She won back several forts that were captured by the Mughals and personally looked over them. The 27-year-long Maratha Struggle for Independence came to end under her reign with the death of Aurangzeb in 1707.

Source: Wikipedia

2. Ahilyabai Holkar 

Another Maratha queen, Ahilyabai Holkar efficiently took over the affairs of the Maratha Kingdom and the hooka dynasty after the death of her husband, Khanderao Hokar and also her father-in-law, Malharrao Holkar. Despite objections from many sections of society, Ahilyabai Holkar took charge of the region of Indore with the army of Holkars at her side. She led the army and successfully defended Malwa from invaders. Besides being one of the greatest female warriors in Indian history, Ahilyabai Holkar is also associated with the construction of several cultural and religious heritage sites. She passed away in 1795, entrusting the responsibility of her esteemed region to her son Tukoji Rao Holkar.

Source: Wikipedia

3. Rani Lakshmi bai 

Born as Manikarnika Tambe, Rani Lakshmibai was the wife of the Maharaja of Jhansi- Gangadhar Rao who passed away shortly after their marriage. She looked over Jhansi as a regent on behalf of her minor son who was not a natural heir to the throne of Jhansi. On application of the Doctrine of Lapse, when the British wished to annex Jhansi, Rani Lakshmibai led her army against the British in order to protect her own Kingdom from falling in the wrong hands. She was a huge part of the War of Independence of 1857 and fought valiantly against the British along with Tatya Tope. She escaped Jhansi and went to Gwalior where she fought a tough fight against the British with her son on her back. She died a brave soldier on the battlefield. Her valour will forever be celebrated in Indian history.

Source: Wikipedia

4. Razia Sultana

At a time when female rulers weren’t the norm and weren’t celebrated as much, Razia Sultana, the daughter of Iltutmish proved her merit to become the first and only female ruler of the Delhi sultanate and also one of the strongest among them. She was astute with the right wisdom to carry on the administration of such a vast empire.  Even after her marriage, she strived to build her own power and was successful in doing so. She however succumbed to the envy and objections of her own younger half-brother who carried on a campaign against her which resulted in her death.

Source: Wikipedia

5. Avantibai Lodhi 

Another victim of the Doctrine of Lapse, Avantibai Lodhi was a contemporary of Rani Lakshmibai from Ramgarh. She was an eminent fighter making use of guerrilla tactics to fight the British who were keen on capturing Ramgarh. She incited people to act during the 1857 war of Independence and gave tough resistance to the atrocities committed by the British. The British might was however more powerful and Avantibai Lodhi stood defeated in her homeland of Ramgarh. She was an embodiment of Rajput values and died fighting against the despotic East India Company.

Source: Wikipedia

6. Mata Bhag Kaur 

Mata Bhag Kaur, popularly known as Mai Bhago’s story is one of great fearlessness and courage. A true Sikhni, she was the first woman in the history of Punjab to fight on the Battlefield. She fought with great strength along with the Chali (a group of 40 men) against the Muslims who were ready to launch an attack on their Guru- Guru Gobind  Singh. This battle, the battle of Mukstar, culminated in the death of the 40 soldiers which Guru Gobind Singh went on to call Chali Mukte. Mata Bhag Kaur who bore several injuries was taken care of by the Guru and she continued to serve him until his death.

Source: Wikipedia

7. Rani Durgawati 

Brought up in the famous Chandel Dynasty, Rani Durgawati belonged to one of the wealthiest and strongest dynasties of that time and went on to be associated by marriage to another strong dynasty- the Gond dynasty. She took over the administration of the dynasty upon her husband’s death with much efficacy and proved to be a meritorious leader. She fought numerous battles against the Mughals in the 16th century to protect her kingdom. In one such battle, when she realized that defeat was imminent Rani Durgawati, instead of surrendering chose to kill herself. This act undoubtedly proves that Rani Durgawati is one of the most valiant female Warriors in Indian history.

Source: Wikipedia

8. Queen Rudrama devi 

Queen Rudrama Devi belonged to the Katakiya dynasty of Southern Peninsular India and was the successor of Ganpati Deva. Queen Rudrama Devi occupied this esteemed position as a ruler on the basis of merit. She was trained in the art of administration and warfare and proved that she was worthy of taking care of the entire race. As with every other powerful woman, she too had to face internal dissent at the hands of men who did not want to be ruled by men but she tackled all of that with grace. She protected the Katakiya kingdoms from various enemies- most notably King Mahadeva and also Ambadeva. A lot of inscriptions in present-day Telangana describe her valour in great detail and are of utmost historical importance.

Source: Wikipedia

9. Begum Hazrat Mahal 

Begum Hazrat Mahal was yet another prominent woman in the 1857 War of independence. She served as the regent of Awadh during the period and led the rebellion against the British who had illegally occupied her territory. She united several important nobles to look after Awadh in Lucknow which was the then capital of Awadh and launched an attack on the British. She fought for an independent state of Awadh and inspired many to fight for the cause of independence. She also challenged the queen’s Proclamation in 1858 and continued to fight for her cause till her last breath.

Source: Wikipedia

10. Jhalkari Bai 

One cannot simply forget Jhalkari Bai, a close associate of Rani Lakshmibai in this list of female warriors from Indian history. Jhalkari Bai provided great strength and support to Rani Lakshmibai during the 1857 war of Independence. She helped Rani Lakshmibai escape Jhansi and fought the British disguised as Rani Lakshmi bai. She took on the British with exemplary boldness and fought to protect the Queen and her territory.

Source: Wikipedia

Not only did these women fight their respective enemies but they also fought the patriarchal norms that tried to hold them back. They proved that as women, they too were capable of carrying out their duties towards their motherland. These greatest female warriors from Indian history should not be forgotten and should be celebrated and recognized for overcoming great struggles and helping India achieve glory.

Also read: 10 Greatest Warriors In Indian History You Should Know About!

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