Women of India – Belawadi Mallamma, the first leader of women’s army in the country

Posted: September 8, 2014 in History, Women
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Belawadi Mallamma known as the brave warrior queen of Belawadi, was from Bailhongal, Belgaum District, North Karnataka, Karnataka, India. Belawadi Mallamma was the first woman who formed a women’s army to fight against the British and the Marathas in 17th century.

Belawadi Mallamma fought with the Maratha king Shivaji Maharaja while defending her husband’s kingdom. Her kingdom was very secure and undefeatable.

In 1676-78 Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaja conquered Tanjavur that was under the rule of his step brother Venkoji I who was earlier a General in Bijapur Army. Shivaji had to settle the distribution of Jagir of his father Shahahji Raje. While returning to his kingdom some of his troops under a commander rested and camped at Yedvada a small suburb of Belawadi. The soldiers needed milk for them and their commander requested the head man of the local village to sell them milk and the head man said he could sell only 20 seers of milk. However the commander demanded that they needed much more and were angry when they were told that they could not be given larger quantity of milk as they had regular customers. The soldiers went away peacefully. But in the night when every one was asleep, they came to the village and took away the cows stealthily. In the morning the villagers found that their cows were stolen and they reported the matter to their king Isaprabhu.

The king was in dilemma as he planned a grand reception to Shivaji Maharaja for being the great protector of justice. He owever planned to settle that matter with arms and was discussing the action with his counsel. Queen Mallamma arrived at the court and requested that the responsibility be given to her. Knowing her vigor and bravery, the king agreed and soon she mounted a surprise attack with her women’s army on the Maratha camp. The soldiers in the camp were completely unprepared for the sudden attack and were soon vanquished. Many Maratha soldiers were killed.

Queen Mallamma was dressed in her sari tucked appropriately as Veeragachhe ( Typical south Indian woman’s dress in sari for a battle) for an action. She led from front and soon the cows were released and were driven back. It was great victory for her over the brave Marathas.

In the battle Shivaji Maharaja’s soldier cut the leg of horse on which she was riding and she fell. When she rose and began fighting Shivaji’s troops rushed and arrested her. They took her to Shivaji. He praised her and said “I made a mistake Ma..! Kindly forgive me..,I don’t want your kingdom”, then released her.

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