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Rani Chennamma’s Kittur – The Story of a Patriotic Queen

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When you hear the name Rani Chennamma, all that comes to picture is patriotism, valour, courage, self-confidence, and the fight she put up against the mighty British forces.

Royal Emblem of Kittur
Royal Emblem of Kittur Dynasty

Rani Chennamma hailed from Kittur, a small village now in the district of Belgaum. Kittur has a prominent regional history when it comes to fighting against the British rule.

The Kittur Dynasty

Kittur became the seat power of Kittur Kings during the 12th century. Hiremalla Shetty and Chikkamalla Shetty were the rulers with whom the kingdom of Kittur started. As a gift for their heroic deeds, the Shetty brothers received Kittur from Adil Shahi, the king of Bijapur. The Shetty brothers ruled the region from Sampagaon as their capital. The kidsom saw 11 more rulers after the founders.

The 6th ruler of the kingdom, Mudimallapa Desai, moved the capital to Kittur and built the grand fort and palace of royal residence at Kittur.

kittur fort and palace

During the rule of the 11th king, Mallasaraja between 1782 – 1816 Kittur experienced prosperity and welfare eventually obtained great fame. This tempted Maratha Peshwa Bajirao II of Pune to annex this small kingdom to his kingdom. In the pretext of extending a hand of friendship, he invited Mallasaraja and treacherously imprisoned him. The Kittur ruler died 3 years later in imprisonment.

Kittur Rani Chennamma; the Patriotic Queen

Mallasarja’s first wife Rudramma, turned towards spiritualism while his second wife, Chennamma was an able administrator.

Chennamma coronated Rudramma’s son and the next king, but he proved to be a very weak ruler. Chennamma ruled the kingdom on his behalf. Yet, the young king died issueless in 1824. 

Seizing the opportunity of an heirless kingdom, The British started interfering in the administration of Kittur. British East India Company abolished the practice of adopting an heir and annexed the kingdoms to their provinces. Thackeray, the British collector of Dharwad, seized the treasury of Kittur.

This provoked the Queen of Kittur and confronted the collector defeating him and his men. Thackery was killed by Amatur Sadhunavar Balappa who was a loyal body guard of Chennamma. 

This victory was however short lived. British in a few months attacked and seized the fort of Kittur. This time Chennamma lost to the mighty British force. She was held in captivity at the Bailhongal Jail.

Her aide Sangolli Rayanna continued the struggle, but fell victim to the betrayal of his own people to the British and was executed.

Chennamma, disheartened lost the will to live and eventually breathed her last while still in British custody in 1829.
The patriotic queen who chose to fight in spite of knowing that her army was no match to the large British army; became a great inspiration to the subsequent freedom fighters of the nation.

Kittur Palace; Royal Residence of the Kings of Kittur

The royal residence of the kings of Kittur now remains in ruins.

Interiors of Kittur Palace

The British army destroyed the fort, looted the palace valuables, removed and sold the wooden doors and windows; literally left Kittur in a shattered state.

The grand palace popularly known as Rani Chennamma's Palace was constructed in Peshwa-Islamic style.

kittur palace main entrance

The 3-storied palace was believed to have several rooms with durbar hall, rest rooms, discussion rooms, pole star viewing room, several kitchens, bath rooms, bath tubs, secret wells.

Durbar Hall of kittur palace.
Durbar Hall
Rani Chennamma Kittur Palace

Kittur Fort & Palace

Pole Star Vision Room Kittur Palace
Pole Star Vision Room

The royal kitchen had its own unique style of exhaust system and water system. Stone containers and tanks were built to store water. The palace had a pipe system for water supply. The dining hall in the palace was a suitable for a huge affair; it could hold about 100 guests.

kittur palace kitchen room
Kitchen Room

kitchen well at kittur palace

seceret well water storage at kittur palace

grand palace at kittur

The palace now has remnants of ornamental arches and decorated shelves.

decorated shelves at kittur palace

How to reach Kittur

Kittur can be reached easily by road. There are many buses (private/government run buses) plying from many other major cities.

Kittur is 50 km from Belgaum. Belgaum is one of the prominent cities in Karnataka.

Good accommodations can be found in Belgaum, Dharwad or Hubli.  

Plan your trip to the historic site of Kittur and experience the feel of patriotism and valour that is filled in the air of Kittur.

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