Rani Karnavati (died March 8, 1535), was a princess and temporary ruler from Bundi, India. She was married to Rana Sanga of Chittorgarh, the capital of Mewar Kingdom. She was the mother of the next two Ranas, Rana Vikramaditya and Rana Uday Singh, and grandmother of the legendary Maharana Pratap.
After Babur had captured the throne of Delhi in 1526 AD, Rana Sangram Singh or Rana Sanga of Mewar lead a confederation of Rajput Kings against Babur to capture the throne of Delhi. But in The Battle of Khanua in 1527, the combined Hindu forces were defeated, and Rana Sanga died shortly afterwards from his wounds.
Rani Karnavati took up the regency in the name of her elder son Vikramjeet, a weak ruler. In the meantime, Mewar was attacked for the second time by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, at whose hands Vikramjeet had earlier received an defeat. It was a matter of great concern for Rani.
The antagonized nobles were not ready to fight for Vikramjeet and the imminent battle was sure to be another blot in the history of Sisodias. Rani Karnavati wrote to the nobles to come forward for the sake of the honour of the Sisodias, and was able to persuade the nobles to fight for Mewar, if not for Vikramjeet. Their sole condition was that Vikramjeet and Uday Singh should go to Bundi during the war for their personal safety. Rani also sent a Rakhi to Mughal Emperor Humayun, calling him a brother and asking for help. Thus her name became irrevocably linked to the festival of Raksha Bandhan.
Rani Karnavati agreed to send her sons to Bundi and told her trusted maid Panna to accompany them and take good care of them. Panna was reluctant, but surrendered to the wishes of the queen, when she assured her that with the renewed support of the nobles and the expected help from Humayun, all would be well. However, tidings from Chittor were not good and the Sisodias had fought valiantly, but they were outnumbered and the war was lost. Humayun who was on Bengal's invasion assured his assistance to Rani Karnawati, left the Bengal expedition mid way but could not reach Chittor in time. Bahadur Shah entered Chittorgarh and ransacked it for the second time. Realising that defeat was imminent, Karnavati and the other noble ladies of the court immolated themselves in a mass suicide by fire, while all the men donned saffron clothes and went out to fight to the death. Humayun did defeat Bahadur Shah and reinstated Karnavati's son Vikramaditya Singh as the ruler of Mewar after the mass suicide.
There is also a mention of Rani Karnavati of Garhwal Kingdom, who was the wife of Mahipat Shah who ascended to throne in 1622, though died young in 1631, after his death his Rani Karnavati, ruled the kingdom of the behalf of her young son, Prithvi Pat Shah. She even fought with the Mughals in 1640 AD, and defeated their troops, over time she earned the nickname 'Nakti Rani' (Nak-Kati-Rani) as she had the habit of cutting the noses of the invaders. Monuments erected by her still exist in Dehradun district at Nawada, she is also credited with the construction of the Rajpur Canal, the earliest of all the Dun canals, which starts from the Rispana river and brings its waters till the city of Dehradun.
- Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun Amar Chitra Katha.
- True meaning of Raksha Bandhan The Times of India, August 9, 2006.
- Encyclopaedia of Indian Events & Dates
- KARNAVATI, QUEEN OF CHITTOR
- Garhwal Genealogy Queensland University.
- Karnavati Garhwal Himalayas: A Study in Historical Perspective, by Ajay S. Rawat. Published by Indus Publishing, 2002. ISBN 81-7387-136-1. Page 43-44.
- Dehradun district The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909 v. 11, p. 212.
- Rajpur Canal uttaranchalirrigation.com.