||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (March 2013)|
|Birth name||Rani Rudrama Devi|
She was born, as Rudramba (Rudra-Amba) to King Ganapathideva (or Ganapatideva, or Ganapathi Devudu), who ruled at Warangal the capital of Kakateeya Dynasty that had sway over entire Andhra Pradhesh State and most of the Andhra provinces during 13th century. Rudramma was formally designated as a son through the ancient Putrika ceremony and given the male name of Rudradeva. When she was only fourteen years old, Rani Rudramma Devi succeeded her father. Rudramadevi was married to Veerabhadra, Eastern Chalukyan prince of Nidadavolu.
Despite initial misgivings by some of her generals who resented a female ruler, she suppressed both uprisings within Kakatiya territory and incursions by neighboring kingdoms with the help of others, most notably Gona Gonna Reddy. An able fighter and dynamic ruler, Rudramba defended the kingdom from the Cholas and the Yadavas, earning their respect. She was one of very few female rulers in south India during her time. Rani Rudramma Devi ruled from CE 1262-1289
Legend has it that due to her upbringing as a boy, Rani Rudrama was not much a connoisseur of music and art, but she was quite taken by a form of Shiva Tandavam - Perini. She found this dance more of an exercise to the soldiers and had it made part of the training of the royal force.
Kakatiyas of Warangal are one of the major dynasties that ruled over Andhra and shaped its history and civilization. The foundation of the Kakatiya Empire was laid in land lying between Godavari and Krishan on a hillock called Hanumakonda. The story of the builders of the empire goes back to the eight and ninth centuries of Christian Era. With Orugallu (now known as Warangal) as their capital the kaktiyas ruled over the Telugu country from about 1150 AD to 1323 AD.
Ganapati Deva, after taking advice from his Prime Minister Sivadevayya, nominated Rudrama Devi as his successor in his last days. When she was only fourteen years old, Rani Rudramma Devi succeeded her father. In the first two or three years of her conjoint rule with her father, the kingdom was thrown into confusion and disorder due to Jatavarma Sundara Pandya I's invasion and the disastrous defeat of the Kakatiyas along with their allies on the battle field of Muttukur near Nellore. Though Ganapati was ultimately successful in turning back the tide of invasion, he suffered loss of territory and prestige and his hold over his feudatories and nobles was shaken. Under these circumstances, he retired from active politics. So the real power vested with Rani Rudrama Devi. She used to look after all the administrative matters. From various inscriptions it seems that she started ruling independently from 1261.
She lost both her husband and father in 1266-1267. That was a heavy blow and she was unable to bear up under so much grief. She was totally devastated and it was learnt that she decided to die, but was persuaded by her nobles and ministers to look after the Kingdom. She was crowned in 1269 AD.
Her ascendancy was resented by some nobles and her cousins because she was a female. They later raised a banner of revolt. Even Veera Bhadra (her husband) also was jealous of Rudrmadevi ruling the land. She wore male attire and sat on the throne and with iron hand ruled the kingdom keeping the enemies at bay. Pandyas and Cholas from the south Indian peninsula were a great threat and she kept them at bay with great vigour. After her accession she had to fight Harihara deva and Murarideva the cousins who revolted against the lady ruler. She had some efficient nobles like Jaganni deva and Gona Ganna reddy who helped her greatly in suppressing revolts.
[File:Rudrama devi vigraham.JPG|thumb|right|Kakatiya Rani Rudrama Devi]
With regard to the external dangers, the Kalinga King Narasimha I who suffered a defeat previously at the hands of Ganapatideva, took advantage of the distracted condition in the Kakatiya dominions and marched with his forces into the Godavari delta to recover his lost possessons. In the later part of the reign of Rudramadevi, the above provinces came back under her sway. Her commanders Poti Nayaka and Proli Nayaka fought against Kalinga Vira Bhanudeva I, son and successor of Narasimha I, and his accomplices Arjunadeva, the Matsya chief of Oddadi and others and inflicted a crushing defeat on them. The Kakatiya power was thus re-established in the coastal Andhra country.
But the biggest threat came from the West in the form of Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri. Rudramadevi defeated Mahadeva Raja the Seuna Yadava Ruler of Devagiri (Daulatabad in Aurangabad District at present in Maharashtra state) who invaded Warangal (earlier known as Orugallu or Ekasilanagaramu) fort, the capital of the Kakateeya Empire, and chased him away. Mahadeva was desirous to take the advantage of internal unrest in the Kakateya Empire coupled with a female ruler at the top. But little was known to him of her valor and administrative capabilities. She crossed Godavari chasing the Yadava ruler right into his territories and forced him to make peace. The Devagiri king had to pay great amount of ransom to the queen and made peace. Although such treasures gained after victory belonged to the royal house, she distributed the wealth among her troops.
In the south the Nellore Kingdom came under the sway of the Pandyas and was placed under their vassals. The Kayastha chief Jannigadeva re-occupied the territories of the Nelluru kingdom and freed them thus from the Pandyan sway. He and his brother Tripurarideva I (1270-72 A.D.) continued to rule the Valluru kingdom as the vassals of Rudramadevi. However, with the succession of their younger brother Ambadeva to the throne in 1272 A.D., the situation underwent a change.
Rudramadevi could not tolerate the headstrong and disloyal Ambadeva. By that time Prataprudra, her grandson, become old enough to share the responsibilities of the administration. He was of great valor and extraordinary war planner. He planned a three-prong attack on the Ambadeva. The intention was to weaken all his support systems so that he would not have had enough strength. Of the three, the first was led by the Queen Rudrama Devi and her general Mallikarjuna. However, as the recently discovered Chandupatla (Nalgonda district) grant dated 1283 A.D. indicates, Ambadeva seems to have killed Rudrama along with Mallikarjuna Nayaka in battle in that year. However the army of Rudrama Devi was victorious; later, Prataparudra II, successor of Rudrama, succeeded in completely suppressing the Kayastha revolt. Ambadeva was left with no shape and size to rethink of attacking Kakateeya Empire.
Her Rule and Patronage
Among Rani Rudramma Devi's accomplishments during her reign was the completion of Warangal Fort, begun by her father, in the Kakatiya capital of Warangal (one stone hill). Parts of the fort are still standing, including examples of distinctive Kakatiya sculpture. She worshipped goddesses: Bhadrakali, Ekaveera and Padmakshi. She captured important forts like Mulikinadu, Renadu, Eruva, Mutthapi Nadu and Satti.
After the death of Rudramadevi most probably in a battle, Prataparudradeva II (1296-1323), son of her daughter Mummadamma, succeeded to the throne. In fact, Ganapathideva announced Prataparudra as crown prince in his last days. The Muslim invasions of South India started during his reign and finally the Kakateeya Empire came to an end.
Rudrama Devi was one of the most outstanding queens in Indian history from the Kakateeya dynasty and people still cherish her memories. Her gender did not come on her way in discharging the duties of her exalted office. She took an active part in governing the country and strove hard to promote the best interests of the state. In spite of the wars which frequently disturbed the country, her people remained contented and happy under her rule.
Marco Polo, the Venetian traveller who paid a visit to the kingdom probably a little later, speaks highly of her administrative qualities, benign rule and greatness.
- Jolly, Julius; Outlines of an History of the Hindu Law of Partition, Inheritance, and Adoption: As Contained in the Original Sanskrit Treatises, Thacker, Spink and Company, 1885, pp.144-150
'An appointed daughter is either one who has been charged by a father devoid of male issue to perform the customary obsequies to him after his death, and, consequently, to become his heir himself.... In the first case, the Putrikā herself came to be regarded as a son and to take a very high rank among the twelve sons.... The son of the appointed daughter, Putrikāputra, is universally mentioned as an heir.'
- Latif, Bilkees I.; Forgotten, Penguin Books India, Jan 1, 2010, p. 70
- History of the Minor Chāḷukya Families in Medieval Āndhradēśa By Kolluru Suryanarayana 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rudrama Devi.|