Damodar Rao of Jhansi
Damodar Rao Newalkar
15 November 1849
|Died||28 May 1906 (aged 56)|
Born as Anand Rao to Vasudev Rao Newalkar, a cousin of Raja Gangadhar Rao, he was adopted by the maharaja after his own son died. The adoption of Anand Rao, who was renamed Damodar Rao, occurred on the day before the Maharaja died. The adoption was in the presence of the British political officer who was given a letter from the Maharaja instructing that the child be treated with respect and that the government of Jhansi should be given to his widow for her lifetime. After the death of the Maharaja in November 1853, because Damodar Rao (born Anand Rao) was adopted, the British East India Company, under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, applied the Doctrine of Lapse, rejecting Damodar Rao's claim to the throne and annexing the state to its territories. When she was informed of this, Rani Laxmibai cried out "I shall not surrender my Jhansi" (mai apni Jhansi kabhi nahi doongi). In March 1854, Rani Laxmibai was given an annual pension of Rs. 60,000 and ordered to leave the palace and the fort. 
However, actions by mutineers at Jhansi and the failure of negotiations between the Rani and the Company resulted in Jhansi State reasserting its independence. Eventually, Company forces laid siege to the city of Jhansi and after determined resistance, they breached its defences. Rani Laxmibai evaded capture by, according to tradition, with Damodar Rao on her back jumping on her horse, Badal from the fort. They survived but the horse died. More probably she escaped in the night with her son, surrounded by guards.
After the death of Rani Laxmibai at Kotah ki Serai on 18 June 1858, he survived that battle and lived with his mentors in the jungle, in dire poverty. According to a memoir purporting to be by Damodar Rao, he was among his mother's troops and household at the battle of Gwalior, together with others who had survived the battle (some 60 retainers with 60 camels and 22 horses), he fled from the camp of Rao Sahib of Bithur and as the village people of Bundelkhand dared not aid them for fear of reprisals from the British they were forced to live in the forest and suffer many privations. He had taken asylum in Jhalrapatan when due to help of some old confidants, he met Raja Pratapsinh of Jhalarpatan. An old confidant, Nanekhan impressed upon the local British political officer, Flink to forgive young Damodar. He was sent to Indore, after he surrendered to the British. Here, Sir Richard Shakespeare, the local political agent, placed him under the guardianship of a Kashmiri teacher, called Munshi Dharmanarayan, to teach Damodar - Urdu, English & Marathi. He was allowed to keep only 7 followers (all others had to leave) and was allotted an annual pension of Rs. 10,000.
He settled down at Indore and married. His first wife died shortly afterwards and he was married again into Shivre family. In 1904, he had a son named Lakshman Rao. Later, after end of the Company rule in India, he also petitioned British Raj for recognition but was refused to be recognized as legal heir. Damodar Rao was an avid photographer by passion. He died on 28 May 1906 survived by his son Lakhsman Rao.
- Edwardes, Michael (1975) Red Year. London: Sphere Books, pp. 113–14
- N.B. Rao only means "prince"; the maharaja was Gangadhar Newalkar of the Newalkar clan.
- "Jhansi". Remarkable India. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
- Rani of Jhansi, Rebel against will by Rainer Jerosch, published by Aakar Books 2007; chapters 5 and 6
- The whole memoir was published in Marathi in Kelkar, Y. N. (1959) Itihasachya Sahali ("Voyages in History").
- The fate of Damodar Rao, the Son of Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi after the war
- Jhansi honors Rani's descendants