Keladi Chennamma

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Keladi Chennamma
Known forFighting against Bijapur and defying Mughal emperor Aurangzeb
Spouse(s)Somashekhara Nayak

Keladi Chennamma was the queen of Keladi Kingdom in Karnataka. She was the daughter of Siddappa Shettar, a native merchant[1] of Sagara, Karnataka. Keladi Kingdom (also known as Bednur and Ikkeri), was formed after the fall of Vijayanagara Empire.[2] Chennamma married King Somashekara Nayaka[3] in 1667 CE.[4] After Somashekhara Nayaka's death in 1677,[5] Chennamma efficiently handled the administration of the Keladi Nayaka dynasty.[5] During her reign of 25 years, she repelled the advance of the Mughal Army led by Aurangzeb from her military base in the kingdom of Keladi located in Sagara, Karnataka, India.[citation needed] She adopted Basavappa Nayaka, one of her close relatives who succeeded as Hiriya Basappa Nayaka.[3][4] She also rendered a trade agreement with the Portuguese[3] involving commodities like pepper and rice.[3]

She was given the epithet "the Pepper Queen" or "Raina da Pimenta" by the Portuguese. She also permitted Portuguese to establish churches at Mirjan, Honnavara, Chandravara and Kalyanpura.[6] In the state of Karnataka, she is celebrated along with Abbakka Rani, Kittur Chennamma, Belawadi Mallamma and Onake Obavva, as the foremost women warriors and patriots.[citation needed]

Attack by Aurangazeb[edit]

She provided shelter to Rajaram Chhatrapati, son of Shivaji who was fleeing from the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb[7] after a meeting with her cabinet and treated Rajaram with respect,[3] but Aurangazeb attacked Keladi. Keladi Chennamma fought the war without defeat and battle with Mughals ended in a treaty.[4] A subordinate of Keladi Kingdom, Sadasiva of Swadi also helped Rajaram through a loan.[3] Keladi kingdom was probably the last to lose autonomy to Mysore rulers and subsequently to British. Her cabinet was headed by Timmanna Naik, who was the descendant of a commander of Vijayanagra.[citation needed]


She is considered as the epitome of the Kannada women's valor along with Rani Abbakka, Onake Obavva and Kittur Chennamma. Mirjan fort was built by Keladi Chennamma.

Chennamma was known to be a very virtuous and pious woman, and a pragmatic administrator of her times.


  1. ^ amar chitra katha vol 793
  2. ^ Bhat, N. Shyam (1998). South Kanara, 1799-1860 : a study in colonial administration and regional response (1st ed.). New Delhi, India: Mittal Publications. p. 43. ISBN 9788170995869.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Dixit, Giri S (1981). Studies in Keladi History: Seminar Papers. Bangalore: Mythic Society. pp. 4, 5, 115.
  4. ^ a b c "1671-96 Rani Regnant Chennamma of Keladi (or Bednur) (India)". Worldwise guide to women in leadership. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  5. ^ a b Thilagavathi, B.S. Chandrababu, L. (2009). Woman, her history and her struggle for emancipation. Chennai: Bharathi Puthakalayam. p. 241. ISBN 9788189909970.
  6. ^ Kudva, Venkataraya Narayan (1972). History of the Dakshinatya Saraswats. Madras: Samyukta Gowda Saraswata Sabha. p. 112.
  7. ^ Krishnamurthy, Radha (1995). Sivatattva Ratnakara of Keladi Basavaraja: a cultural study. Keladi, Karnataka: Keladi Museum and Historical Research Bureau. pp. 6, 115.

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