The fate of Damodar Rao, the Son of Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi after the war

Y.N Kelkar’s “Itihasachya Sahali” or “Voyages in History” published in 1959 mentions the below from the memoirs of Damodar Rao Newalkar(real name Anand Rao), adopted son of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi and heir to the Jhansi throne narrates – “I was born on 15th November 1849 in Jhansi in a collateral branch of the ruling Newalkar dynasty. On my birth, the court astrologers looked at the stars and prophesised that I had a “Raj Yog” or destined to become a king. And how tragically true this prophesy turned out to be! After a young age of three, I was adopted by Maharaja Gangadhar Rao of Jhansi. An application was sent to the East India Company’s representative in Bundelkand to recognize my adoption, but my adoptive father died soon after before a confirmation could be received. After this, my adoptive mother, Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi sent a representation of Lord Dalhousie in Calcutta to recognize me as an heir to the throne but this appeal was rejected. The British East India Company declared that the kingdom of Jhansi would be annexed under the doctrine of lapse and that my mother, Rani Laxmibai would get an annual pension of Rs 5000. In addition Masaheb (Rani Laxmibai) would also inherit all the personal property of my father including the palaces and jewellery. Lord Dalhousie decided that I could inherit these personal assets of my late father but not the kingdom. In addition, there were 7 lakh rupees in the treasury in the name of my late father. When Masaheb requested for the same, she was informed that the British Govt would be hold this money in trust till I reached majority and then, it would be handed over to me. In 1857, my fate changed for worse. My mother never forgave the British for the annexation of our kingdom and she raised a banner of revolt along with the entire the populace of Jhansi. Unfortunately, we lost Jhansi due to treachery and had to flee to Gwalior. In the battle in Gwalior, Masaheb became a martyr. My attendants(Ram Chandra Rao Deshmukh and Kashi Bai and others) would tell be that she carried me on her back on the battlefield. I was too young to remember this. After Masaheb’s death, I remained in Gwalior for the next 3 days. Of Masaheb’s confidants, only 60 had survived the battle. Nanekhan Risaldar, a Maratha named Ganpatrao , Raghunath singh and Ramchadrarao Deshmukh took me under their guardianship and with 22 horses and 60 camels, we broke away from the camp of Raosaheb, brother of Peshwa Nanasaheb of Bithur and decided to find our own way out. We fled along the inhospitable terrain, jungles and ravines and fled towards the direction of Chanderi in Bundelkhand. No village on the way was willing to take pity and help us due to the fear of reprisals by the British. Since a refuge in any of the villages was virtually impossible, we took shelter in a dense forest by edge of the river. Due to lack of any camping equipment, we had to sleep under the open skies. During the scorching heart of the summer, we would have sleep inside the deep forest amidst the trees. Our skin would burn due to the heat. We had no food and hence had to survive on fruits and berries found in the forest. Fortunately, Mother Nature took pity on us and we never slept hungry in the forest. We were afraid of going to nearby villages for help as there were British soldiers roving everywhere hunting for the rebels. Only in extreme emergencies would our men venture out, with life in their hands and get required provisions from local villages. This went on till the end of summer. As monsoon began, things went from bad to worse. All forest paths would be flooded making it impossible for us to move. Remembering those terrible days sends shiver down my spine. Fortunately god finally took pity on us. A local village headman informed us that as the British has set up a camp at Lalitpur, he could not help us directly but if we moved to a secret location in the forest as suggested by him, he would provide us with provisions over there. On advice of Naik Raghunath singh, we broke our camp and started living at different locations in small groups of 10 to avoid any suspicion. We reached an agreement with that local village headman that we would give him Rs.500 every month plus 9 horses and 4 camels and in return, he would supply us with required provisions and keep us informed about British movements. At this time, we were around 11 people. As agreed, we went to live in a cave by a steep cliff. Below the cliff was the Vetravati river. There was a temple of Mahadev nearby too. River Vetravati ran with a great force and there was a large and lovely waterfall. Around us, there were several lakes and ponds. The sheer pristine beauty of the place made us forget some of our sorrows. In this way, we spent as two whole years as wanderers and fugitives. During these years, I was unwell the whole time. In the month of Bhadrapad, my conditioned worsened. My retainers were worried if I would even survive the ordeal. They begged the village headman to send someone to treat me. Even the village headman was shocked to see my pitiable and delicate state. He soon got a local doctor or a “vaid” who happened to be his uncle to treat me in secrecy. As I recovered from my illness, another problem arose. While fleeing Gwalior, we had around Rs. 60,000 with us which by now had been fully exhausted. Now, with no money to pay, the headman rudely asked us to leave and we had no choice but to comply. We gave the headman Rs.200 and asked for the return of our horses. That charlatan returned only 3 horses and informed us that others had died! We left as a group of 12 however, on our way further, we were joined by another batch of followers that had left earlier and soon became 24. We soon reached the village of Shipri-Kolaras in the Gwalior state. The locals there recognized us as rebels and put us all under arrest. We were in local jail for 3 days. Then under and escort of 10 horsemen and 25 sepoys, we were sent to the Political Agent at Jhalrapatan. As our horses had been confiscated, we had to walk for days. My men could not bear to see my plight and carried me on their back by turns. Most of my mother’s men who had survived had taken asylum in Jhalrapatan. There was a Political agency nearby managed by a Poltical Agent named Mr. Flink. One of my mother’s risaldar named Nanhekhan was working at this political agency. He was a trusted aide of Mt Flink. He went to Mr Flink and said “ Late Ranisaheb of Jhansi had a son who is now just 9-10 year old. After she died in the battlefield, that little child had to live in the forest like an animal. His trusted followers have looked after him with care. What is the fault of this innocent child? What has he ever done against the British Raj? Please spare that child and entire Hindustan shall shower blessings on you”. Mr Flink was a kind man. He sent a message to the Political Agent at Indore, Col Sir Richard Shakespeare, to which Colonel replied “If Rani of Jhansi’s son surrenders willingly, I shall see that his affairs are settled”. Mr Flink asked Nanhekhan to take me to Indore. On the way we met Raja Prithvisinh of Jhalrapatan. He had great respect for masaheb and he treated me very well promised that he would put in a good word for me with the resident at Ajmer. We were kept in prison near Jhalrapatan for around 3 months. We had no money till then and so I was forced to sell the two bracelets or “todas” of 32 tolas each which belonged to late Masaheb. There were the last remaining memories of her with me. And now they were lost. On 5th May 1860, we reached Indore cantonment. There I met the politicial agent, Sir Richard Shakespeare. I was placed under guardianship of a Kashmiri official called Munshi Dharmanarayan(to teach Damodar Urdu, English & Marathi). I was allowed to keep only 7 followers and all others had to leave. I was allotted an annual pension of Rs. 10,000, which I had no option but to take as I was only a child then.” After this, the British Govt refused to hand over to him the 7 lakh rupees which it held in ”trust” for him and had refused to hand it over to Rani Lakshmibai. Damodar Rao lived the rest of his days in penury begging the British govt to restore to him some of his rights without avail. After settling at Indore and reaching majority ,Damodar Rao’s Aunt – who was the wife of Damodar’ natural father, got him married at Indore. His first wife died shortly and he was married again in Shivre Family. In 1904, he had a son named Lakshman Rao. The sad and tragic life of Damodar Rao ended on 28th May 1906. He was 58 years old. His descendants still live in Indore. They use the name “Jhansiwale” after the land of their forebears. Amongst the attendents of Rani Lakshmi Bai ,Deshmukh passed awy in 1885 and Ramchandra Rao in 1888. Damodar’s son Lakshman Rao died in 1959 and the Govt of UP had presented him a Sanad and a monetary award to him on 10 may 1957 in commemoration of his grand mothers contribution after 100 years of 1857. Shrimant Damodarrao’s first wife dies in 1872ad d/o shri.Vasudeoraobhau Bhatavdekar. Next Shrimant Damodarrao married Shri.Balwantrao Moreshwar Shevde’s daughter and a son named Laxmanrao was born on 1879ad. Shri.Moropant Tambe had 2 wives – Bhagirathibai and Yamunabai. Manikarnika (Rani Laxmibai) was born to Bhagirathibai and Chintamanrao was born to Yamunabai. Chintamnrao had a issue Govindrao., Govindrao had a issue Eknathrao., Eknathrao’s son Dr.Vilas Tambe stays in Nagpur on the Wardhe road where he owns and runs a private hospital. Moropant Tambe was a part of the 1500 strong troop which broke out of Jhansi Fort with his daughter. He was seriously injured, captured in Datia by his attendant out of fear, brought back to Jhansi and hanged. Moropant Tambe was the chief priest at Bithur, the headquarters of the exiled Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II.

34 thoughts on “The fate of Damodar Rao, the Son of Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi after the war

  1. this story brings tears to my soul. how can the british ever enjoy happiness. their ordeal will come to them. its even sadder that women in india have lost their great will like that of of laxmibai. hindi movies are becoming worst than english movies. our indian clothes are so beautiful yet our indian girls are opting for nakedness. even sadder both indian men and women have lost the meaning of patriotism. everyone is running after the mighty dollar and forgetting the value systems and honor of a great and everlasting culture. jai hind. i pray that the souls of laxmi bhai and bhagat singh will return to bharat.

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    1. Good take on the issue. What we know and deify today are those rulers who supported British during the 1857 revolt, be it the powerful ones like the Gaekwad or the Nizam or the hallowed ones like the rulers of Mewar or Jaipur and forget about those who shed their blood and went into complete obscurity like the Newalkars or the Peshwas or the Mughals, whatever be the reason. What I know of the direct line of Bahadur Shah II is that they are busy selling bananas in Hyderabad and that the grand daughter of the last king of Burma married a mechanic, and we being callous to the fact that this banana seller or the mechanic’s daughter are more important to their country’s history than those who saved their thrones. This is one side of the coin, and the other side, for an Indian, what ever is western is godly. Macaulay’s observation was perfectly correct and the Americans, and not the British ensured that happen.

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      1. ihave too interest about lakshmibai.every time iused to think about her son.now iam so happy to kno his family really u have a great work.she is really great nw iwant to see in our india like that womens.

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        1. Thanks for the same 🙂 However, there is nothing which I did here, except for spreading the information which we are expected to know and which I picked up somewhere. Yes seriously, it’s time for some Indian icons again…

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    2. Whos a bigger traitor??? The British or our own Indian ppl who refused to give refuge to Damodarao and his attendents ..!!? Maharani of Jhansi who fought the british for the sake of her subjects .. the same praja deserted her and her son . If Laxmibai wanted she could have easily accepted British supremacy and lived comfortably on an annual pension and also living comfortably and royally in her palace but she chose to fight the injustice of the British East India Company …. The British could have never controlled India without support frm our own ppl . Why blame the British alone then ?

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      1. The question is, is loyalty to a cause more important or is money more important? Would you risk your head helping a fugitive or would you prefer a safe and silent life? You need to look at the fear as well. Forget Damodar Rao. Moropant Tambe was seriously injured and no one was ready to shelter him. Is it greed for money? Is it fear? Well, about Lakshmi Bai, she has already seen what happened to Nana Sahib. Why will she believe it is going to be different for her son?

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  2. Indians are great .there should be a lady like maharani Lakshmi bai in each state of India.we Indians are based of fashion,style and turning the Indian culture as they wish.this is not so fair of us .maintain indian culture forever . JAI BHARAT

    HAR HAR MAHADEV

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        1. Not sure, but one answer I can give is that unlike what we believe, she didnot know either Tatya Tope or Nana Saheb personally. All acquaintances are after the fall of Jhansi. If Tope is a new personal acquaintance to his mother, how would a seven year old know? This story came from Vishnubhat Godse’s account of 1857 war. It is one of the very few contemporary Indian accounts of 1857 written from Indian perspective. Her father was the daughter of the chief priest of Bithur and being motherless, she spent all her childhood in the Yagasala playing with dolls and other students who taught her everything from scriptures to warfare.

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        1. Well, the real thing is, Tatya Tope is from Bithur court and Lakshmi Bai is from Jhansi. May be they interacted after the fall of Jhansi, but going by the fact that he was fighting a tough war all the way from Nagpur to Bundi, what possibility that he was able to take care of a small boy? Even if there is an interaction between the courts, how possible is it that Tatya Tope or for that matter, her child hood friend Nana Sahib would have met her after marriage in that age?

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  3. It has been a great experience to read this account about Damodar Rao and the Rani of Jhansi. All I can say is that while the post-1857 British savagery towards the Indian people is heartbreaking, accounts like this also fill me with great pride that we , Indians, have had the great fortune to see such great figures of history among us … My humble salute to our freedom fighters and greetings to all our fellow countrymen — we Indians, we shall always overcome and never lose ….

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  4. My dear friends, history is written by the winner not looser. Had it been otherwise, we’d know their exploits and followed to their disadvantage. Everywhere it is the same.

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  5. hatsoff to rani lakshmi bai we never forget what she do for our country
    but i have a qyerry that is rani lakshmi bai generation is continuing or not in the sense lakshmi bai son damodar rao is he had any child

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  6. veryyyyy sad… rani LakshmiBai family should get justice ….kitna kuch kiya unhone freedom ke liye …kuch v nai bigada sirf khud ki freedom hi to chaiye thi……these briteshers are really fraud ….they r selfish ….hamesha se dhoka dena hi shikha hai un logo ne ….coward Britishers ….muje bhaut dukh huya ye jankar ki jinhone India ke liye itna kuch kiya in ka yahi hal kyu hota hai …..India se Hinduism milane ke koshish me hi lage rahte hai sab…..or government kuch nai patients unke liye …sirf dar ke mare kavi mughal to kavi British ……kasa justice hai ye or asa har achche insan ke sath hota hai

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    1. Whoever acted as slaves before Britain are the ones who are our greats now and whoever stood against them are lost. And we haven’t done anything to counter this.

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  7. A truly fascinating account. Living in today’s free India, how many of us can think of the sacrifices and hardship of our glorious ancestors like the Rani of Jhansi and her kin ? our heart goes out to them and we hppe their memory will never be lost.

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  8. jai bharath
    hara hara mahadev
    one thing to be cleared that is Britishers name came out but they were many indians who helped them out of greed or some other reasons.coming to helping hand rani Lakshmi bai would have expected at least one person to give a helping hand to her son. In fact she fought for the nation.Her bravery should not be only praised but if they would
    have given shelter to her son it would have been equal to helping her and the nation. why not i would also try to become another rani Lakshmi bai by helping others.NO NEED OF FIGHTING IN WARS HELPING OTHERS IS ALSO LIKE WINNING A WAR.
    hara hara mahadev

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  9. I love the story and the events throughout the life of Jhansi Ki Rani Laxmi Bia. And please, tell about the lives of others fellowmen of the Queen. And especially, how the British’s treatment of the Jhansi people. The traittors who lived in the palace.

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  10. If all the kings united and fought one battle we may get freedom at lest for some places get freed from them.. but there are lot traitors who don’t have any respect to their mother land has betrayted our country.

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