ancient indian history

Umayamma Rani

Umayamma Rani

Umayamma Rani’s reign is an essential part of Kerala’s history. She is remembered as a wise and capable ruler as well as a military strategist. Her contribution to the region’s political and social landscape has left a lasting impact, on the minds of patriots.

Umayamma Rani, also known as Umayamma Marthanda Varma, was a historical figure in Kerala’s history. She was the Queen of the Venad kingdom, which is now part of the modern-day state of Kerala, India. Umayamma Rani’s reign is particularly noteworthy, because she was one of the few female rulers in the region during those times.
Umayamma Rani’s rise to power occurred in the late 17th century. After the death of her husband, King Rajah Ravi Varma, she took on the responsibilities of ruling the kingdom as the regent for her young son, Marthanda Varma. However, due to her strong leadership and political acumen, she effectively became the de facto ruler of the kingdom.

During her regency, Umayamma Rani faced several challenges, including threats from neighboring kingdoms and internal conflicts. She successfully navigated these challenges and maintained stability in the kingdom. Her son, Marthanda Varma, later went on to become a prominent ruler and expanded the Venad kingdom’s territories, laying the foundation for the Travancore kingdom.
According to a story which is very popular among natives of Kerala that one mughal commander tried to invade Kerala & was not only defeated by Umayamma Rani, but was also insulted. The mughal commander had no face to show & disappeared from the battle ground. One of the most ignored events in the history of Kerala, is about the lesser known Mughal invasions into Kerala during the 17th century which were successfully defended in South Kerala. Rather Mughals avoided battles with Kerala empire due obvious reasons.

There was one invasion that took place southwards into Venad (later day Travancore) and it was led by a Mughal commander, who ventured through the Tamil lands. At that time, Venad was in political chaos and since there was no heir, Ashwati Thirunal Umayamma Rani reigned as the queen of Venad. She faced a lot of trouble from local landlords, who were in control of political matters in Venad, as well as from related branches of the royalty.
Umayamma Rani, finding it difficult to recover parts of her kingdom from the hands of the Mughal commander called Mukilan colloquially among all the turmoil invited one prince called Kerala Varma from northern Kottayam Rajah’s family.
Raja Kerala Varma lost no time in raising a force armed with bows and arrows, slings, swords and lances.
The Raja, under his personal command led the Nair army against Mukilan and attacked him unexpectedly at Manacaud near Trivandrum. As the sirdar had not a sufficient force near him, all his horsemen having been scattered about between Varkala and Thovalay collecting the revenue, he was unable to make a stand and was obliged to retreat precipitately to Thovalay.
Kerala Varma pursued him and the commander was reinforced by a party of horsemen from Thovalay and the other southern districts. He made a stand near the side of a hill at Thiruvattar, and a severe battle ensued. While the jungles, and rocks with which the locality was covered, presented insuperable obstacles to the Mughal sirdar’s cavalry and threw it into confusion. They
afforded the Raja’s archers and slingers convenient positions for attack and defence. While the conflict was going on, many of the horsemen were killed and, unfortunately for the sirdar, a nest of wasps, on one of the trees under which he was fighting on horseback, was disturbed by the throwing of a stone from one of the slings and the insects came down in swarms, and stung him on his face and ears. On his attempting to dismount his
horse, being stung by the wasps, threw its rider and ran away. Scarcely had the sirdar fallen on the side of the rock than hundreds of arrows pierced his body. Nor were the slingers idle, for they poured on the head of the great commander a volley of stones. The fallen Mughal chief was soon killed and his army was utterly defeated.
Kerala Varma arranged at once to capture the remaining horses, and to seize as many of the Mughal troopers as could be got. He succeeded in securing some three hundred horses and about a hundred prisoners with many swords, lances and other excellent weapons belonging to the enemy. Kerala Varma marched victoriously to Trivandrum. Umayamma Rani also reached with her son and all the palace establishment. They soon rebuilt the palace at Trivandrum.

The Mughal military structure was quite feudal, so it is hard to estimate just how large the army actually was. If we are to take the Mughal numbers as a fact, then it was almost certainly the largest standing army in the world in those days. But they had to face insulting defeats every time they ventured Kerala.

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