Rani Rudramma Devi -- A Great Warrior-Ruler of the Kakatiyas
Rani Rudhramadevi was one of the most prominent rulers of the Kakatiya dynasty in the Deccan Plateau, being one of the few ruling queens in Indian history. Queen Rudramma Devi remains as one of India's most important woman and very few female rulers in south India for all time. Rani Rudramma Devi ruled from 1261 or 1262 until 1295 or 1296.
Ganapathi Deva Maharaju (1199-1261 AD), one of the most key Kakatiya rulers, gave a masculine name to his daughter Rudramma Devi, calling her "Rudra Deva", owing to her impeccable administrative abilities in performing royal duty. She was a revolutionary ruler. She encourgaed foreign visitors and messengers to visit the kingdom. She was a brilliant administrator, noble ruler, and warrior Queen. After her victory over the Yadavas, she took the title Rajagaja kesari (which had also been held by her illustrious father). Visitors such as Marco Polo spoke of her enlightened rule, happy subjects, and palace’s splendor. Though being groomed for military exploits and statecraft, Rudramba is not remembered as a patron of the arts, the unique Kakatiya style of sculpture is nevertheless traced to her reign.
Ganapatideva had two daughters Rudramadevi and Genapamadevi. Rudramadevi or Rudramba was given in marriage to a prince of the Eastern Chalukyan lineage (of Nidadavolu) called Virabhadra. The second daughter was given in marriage to Beta of the Kota family.
Succession: On the advice of Sivadevayya (prime minister), Ganapati Deva nominated Rudrama Devi as his successor. When she was only 14 years old, Rani Rudrama 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 at the battle of Muttukur. Though Ganapati Deva turned the tide of the invasion, he lost his territory and his hold over his feudatories. He retired from active politics and complete power was vested with Rudrama Devi. Various inscriptions suggested that her independent rule started from 1261 AD. Rudramma Devi ruled till 1289.
Reign: Her ascendancy was resented by some nobles and her cousins only because she was a woman. They later raised a banner of revolt. Rudrama Devi wore a male attire and sat on the throne and with an 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 Murari Deva, who revolted against her. She had some efficient nobles like Jaganni Deva and Gona Ganna Reddy who helped her in suppressing revolts.
The Kalinga King Narasimha-I, who suffered a defeat previously at the hands of Ganapati Deva, took advantage of the distracted condition in the Kakatiya dominions and marched with his forces into the Godavari delta to recover his lost possessions. In the later part of the reign of Rudrama Devi, the above provinces came back under her control. Her commanders Poti Nayaka and Proli Nayaka fought against Kalinga Vira Bhanudeva-I, son and successor of Narasimha-I, and his accomplices Arjuna Deva, the Matsya chief of Oddadi and others and inflicted a crushing defeat on them. The Kakatiya power was thus re-established in coastal Andhra.
But the biggest threat came from the West in the form of Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri. Rudrama Devi defeated Mahadeva Raja, the Seuna Yadava ruler of Devagiri (Daulatabad in Aurangabad District at present in Maharashtra) who invaded Warangal (earlier known as Orugallu or Ekasilanagaramu) Fort, the capital of the Kakatiya empire, and chased him away. She crossed Godavari chasing the Yadava ruler right into his territories and forced him to make peace. The Devagiri king had to pay 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 power of the Pandyas and was placed under their vassals. The Kayastha chief Janniga Deva re-occupied the territories of the Nelluru kingdom and freed them thus from the Pandyan sway. He and his brother Tripurari Deva I (1270-72 A.D.) continued to rule the Nelluru kingdom as the vassals of Rudrama Devi. However, with the succession of their younger brother Amba Deva to the throne in 1272 AD, the situation underwent a change.
Rudramma Devi could not tolerate disloyal Amba Deva. By that time Prataprudra, her grandson, became old enough to share the responsibilities of the administration. He was an extraordinary war planner. He planned a three-prong attack on Amba Deva. 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 Rudramma Devi and her general Mallikarjuna. However, as the recently discovered Chandupatla (Nalgonda district) inscription dated 1283 AD indicated, Amba Deva seemed to have killed Rudramma along with Mallikarjuna Nayaka in a battle that year. However, the army of Rudramma Devi was victorious. Later, Prataparudra II, successor of Rudramma, succeeded in completely suppressing the Kayastha revolt.
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.
Legacy: Rudrama Devi was one of the most outstanding queens in Indian history from the Kakatiya 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, spoke highly of her administrative qualities, benign rule and greatness.
The historians, writers and people of Chandupatla village, where an inscription that confirmed the exact death date of great Kakatiya ruler Rani Rudrama Devi was found few years ago, have appealed to the Telangana government to organise the 725th death anniversary of Rani Rudrama Devi on November 27 at this village. Until the inscription was found in 1994 at Chandupatla that confirmed the death date of Rudrama Devi as 1289 AD, November 27, there was no proof available on the death of the first Hindu woman emperor of India. According to historians, only Razia Sultana ruled parts of India from Delhi before Rudrama Devi.
Historian D. Suraya Kumar said that Rudrama Devi had initiated several welfare programmes like digging tanks for bringing many acres under cultivation, which was an inspiration for the Telangana government in restoring all the minor irrigation tanks. Besides an inscription, there are historical statues of Lord Ganesha and a warrior riding on the back of a horse in the village.
The village tank, Rasamudram, built during the Kakatiya Samudram, also finds a mention in the inscription because the inscription was installed very close to the village tank by a soldier of Rudrama Devi’s army Puvvula Mummadi, who is believed to be a native of Chandupatla.
The inscription also says the Chief of Army of Rudrama Devi, Mallikarjuna Nayakudu, was killed on the same day, but there was no mention of the reason and the place of her death.
Notes and Sources:
Rao, P. Ragunadha. History and Culture of Andhra Pradesh: From the Earliest Times to 1991. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 2012. http://www.thehindu.com/…/govt-urged-to-…/article6618762.ece