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|Maharani of Gondwana|
|Successor||possibly Vir Narayan|
|Born||5 October 1524 (1524-10-05)
|Died||24 June 1564(1564-06-24) (aged 39)
Narai Nala, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
Rani Durgavati (5 October 1527
– 24 June 1564) was the ruling Queen of Gondwana from 1550 until 1564. She was born in the family of Chandel Rajput king Salibahan at the fort of Mahoba ( Uttar Pradesh). Rani Durgavati's achievements further enhanced the glory of her ancestral tradition of courage and patronage.
In 1542, she was married to Dalpat Shah, the adopted son of the king Sangram Shah of the Garha Kingdom. According to Abul Fazl, Dalpat Shah was the son of a Kachhwaha Rajput adopted by Raja of Gadha Mandla. The Chandel and Rajgond dynasties were allied because of this marriage. This resulted in Salibahan Chandel gaining the help of the Gonds at the time of the Muslim invasion of Sher Shah Suri.
Dalpat Shah died in 1550 and due to the young age of Vir Narayan, Durgavati took the reins of the Gond kingdom. Diwan Beohar Adhar Simha and Minister Man Thakur helped the Rani in looking after the administration successfully and effectively. Rani moved her capital to Chauragarh in place of Singorgarh fort. It was a fort of strategic importance situated on the Satpura hill range.
The Rani's contemporary was a Mughal General, Khwaja Abdul Majid Asaf Khan, an ambitious man who vanquished Ramchandra, the ruler of Rewa. The prosperity of Rani Durgavati's state lured him and he invaded Rani's state after taking permission from Mughal emperor Akbar. This plan of Mughal invasion was the result of expansionism and policies of Akbar.
When the Rani heard about the attack by Asaf Khan she decided to defend her kingdom with all her might although her Diwan Beohar Adhar Simha (Adhar Kayastha)  pointed out the strength of Mughal forces. The Rani maintained that it was better to die respectfully than to live a disgraceful life.
To fight a defensive battle, she went to Narrai, situated between a hilly range on one side and two rivers Gaur and Narmada on the other side. It was an unequal battle with trained soldiers and modern weapons in multitude on the Mughal side and a few untrained soldiers with old weapons on the side of Rani Durgavati. Her Faujdar Arjun Das was killed in the battle and the Rani decided to lead the defense herself. As the enemy entered the valley, the soldiers of the Rani attacked them. Both sides lost some men but the Rani lost more.
At this stage, Rani reviewed her strategy with her counselors. She wanted to continue the attacks on the Mughals in the night, but her chiefs discouraged her and insisted she took on the army in open combat in nightlight. By the next morning, Asaf khan had summoned big guns. The Rani rode on her elephant Sarman and came for the battle. Her son Vir Narayan also took part in this battle. He forced the Mughal army to move back three times but at last, he got wounded and had to retire to a safe place. In the course of the battle, the Rani also got injured badly near her ear with an arrow. Another arrow pierced her neck and she lost consciousness. On regaining consciousness she perceived that defeat was imminent. Her mahout advised her to leave the battlefield but she refused and took out her dagger and killed herself on 24 June 1564. Her martyrdom day (24 June 1564) is even today commemorated as "Balidan Diwas".
The Madan Mahal fort Jabalpur is well associated with Rani Durgavati the Gond Queen and her son Veer Narayan.
The government of India issued a postal stamp commemorating her death, on 24 June 1988.
Indian Coast Guard on 14 July 2018 commissioned ICGS Rani Durgavati, the third Inshore Patrol Vessel (IPV) of its kind.
- Beveridge, H. (1907). The Akbarnama Of Abul Fazl Vol. 2. p. 324.
- Dikshit, R. K. (1976). The Candellas of Jejākabhukti. Abhinav Publications. p. 8. ISBN 978-81-7017-046-4.
- Gupta, Parmeshwari Lal (1969). Coins. National Book Trust. p. 128. ISBN 9788123718873.
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