From Rani Laxmi Bai to Mastani: Artist Illustrates 15 Forgotten Female Heroes of India

How many female Indian warriors can you think of if you're asked to name a few inspiring ones from the past? Apart from Jhansi ki Rani and Razia Sultana, we know of almost no one else. However, 17-year-old artist, Tara Anand, is attempting to change the mainstream narrative about Indian female heroes, who have been mostly forgotten, with her series I Am No Man.

Scroll through her illustrations (along with her inputs) here:


"Best known from the popular film Bajirao Mastani, Mastani of Bundelkhand was also immensely skilled in warfare and accompanied her husband on his military campaigns."

Maharani Tarabai

"Married to Shivaji's son, Tarabai was famous for personally leading an ongoing insurgency against the Mughals to protect her Maratha kingdom from invasion."

 Rani Mangammal

"Rani Mangammal was queen on behalf of her grandson and defended her kingdom against invading forces from near by territories."

Rani Laxmi Bai

"Rani Laxmi Bai was an Indian queen who is best known for forming and commandeering an army against the British in an effort to defend her kingdom of Jhansi. She also lead another military campaign against the forces of Orchha and Datia and took over the administration of the kingdom after her husband died."

 Joanna Nobilis Sombre

"Joanna Nobilis Sombre, popularly called Begum Samru was india's first woman Roman Catholic ruler and leader of a mercenary army that she inherited from her European husband."

 Ahilya Bai Holkar

"Ahilya Bai Holkar became queen of the Maratha ruled Malwa kingdom once her husband and father-in-law both died. She personally lead armies into battles against plundering Mughal rulers, and is greatly revered because the era of her reign was known as one of prosperity and order."

Rani Rudrama Devi

"After succeeding her father to the Kakatiya Throne at 14, Rani Rudrama Devi lead battles against the nobles in her kingdom who opposed her rule because she was a woman."

Rani Velu Nachiyar

"Trained in Warcraft as a child Rani Velu Nachiyar of Sivaganga ruled her kingdom for over a decade after her husband was killed by the British. She lead her kingdom's army in numerous battles against colonial powers in the 18th century and even formed a special women's army named Udaiyaal after her daughter." 

Rani Abbakka Chowta

"Rani Abbakka Chowta of Ullal was India's first female freedom fighter, she defended her kingdom against Portuguese invasion for four decades in the 16th Century."

Rani Chennamma

"Rani Chennamma of Kittur, one of the first female Indian rulers to lead an armed rebellion against the British in 1824." 

Belwadi Mallamma

"Belwadi Mallamma was a 17th century warrior queen from Karnataka who fought the Mughals with a women only army that she formed." 


"Nagamma is often hailed as one of the most powerful women in medieval India. While not a queen, Nagamma held immense administrative powers as a minister who later rose to be the prime minister of her kingdom. She was also trained in warcraft and we a key player in the epic war of Palnad."

Onake Obavva

"Onake Obavva was an 18th century woman in Karnataka who fought the forces of Hyder Ali with a pestle." 

Chand Bibi

"Chand Bibi is known as a 16th century warrior woman but she was also skilled in languages, music and art. She acted as the regent of Bijapur and Ahmednagar and defended her territory against Mughal invasion." 

Bibi Dalair Kaur

"Bibi Dalair Kaur was a Sikh woman in the 17th century who formed an all woman army to fight Mughal forces."


This is what Tara said when Vagabomb spoke to her about the project, "I recently went abroad for a course and we had a conversation about powerful queens in history. I was surprised at how many of the western names I rattled off. As soon as I got back I started researching Indian warrior queens out of sheer embarrassment since I could only name two or three. I was totally taken aback by the number of powerful queen regents and warriors that I could find, and shocked at how their contributions have been left out of the mainstream narrative! So, I decided to turn it into a project and contribute as much as I could to getting these women recognised as important and inspirational figures in our history."

You can follow her work on Instagram and Facebook.

All images and captions are the property of Tara Anand and have been reprinted with permission.





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