Abbakka Chowta ‘First woman freedom fighter of India”

Rani Abbakka repulsed each of Portuguese attacks for over four decades. She came to be known as Abhaya Rani (The fearless queen) because of her bravery.
  • Rani of Ullal
  • Ruled from 1525 – 1570
  • Predecessor: Tirumala Raya Chowta (Uncle & Mentor)
  • Dynasty: Chowta
  • Religion: Jainism
  • Religion: Jainism

She ruled over parts of coastal Karnataka (Tulu Nadu), India. Puttige was the capital City.Ullal was strategically located and the Portuguese made several attempts to capture it. Rani Abbakka repulsed each of Portuguese attacks for over four decades. She came to be known as Abhaya Rani (The fearless queen) because of her bravery.

Early life
The Chowtas followed Aliyasantana(matrilineal inheritance) of Digambara Jain Bunt community. Abbakka’s uncle,Tirumala Raya crowned her the queen of Ullal. Abbakka married Lakshmappa Arasa Bangaraja II, king of Banga in Mangalore. This proved a source of worry for the Portuguese. Abbakka was trained by her uncle Tirumala Raya in various aspects of warfare and military strategy. Her marriage was short-lived. Her husband longed for revenge against Abbakka. He later joined hands with the Portuguese against Abbakka.

Historical background
After Goa the Portuguese moved southwards along the coast. They attacked the South Kanara in 1525 and destroyed the Mangalore port.
Ullal was a prosperous and profitable trading center, the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the British wanted to control the regionand the trade routes. They, faced resistance from the local chieftains and the local rulers who forged alliances across caste and religion.
Abbakka’s had even representation of Jains, Hindus and Muslims in her administration. Beary men had served as seamen in the naval force of Ullal kingdom. She appointed Bearys for boulder work.She supervised the construction of Malali dam; her army consisted of people from all sects and castes. She forged alliances with the Zamorin of Calicut. Initially the marital ties with the Banga dynasty added strength to the alliance. She gained support from king Venkatappanayaka of Bidnurwho was very powerful and Portuguese were no threat.

Battles against the Portuguese
The Portuguese were upsetand demanded tribute but Abbakka refused. Under Admiral Dom Álvaro da Silveirain 1555, the Portuguese sent an army to fight her. In the battle, Rani Abbakka managed to hold her own and repulsed the portugueseattack successfully.
He Portuguese plundered Mangalore in 1557. In 1568, turned to Ullal but Abbakka Rani resisted them again. The Portuguese Viceroy António Noronha sent João Peixoto, a Portuguese general and a fleet of soldiers. They captured the city of Ullal and also entered the royal court. Abbakka Rani, escaped from the fort and the same night, with around 200 soldiers, sheattacked the Portuguese and in the battle, General Peixoto was killed,Portuguese soldiers were taken prisoners and many retreated. Rani Abbakka and her alliance partners killed Admiral Mascarenhas and the Portuguese vacated the Mangalore fort.
The Portuguese regained the Mangalore fort and captured Kundapur (Basrur) as well. Abbakka Rani continued to be a source of threat. Portuguese mounted attacks on Ullal, with the help from queen’s estranged husband. In the following battles Rani Abbakka held her own. In 1570, she with the Bijapur Sultan of Ahmed Nagar and the Zamorine of Calicut formed an alliance. They also opposed the Portuguese. The Zamorine’s general Kutty Pokar Markar destroyed the Portuguese fort at Mangalore but he was killed, while returning, by the Portuguese. Followingher husband’s treachery and the losses, Abbakka lost the war. She was arrested and jailed. She revolted in prisonand died fighting.

Legend & Folklore
She was an immensely popular queen andeven today,she is a part of folklore. Through many folk songs and Yakshagana, (a popular folk theatre in Coastal Karnataka) Rani Abbakka’s story has been retold from generation to generation. The great deeds of Abbakka Mahadevi are recounted in Daiva Kola, (local ritual dance).
Abbakka is portrayed as caring queen who was dark and good looking, always dressed like a commoner. She worked late into the night dispensing justice. It is claimedthat Abbakka was the last person to use the Agnivana (fire-arrow) against the Portuguese. She had two equally valiant daughters who fought alongside her against the Portuguese.

Remembering Rani Abbakka
Rani Abbakka is much cherished in Ullal and rest of Karnataka. Thereis an annual celebration in her memory”Veera Rani Abbakka Utsava”. Distinguished women are given “The Veera Rani Abbakka Prashasti” award on the occasion. Indian postal department issued a special postage stamp remembering Rani Abbakka, on January 15, 2003. There is a bronze statue erected in the memory of the queen in Ullal and Bangalore.”Rani Abbakka Pade”, is a special police force in dakshina Kannadato deal with the issues related to women.

Rani Abbakka-class patrol vessel
Honouring Rani Abbakka, Indian Coast Guard ship named ICGS Rani Abbakka. It is the 1st of a series of five inshore patrol vessels (IPV). It was built at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. It was commissioned in Visakhapatnam on January 20, 2012, it is based in Chennai.