Lakshmi Bai, the queen of Jhansi, was the brightest of women martyrs in India’s first war of Independence in 1857. Born in 1835 at Kashi, (now
), she married Gangadhar Rao,
of Jhansi in 1842. After his death in 1853, Lakshmi Bai had to rule the country of Jhansi as its Rani (queen). She was skilful in horse riding and swordsmanship. Childless herself, the adoption of a male heir was rejected by the British. The Rani was ordered to surrender her kingdom for an annual pension in 1854. Determined to defend Jhansi, Lakshmi Bai fought the British with the full support of her people. Though lacking in equipment and resources, Rani Lakshmi Bai led bravely from the front and died in the battlefield in 1858, defending her land.