Know the heart-touching story of Damodar Rao, the descendant, and son of Jhansi ki Rani

Everyone remembers her son Damodar Rao (real name Anand Rao) tied on the back of the queen in the last struggle of Jhansi. But, no one knows what happened to her son after the queen’s pyre was burnt.

He was not just a character in the story, he was a prince who lived the most important story of the Revolt of 1857, who lived in the same slave India, where he was being forgotten and sworn in the name of his mother.

The British had never considered Damodar Rao as the heir of Jhansi, so he did not find any place in the official documents. Most Indians accepted some correct and some wrong figurative descriptions of Subhadra Kumari Chauhan as history.

The only description of Damodar Rao appeared in YN Kelkar’s Marathi book ‘Itihasachya Sahli’ (History Walk) published in 1959.

After the death of the queen, Damodar Rao lived a kind of cursed life. Not only Firangi but the people of India were equally responsible for this plight of his.

Damodar’s story in Damodar’s words

I was born on 15 November 1849 in a branch of the Navalkar royal family. The astrologer told me that there is Raj Yoga in my horoscope and I will become a king. This thing came true in the most unfortunate way in my life. At the age of three, Maharaj adopted me. Even before the formal acceptance of the adoption came, the father was no more.

Mother Saheb (Maharani Laxmibai) told Lord Dalhousie in Calcutta that I should be accepted as heir. But it didn’t happen.

Dalhousie ordered that Jhansi be annexed to the British Raj. 5,000 annual pension will be given to Maa Saheb. Along with this, all the property of Maharaj will also remain with Maa Saheb (Jhansi ki rani). After Maa Saheb, I will have full rights on his treasury but I will not get the secret of Jhansi.

Apart from this, seven lakh rupees of father were also deposited in the treasury of the British. The firangis said that when I attained adulthood, that money would be given to me.

Maa Saheb got martyrdom in the battle of Gwalior. My servants (Ramchandra Rao Deshmukh and Kashi Bai) and others later told me that my mother had kept me on her back throughout the fight. I don’t remember this well myself. After this fight, only 60 of our confidants were able to survive.

Little Khan Risaldar, Ganpat Rao, Raghunath Singh and Ramchandra Rao Deshmukh took up my responsibility. With 22 horses and 60 camels, he started towards Chanderi in Bundelkhand. We had nothing to eat, cook or live for. We did not find shelter in any village. In the heat of May-June, we spent the night under the trees under the open sky. Thankfully, due to the fruits of the forest, there was never a time to sleep hungry.

The real problem started with the onset of rain. In the dense forest it became impossible to live in the strong monsoon. Somehow, the head of a village agreed to give us food. On the advice of Raghunath Rao, we started living in groups of 10-10.

The chief fixed the price of one month’s ration and not informing the British army at 500 rupees, 9 horses and four camels. The place we stayed was near a waterfall and was beautiful.

Soon two years passed. We had Rs 60,000 with us at the time of leaving Gwalior, which was now completely exhausted. My health got so bad that everyone thought that I would not survive. My people begged the chief to arrange for a doctor.

I was treated but we were not allowed to stay there without money. My people gave 200 rupees to the chief and asked for the animals back. He only gave us 3 horses back. After walking from there we became 24 people together.

Villagers in Gwalior’s Shipri recognized us as rebels. There they kept us locked for three days, then sent them along with the soldiers to the political agent of Jhalarpatan. My people did not let me walk. One by one he kept making me sit on his back.

Most of our people were put in a mental asylum. Maa Saheb’s Risaldar Nanhe Khan spoke to a political agent.

He told Mr Flink that the child of Jhansi Rani Sahiba is now 9-10 years old. After Rani Sahiba, she has to live like an animal in the jungles. There is no harm to the government from the child. Leave it, the whole country will give you blessings.

Flink was a kind man, he advocated for us from the government. From there we went out with our friends to meet Colonel Sir Richard Shakespeare of Indore. We didn’t have any money left.

For travel expenses and food, we had to give two todas of 32 tolas of Maa Saheb. We had only one last thing related to Maa Saheb.

After this, on May 5, 1860, the British gave Damodar Rao a pension of 10,000 years in Indore. He was allowed to keep only seven people with him. The British government also refused to return seven lakh rupees.

Damodar Rao’s real father’s second wife raised him. In 1879, they had a son, Lakshman Rao. Damodar Rao’s days were spent in poverty and oblivion. Even after this, the British kept a close watch on him. Along with Damodar Rao, his son Lakshmanrao was also not allowed to go out of Indore.

His family members still live in Indore with the surname ‘Jhansiwale’. The queen also had a half-brother, Chintamanrao Tambe. The Tambe family currently resides in Poona. Apart from Indore, the descendants of the Rani of Jhansi live in some other parts of the country. They write Jhansiwale with their name.

When Damodar Rao Newalkar reached Indore on 5 May 1860, his aunt who was Damodar Rao’s real mother while living in Indore. When she grows up, Damodar gets Rao married, but soon after, Damodar Rao’s first wife dies.

Lakshmana Rao was born from Damodar Rao’s second marriage. Damodar Rao’s sad and difficult life ended on 28 May 1906 in Indore. Lakshmana Rao’s sons were Krishna Rao and Chandrakanta Rao in the next generation. Krishna Rao had two sons Manohar Rao, Arun Rao and Chandrakant had three sons Akshay Chandrakanta Rao, Atul Chandrakanta Rao and Shanti Pramod Chandrakanta Rao.

Damodar Rao was a painter, he has made many paintings in the memory of his mother, which are invaluable heritage of the Jhansi family.

His descendants Shri Laxman Rao and Krishna Rao used to work as typists in the Indore court. Arun Rao retired from Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board as a Junior Engineer in 2002. His son Yogesh Rao is a software engineer. Among the descendants, great-grandson Arunrao Jhansiwala, his wife Vaishali, son Yogesh and daughter-in-law Preeti have a middle class family like normal citizens in Dhanwantrinagar Indore.