Rani Abbakka Chowta – The Unsung Female Freedom Fighter of India


Image Source: feminisminindia.com


When we think about a female freedom fighter in India, there are several names that come to our mind. These include:

  • Rani Lakshmi Bai

  • Kasturba Gandhi

  • Begum Hazrat Mahal

  • Sarojini Naidu

  • Sucheta Kriplani

However, a forgotten 30-year-old female freedom fighter in Indian history who fought European colonialism in India was Rani Abbakka Chowta, of the Chowta Dynasty.

Who was Rani Abbakka Chowta?

  • Rani Abbakka Chowta was a strong and fearless woman who fought and defeated the Portuguese repeatedly in the 15th Century with limited arms, ammunition, and manpower. 

  • She was the only woman in history to confront and repeatedly defeat the Portuguese superpower in India.


How Abbakka became the queen of Ullal?


  • Ullal was a flourishing port town that was located between the green peaks of the Western Ghats and the blue waters of the Arabian Sea. 

  • The Chowta king Thirumala Raya III was a Jain. The Chowta dynasty followed a matrilineal system. This is how the Chowta king"s legal heir was her niece Abbakka.

  • The fierce princess Abbakka was trained right from a tender age in archery, fighting, and military strategy. Abbakka was completely aware of the threat that loomed large over Ullal from the Portuguese.


Portuguese – A strong force to contend with


  • In the 1500"s, Portuguese colonial power was at the extreme. They defeated the Sultan of Bijapur, destroyed the powerful Zamorins of Calicut, established a new colony in Mylapore, captured Bombay, and made Goa their headquarters. 

  • The Portuguese had their eyes set on the Mangalore Port. In 1526, they managed to capture the Mangalore Port. Now, they wanted to capture the thriving and flourishing port town of Ullah, which was ruled by the 30-year-old Abbakka Chowta.


Flourishing Ullah


  • The trade at Ullah started flourishing under the able leadership and guidance of Rani Abbakka. 

  • Considering this, the Portuguese started trying to extract more taxes from Rani Abbakka.

  • She refused to bow down to the demands of the Portuguese. Her ships continued to carry out trade despite the warnings from the Portuguese.


The first battle between Abbakka and the Portuguese


  • The angered and infuriated Portuguese started attacking Ullah on many occasions.

  • The first big battle took place when the Portuguese sent a huge fleet of ships to attack Ullah under the command and leadership of Admiral Don Alvaro de Silveira. 

  • However, in this battle, the Admiral was badly injured and the Portuguese had to return empty-handed.


The second battle between Abbakka and the Portuguese


  • After two years, another Portuguese fleet was sent to capture Ullah. 

  • However, the Portuguese lost again as only a few members of the crew could survive and that too severely injured. 

  • All this was possible due to the able guidance and the masterful tactics of Rani Abbakka.


Large Portuguese army under Joao Peixoto attacks Ullah


The Portuguese sent a big army under the experienced Portuguese General Joao Peixoto to attack and capture Ullah and the royal palace. They had advanced weapons and a huge army of soldiers. When they attacked Ullah, they found it completely deserted. Abbakka had already escaped by then and took shelter in a mosque. Later that night, Abbakka along with her 200 loyal soldiers, carried out a surprise attack on the Portuguese. The General was assassinated in this attack along with 70 other Portuguese soldiers who were also killed. The remaining Portuguese troops fled to their ships and ran away. Abbakka led a series of attacks in which she killed Admiral Mascarenhas and brought back the Mangalore fort from the jaws of the Portuguese.


The final attack


In the final attack by the Portuguese, they managed to capture Rani Abbakka and imprisoned her. Finally, they captured Ullah as well. This was possible because the queen"s estranged husband betrayed her and joined hands with the Portuguese.

Even when the queen was imprisoned, she revolted and died fighting a brave death. This historical story of Rani Abbakka Chowta is an inspiration for everyone.


The inspirational story of Rani Abbakka has been lost somewhere in the pages of history. It is time that we remember this female freedom fighter for her valiant efforts to fight against the Portuguese.