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Story of Rani Karnavati of Garhwal, who cut noses of Mughal warriors

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In India, not everyone has been as lucky as the invaders who somehow have been romanced by many historians and left-leaning ‘intellectuals’ and ‘liberals’ who just can’t thank them enough for the Mughlai food, Tombs and Shayari.

This is very unique. In many countries you would see history or rather information about the people who resisted the invasion and any other sort of alien imposition on them. But in India, the valour of many kings and queens have just been buried under the sand of time, often deliberately.

One such queen was from the Kingdom of Garhwal, which like Mewar could never be captured by the Mughals. The queen was so known for her ruthless bravery which earned her the title of ‘Nak-Kati-Rani’ which means the queen who cuts the nose.

This is about wife of King Mahipati Shah, Queen Karnavati. Mahipati Shah ascended to the throne in 1622, who shifted the capital to Dewalgarh to Srinagar to him. I would be surprised if people knew that there is a Srinagar in Garhwal as well and not just in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

King Was known for his fierce bravery and his stiff opposition to any invasion. When Shah Jahan was crowned on 14th February 1628 at Agra, rulers all across the northern India went to pay personal visit to the new emperor. The king of Garhwal decided to avoid this ceremony which enraged the new emperor. The emperor was also told about the Gold Mines in Srinagar region, which increased the determination of the new emperor to plan an invasion.

While the threat of Invasion was real and still over the kingdom of Garhwal, the king Mahipati Shah suffered fatal injury during the battle of Kumaon and his short reign ended in 1631. This was followed by the coronation of his 7 years old son “Prithivi Pati Shah”. The administration of the kingdom was now managed by the young prince and Queen Karnavati, who would also fiercely guard her kingdom with her trusted army generals Lodi Rikhola, Madho Singh, Banvari Das Tunwar and Dost Beg.

When the Delhi emperor came to know about Mahipati Shah’s demise, he smelled blood and ordered an attack on the Kingdom of Srinagar in 1640. His General Najabat Khan, along with 30 thousand men marched towards the Gharwal Kingdom.

The queen allowed them to enter the kingdom but held them at today’s Lakshman Jhoola. The men could neither move forward nor retreat. Unknown to the terrain and food supplies running low the men were losing morale. Najhabat Khan sensing defeat sent a peace message to the queen which was rejected.

The desperation in the Mughal army was running high and queen was toying with them like a seasoned predator. She finally came down heavily on them and captured them only to release them after cutting off their noses.

Rani Karnavati resorted to psychological warfare by sending a message to the Mughal court that if she could chop off their noses, she could also chop off their heads. The sultan was embarrassed and enraged. He ordered another attack under Areej Khan who met the same embarrassment under the hands of the brave Rani.

Rani Karnavati is said to have orchestrated a number of hydraulic constructions, the most noted of which was an irrigation system that prevented the water from sinking underground as it exited the hill into the gravels leading to the valleys. This allowed agricultural development that allowed an efflorescence of several towns in the region.

This consequently fed a local Hindu revival which was mainly seen in the form of various productions of certain tantrika, legal, and medical texts under the patronage of this dynasty. Monuments erected by her still exist in Dehradun District at Nawada,she is also credited with the construction of the Rajpur Canal, the earliest of all the Dun canals, which starts from the Rispana River and brings its waters till the city of Dehradun. Rispana River is one of the tributaries of Song River that drains the central and eastern part of the Doon Valley.

She was one Rani with whom no one would mess and certainly not try to poke their nose in her kingdom.

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