Onake Obavva A Woman Of Exemplary Courage
Onake Obavva was a brave woman who used a pestle to fight back against Hyder Ali’s army. Her bravery has been passed on for generations and this incident stands as an icon of Indian bravery.
Kittur Chennamma, Keladi Chennamma and Abbakka Rani are three female warriors who are celebrated like Onake Obavva. These women hold cultural significance for Karnataka.
Revisiting The Past
Chitradurga Fort was under the rule of Madakari Nayaka IV when it was conquered by Hyder Ali in the 18th century. This period is significant to the history of Chitradurga.
Some of the famous invasions to a fort led by Hyder Ali were unsuccessful due to the strength and firepower of the fort. But soon Hyder Ali found out about a small hole also known as “kindi” in one of the walls of the fort.
Hyder Ali started sending some troops through a hole in the fort which was “not even three feet in diameter”. He did this during lunchtime in the day when the guards were not there to oversee it.
Kalanayak (Husband of Obavva) was guarding the tower as usual. For his lunch, he went home. While having his meal he asked for water. Luckily, there was no water at home and his wife Obavva went to the pond near the kindi, to collect water in a pot. While filling water she heard sounds near the hole. She realized that the enemy was lined up and was trying to enter the fort through that hole.
Lone Warrior Obavva
Using her presence of mind, she hid behind the hole and waited for the enemy. She just had an ‘Onake’ a long wooden pestle used to pound paddy in the fields as her weapon. The moment she saw the first soldier coming out of the hole, she whacked the wooden pestle so hard that he died in a single stroke. She then carefully dragged the lifeless body and hid it so that no one could notice.
The women warrior Obavva single-handedly killed all the enemies that tried entering the fort that day.
By the time Kalanayak returned to the guarding post he saw dozens of lifeless bodies lying around Obavva. Her clothes were drenched in blood. Kalanayak along with the other soldiers killed the remaining enemies and saved the fort.
In reality, it was Obavva’s presence of mind that saved Chitradurga from being lost to Hyder Ali’s invasion that day. Unfortunately, Obavva also died the same day. The real cause of her death was uncertain. As some believed she died due to the shock of killing so many people, while others believed that one of the enemies attacked and killed her.
In no time, Onake Obavva lone and brave warrior was on the lips of every Indian. Bravely standing in front of the enemy with whatever little resources she had, she became an example of exemplary courage. To commemorate her bravery, there is now the Veera Vanithe Onake Obavva Stadium. The hole that she guarded later was known as Obavvana Kindi.