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KARNAVATI, Queen of Garhwal (1600-1650)


Karnavati of Garhwal was the wife of Mahipat Shah who ascended to the throne in 1622, but died young in 1631. After his death his queen, Karnavati, ruled the kingdom on behalf of her young son, Prithvi Pat Shah. In 1638 the king of Kumaon invaded Garhwal, and in 1640 he allied with the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in an attempt to annex the small Himalayan kingdom. Rani Karnavati was having none of it. She was a formidable fighter and used superior strategy to rout the Mughal forces and capture many of the soldiers. She earned the name ‘Nakti Rani’ (Nak Kati Rani or nose-cutting queen) as she cut off the noses of the invaders, a punishment normally reserved for criminals. Monuments erected by her are still to be seen in Dehra Dun. She is also thought to have built the Rajpur Canal, which carries the waters of the Rispana river to Dehra Dun. Some years later Prithvi Pat came to the throne and ruled wisely under his mother’s influence.
 
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