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RANI RUDRAMBA (?-1289)


Rudramba was a queen of the Kakatiyas who ruled parts of what is now Andhra Pradesh. She succeeded to the throne of her father Ganapati Deva and ruled well for three decades, which saw her land reach great heights in both trade and the arts. Ganapati Deva had no male heir, and, determined to keep the sovereignty in his own family, proclaimed Rudramba, his elder daughter, heir to his throne. He bestowed on her the name of Rudradeva Maharaja and took special interest in her education. He gave her practical training in administration, involving her in the business of his government in the last years of his reign. Rudramba and her sister Ganapamba were both endowed with great intelligence and exceptional ability. Ganapamba was married to the prince of neighbouring Kota, and after his death she ruled the Kota kingdom unopposed for over 40 years. When the king died in 1262 Rudramba ascended the throne though all did not accept her as a sovereign. The feudatory nobles of southern Andhra who had only been lately subjected, thought this an ideal opportunity to rebel and regain their independence. At the same time Mahadeva, the Yadava King of Devagiri, took advantage of internal troubles and invaded the Kakatiya dominion from the west. Rudramba, who had the faith and loyalty of all her ministers and officers, not only suppressed the rebellion but also defeated and repelled the Yadava monarch.

Rudramba built tanks and dug canals and wells to provide water for irrigation to the farmers. She granted concessions to merchants and traders to promote trade and cottage industries. An inscription from Malkapuram dated 1261 throws lights on the queen’s charities. It relates to the gift made by her, in accordance with the expressed wishes of her father, of the village of Mandaram to the Raja Guru (royal preceptor) Vishweshwara Shambhu, head of the Pashupata sect.

The queen made other grants too: at Mandaram she built a temple, around which grew a township inhabited by Brahmins from different regions, artisans, musicians, dancers, ordinary villagers, soldiers and servants among whom all the lands mentioned in the gifts were distributed. A hospital and a college were established in the town, and in the public kitchens people of all sects and castes were fed. Rudramba was herself a staunch Shaiva but was tolerant towards other faiths. Marco Polo, the famous Venetian traveller, may have passed through the Andhra kingdom during Rudramba’s time, or through the realm of her sister. He bears witness to the flourishing conditions of foreign trade and domestic industries, specially the diamond industry for which the land was famous.

Rudramba married a Kshatriya prince, Virabhadra of the Chalukya dynasty. She had two daughters Mummadamma and Ruyyamma. The former was married to another Chalukya prince and they had a son, Prataparudra, whom Rudramba adopted and made her heir. In 1289 she died fighting the rebel chief Ambadeva.
 
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