Queen Karnavati

Queen Karnavati
She was the wife of King Mahipati Shah of Garhwal. She was known for her ruthless bravery which earned her the title of ‘Nak-Kati-Rani’ which means the queen who cuts the nose.

The king of Garhwal 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 but the king decided to avoid this ceremony which enraged the new emperor. The emperor was also told about the gold mines in the region, which increased the determination of the new emperor to plan an invasion.

The king suffered fatal injury during the battle of Kumaon and his short reign ended in 1631. His 7 years old son, Prithivi Pati Shah was coronated. 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 ordered an attack on the kingdom. 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. Najabat Khan sensing defeat sent a peace message to the queen which was rejected. She 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, & 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 & brings its waters till the city of Dehradun. 

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