Sangolli Rayanna’s stories of martyrdom continue to inspire millions of Kannadigas, with every child giving examples of their bravery against the British. The giant banyan tree from which Sangolli and his revolutionary associates were hanged serves as a memorial to the martyrs and stirs up the spirit of patriotism among young people.
The tree is also an integral part of school outings to instill a sense of patriotism in little hearts. Not just a train station in Bengaluru, every town in the state has a junction or memorial named after it.
Born on August 15, 1796 in the village of Sangolli in the district of Belagavi, Rayanna comes from the Kuruba (shepherd) community and inherited the value and loyalty of her ancestors to the Kingdom of Kittur.
Folk tales describe him as a 7-foot-tall warrior who made the hearts of his enemies shiver, especially the East India Company. He rose to become the commander-in-chief of Kittur’s army led by an equally heroic Rani Chennamma.
Sangolli was upset with the British expansion policy and their treacherous ways of capturing Bharatiya powers. After Kittur’s army was defeated by British forces, he raised a guerrilla force to fight the British and successfully defeated them on several occasions.
His guerrilla army moved from place to place, setting fire to government offices. Led by Sangolli Rayanna, his force attacked the British army, plundered and plundered the treasures and aided the locals.
Sangolli had become a nightmare for the British and his exploits against the British were celebrated by the local population, making him a legendary figure.
The British defeated him in open battle, but they were never able to deal with his guerrillas and suffered humiliating defeats. Desperate to put an end to Sangolli Rayanna, the British grabbed his uncle Lakshmana and hatched a plan to catch the rebel.
Later, they caught Sangolli while he was taking a bath. Folk songs describe that even then Sangolli kept asking his uncle to pass on the sword, he left it on the banks of the river and handed it over to the British soldiers.
The British executed Sangolli Rayanna and his revolutionary associates in public to send a message that all rebels would meet a similar fate. Sangolli and his comrades were hanged to death from a banyan tree in 1831.
The Gee Gee songs (ballads) of North Karnataka explain that Rani Chennamma, who defeated the British in the first war and then captured, had full confidence in her Commander-in-Chief Sangolli Rayanna to overthrow the East India Company’s hegemony .
Rani Chennamma died after learning of the capture of Sangolli Rayanna by the British. The ballads say she consumed a diamond ring and died in prison.
Even today, thousands of pregnant women flock from the village of Nandagad located 40 kilometers from the town of Belagavi in northern Karnataka where the tomb of Sangolli Rayanna is located, to pray and ask for blessings in the holy place for the brave sons and daughters.
Today it is one of the centers of pilgrimage. After Kodagu district, the northern districts of Karnataka surrounding Belagavi districts send the largest number of soldiers for the Bharatiya army in Karnataka.
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