Keladi was a small state in the northwest of modern Mysore. Two Brother of the Nyaka Dynasty became well known in the second half of the 17th century. They were Bhadraapa Nayaka and Somasekhara Nayaka. The latter’s wife was Chennamma.
Chennamma gained eminence as a woman of great administrative ability. Her husband allowed her to hold the reigns of the government, not only when he was ruling along with his brother but, even later when he himself the sole monarch. Towards the later part of his life Chennamma carried on the administration of the Kingdom. After his death in A.D. 1677, she assumed full command and ruled wisely well for twenty five years.
Chennamma had the courage to offer shelter to Rajaram, a son of Shivaji, who had escaped from Raigarh and was hotly pursued by Aurangazeb. When the Moghul forces entered to capture Rajaram, she routed them totally. Rajaram was helped to escape to the strong fortress of Jinji. Aurangazeb was so struck with admiration for her heroism he honored her by sending her valuable gifts. Another act of her military prowess was the defeat of the Mysore army led by Dalavay Timmappa, when she took his son captive.
Chennamma was known for her generosity and respect for learning. She built monasteries of itinerant Lingayat monks.
Chennamma was known as a good administrator and a ruler unmatched in nobility of character, prowess, charity and devotion.
— Courtesy ” Great Women of India ” published by Shri Ramakrishna Math.