Nana Sahib was born on May 19, 1824 as Nana Govind Dhondu Pant to Narayan Bhatt and Ganga Bai. When Baji Rao II (the last Peshwa of the Maratha Confederation) defeated in the Third Maratha War and the East India Company had exiled him to Bithoor near Kanpur, where he maintained a large establishment paid for in part out of a British pension. In childhood, he had friends named Tantya Tope, Azimullah Khan and Rani Lakshmibai. He played a significant role in the Indian freedom fight.
According to Doctrine of Lapse treaty, after the death of Baji Rao, Nana Sahib was refused to take the throne as he was not the direct heir to Baji Rao. Nana Sahib stood against this statement of the British Government and started an attack on their collocation at Kanpur. He was defeated by General Henry Havelock and in December 1857 by Sir Colin Campbell. He appointed a nephew, Rao Sahib, to give orders to Tantia.
He was a Maratha soldier and led the Kanpur rebellion during the battle of 1857. He had in himself inbuilt leadership qualities which led to the breakout. The best thing about him was that he was the connate, sensible, agile and strong decision maker. He never had to plan any move or any trick in advance. It is said that after his defeat in the rebellion of Kanpur, Nana Sahib took shelter in Nepal to protect himself and his family. He was seen by people in the Nepal hills, where he is thought to have died.