“Khub lari jhalkari tu toh, teri ek jawani thi.
dur firangi ko karne mein, veeron mein mardani thi.”
(You fought with valour Jhalkari, your youthfulness was unique. You were a man among the brave in ousting the British.)
Jhalkari Bai played a very crucial role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 during the Battle of Jhansi. She disguised herself as queen Rani Lakshmi Bai and fought to let the queen escape safely from the fort.
Born on 22nd November 1830, in Bhojla, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, Jhalkari Bai lost her mother at a very young age. Her father raised her. Unlike other girls of her age who would spend their days in veils, Jhalkari would spend her days learning to use weapons, ride horses and fight like a warrior. She could not get any formal education, but she made a name for herself in the patriarchal society. According to the folklore, she once killed a leopard in the forest with a stick which she used to herd cattle. Her stories of courage and bravery were told everywhere in the city.
She was married to a wrestler named Puran Singh of Jhansi, who was experienced in archery and horse riding. Like her husband, she too started working as an ordinary soldier in Laxmi Bai’s army and gained further expertise. With her courage and valour, she impressed Rani Lakshmi Bai and became the advisor of the Queen. She participated in many vital decisions. It is said that Jhalkari bai’s face and body structure resembled that of Rani Lakshmi Bai which they used to their advantage when the Queen had to escape.
Jhalkari Bai led the women’s wing of the army, known as Durga Dal. When General Hugh Rose attacked the city of Jhansi, during the Rebellion of 1857 on 23rd March 1858, the Queen valiantly faced them with her army of 4000 troops. But to save the city, Rani Lakshmi Bai had to leave the fort for Gwalior to seek help. That is when Jhalkari Bai urged her to leave everything to her and proceed without worries.
Jhalkari Bai disguised as the Queen and fought ferociously. Rani Lakshmi Bai was able to escape from her palace alive. Jhalkari fought the battle from Datia gate and Bhandari gate to Unnao gate. She lost her husband in the fierce battle, and when she heard of the demise, she became a ‘wounded tigress’ and killed many British men. She was successful in conning the Britishers for a while, but they discovered her identity. Once they realised that they were duped, they aimed and fired many shots at her, which led to her death.
The epic life story of Jhalkari Bai is still popular in the memory of Bundelkhand over many decades. Her life as a warrior continues to be sung in various Bundeli folklores even today.
The Logical Indian remembers and honours one of the bravest Indian women. We hope that these women provide inspiration and courage to people to face their fears and overcome their problems.