Jhalkari Bai: The Forgotten Tale Of Another Rani Lakshmibai

An incredible warrior whose contribution to the Indian Rebellion of 1857 is nothing less than Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. A fearless woman soldier named Jhalkari Bai is a lost tale today in the pages of history. With her skills, she became an advisor to the legendary Rani Lakshmibai. Jhalkari Bai was courageous enough to disguise herself as Rani Lakshmibai and took command of the army during the battle at the fort of Jhansi, giving enough time to the real queen to escape from the fort. 

Born on 22 November 1830, in a Kori family near Jhansi, Jhalkari Bai was courageous since her youth. She had once reportedly killed a leopard with a stick and a tiger with an axe when she came under their attacks in the forest. To testify her valour further, Jhalkari had single-handedly driven dacoits away when they tried to raid a businessman’s house in the village.    

Her formal education remained incomplete. Unfortunately, when she lost her mother, Jamuna Devi, at a young age, her father, Sadoba Singh trained Jhalkari to fight, use weapons as a warrior, ride a horse etc. 

Jhalkari Bai wouldn’t have met Rani Lakshmibai had it not been for Puran Singh. Puran was a soldier of great calibre in the queen’s army and he sought Sadoba Singh’s permission to marry his daughter in 1843, to which he agreed. 

In the meantime, Rani Lakshmibai and Jhalkari Bai met during Gauri Puja when she went to the fort along with a few women from the village. When Rani Lakshmibai spotted her, she was taken aback by the uncanny resemblance she had with Jhalkari. Lakshmibai immediately inquired about her and when she came to know about Jhalkari’s bravery, Jhalkari was immediately deployed in the women’s wing of the army. She was then trained how to shoot and ignite cannons to be prepared against a British invasion. 

Jhalkari Bai could successfully create fear in the hearts of the British army as a prominent fighter during the revolt of 1857. During the Rebellion of 1857, when General Hugh Rose attacked Jhansi, the queen faced the army with 14,000 of her troops, including Jhalkari, who became a close confidante and advisor to the queen because of her bravery during the battle. 

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