Veerbala Tilu Rauteli: Story of courage, victory and supreme sacrifice


India is full of glorious stories. The patience, courage and valor of the legends is visible from history to the present. One such legend is Tilu Rauteli. Her courage and bravery should have been discussed throughout the country, but the stories of her valor have remained confined to the state of Uttarakhand.  To avenge the martyrdom of father, brother and fiancée, she displayed exemplary bravery. She is revered along with mighty women like Rani Laxmibai, Durgavati, Chandbibi and Jiyarani.
Tilu Rauteli’s original name was Tilottama Devi. She was born on 8 August, 1661 in the house of Bhup Singh Rawat and Mainavati Rani of village Gurrad Talla, Chaundkot, Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, India. Bhup Singh was a respected thokdar in the court of Garhwal King Fatehshah. Tilu had two brothers Bhagtu and Patwa.
At the age of 15, Tilu got engaged with Bhavani Singh, son of Bhumya Singh Negi, the wholesaler of Chaundkot. By the age of 15, Guru Shibu Pokhriyal had mastered Tilu in horse riding and sword fighting. At that time there was a mutual rivalry between the Garhnareshs and the Katyuris. At the time of Tilu Rauteli, the area of ​​the borders was determined by the land conquered by the kings. The Katyuri king Dhamshahi had established his supremacy in Khairagarh. 
The people were saddened by their atrocities. When Katyuri Naresh Dhamdev attacked Khairagarh, Gadhnaresh handed over the responsibility of protecting their land to Bhup Singh. Bhup Singh fought the invaders but in this battle he was martyred while fighting along with his two sons and Tilu’s fiancée.
After the martyrdom of father, brothers and fiancee, 15-year-old Tilu Rauteli took charge. Tilu formed an army with his maternal uncle Ramu Bhandari, advisor Shivdutt Pokhriyal and friends Devaki and Belu etc.
The commander of this army was Sri Guru Gaurinath, the general of Chhatrapati Shivaji from Maharashtra. Under his guidance, thousands of youth took training and learned guerilla warfare skills. Tilu along with her friends Devaki and Belu set out to defeat the enemies. She fought for seven years and conquered 13 forts including Khairagarh, Takauligarh, Indiakot Bhaunkhal, Umragarhi, Salt Mahadev, Masigarh, Saraikhet, Ufraikhal, Kalinkakhal, Dumailgarh etc. 
On May 15, 1683 Tilu, kept her weapon on the bank of a river and went to bathe when an enemy soldier killed her by deceit. Though many books have been written about her and many plays have been staged, still the courage and bravery Tilu showed is unknown to many. 
The government of Uttarakhand honours women and girls of the state with Tilu Rauteli award Every year. This award is given to women for their extraordinary performance in their respective field of work. This award was started in the year 2006 under the name ‘Veerbala Tilu Rauteli Award’. Her story of bravery, courage and valour at such a young age is inspiring and motivating. 


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