We all know about Jhansi Lakshmi Bai, who fought with the British like a lioness and played a critical role in First war of Indian independence of 1857. There are several books, movies and serials based on her life. But, how many are aware of Jhalkari Bai, the one who led Rani Lakshmi Bai’s all women battalion ‘Durga dal’. However, recently her role was played by Ankita Lokhande in the movie Manikarnika. She is not only remembered for her courage and sacrifice, but also for the fact that she disguised herself as the queen and fought to let the queen escape safely out of the fort. Here is her story Jhlakari Bai is often referred to as ‘the other Rani Lakshmi Bai’. She was born on November 22, 1830 to Sadoba Singh and Jamuna Devi in Bhojla village near Jhansi. She was their only child and lost her mother at a very young age. Her family belonged to the Kori caste. Her father took care of Jhalkari and raised her as a single parent. At a very young age, she was trained to use weapons, ride a horse, and fight like a warrior. She also killed a wild leopard in the forest with a stick that she used to herd the cattle. Jhalkari also fought with the dacoits and drove them away from the village She got married to Puran Singh, a soldier in Rani Lakshmi Bai’s army. He was a soldier of great caliber even the generals of the army had recognized it. Jhalkari bai met ‘Rani Lakshmi Bai’ for the first time during Gauri Pooja as number of women from the kingdom had visited the fort It is said that Jhalkari looked a lot like Rani Laxmi Bai and it was noticed by Rani Lakshmi Bai She enquired about Jhalkari and came to know of her bravery and her skill of wielding weapon. Impressed by her skills, Jhansi ki Rani inducted Jhalkari into her women wing and she got her training to shoot and ignite cannons to fight British invasion It is said that Jhalkari used to make decisions on behalf of the queen. She went out as a cover for Laxmibai, even confronted the enemies and saved Laxmibai’s life from the British soldiers. In 1858, Field Marshal Hugh Henry Rose, attacked and Jhansi Rani took on British forces from her fort with just an army of 4000 men. But, the queen was betrayed by her own and her counsel suggested her quick escape, because at the moment to have queen alive was much important than holding fort. When the time came for Rani Lakshmi Bai to escape into safety, Jhalkari without second thought got ready to become ‘Rani Lakshmi Bai’. Jhalkari disguised herself as queen and took command of the army and rode upto the General Rose’s camp. Jhalkari demanded a meeting with General which gave queen sufficient time to escape.General thought it is Rani Lakshmi Bai who have come to meet him and asked Jhalkari what should be the punishment given to her? Jhalkari had answered without even a hint of fear ‘to hang her’. But, a day later, a man named Dulha Joo identified Jhalkari and British learned that they have been deceived. Some legend says that she was executed when British learnt the truth about her, whereas a few sources suggest that General was impressed by the answer and released her saying, if every Indian shows atleast a percent of fearlessness Jhalkari had, British rule will be very short lived in future. Jhalkari is said to have collected information on her queen but failed to reunite with the army. After death of Rani Lakshmi Bai she is said to have lived in the jungle and passed away in 1890.
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