Tilu Rauteli (born Tilottama Devi) was a seventeenth-century Garhwali Rajput fighter and folk heroine who was born in the village of Gurrad Talla in the Pauri Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India. According to some legends, She was born in 1661 . She is the only warrior who fought seven wars, between the age 15 – 20. She was one of the three children of Bhoop Singh (Gorla) Rawat and at the young of fifteen her engagement was betrothed with Bhuppa Singh Negi from Ida Talla village (Garhwal) . 

In those days, Katyuri warriors of Kumaon were continuously attacking the Garhwal Kingdom. Tilu’s Father and brothers were also martyred in this battle.
After some days, the annual Kauthig (fair) in Kanda was held, just like other kids of her age, Rauteli also expressed her desire to go.  
Her mother, devastated by the loss of her husband and sons, stated…
O Tilu! What are you! Don’t you miss your brothers? Who will avenge your father’s death? If you want to go somewhere, it should be a battlefield…. Can you go? Can you avenge……..? Enjoy your Kauthig after that!”

This taunt from her mother left an indelible mark on Rauteli’s mind, and she began to prepare a battalion with her friends, she regrouped the army. After some time she departed for the battlefield, riding her horse “Binduli”, and accompanied by her friends “Bellu” and “Devali”. According to local folktales the Khairagarh (present day Kalagarh) was her first exploit, where she overwhelmed the Katyuris of Kumaon.  After this she left for Kalinkakhal, where she fought the enemy and avenged her father’s death by defeating the general of Katyuri army in Saraikhet, where her father had lost his life. 
After winning her territories back, she started marching towards Kanda. While crossing the Nayar River she stopped to refresh herself, where she made the ultimate sacrifice.
(It is to note that some historians reject the claims of her existence and consider her as a pure fictional character). 

Her saga of revolt against injustice and feudal male supremacy of warlords is still told to the hill masses through folk art forms in glowing terms – Thadya’ dance forms are performed in her honour across Uttarakhand. Ranbhoot is invoked in her memory in ‘Jagars’ ( a ritualized form of ancestor spirit worship which is practiced in the hills of Uttarakhand ).  And a statue of this young fearless fighter was recently installed in Beeronkhal as a mark of tribute. “Veerbala Tilu Rauteli ” award is also given annually to women for their exemplary performances in their field of work in Uttarakhand.
 Because of her bravery, courage, wisdom and her progressive views in 17th century India, and due to her sacrifices, she became a true icon of Women Empowerment. 

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