At the age of 22, Teelu Rauteli freed the provinces of Garhwal from the oppressive Katyura ruler Dham Shahi. She was killed by her enemies at the young age of 22 only but her bravery always kept her alive among the people of Uttarakhand in forms of folktales, folk songs, plays and festivals.
The braveheart of Uttarakhand was born in family of warriors. She was the daughter of Bhoop Singh and only sister of two twin brothers: Bhagtu and Patwa. In the seventeenth century, the Katyura king Dham Shahi defeated the Garhwal king Raja Maan Shah at Khairagarh and forced him to retreat to Chandpur Garh. Being brought up with two brothers, Teelu was equally adept with use of weapons. A fine horsewoman, excellent at wielding sword and a good gun shooter, was worth to consider.
Bhoop Singh (in some stories, Bhupu Gorala) was killed in battle in Saraikhet (Katli Kanda). She was only fifteen at that point of time. After the death of their father, the two sons took up the arms and became part of the revolt where they both met unfortunate death in Thaul. This young girl was engaged to the son of Bhuppa Negi who also lost his life in the battle. To avenge the death of her beloved ones, she decided to join forces and fight against the Katyuris. As per her family tradition she had to participate in the annual fair, but with a heavy heart she went against it. She made the announcement that she would celebrate only after killing Katyuris and destroy their armies. Many young and brave souls joined her in this battle against oppression by Dham Shahi.
In her first battle at Khairagarh, her army defeated the Katyuris. Following this succession, she regained the areas of Saraikhet and fulfill avenge of her father’s death. She freed the regions of Bhaun (Idiyakot), Salt Mahadev, Bhalan, Jadalyun, Chaukhatiya, Saraikhet and Kalikakhal from Katyura armies. While she was winning the lost territories, Katyura armies again gain control over Khairagarh, but she again had victory over them. She also established the temple of Boongi Devi in Garhwal.
To take the well-deserved rest, she decided to stay for some time at Kandagarh. The Katyura Sardar Raju Rajwar took advantage of unarmed and unprotected Teelu Rauteli while she was taking a bath in the Nayar River and killed her. She was only twenty-two years and eight months old when she was killed. She is famous among people as ‘Maharani Lakshmi Bai of Garhwal’.
The legend of Uttarakhand is still alive in many folklore, folk songs, and festivals of people of Garhwal. The legend of Teelu Rauteli is mentioned in many video songs, plays and books also.
The state government recognizes the work of Uttarakhand women from all the 13 districts for their extraordinary achievement in the field of social service, public awareness, conservation of environment, welfare of women and children, health, education and movement against superstitious practices. This year Saraswati Bisht, Meena Joshi, Sharda Bidushi and Lata Bisht were bestowed with this award. They are awarded the cash prize of Rs 21,000 and a certificate.