maharana prathap

Main article: Udaipur State
Statue of Maharana Pratap of Mewar, commemorating the Battle of Haldighati.

Udaipur was founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the final capital of the erstwhile Mewarkingdom, located to the southwest of Nagda, on the Banas River, the first capital of the Mewar kingdom. Legend has it that Maharana Udai Singh II came upon a hermit while hunting in the foothills of the Aravalli Range. The hermit blessed the king and asked him to build a palace on the spot, assuring him it would be well protected. Udai Singh II consequently established a residence on the site. In 1568 the Mughal emperor Akbar captured the fort of Chittor, and Udai Singh moved the capital to the site of his residence, which became the city of Udaipur.[3]

As the Mughal empire weakened, the Sisodia ranas, and later maharanas (also called the Guhilots or Suryavansh), who had always tried to oppose Mughal dominance, reasserted their independence and recaptured most of Mewar except for Chittor. Udaipur remained the capital of the state, which became a princely state of British India in 1818. Being a mountainous region and unsuitable for heavily armoured Mughal horses, Udaipur remained unmolested from Mughal influence in spite of much pressure.

Maharana Fatah Singh of Udaipur was the only royalty who did not attend the Delhi Durbar for King George V in 1911. This fierce sense of independence earned Udaipur the highest gun salute in Rajasthan, 19 against the 17 each of JaipurJodhpurBundiBikanerKota and Karauli. AfterIndia's independence in 1947, Maharana Bhupal Singh, the King of Udaipur, acceded to the Government of India, and Mewar was integrated into India's Rajasthan state.

Early life and background

Pratap Bhattarai, eldest of 4 brothers and 2 sisters, was born to Maharana Udai Singh II and Maharani Javanta Bai Songara Chauhan at Juni Kacheri, Near Dhanmandi of Pali city on 9 May 1540.[1][2]


Accession

In 1568, during the reign of Udai Singh II, Chittor was conquered by the Mughal Emperor Akbar after the third Jauhar at Chittor. However, Udai Singh and the royal family of Mewar escaped before the capture of the fort and moved to the foothills of the Aravalli Range where Udai Singh founded the city of Udaipur. Rana Udai Singh wanted Jagmal, his favourite son, to succeed him but his senior nobles wanted Pratap, the eldest son, to be their king as was customary. During the coronation ceremony Jagmal was physically moved out of the palace by the Chundawat Chief and Tomar Ramshah and Pratap was made the King, the Rana of Mewar. Pratap did not want to go against the wishes of his father but Rajput nobles convinced him that Jagmal was not fit to rule in the troubled times of the day. It was the beginning of a career of struggle and hardship.

Maharana Pratap never accepted Akbar as ruler of India, and fought Akbar all his life. Akbar first tried diplomacy to win over Maharana Pratap but nothing worked. Pratap maintained that he had no intention to fight with Akbar but he could not bow down to Akbar and accept him as his suzerain. Some scholars argue that there was some possibility that Maharana could have become friends with Akbar, but in the siege of Chittor Akbar had killed 27,000 civilians. This left a lasting impression on Maharana's mind and he decided he could not bow to such injustice and cruelty. Tod's Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan relates how Pratap also stopped the then practice of Rajput chiefs in cementing their ties with the Mughals by giving their daughters in marriage into the court.[3]

Battle of Haldighati
Main article: Battle of Haldighati

On June 21, 1576 (June 18 by other calculations), the two armies met at Haldighati, near the town of Gogunda in present-day Rajasthan. While accounts vary as to the exact strength of the two armies, all sources concur that the Mughal forces greatly outnumbered Pratap's men (4:1). The battle of Haldighati, a historic event in the annals of Rajputana, lasted only four hours. In this short period, Pratap's men essayed many brave exploits on the field. Folklore has it that Pratap personally attacked Man Singh: his horse Chetak placed its front feet on the trunk of Man Singh's elephant and Pratap threw his lance; Man Singh ducked, and the mahout was killed.

Statue of Maharana Pratap of Mewar, commemorating the Battle of HaldighatiCity Palace, Udaipur

However, the numerical superiority of the Mughal army and their artillery began to tell. Seeing that the battle was lost, Pratap's generals prevailed upon him to flee the field ( so as to be able to fight another day. Myths indicate that to facilitate Pratap's escape, one of his lieutenants, a member of the Jhala clan, donned Pratap's distinctive garments and took his place in the battlefield. He was soon killed. Meanwhile, riding his trusty steed Chetak, Pratap made good his escape to the hills.

But Chetak was critically wounded on his left thigh by a Mardana (Elephant Trunk Sword) while Pratap had attempted to nail down Man Singh. Chetak was bleeding heavily and he collapsed after jumping over a small brook few kilometres away from the battle field. When Pratap’s general donned Pratap’s clothing and armour, it went unnoticed, thanks to the chaos of the war, but for two Turk knights from the Mughal army. They could not communicate it with others in their group, due to the linguistic barrier (the appropriate language would have been Persian, Marwari or Arabi, given the composition of the Mughal army). They immediately followed Pratap without wasting time. The moment they started chasing him, Pratap’s younger brother Shaktisingh, who was fighting from the Mughal side, (he had some disputes with Pratap at the time of Pratap’s coronation; hence he had defected and gone over to Akbar’s court) realized that his own brother was under threat. Pratap's general's sacrifice had already been discovered by him. He could not help but react against a threat to his own brother. He followed the Turks, engaged them in single combat and killed them. In the meanwhile, Chetak collapsed and Pratap saw his brother Shakti Singh killing the two Mughal riders. Saddened by the loss of his beloved general and horse, he embraced his brother and broke into tears. Shakti Singh also cried and asked for his brother's pardon, for having fought as his enemy. Pratap pardoned him (later on he was given a huge estate near Chittor). Shaktisingh then offered him his own horse and requested him to get to a safe place. This incident is famous in Rajasthani folklore, a song “O Neele Ghode re Aswar” (O Rider of the Blue Horse) mentions it.

A mausoleum to Chetak is at the site of the steed's death.

The impact of the battle on the Mughal army was also significant. In terms of numbers the Mughal army suffered heavier losses. This was also because of the intensive arrow showers by the Bhil tribes of the surrounding mountains who had sided with Pratap. To honour their contribution, a Bhil warrior was placed next to Pratap in the Royal Coat of Arms of Mewar.

The battle of Haldighat is considered to be the first Major breakthrough of Rajputs against the Mughals since the Second Battle of Khanwa in 1527, which was fought between Rana Sanga grandfather of Maharana Pratap, and the Mughal Babur grandfather of Akbar. It is regarded with a degree of significance by many Rajput families.



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