- One of the fiercest battles ever fought in the records of History was the Battle of Haldighati. The real bravery and courage of the Rajput clan and their love for their motherland is conveyed through this battle. The battle took place nearly 400 years ago near the village of Haldighati in Rajasthan when the Mughal empire was at its height of splendor and Akbar, the Mughal emperor, dreamed of a united India under the Mughal banner. Despite their numerical superiority and firepower, the Mughals fought the formidable Sisodias of Mewar, a Rajput tribe. Akbar employed every resource available to him to assassinate Rana Pratap but in vain. The great emperor was unable to capture the heroic Rana, and Mewar remained the only country to remain free of Mughal Domination during Akbar’s reign.
The basic writings of late medieval Mewar (17th–18th century) are replete with mythical tales about Rana Pratap’s struggle against one of the greatest emperors of the Mughal empire, “Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar.” The study article focuses on Maharana Pratap’s bravery, strategy, and gallant deeds, as well as his relationship with Man Singh, the War of Haldighati, and the most contentious area, the post-Haldighati battle period, which was difficult for Maharana Pratap. The research article delves deeper into the history and popularity of Mewar Rajputs. It reveals the collective historical memory and awareness of the Rajput society of Mewar throughout the 17th and 18th centuries by describing their ideals and goals.
Among all the other Rajput kingdoms in Rajasthan, Mewar was the most remote. The Aravalli’s formed a natural border between Mewar and the rest of Rajasthan. The Bhils inhabited the Mewar kingdom’s hilly regions. Geographic isolation, rugged terrain, and harsh physical environment bred self-reliance and a natural protective instinct among the people of Mewar. Additionally, they developed a strong determination to safeguard their ancestral honor at all costs. Since their inception, the people of Mewar have evolved physically and emotionally to accommodate Rana Pratap’s use of guerrilla warfare to evade the Mughal machinery.
The Bhil community, an Indo-Aryan speaking ethnic group, played a prominent role following Haldighati, they were regarded as significant characters who voluntarily strengthened Maharana Pratap’s power during his preparations for the fight with Akbar.
In the Haldighati battle, Maharana Pratap exemplifies valour and bravery. It was also a watershed moment for the Mughals, since it temporarily halted their progress into the rest of Mewar, diverting precious military resources to the region.
- Maharana Pratap was born in Kumbhalgarh Fort on May 9, 1540, to Jaiwanta Bai and Udai Singh II. Udai Singh II was the king of Mewar, and Chittor was its capital. After Udai Singh’s death in 1572, one of his wives, Rani Dheer Bai, insisted that Udai Singh’s eldest son, Jagmal Singh, be crowned as King, to which Pratap consented, but top courtiers eventually believed that Pratap was a better choice to deal with the tension arising due to the influence of Mughals.
Accession & Reign
Following Maharana Pratap’s ascension to the throne, his brother Jagmal Singh vowed revenge and enlisted in the Mughal army. The Mughals awarded him with the city of Jahazpur.
When the Rajputs left Chittor, the Mughals took control of the entire region, but unlike the other Rajput kings in the area, Maharana Pratap repeatedly refused to surrender to the Mughals and fought valiantly until his last breath. Akbar dispatched a series of envoys to try to persuade Pratap to form an alliance, but nothing worked. In 1573, Akbar dispatched six diplomatic missions, but Maharana Pratap refused to accept them. Raja Man Singh, Akbar’s brother-in-law, conducted the last of these trips. Once Maharana Pratap was also offered a large chunk of the Mughal’s territory in place of Mewar but Pratap refused it too. When negotiations for a peace treaty fell down, Akbar declared war against Maharana Pratap.
Fearless Pratap, on the other hand, stood heroically in front of the Mughal Army despite of all the hurdles and betrayals faced by him due by his brother and other Rajput Kings who shook hands with the Mughals.
Importance Of Mewar
- Mewar was essential to the Mughals because of its strategic location. Mewar was situated between Gujarat and the Mughal empire’s major centers. As a result, whoever controlled the Mewar region could easily control the commercial routes to Gujarat, and from there, the sea routes to Arabia and beyond. Military campaign routes from Delhi to Agra to the ports of Gujarat and to the Deccan via Malwa traveled through Maharana’s Kingdom, in addition to trade routes. Mewar became a point of friction between the Mughals and the Rajputs because of these factors.
Battle Of Haldighati
The Battle of Haldighati took place on June 18, 1576, between the soldiers of Maharana Pratap, the Rana of Mewar, and the Mughal emperor Akbar’s forces.
According to modern historians, the Mughal army had roughly 10,000 troops, and Rana’s army had around 3000 cavalry and 400 archers from the Bhil tribes of the kingdom. The Mughal army had armaments, including guns and artillery, that were powerful enough to breach the fort’s walls; but, Maharana Pratap’s army lacked this key edge.
After conquering Sher Shah Suri’s kingdom in 1556, Akbar realized the necessity of forging alliances with the Rajput kings, and one of his main approaches was to form marriage partnerships. As a result, during this battle, almost all of the kings were on the side of the Mughal armies. This was yet another significant setback for Maharana Pratap Singh.
Maharana Pratap chose Gogunda, a small town near Udaipur, as his base. The town of Khamnor is located 23 kilometers north of Gogunda, separated by a spur of the Aravalli Range. The rocks in this range were given the name “Haldighati” because when crushed, they turned a yellowish color that looked like turmeric (Haldi). When the fight began, Maharana Pratap planned to attack from the top on his foes, using the narrow pass of Haldighati to negate his enemies’ overwhelming numbers.
Maharana Pratap was fully surrounded by the Mughal Army during the battle, and when he saw this, he galloped toward Raja Man Singh with his horse “Chetak” to kill him and destroy the Mughals. Chetak rested his leg on the elephant’s trunk while Man Singh was mounted on the elephant. Pratap brandished his spear and charged at Man Singh, but his aim was off, and the Mahout was struck by the spear. Maharana was urged to flee and surrender his crown to Hakim Khan Sur, a general in Pratap’s army so that the Mughal forces would be confused between him and Rana. Chetak, despite being seriously injured, ran to protect his King and jumped over a long trench, where he died.
- This battle was significant because Maharana Pratap did not die in it, and for the next 30 years, Rana continued his movement against the Mughals, preventing them from entirely controlling Mewar.
Aftermath Post Haldighati
- Maharana Pratap retreated to his hideout and raised a new army, one that included not only his soldiers but also Bhils, an ethnic group who joined Rana Pratap’s army after witnessing Rana’s devotion and love for his motherland, as well as Rana’s simplicity when he began to live in the jungle and train his army using only the basic food items available in the jungle. When Pratap was preparing for the fight with Akbar, members of the Bhil community volunteered to help him, and the Bhil army was led by “Punja,” eventually given the title of Rana and known as “Rana Punja.”The army was raised by the funds given by one of the Generals named ‘Bhamashah’. From there, Akbar waged a series of campaigns against Maharana Pratap Singh. In fact, Akbar personally went to Mewar to pursue Pratap, but he was unable to capture either Pratap or Mewar because to Pratap’s Guerilla warfare techniques (a kind of warfare in which small-scale and sudden attacks are made on the enemy or rivalry).
In 1582, another fierce battle known as the Battle of Dewair took place, and Emperor Akbar sent an army of around 36000 troops to fight it. However, Maharana Pratap’s army clearly defeated the Mughal army, so much so that Maharana Pratap struck Behlol Khan with his sword, cutting him vertically, including his helmet, armor, and even his horse. Pratap took complete control of Mewar after winning this battle. Mewar recovered its prosperity, coins with Pratap’s image were issued, agricultural advances were achieved, and Maharana Pratap Singh reigned as King for another 20 years, till he died in a hunting accident in 1597.
To avoid future loss, Amar Singh I, Maharana Pratap’s eldest son and heir, signed a pact with Shah Jahan in 1615. (On behalf of Jahangir).
The Battle of Haldighati is one of the most disputed battles in terms of Maharana Pratap Singh’s or Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar’s genuine victory. Many historians and researchers have expressed their opinions on the subject, but the fact is that the outcome of this battle remains ‘Inclusive,’ because the Mughal Army captured some parts of Mewar after the Battle of Haldighati, but Raja Man Singh was unable to defeat or capture Maharana Pratap, and Maharana Pratap regained full control of Mewar after the Battle of Dewair in 1582, and even before that, all of Akbar’s campaigns failed. This tale came to an end with Maharana Pratap’s death in 1597, which was caused by an accident while hunting rather than a war loss.
“No loss so glorious and no triumph so shameful” is how the fight of Haldighati is commonly described. Man Singh and his 20,000 soldiers had fought Rana’s 5000 troops with an evident lack of leadership and strategy, which the Rana had expertly executed. Outmanned by the Mughals, the war ended in a defeat, but I’ll call it a triumph that served no purpose to the Mughals, whose goal was to take Mewar by killing the Rana. Such misunderstandings arise as a result of our textbooks’ failure to focus on the true conflict that Mewar won against the Mughals, the second battle of Haldighati/Dewair, rather than the first. The best part of Maharana Pratap’s rule demonstrates his outstanding leadership, deft tactics, superb character, and Mewar’s actual progress toward independence.
Top 13 Interesting Facts about the Battle of Haldighati
Before the Battle of Haldighati in 1576, a total of four diplomatic envoys were sent to Maharana Pratap between 1572 to 1575 by Jalal Khan Qurchi, Raja Bhagwant Das, Todar Mal, and Raja Man Singh.
Before the Battle of Dewair despite Akbar having a control over few parts of Chittor still, Akbar was not able to start his functioning in those areas, even the coins used in those places were of Maharana Pratap and not Akbar.
When the battle’s tide shifted, Rana Pratap was wounded by arrows and spears. Bida Jhala kidnapped his commander’s regal crown and charged the Mughals, claiming to be the Rana himself. His sacrifice, along with the sacrifices of 350 other troops who stayed behind and fought to buy time, allowed Rana and the rest of their army to flee.
The first poem on Haldighati and Chetak was written by Shyam Narayan Pratap.
The height of Maharana Pratap was more than 7 feet.
One of the greatest Mughal Rulers Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar who rules over most of the Indian subcontinent was not able to establish his rule over Mewar.
Despite Maharana Pratap was younger than Jagmal Singh, the courtiers chose Maharana Pratap as the King of Mewar.
The last envoy sent by Akbar for the settlement of Mewar was Todar Mal (one of the courtiers of Mughals).
The army raised by Maharana Pratap after the Battle of Haldighati was funded by one of his Generals named “Bhamashah”.
‘Punja’ a member of the Bhil community led the Bhil Army and was titled “Rana Punja.”
‘Behlol Khan’ the General of the Mughal Army was killed by Maharana Pratap by the strike of the sword which cut him and his horse from center.
Maharana Pratap used “Guerilla Warfare Techniques” to counter the Mughal Army.
The base of Maharana Pratap’s army during the Battle of Haldighati was in Gogunda.