Chetak – A horse that is most famous and associated with the history of Mewar. The horse was first named Chetak in an eighteenth-century ballad, Khummana-Raso. The bravery and resilience of this marvellous stallion are sung not just across Rajasthan but across India and has a place in the manuscripts. As a symbol of pride, Chetak’s statue is placed at Moti Magri and Chetak Circle or named as the Chetak Smarak. The citation defines Chetak as a horse that was truly devoted to master and was brave enough to save his master from the enemies amidst any situation. The folklores across India and Rajasthan define Chetak as a brave, obedient animal who fought for his rider till its last breath.
“Chetak, an epitome of love and valour for his master – Maharana Pratap”.
Why Chetak is Celebrated Stallion Across India
In 1553, after the defeat, Maharana Udai Singh shifted his capital from Chittorgarh to Udaipur as directed by a hermit. A couple of years later his son Maharana Pratap took the reign of Mewar and for the next 25 years, ruled with bravery, devotion, and fortitude. Chetak was his chosen horse; he loved the creature and it resonated the love quite well.
Almost a thousand years ago, the Rathore clan moved into Maru Pradesh (now Marwar). The three major breeds of horses popular in Western India at that time were Marwari, Sindhi, and Kathiyawadi. Rathore clan found the Marwari horses. The beauty, mettle, and intelligence of the horses amazed the new early settlers; they started the business of breeding them. Chetak was one Marwari horse and proved to be a Brave one.
The Bond of Maharana Pratap with Chetak
In 1576 the Mughal Emperor Akbar started the journey to capture Udaipur. Hearing this, Maharana Pratap and his men waited at the entry to a one-kilometre narrow long pass in the Aravalli mountain ranges. This pass known as the “Haldighati” and was the only access to Mewar region for the proceeding Mughal army. A bloody battle was fought between the two armies and lasted up to four hours.
Whenever there is a talk about Udaipur, people do not remember the defeat of Maharana Pratap but the courage and loyalty of his men and his horse Chetak. During the battle, at one moment an elephant’s tusk tore through one of the Chetak’s rear legs which crippled and immobilized Chetak. Even after being hurt, Chetak did not give up and with his king on the saddle, made his way back to safely on just three legs. Unfortunately, the brave horse collapsed in the end. There is a pictorial depiction of the Maharana lamenting the death of his beloved horse.
Chetak was a great friend of Maharana Pratap and the rescuer at the time of war with Akbar in Haldighati. The brave stallion kept life in danger and protected his master by jumping from 25 feet deep trough. The stories say Chetak was a very aggressive horse and only Maharana Pratap was able to tame it. It is also believed that the horse itself chose his master. With such an example and import part of history due to its brave act, today, there is a temple of Chetak in Haldighati.
Why was Chetak Different?
The three major breeds of horses were popular in Western India during Maharana Pratap’s times which are Marwari, Sindhi, and Kathiawadi. Chetak belonged to the Marwari breed – A truly physiognomies of its class with lean body as that of a desert horse. The stallion had a high forehead with a long face and luminously sparkling eyes which made his look set apart. He had curved and curled ears and it is said that the ears pointed forward, the top of the ears met together presenting an elegant look.
The tales say that with looks, there was aggression as well and only Maharana Pratap was able to control the stallion. Chetak exhibited the highest degree of loyalty towards the Maharana. According to the folklore sung across the Mewar region, it is said that Chetak’s coat had a hint of blue colour and this is the reason why Maharana Pratap is often mentioned as the ‘Rider of The Blue Horse’.
Who were Natak and Atak?
Pushpendra Singh Ranawat (from geo-heritage dept.) says that Chetak had fellow horses (brothers) as Natak & Atak, stallions that were well-trained for wars. Atak was put on trial for hilly and river-let terrain during which it got a foot injury. Maharana Pratap bought all three; Natak was given to his younger brother Shakti Singh and Chetak was kept for the Maharana. The last horse Atak was sent to the animal care centre after the injury. All the three horses had the perfect attributes viz. strength, stamina, swiftness, saddle-trained and sure-footed.
Interesting Things and Facts About Maharana Pratap’s Horse Chetak
- Legends say that Chetak was known as “Neela Ghoda” because of sparkling blue eyes.
- It is also said that Chetak’s coat had a certain blue shade and hence was known as the Blue Horse
- Maharana Pratap put armour on Chetak in the shape of an elephant’s trunk to provide him protection and make a disguise as an elephant for the marching army
- One folklore suggests that Chetak was small measuring somewhere between 14.2 to 15.2 hands height
- Chetak had appealingly curved and curled ears
- Chetak had a peacock shaped neck and was described as Mayura Greeva (peacock neck) in folklore
- Chetak was an aggressive, arrogant and difficult stallion to control
- During the critical hours of Maharana Pratap, Chetak carried him from Rakt Talai to the other end of Haldighati by jumping across nearby stream of 21feet wide near village Balicha