Maharana Pratap – The Celebrated Gem of Rajasthan
The Birth of a Hero
Born on 9 May 1540 in Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan, son and successor of Maharana Udai Singh and Rani Jeevant Kanwar. Maharana Udai Singh II was the king of Mewar and Chittor as a capital.
The Making of the King of Mewar – Maharana Pratap
In 1567, the capital of Mewar – Chittor was surrounded by Emperor Akbar and his army which made Maharana Udai Singh II leave Chittor and set up a stay with family in Gogunda. The king was determined the move to be beneficial rather than getting captured by the Mughals. Even in such condition, Maharana at the age of 27 wanted to stay at Chittor to fight Mughals. But the destiny was written to create a history that is never going to be forgotten.
Prince Rana Pratap was the eldest of twenty-five sons and was on the way to become Maharana after Maharana Udai Singh II passed away in 1572. Though Rani Bhatiyani, the stepmother wanted Kunwar Jagmal Singh to become the King of Mewar. At the time of last rituals Jagmal prepared to be the succession of the throne rather than accompanying in the Rituals. Keeping to the words of his father, Rana Pratap let his brother Jagmal become the next king of Mewar, however, due to his behavior, the nobles forced Jagmal to leave the throne for Rana Pratap. Maharana Pratap was destined to be the 54th ruler of Mewar, in the line of the Sisodiya Rajputs.
The Fellow Adversaries
At the time when Maharana Pratap came into the power, other Rajput dynasties had surrendered to the Mughals and became a part of Akbar’s council of members. The Rajput dynasties pressured the Maharana Pratap to get surrendered to the Mughal which in turn refused and faced the wrath of fellow adversaries.
The Missions by Akbar
After the refusal of the surrender, Akbar sent emissaries to Mewar to get Rana Pratap agreed to a treaty where the letter was crafted to sign a peace treaty unaffecting the Mewar’s ethics. During the year 1573, Akbar sent six diplomatic missions to get Rana Pratap’s agreement, but Rana Pratap turned down each of the missions. Lastly, one of the missions led by Raja Man Singh, the brother-in-law of Akbar himself. Maharana Pratap, was disappointed to his fellow Rajput was to the allies with Mughals who forced the submission of all Rajputs and angrily refused to support Raja Man Singh. This incident made Akbar understood that Maharana Pratap would never agree to leave no other option than deploying troops in Mewar.
Getting Ready for the Battle
The skills and tactics of fighting in battle was proved during the epic Battle of Haldighati fought in 1576. In the battlefield, Mughal emperor Akbar ordered Man Singh and Asaf Khan to attack Rana Pratap with a huge army half the size of the Mughal emperor. Both the commanders along with the troops help the position at Haldighati, a mountain pass around 40 kilometers from Udaipur. Though with such a huge army, Maharana Pratap furiously fought and won the battle.
Hands of the Allies
While Akbar prepared for the battle and his allies, Pratap had gathered his allies – Gwalior’s Ram Shah Tanwar and his three sons- Rawat Krishnadasji Chundawat, Maan Singhji Jhala and Chandrasenji Rathore of Marwar along with the Afghan leader Hakim Khan Sur led by a small army from the Bhil tribe by Rao Poonjaji.
The Final Battle – The Battle of Haldighati
The epic Battle of Haldighati took place on June 18, 1576 for four hours. Unfortunately, the Mughal army found a traitor as Shakti Singh, Maharana Pratap’s brother who told the Mughals about the secret pass. The joy lasted for a while when the Mughal troops led by Man Singh was defeated by the Rajput soldiers. With the anger of taking the side of Mughals, Maharana Pratap decided to kill Man Singh and rode upon his war horse Chetak against Man Singh’s elephant. While giving the last blow, Chetak and Rana Pratap were injured by Man’s elephant which lost the hopes of Rajput fighters.
This was not the end yet, the brave chief named Man Singh Jhala came up with a plan to exchange the armors with Maharana Pratap to confuse the Mughal troops and requested the Raja to escape. The war horse Chetak tried to escape via the Haldighati pass with just a single long leap (a famous instance scripted in many manuscripts) but unfortunately was killed by Mughal archers. Seeing his loved horse death, Rana Pratap was devastated and realized his fault, however, cheering up the Raja, Shakti Singh offered his own horse to Maharana, so that the Raja could escape.
The Stand-Alone Ruler
After the Battle of Haldighati, the Mughal troops personally led by Akbar marched and kept conquering the Mewar region including Chittor, Gogunda, Kumbhalgarh and Udaipur. All Rajput dynasties had fallen including Bundi, leaving the last one standing – Maharana Pratap.
Getting Back the Homeland – Chittor
After 1579, Maharana grabbed the opportunity and gathered the troops with the donation by Dan Shiromani Bhamashah. Later on, Bhamashah became one of Pratap’s ministers and played an important role in getting back his home – Kumbhalgarh along with the areas around Chittor. The win continued with an army of 40,000 soldiers by recapturing the Gogunda, Kumbhalgarh, Ranthambore and Udaipur from the Mughals. In short, this was the year of homecoming.
The Native Freedom Fighter
The fight for the freedom continued and alongside the fight, Maharana rebuilt the new capital – Chavand which was south to the Udaipur. At last, in January 1597, Maharana Pratap, Mewar’s region’s greatest hero was injured during the hunting and took the last breath at Chavand at the age 56, on January 29, 1597.
Interesting Facts About Maharana Pratap
- Maharana Pratap stood at a magnificent height of 7 feet and 5 inches.
- Maharana Pratap used to carry a weight of around 360 kg at the battlefield. This included a spear weighing 80 kg, two swords weighing 208 kg and his armor was around 72 kg heavy. His own weight was more than 110 kg.
- Rana Pratap had 11 wives and had 17 sons and 5 daughters.
- Rana Pratap was the eldest son of Maharana Udai Singh amongst his 32 children.
- It is said that Maharana Pratap sliced Behlol Khan into two part along with his horse.
- Rana Pratap’s dream was to free Chittor. He made a pledge that he would eat in a leaf plate and sleep on a bed of straws until he doesn’t win Chittor back.
- While being struggling and stranded in the jungle, he and his family had nothing to eat except from rotis made from grass. Once the cat stole even the grass roti made for his daughter. At that moment he thought to surrender in front of Akbar by writing a letter. Reading the letter Akbar became happy and gave it to the Prithviraj who was the Rajput poet and warrior. But Prithviraj in a poetic way, he said not quit or accept defeat from Akbar.
- Maharana Pratap survived a number of battles but unfortunately died an injury from the hunting accident while tightening the string of a bow with an arrow. This news of Maharana’s death made even the emperor Akbar cry.
Maharana Pratap – A hero who died fighting for his nation, people, and most importantly honour.
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