May 9 days in the country’s 476 birth anniversary is being celebrated Maharana Pratap. Pratap was a warrior, who never bowed forward to the Mughals. Their struggle is immortalized in history. Every child in India grew by reading about them. Nevertheless, there are certain things about them which seems impossible to hear, but in reality are true.
One the greatest warriors of Indian history, Maharana Pratap died on January 29 in the year 1597. Maharana Pratap was the ruler of Mewar, a province in modern day Rajasthan in North West India.
Pratap was the eldest son of Uday Singh II, founder of Udaipur, and Maharani Jaiwanta Bai. Renowned as a fearsome warrior and an excellent combat strategist, Pratap protected the Mewar region against the repeated onslaughts of the Mughals.
On his 419th death anniversary, we bring to you nine facts about Maharana Pratap:Maharana Pratap is revered as one of the strongest warriors India has ever seen. Standing at 7 feet 5 inches, he would carry a 80-kilogram spear and two swords weighing around 208 kilograms in total. He would also wear an armour weighing 72 kilogram.
Pratap’s ascension to the throne was dicey. Rani Dheer Bai, Pratap’s stepmother, wanted Kunwar Jagmal to be the king after Udai Singh’s defeat at the hands of Mughal emperor Akbar. In 1568, Akbar had captured the Chittorgarh Fort and the Mewar royalty took shelter in Udaipur. After long conflict and debate, Pratap was made the king as the court saw Jagmal to be an unfit ruler.
Before fighting the Mughals, Pratap had to face the wrath of his domestic adversaries. By the time of his reign, almost all Rajput dynasties had surrendered to Akbar and had become members of his council. Akbar sent six diplomatic missions to Pratap to create a peaceful alliance between the two mighty rulers.
After the fifth diplomatic mission, Pratap had sent his son Amar Singh to the Mughal court to deny Akbar’s proposal of peace. As he did not present himself before the Mughal emperor, it was not a fair sight. Due to his act of defiance, Akbar decided to march on Pratap.
Pratap’s prowess in fights was proved at the Battle of Haldighati in 1576. Mughal emperor Akbar ordered Man Singh I, one of his Rajput army commanders, and Asaf Khan I to attack Pratap. Man Singh and Asaf Khan had gathered an army almost half the size of the Mughal military force and held position at Haldighati, a mountain pass around 40 kilometres from Udaipur.
On the other hand, Pratap had gathered Gwalior’s Ram Shah Tanwar and his three sons- Rawat Krishnadasji Chundawat, Maan Singhji Jhala and Chandrasenji Rathore of Marwar, the Afghan leader Hakim Khan Sur and a small army of people from the Bhil tribe led by Rao Poonja.
The battle took place on June 18, 1576 for four hours. The Mughal army found a traitor in Pratap’s brother Shakti Singh who told them about the secret pass.
The Mughal cavalry was led by Man Singh I but was outfought at first by the Rajput soldiers. Pratap decided to kill Man Singh on his own and rode his war horse Chetak against Man Singh’s elephant. Both Chetak and Pratap were injured by Man’s elephant. Seeing this the Mewari contingent lost hope. However, Pratap chieftain Man Singh Jhala exchanged armours with Pratap to confuse the Mughal army. Chetak tried to escape via Haldighati pass with a single long leap, for which it is famous, but was killed by Mughal archers.
Pratap was devastated to know about his horse’s death. Realising his fault, Shakti Singh offered his own horse to Pratap, so that the latter could escape.
After the battle, the Mughal forces, personally led by Akbar, continued to conquer the entire Mewar region including Chittor, Gogunda, Kumbhalgarh (Pratap’s temporary capital) and Udaipur. All Rajput dynasties including that of Bundi surrendered to Akbar, leaving Pratap completely alone.
After 1579, following rebellions in Bengal, Bihar and Punjab, Akbar loosed the noose on Mewar. Pratap took advantage of the situation and gathered an army using the money given by Dan Shiromani Bhamashah, who later became one of Pratap’s ministers. Pratap recovered most of his turf– Kumbhalgarh and the areas around Chittor. He gathered an army of 40,000 soldiers and conquered Gogunda, Kumbhalgarh, Ranthambore and Udaipur from Mughal ally Jagannath Kachhawa.
Pratap had rebuilt his capital in the city of Chavand, around 60 kilometres south of Udaipur and spent the rest of his life there. Because of his fight for freedom against the Mughals, Maharana Pratap is widely regarded as India’s first freedom fighter.