Old image chittorgarh fort

Chittor was forever at war with the nations from north,sometimes with one,more often all together and that she held out so long was indeed marvellous. Great was the grief of Hindus when this mighty fort fell, never to rise again. It was the central point of importance throughout India and the last hopes of Rajputs. It was sacked seven times in past and Akbar's third siege ended its glorious history.

  -Indian pages and pictures by Shoemaker, Michael myers,1853-1924.

What was the reason behind Akbar's attack on Chittorgarh?

Akbar's reign is considered to be the most peaceful stable prosperous and tolerant among all of the mughal monarchs. Akbar's reign significantly influenced the course of Indian history. During his rule, the Mughal empire tripled in size and wealth.

He created a powerful military system and instituted effective political and social reforms. But to bring that stability he had to fight a lot of battles to subjugate his enemies in early years of his reign. Today's write up is aimed at one such particular battle which made Akbar the master of almost whole of Rajputana .

With Maham Anga's demise and Bairam khan's exile Akbar started focusing on consolidation of his empire. With Afghan factions of Surs and Lodhis still active in eastern India and Punjab, Akbar first thought of stabilizing his position in North and Central india.To move ahead in achieving his aim he first focussed on norther state of Punjab and then pursued his Rajput policy to bring region of Rajputana under his dominion. 

The stability in Delhi was not possible without conquering the Rajputs of Rajputana who were a freedom loving race and had a proud past of resisting the Islamic empires in delhi. 

The region of Rajputana had a strategic importance as not only it was a constant challenge due to its position near near delhi but also it oversaw the two main trade routes first towards Gujarat and another towards narmada valley. Akbar who was an ambitious ruler wanted to conquer whole north and central India and he could never accept such independent rulers near his royal seat. Till now no other ruler of Delhi from the times of sultanate was successful in subjugating whole of Rajputana. 

Initially he started with diplomacy to win the hearts of his Hindu rivals.He succeeded in winning over the alliance of rulers of Amber by giving them honourable treatment and establishing marriage alliance with them.Few other states like Merta and Ranthambore were brought under Mughal dominion by Military action.Yet the biggest challenge was the state of Mewar whose rulers had a history of conflict with mughals since the Battle of Khanwa . 

Not only Mewaris controlled important trade route to Gujarat but also access to Narmada valley and Deccan was not possible without challenging them. Most Rajputs held Maharana of Chittor in very high regard also he helped mirza brothers the rebels of mughals in raising their flags against Akbar.

In an incident Akbar accused Maharana of conducting raids against his returning troops near Ajmer, Maharana sent a very strong reply by saying that we are descendents of Lord Rama unlike you my grandfather was not a 'Lootera'' and we are not into such business. This reply made Akbar very angry and he took a pledge to destroy Maharana's pride.

Maharana of Mewar  Udai Singh was no ordinary ruler he ruled over a vast tract of fertile land which earned a handsome revenue for the state. His country was secured by the hill tracts of Aravalli  which was further defended by a series of impregnable forts like Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh which were aided by a strong army of 5000 cavalry and 50,000 infantry. His capital chittorgarh was the bastion of anti mughal forces .

With such a strong ruler in his neighbourhood Akbar could never imagine of building a pan Indian empire. Therefore it became necessary for Akbar to raise a full scale offensive against Maharana.

How did Akbar planned for the seige of chittorgarh

On the pretext of hunting Akbar began his march towards Rajputana. During his march he was joined by many nobles who were loyal to the mughal crown till the time he reached Dholpur his hunting excursion turned into a full scale Armed campaign. 

According to Abul Fazal at dholpur a younger son of Udai singh called Sakta (Shakti Singh) requested Akbar for a meeting. Akbar told him that his father Udai singh has not paid homage to him as a padshah of Hindustan and therefore he is going to punish him for this disrespect and he as a rebel son should support Akbar.

Sakata(Shakti Singh) on hearing this slipped from the mughal camp , and hastened to warn his father in chittorgarh who was thus able to make the requisite preprations.

This incident necessarily accelrated Akbar's action. 

The actual campaign begin on 20th september 1567 AD. When Akbar attacked Maharana's border fort of Supar that was around 120 miles south west of Agrah. The garriosn of the fort fled on hearing the news of approaching mughal army. 

A scene of artillery fire during Seige of Chittorgarh from Akbarnamah by Abul Fazal

On capturing the fort Akbar made a supply depot here to aid  the further campaign. He stayed for two days here. After this kotah was captured and a section of mughal forces was dispatched to malwa to take action against the rebels Mirza brothers. Who were hiding in ujjain . 

The mughal forces pursued them till gujarat and after a stubborn resistance successfully eliminated them. Meanwhile Akbar moved with a cavalry of 3000-4000 towards chittor and laid a seige around the fort of Chittorgarh. It was a ploy to invite udai singh for an open conflict and surprising him by bringing additional forces hidden in the nearby villages. 

The formidable walls of Chittorgarh had proven their mettle in the past and Akbar already knew this so he didn't want to prolong the conflict and was hoping for a quick response from the proud Maharana. The Rajputs who had already received the intelligence of the number of armed men approaching didn't respond to this instigation by Akbar. 

The Maharana had already left the fort on the advise of his counsels and the garrison inside the fort was left under the command of a well known brave and dauntless Rathore nobleman of merta Jaimal. The garrison inside Chittor fort was consist of 8000 chosen rajput warriors aided by a strong 1000 strong contingent of musketeers from Kalpi.

Seige of chittorgarh 1567
Battlefield of Chittorgarh

When and How the seige of Chittorgarh began?

The ranks of akbar's army sorrounding the fort swelled with each passing day and reached to an extent of 80,000 soldiers within a few days.On 23rd October the mughal army pitched their tents before Chittor. 

The following day Emperor Akbar rode around the hill, along with his bodyguards and surveyors who were charged with preparations of accurate measurements and calculation on which might be based a plan of attack and division of forces. 

Immediately after this command was given to various amirs to take up the assigned positions and to begin the seige works. A month elapsed before the hill was completely invested and in this interval Scout parties were dispatched to completely pillage the nearby villages and towns hoping to get hold of escaped Maharana.

Preparations of siege according to akbarnamah's translation by Maj. David Price

"The operations of the siege were prosecuted with unremitting diligence and activity,and in the attacks with which the works were continually assailed, alam khan and adil khan in particular, with other distinguished warriors, exhibited all that could be looked for from the most determined valour and self-devotion. Yet as these exertions appear to have been hitherto directed with but little regard to system, they proved just as unavailing as an attempt on the part of the denizens of this neither world to scale the firmament of heaven . It was in vain that the royal Akbar, by the most peremptory orders, constantly endeavoured to restrain them from this useless, undisciplined exposure and which , in the estimation of every wise and prudent man, deserves rather the character of unrelenting rashness than of cool determined courage. Still carried away by the impulse of this fool hardy temerity, these otherwise gallant man closed their ears against their remonstrance, and continued their desultory attempts on different parts of the place, to the useless sacrifice of many a brave and valuable soldier: for the shot and arrows of the besiegers, merely grazing the surfae of the walls and battlements, passed over without mischief while every discharge from the garrison was generally destructive to both man and horse "

Mine accident during Seige of Chittorgarh 1567 A.D(Abul fazal's Akbarnamah)

The exposed mughal soldiers became sitting ducks for the Chittor defenders and a heavy casualty was inflicted on mughal camp. To ensure success and to spare his man as much as possible  Akbar ordered his men to construct Sabat underground trenches commencing from the gun shot disturbance from the fort till the foundations of Fort . 

These trenches were big enough to accommodate 10 riders with horse and high enough to allow an elephant rider with spear pass through it. From above they were protected by buffalo hide and steel and from inside strengthened by concrete.

These sabats were used for setting up of mines in which gunpowder was put in and blown followed by a charge of  storming party which waited for the explosion. 

But Rajput resistance was equally stiff and accurate causing maximum casualties to mughal camp. Out of the 500 people deployed in construction of sabat the average daily loss equaled to 200 labors per day. These laborers were mostly volunteers who were paid handsomely for this high risk operation. 

Everyday bodies were cleared and new labors were deployed but work of Sabat was carried on. Little regard was paid to the dead whose bodies says Nizamuddin Ahmed were used on the wall like bricks.

What happened on the fateful day of 17th December 1567 AD. 

On 17th December 1567 actual assault was planned two mines were filled with 25 and 37 Qwt of explosive and storming parties were ready to make a breach. Akbar had orders that two mines should be fired one by one with separate match but his artillery superintendent Kabir khan arranged such that fuse of two mines were fired by same match box in order to create a bigger impact . 

Result proved that Akbar's assessment was correct than his deputy Kabir khan. As soon as the fuse of both the mines were fired by same match only the first mine with lower explosive exploded under the bastion of fort creating a breach in the fort wall and a huge numbers of defenders guarding that portion of wall were thrown in the sky and were killed. 

The storming party of mughals stormed the breach on the wall and seeing this defenders of fort threw themselves upon them. While this skirmish was going on the second mine exploded under them and in this accident hundreds of man from both sides got killed, the explosion was so strong that the bodies of soldiers from both sides were tossed high in air and it was heard over a radius of  100 miles. 

Many individuals familiarly known to the emperor were decimated. The defenders of Chittor came quick and started repairing the damaged portion of the wall. 

Seige of chittorgarh 1567
Maharana Udai singh's palace an intense fighting took place here                                 

Despite of initial losses How Mughals under Akbar bounced back?

The accident of 17th December 1567 had a very painful and demoralizing effect over Mughal Army. While it strengthen the belief of Rajputs that their fort is impregnable and the protector of the fort Ek ling ji (Local deity of chittor) is helping them in miraculous ways

Akbar was a born leader he took a resolve to decimate the defense of chittorgarh once and for all. He became actively involved with his groud troops and was rarely seen inside his crimson colored royal tent. 

Wherever he found his soldiers getting tired or wearied by the long siege he was there for them to motivating them and to bring a new life in their soul .His motivation and efforts were noticed by his troops and they became more confident and motivated to defeat the enemy.

Akbar himself took all important assignments in his own hands and patiently examined the minutest details of this operation. His very presence seemed to radiate good fortune. Twice the cannon and bullet of defenders missed him while he was on ground with his men by a small margin these incidences instill confidence in his man that the emperor is lucky for them. 

Akbar would often take a gun and pick off en enemy from the walls. one day while he was observing the enemy positions on his horse he observed a certain marksman near Lakuhtah gate(Lakhota ki bari) wound several of his men fatally. Even one of his amir jalal khan was struck by a bullet in his ear . Akbar took a matchlock and brought down the formidable foe who was no other than Ismail the leader of Sharpshooters from the Kalpi musketeers. 

Akbar's amirs like Todarmal and sadat khan worked at their sabat for day and night sometimes without even taking their lunch and dinner. Akbar was leading his men by example facing the Rajput bullets undeterred and sometimes taking down the most formidable enemy himself. 

As soon as the height of Sabat was increasing the the tensions grew in Rajput camp despite of their best efforts they failed to stop the mughals from constructing the sabats,which were now reached the level of fort wall and due to several explosion in all these days the wall of fort had been breached more than once .

Seige of chittorgarh 1567
Suraj Pol(Gate of Sun) ,Jaimal mertiya the Garrison commander was shot by Akbar here.

Who was Jaimal Mertiya and How his demise resulted in final assault on Chittorgarh. 

On the preceding night of 24th february the order for a General assault was issued. The watchful defenders responded in equal aggression and a stiff fight erupted which resulted in fresh breaching of fort wall however the defenders were too quick with their repair work. 

At certain breaches the defenders put a piles of Sacks filled with bales of cloth,cotton soaked in oil which were to be ignited when the storming party should reach the ramparts. From the post where he sat like a hunter at his station, Akbar distinguished from the crowd of Rajputs , by the Flickering light of the torches a man of commanding presence wearing a blue dress and was supervising the restoration work near the breached wall. 

Akbar at once grabbed his favourite gun Sangram and fired a shot with steady hands. The bullet hit the forehead of that Rajput commander. 

At that time Akbar didn't know whom he had shot in fact he had hit the Garrison commander of Chittor the Lion who was behind the defence of chittor for all these months and was consistently fueling his soldiers with motivation. 

Jaimal Mertiya as he was known popularly was fallen to akbar's bullet.  The mughal commanders who were the part of storming party told akbar that suddenly all the defenders have left their positions and instead of commotion and battle cries there is a stun silence on the walls of chittorgarh.

Chittor was hushed into stillness of death until suddenly the gloomy dark night was lightened by the weird red glow of fires in the heart of the fort. Puzzled Akbar looked towards Raja Bhagwandas as it was surprising for him that what happened within these few moments that from stun silence to sudden fire things were changing so fast inside the fort. 

Raja Bhagwandas told him ''Order your soldiers to be on their guard it is the Johar".

He explained further the johar is the last awful sacrifice which Rajput despair offers to honour and the gods. Rajputanis chose rather to die instead of falling into an enemy's hand and willingly mount the funeral pyre, made for the sacrifice with sandalwood and dampened with fragrant oil. 

When the women have accomplished the fearful rite, the man dedicate themselves to death, by donning saffron garments and eating pan together after which they either await their fate or throw themselves upon the foe to die with swords in hand.

Seige of chittorgarh 1567
Jauhar dwar where 3rd Johar of Chittor took place.

Akbar ordered his men to enter Chittorgarh Fort. 

That night mughal soldiers weighted fully armed for the last desperate sortie from Rajputs the day broke and still ghastly silence brooded over the town and no enemy appeared. This time akbar mounted on his elephant asman shikoh (High as sky) led his troops through one of the breaches. 

He met with no resistance in the deserted streets until he had penetrated far into the town where a carnage began which ceased only after each of the resident combatant or non combatant was put to death. The trained elephants of mughal army were brought in to maximize the carnage . At three places inside the fort massacre was at its worst.

Near the Rana's place , second was near Mahadev's temple and third was near Ram Pol. Akbar's orders were very clear decimate each and every one . He was so angry with the stiff resistance that he didn't show any mercy over civilians inside the Chittorgarh fort.

He ordered his soldiers to storm each and every quarter/home and consider each of them as little fortress and destroy each of them. 

How did Rajputs defended chittorgarh under Patta's leadership.

The Rajputs defended themselves like lions. One of them name Isardas chouhan openly challenged Akbar for a hand to hand fight he seized one of Akbar's elephant by the tusk and stuck his dagger into the trunk shouting ''Let this be my greeting to the emperor" . He was later shot by the bodyguards  of emperor. 

When Akbar reached near temple of Govind Shyam, one of Akbar's elephant Madhukar brought in his trunk a still quivering body of a teenager boy whose name was Patta and whom it had just trampled underfoot . The Mahout told him that he appeared to be an important commander as a good number of soldiers led by him inflicted several casualties on mughal soldiers. Patta was a 16 year old commander of Jagawat clan of Rathores from kelwa. 

He had taken the command near Sun gate after the demise of Jaimal mertiya.

Sahidas Chundawat the commanders of Chundawats fell near the Sun gate while defending it from invading forces. There still his Chhatri stands near the stone that was moistened by his blood. 

Govind Shyam temple inside Chittorgarh fort another site of  massacre
Name of jaimal patta became synonymous with Defence of chittor

In the words of  Col Todd

"The names of Jaimal and patta are as household words inseperablein mewar and will be honoured while the Rajput retains a shred of his inheritance or a spark of his ancient recollections.
Though deprived of the stimulus which would have been given had there prince been witness of their deeds, heroic achievement such as those already recorded were conspicuous on this occasion and many a fair form threw the buckler over the scarf, and led the most desperate sorties "

How many people died in defending Chittorgarh Fort during seige of 1567 CE. 

 According to Col. Todd 

"Nine queens , 5 princesses with two infant sons, many wives of commanders and other distinguished Rajputs had committed johar. "

"Families of all the Rajput chieftains that were not in their estates perished  in the assault or flames of jauhar."

"All the heads of clans both foreign and home fell . Seventeen hundred  immediate kins of Maharana sealed their duty to their country with their lives. "

"Akbar as a war trophy took the famous Nakkaras of Chittor whose reverberations proclaimed for miles the entry and exits of their kings,the huge candelabras from the shine of the great mother were also looted. "

"The number of perished was estimated by Akbar by weighing the sacred hindu threads (Janeyu) collected from the necks of the dead Rajput soldiers and it came out to be 74 and half mans."

" 8000 combatants and 30,000 civilians were massacred in this siege. "

This was the ugliest attack on Chittor prior to this attack no civilian was ever harmed nor their quarters were attacked .In this attack the temples inside were desecrated the idols were defaced , the palace and other important structures were razed so that the fort wont be fit for recapture as a hell lot of effort was invested in conquering chittor.

Akbar was impressed by the stiff resistance that Rajput garrison offered under the leadership of Jaimal and his deputy Patta he decorated the main gate of his Agra fort with the life size statues of these two heroes. it gave him immense proud that he fought with such warriors and was able to defeat them.

This was later confirmed by the two foreign travelers including Nikolai mannucci and Monserrate both of whom in their lifetime visited Agra and witnessed the statues of these two heroes of chittor.

Italian traveler Nikolai Manucci in his famous work "Storia do Mogor" states that He saw at the gates of Agra two life size statues of Kings of chittor sitting on elephants their name were Jaimal and patta one of whom was killed by Akbar himself with a gunshot.

Siege of chittorgarh 1567
Parts of desecrated Temples inside Chittorgarh fort

What happened after the Mughal Victory over Chittorgarh.

The slaughter of civilians and destruction of temples ordered by Akbar seems to be only blot on his glorious reign of 50 years. 

Akbar stayed there for 3 days appointed a nobleman Asaf khan as the governor and as per his vow moved towards Ajmer for pilgrimage after his decisive victory . 

The Rajput prime was past,and in place of Rana's sun banner on its sable field,there waved from the battlements of chittor,the green standard of  Islam.

Despite of capture of their capital Chittor the Maharanas of Mewar never accepted Akbar's dominion and the struggle was kept alive by Maharana Udai singh , his son Maharana Pratap,who kept fighting his whole life for the cause and later by Maharana Amar singh who continued the fight, fought 17 battles with Mughals but finally after exhausting each and every resource agreed for a respectable truce with Emperor Jahangir.

Which later resulted in the alliance between Mewar and Mughals.


1. Abul Fazal's Akbarnama translation by H beveridge
2. Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan By Col.James Todd
3. Maj. David price's work  on Seige of chittor translated from Abul fazal's Akbarnamah.
4. Nicollai Manuccii's Storia do mogor .
5. Commentry on Journey of Father Antonio Monserrate


(Special Tags) 
Chittor ka kila,  Chittor kila,  Chittor ka yudh, 
Chittor jauhar. 

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