Rajasthan is known as land of sacrifice. Its history is full of those legendary warriors and heroes who sacrificed their everything for the cause of their motherland. During 16th century when most of the north India came under mughal rule it was in Rajasthan that stiff resistance was given to Mughal ambitions by brave Mewaris who under their leaders Maharana Sanga , Maharana Udai singh II and Maharana Pratap kept the struggle for freedom alive. 

Maharana Pratap in particular emerged as a legendary hero for his life long struggle against mughals who despite of losing everything in wars never agreed to be a slave of a central asian invader. His love for independence, his motherland, his courage to counter the mighty Mughals and indomitable will to resist has inspired a number of generations of Indians in past. 

From Great Maratha king Shivaji Maharaj to several freedom fighters of British era, everybody who wanted to fight against foreign rule took inspiration from the struggle of Maharana Pratap

There was a time when every mother aspired her son to be like Pratap and that's why since from childhood most Indian children were taught about the heroics of Maharana Pratap. In fact there is famous saying in Rajasthani which goes like this:-

माई एहड़ा पूत जण, जेड़ा राणा प्रताप।

अकबर सूतो ओधके, जाण सिराणे सांप॥

Even today he is one of the most iconic , most read character of medieval India and many people already knows a lot about him.

So it almost becomes a duty for us as well to share few facts regarding Maharana's life for our readers .Hope you all will like it. 

Family of  Maharana Pratap

  • Maharana Pratap was born on 9th May 1540 CE. as the eldest son of Rana Udai Singh II of Mewar. His mother's name was Jaiwantibai Songari she was a Songara Chauhan. He had 21 brothers and 20 sisters from his 9 other step mother's. 
  • His first wife was Maharani Ajabde Parmar who was also the mother of next Maharana Kunwar Amar Singh. He also had 19 other wives and in total had 25 Sons and 20 Daughters.
  • He was Great Great Grandson of legendary Rajput warrior as well one of the greatest patron of Art and architecture in medieval India Rana Kumbha.
  • His grandfather Rana Sangram Singh(Rana Sanga) was the most influential king of Lodi era in India who defeated Sultan's of Malwa , Gujarat and even the contingents of Delhi's Sultan Ibrahim Lodi. His dominions touched from Gujarat in west to Fatehpur Sikri in east that was just adjacent to the capital of Lodi sultans i.e Agra. 
  • Pratap was also related to famous Bhakti Saint Mirabai who was his real aunt (Taai ji). Mirabai's husband Bhojraj was the eldest son of Rana Sanga and she was sister in law of Rana Udai Singh i.e Pratap's father.
Accession of Maharana Pratap

  • Contrary to traditions of Mewari Sisodias where eldest son holds the title of Rana , Rana Udai Singh-I declared Jagmal, his son from favourite wife as his successors. However most Rajput Nobles opposed this decision and made Pratap as next Rana in new capital of sisodiyas at Gogunda in the year 1572.
Full name with Royal titles
  • Maharana Pratap's full name according to Udaipur records with his full royal titles was Mahavir-Pratapi Raghu Kula Bhushna Maharaj-Adhiraj Raj-Rajeshwar Surya-Vamsha-Chudamani Mahi-Mahendra Yavadarya-Kula-Kamala Dhivakara Chhattis Rajkul Singar Sri Sri 108 Sri Hindupati Maha Rana Pratap Sinhji Seesodia Hindua Suraj. 
  • Maharana Pratap is also known as Hindua Suraj which means Sun of Hindus and after him his dynasty uses this title for their kings.
  • Sisodiyas of Mewar are the only royal dynasty in India that uses this title Hindua Suraj and also the title Chhattis Rajkul Singar meaning the most illustrious among the 36 Rajput Clans.
  • Maharana Pratap was also referred to as Rana Kika by Medieval historians. Nizamuddin in Taakat-i-Akbari has mentioned him as Rana Kika. 

Maharana Pratap Original portrait with full royal titles
Maharana Pratap's original portrait with full royal titles.

History of Sisodiya-Mughal rivalry
  • The rivalry between Mughals and Sisodiyas of Mewar started from the times of Maharana Sanga and Jahiruddin Babar when both fought a bloody battle at Khanwa which resulted in establishment of Mughal dynasty in Delhi and defeat of Rajput confederacy under Rana Sanga.
  • This struggle against Mughal emperors continued by Rana Sangas's Son,Grandson and great grandson. Pratap in particular is known for his continuous opposition to Mughal Imperialism for 25 long years . Even when his neighbouring Rajput Kingdoms surrendered their sovereignty to Akbar, he didn't buzz from his principles. Emperor Akbar was his contemporary and 2 years younger to him.
  • It is said Maharana Pratap had pledged that he would remain true to his mother's milk and would never bow to a foreign invader.
Akbar's offer of truce to Pratap
  • According to historian Dr A.L.Shrivastava Akbar sent 4 peace missions under several of his Rajput allies to convince Rana to accept Mughal suzerainty.
  • First attempt was made in September 1572 a mission was sent under Jalal khan Qorchi this mission failed Rana refused to submit.
  • Second mission under Prince Man Singh of Amber was sent in April 1573 this too failed however Maharana accepted the gifts of Akbar  brought by Man Singh but he didn't agreed to the condition of attending Mughal court. 
  • Third mission was sent under Raja Bhagwan das, father of Man Singh in September October 1575 but nothing achieved.
  • Finally one of the most celebrated personality of the time Raja Todar Mal was sent to Gogunda but again no result was achieved.
  • These truce missions were simultaneously carried out with military buildup on North East and West of Mewar. Apart from that these neighboring lands were awarded by Akbar to those who defected from Mewar and joined him to incite and demoralise Maharana Pratap.
  • Rajput sources like Nensi Mehta, Raj Prashasti and Jai Singh Charita revealed that though Mansingh was well received by Rana's nobles but Maharana himself simply denied sitting with Man Singh for dinner and made an excuse of sickness. The real reason was he didn't liked sitting with a person who belonged to a family whose princess was married to a Mughal(malechh).
  • Mansingh left food untasted and after his departure Rana ordered for the purification of the site where he sat. All the dishes that he touched including gold and silver plates were washed in a tank filled with holy Ganges water and the place where Man Singh sat was dug up deep enough to remove all stains of its having been defiled by the presence of a Rajput who had preferred luxury to hard independence.
Facts related to Battle of Haldighati

Battle of haldighati formation
Battle formations in Haldighati

  • During Pratap's corronation few Rajput chiefs from Marwar were also present which alarmed Akbar of a potential rebellion in Rajputana under the leadership of Mewar.
  • When talks failed and Rana simply refused to comply with the Mughal demand of attending the royal court at Agra, plans for a full scale invasion started.
  • Akbar used to go for annual pilgrimage to Khwaza moinuddin chisti's dargah. In 1576 he went there too but this time accompanied with his generals and army. At Ajmer Akbar gave the command of Mughal army to Man Singh for an expedition against Pratap. The other nobles were Asaf Khan,Sayyad Hashim Barha,Raja Jaggan nath Kacchwaha,Mehtar Khan and Rai lunkaran Kacchwaha. A defected brother of Pratap, Shakti Singh was also among the ranks.
  • Pratap had already laid waste all the plains of Mewar and it was very difficult to procure supplies for Mughals.
  • According to Nensi Mehta Man Singh had 40,000 troops whereas Mughal historian badayuni gives this number 5000.
  • Pratap knew about Man Singh's plan and he set upon making his own preparations. Every son of a Rajput mother able to bear arms was called for joining the Mewari army in order to withstand the Mughal assault . Despite of his best efforts he could only collect 3000 Rajputs besides there were some trusty bheels who contributed a lot in harassing the enemy through their ancient weapons.
  • Pratap's plan was to lure Man Singh's army into the mountainous tract ,take the advantage of terrain and create panic in Mughal army by giving there a pitched battle , then Cutt off their retreat by appointing bhils and Rajput soldiers at the passes .
  • On the other hand Man Singh camped his army near river Banas which was an open area and he wanted to lure the Rana to attack him in open.
  • Pratap however thought better to move towards Haldighati a narrow pass from where Man Singh was expected to pass and confront him there.He secretly came down from Kumbhalgarh with his men and Man Singh had no idea his enemy was so near.
  • In fact one evening Mansingh's ignorance could have costed him his life as well as the expedition . He was hunting in the vicinity of Rana's army with just 1000 men and when Rana's men urged him to ambush Mansingh Rana's senior counsel denied .The chivalric sense of honour of sisodiyas saved Man Singh.
  • On June 21, 1576 the two armies met finally the offensive charge was led by Rajput Cavaliers. So fast was the charge that it almost broke the front lines of Mughals . The Rajputs had severe impressions of loss of Chittorgarh in their minds. Now they had the opportunity to freely weild their weapons on enemy and they wanted to quench their thirst full.
  • Together In the bands they were charging out of the pass like an intense desert storm to sweep the enemy out of their land.
  • According to Badayuni he curiously asked a commander nearby how to distinguish between the imperial Rajputs and the Rana's troopers. The officer brutally frank in his reply declared that it did not matter whosoever was shot at and killed , ultimately Islam gained.
  • Rana's army had Muslim elements too Hakim Khan Sur was his artillery general and was at the forefront of his battle formation. 
  • The battle was almost won when Mehtar Khan who was deployed as reserve, started beating drums as if the emperor himself had arrived this gave heart to the fleeing Mughal soldier and with additional forces they again came back to battle.
  • Rana was busy full day he had reached the centre of Mughal army where Man Singh seated on his elephant .Rana ride his famous horse Chetak and pointed his spear towards Man Singh sensing this Chetak at once raised his both frontal legs to give height to his rider but the spear struck the steel of the Howdah also the sword fitted on the trunk Mansingh's elephant pierced one foot of Chetak. Man Singh's elephant retreated but Rana was now in the middle of the Mughal army and he had to make way towards his own ranks.
  • Rana was an easy target for the attacks of enemy, because his standard enabled them to single him out.
  • When Man's Jhala saw his Rana in danger he snatched the Sisodia standard from his hands and before the enemy could make out what had happened he had drawn all the force of the Mughal attack on him.
  • Pratap cut his way through and was able to leave the field in saftey. 
  • Mughal accounts claim it a victory , Rajput accounts claim it a victory for themselves. Inscription dates May 1652  on the Jagdish temple at Udaipur has two verses thus describing the struggle . It says next morning Pratap jumped into the fray on hearing the news that  the enemy's army led by Man Singh was shattered and fled away.
  • There was no official pursuit by Mughal army but two Pathan soldiers recognised Pratap and chased him. Chetak was injured , Pratap was exhausted in the moment a stream came in the way. Chetak jumped the stream and died . While Maharana was lamenting at his favourite horse's loss. He heard the voice of his brother Shakti Singh and the dead bodies of two soldiers  near him. Sakti Singh embraced Pratap and cried out for his forgiveness.
  • Chetak's death made that place sacred and a monument was raised in his memory.
Akbar's arrival at Gogunda and Mughal Skirmishes with Rana's army
  • Mughal army after few days captured Gogunda, the mewar's capital.According to Akbarnamah Akbar who was at Ajmer till now reached Gogunda on 12th October 1576. From there he dispatched Bhagwandas, Asaf Khan, Qutubbudin and various other Commanders in search of Pratap but Rana remained a mystery man for them. 
  • Even after deploying ample number of troops at all the important approaches in Aravallis near Udaipur they couldn't find a single trace of Rana. 
  • Akbar stayed in Gogunda, Udaipur and Dipalpur for six months. He Deliberately prolonged his stay thinking that now that he had honeycombed the whole region with Mughal troops, soon he would get the news of Rana's capture. But he never got such news in fact all that he received was the news of surprised attacks by Rana and his men on Imperial troops stationed at Gogunda and Udaipur. 
  • Rana had mastered the terrain in all these years also his resolve against invader earned him a huge number of followers and supporters who sympathised with his cause. Bhils who were the tribesman and knew each and every passes of Aravallis had helped him immensely in planning Attacks as well escapes that were beyond the control of mughal troops. 
  • The more mughal Commander looked for him the more frequent became Pratap's attacks. Heavy losses were inflicted on the stray parties of Mughal armies at Udaipur and Gogunda. 
  • Akbar after realising the frequent failures of his Commander finally left for Fatehpur Sikri in the year May 12, 1577 CE. 
  • In September 1577 Mohi was attacked by Rana's men they killed the Commander Mujahid Beg and captured the place. 
  • Mughal Garrisons stationed at Udaipur and Gogunda were also expelled till October 1577. Thus Rajputs took back all their important regions and Mughal Commander of these areas went back to Agra to report their failures. 
Attack on Kumbhalgarh
  • After hearing about the news of reverses in Udaipur, According to Ain-i-akbari on October 15th 1577 Akbar was in meerut in year when he felt Rana's activities could no longer be tolerated and decided to send Mir Bakshi Shahbaz Khan to capture the fort of Kumbhalgarh to decimate Rana's power. 
  • Commanders who took part in this campaign were Raja Bhagwan Dass, Raja Man Singh, Sayyad Hashmi, Sayyad Qasim, Sayyad Raju, Mohammad Payda Khan mughal, Sharif Khan Aikab and Gazi Khan Badkashi. Apart from these a strong party of 3000 was deployed at Ajmer under Sheikh Ibrahim Fatehpuri to guard the frontiers. 
  • Shahbaz Khan sent back Raja Bhagwan Dass and Raja Man Singh thinking that they might be aligned to Rana Pratap. 
  • After strenuous fighting Kumbhalgarh was taken by Mughal army on 3rd april, 1578 AD. 
  • But Rana Pratap was still no where to be found despite of several pursuits Shahbaz Khan couldn't find him . He created a series of 50 garrisons and posts in and around Kumbhalgarh for its defence and then moved out of Kumbhalgarh.
  • Rana recently got a monetary help of Rs 25 lakh and 20,000 gold mohurs which helped him in raising a new army. He attacked the strongest Garrison of dibar and captured it . This demoralised the smaller garrisons where lesser number of men were posted and they started leaving their posts. Shahbaz Khan further led two more missions in Mewar but all were minor successes as his major objective of capturing Maharana Pratap was never achieved.
  • Kumbhalgarh was later recaptured by Rana.
Abdur Rahim Khan-I-khana's mission in Mewar 1580 CE.
  • Mirza Abdur Rahim Khan-I-khana was appointed as new governor of Ajmer in June 1580 CE.
  • According to Raj Prashasti Vth Rahim invaded Mewar and was staying at Sherpura with his family. Kunwar Amar Singh, Pratap's eldest Son and heir, was in command at Gogunda. He swept down on Sherpura and captured the Mirza's family including some women from his harem. When Pratap heard of it he at once released them and sent them with all honour to Khan i khana.
  • Rahim's poet heart was touched and in the praise of his virtuous enemy he uttered following couplets:- 
धर्म रहसी रहसी धरा, खास जरो खुरसान, 
अमर विसंभर उपरों ,रखिओ नहोजो रान।। 
  • The above couplet means  "all is unstable on this earth, land and money will disappear but the virtue of a great name lives for ever . Pratap abandoned wealth and land but never bowed his head alone,of all the princes of Hind,he preserved his honour".
  • Rahim was called back from Rajputana in the year 1591 CE.
Last Mughal expedition to Mewar

  • On December 6th 1584 Akbar appointed Raja Jagganath of Amber as leader of Mewar expedition.
  • He initiated with the attack on Mandalgarh and Kumbhalgarh.
  • However he Rana didn't confirm Imperial forces head in instead he made surprise attacks and kept harassing them.
  • But Jagannath was determined and he ravaged all the countryside and kept a strict watch over all the escape routes.
  • One time he had almost got the Rana but an alert and faithful Rajput signalled Rana about the hidden trap and he narrowly escaped the capture leaving behind his equipments.
  • Jagannath left Mewar in july 1587 and he also despite of his best efforts failed to capture Rana . Akbar was sick of these fruitless and costly missions so he decided to abandon his plan of capturing Mewar's famed and beloved Maharana. His focus turned to Northwest and Punjab now.

 Maharana Pratap's later Conquests
  • Akbarnama mentions about appointment of several subedars post 1587 in Ajmer but there is no mention of these commanders were given the task of taking on Rana.
  • In 1589 Pratap using the opportunity organised his forces,fell upon the Mughal garrison in scattered places,and before the Mughals knew what had happened,he had overrun the whole country and made himself master thereof.
  • Only Chittor,Ajmer and Mandalgarh alone Mughal army could withstand Rajput attacks due to better garrison rest of the country passed into the hands of the Rajputs and Maharana Pratap was able to rule here uninterruptedly.
  • To level scores with Kacchwaha prince of Amber he led an expedition in Malpura a rich city 55 miles from Jaipur and looted it's riches.
  • After 1589 Maharana lived comparatively easy life . The opposition to Mughals was strenuous which many a times was demoralising there are stories that he couldn't even eat his meal when news of attacks reached his ears and once he had to escape seven times to finally enjoy his meal.
  • He knew how tough was it for his men who displayed bravery in those tough times and sacrificed their lives for country so he in their honour rewarded them jagirs for commemorating their sacrifices.
Death of Maharana Pratap
  • In the year 1597 he strained himself while shooting an arrow at a tiger. He was at chavand which was his capital.  After a short illness he died on January 19th, 1597 AD.
  • But before his death he made his successor Rana Amar Singh and chieftains swear that they would uphold the flag he had kept flying and never submit to the new Imperial line at Delhi.
  • He was cremated at Chavand he keft behind him 15 sons from eleven wives.
  • According to Maharana Yash Prakash (eulogy) On hearing the news of Maharana's demise  Akbar felt sorry . The famous bard Dursa who was at his court saw him and at once expressed his feelings in the following verses.
    O Pratap, you kept your horses unbranded your head unbowed, your fame untarnished. You were strong enough to carry on your work against heavy odds. You never participated in the imperial nauruz festival, nor did you mount guard on the Imperial presence down the jharokha darshan. You attained a very high place in this world. On hearing of your death,  O Pratap, Akbar's eyes were dimmed and his tongue stuck in his throat, for you had really won after all.
  • Abul Fazal attributed his death to an internal conspiracy hatched by his son Amar Singh who according to Abul Fazal poisoned his father. It can be questioned on the ground that if Amar Singh was so fed up of his father's opposition to Akbar then why he himself kept opposing Jahangir and his son Khurram's mission in Mewar till 1617  and why didn't he opted truce much earlier and lived a peaceful life.
  • Rana Pratap's resistance to Mughals was well appreciated in almost all the kingdoms of Rajputana . While the rulers of other states in Rajputana were supporting Akbar in pursuing Maharana Pratap, their royal  Bards, whether from Jaisalmer,Bikaner Jodhpur or Ajmer composed verses in his praise, a rare accomplishment.
  • Maharana Pratap's strategy of guerrilla warfare and harassing Mughal troops was successful in breaking the morals of many Mughal commanders. There was a reason that several nobles came and left empty handed after serving few months in Udaipur. After failures they would ask for easy postings near Delhi plains. None of them ever succeeded in fully capturing Mewar.
  • Sisodiyas of Mewar were the most illustrious families of Rajasthan if they wanted they could have lived a life full of luxury like rulers of other states for eg. Amber, who were previously much below then them in the matters of prestige,wealth and even power. But they chose the difficult way . Instead of accepting Mongols as their masters they fought against them . With country side ravaged and continuous warfare there were times when royal house of Mewar could not even afford ordinary meal for many days and survived on fruits . 
  • For his staunch resistance to foreign rule Pratap's name became a symbol of pride and honour all across the country.  One of the earliest Englishmen to visit India, William finch also says that Emperor of Hindustan i.e Akbar has three main arch-enemies in his empire and Raja Rana of Udaipur is one among them. When he visited Chittorgarh he was awestruck by the magnificence of this fort and was in all praise about the Ranas of Mewar. According to him 
Upon these mountains(aravallis) stands an impregnable castle called Gur Chittor,the chief seat of Rana, a very powerful Rajas, whome neither Pathans (Sultans of Delhi) nor the Akbar himself could ever subdue. Which comes to passe by reason that all India has been gentiles and this prince has been and still is esteemed in like reverence by them as the pope of Rome by the papists.

The above statement from English traveller clearly shows what Maharana earned in his life. Like King Robert 'the Bruce' who led Scotland during the war of Scottish independence against England's king Edward-I, Maharana too upheld the pride of Hindus in a fight against Mughals and as long as the Hindu race lives it will cherish with pride the memory of one, who had staked his all in a fight against an alien.

He faced tough times suffered heavily both physically as well as emotionally yet never accepted Mughal suzerainty. While others earned wealth , luxury and all sorts of worldly things,the Maharana with his life long struggle against foreign rule earned respect and honour in the eyes of his country men which has made him a legend in India's history . 


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