Maharana Pratap was a prominent Hindu maharaja of the Rajput confederacy of Mewar located in the present day state of Rajasthan. His successful resistance of the powerful Mughal emperor, Akbar, is greatly respected in Rajasthan and he is honored as a hero in the area. The father of Maharana Pratap, Rana Udai Singh, is viewed as a feeble ruler, however Maharana Pratap is esteemed as a valiant and brave warrior who refused to surrender to the Mughal invasion and always defended his land and people until the end.
Being the eldest son of Rana Udai Singh II, he was chosen to be the crown prince and began to demonstrate his courage during the rule of his father. Pratap's brothers, Shakti Singh, Jagmal and Sagar Singh, all served the Mughal Emperor Akbar whereas Pratap decided to not yield to the Mughal's pressures to make him submit and instead chose to stand up against them.
Akbar made several attempts to establish a diplomatic alliance with Pratap by sending out six delegations, yet Pratap was resolute in his refusal to adhere to the terms of the Mughal. The conflict between the Rajputs and the Mughals was unavoidable and the war between them was inevitable. Despite the Mughal army possessing a much higher number of soldiers, Maharana Pratap continued to battle on with great courage until the very end.
Maharana Pratap (9th May 1540 – 19th January 1597)
On May 9th, 1540, Maharana Pratap was born in the Kumbhalgarh Fort to his parents, Jaiwanta Bai and Udai Singh II. He had a total of five siblings, three of which were his younger brothers, and the other two being his stepsisters. His father, Udai Singh II, reigned as king of Mewar and his main court was located in Chittor.
In 1567, the soldiers from the Mughal Empire surrounded Mewar's capital city of Chittor. Rather than engaging in a battle with the Mughal forces, Udai Singh departed the capital and moved his family to the town of Gogunda. Pratap was determined to stay in the place, however the elders were able to make him understand that departing from the place was the right thing to do.
Udai Singh and his courtiers established a provisional government in the kingdom of Mewar with Gogunda as the base. Following the death of Udai Singh in 1572, Rani Dheer Bai was adamant that Jagmal, the eldest son of Uday Singh should be coronated as king. However, the more experienced courtiers believed that Pratap was the better choice to deal with the situation at hand. It was in this way that Pratap took the throne after succeeding his father.
Maharana Pratap had a total of thirty-three family members, consisting of eleven wives, five daughters, and seventeen sons. Although he had multiple wives, the one he was most fond of was his first wife, Maharani Ajabde Punwar. He officially tied the knot for the first time in the year 1557. In 1559, his first son Amar Singh I, who would eventually become his successor, was born.
Acquisition & Rule
Kunwar Pratap Singh, the eldest son of Maharana Udai Singh II, was the rightful heir to take on the role of the 54th custodian of the House of Mewar upon the death of his father. It should be noted that the Maharanas of Mewar are not rulers, but custodians who rule on behalf of Shri Eklingji. During the month of February in the year 1572, Udai Singh sadly passed away. Pratap was due to ascend the throne of Gogunda on the 28th of February in the year 1572, as was his right.
However, Maharana Udai Singh, due to the influence of his beloved queen, Rani Bhatiyani, completely disregarded the traditional rule of succession and instead, with his last breath, appointed his son with Bhatiyani - Jagmal, as the heir to the throne of Mewar. Despite the fact that the decision of Mewar Nath Maharana Udai Singh was not in accordance with the conventions of the Mewar family, Kunwar Pratap did not demonstrate any kind of discontentment towards his late father or his decision, and followed it as a dutiful son.
Rawat Krishna Das promised his loyalty to Kunwar Pratap, and he, accompanied by Raja Ram Shah, the former ruler of Gwalior, immediately went to the place where Jagmal had seated himself on the throne, accompanied by some of the important people of the kingdom. Following the tradition of his family, Rawat Krishna Das presented Kunwar Pratap with a sword and three times bowed his head to the ground to officially announce the new Maharana of Mewar - Maharana Pratap Singh of Mewar.
Following a number of days, the traditional coronation ceremony was held at Kumbhalgarh, which was observed by all the rulers of Mewar and Rao Chandrasen of Marwar. Jagmal, feeling deeply insulted and without anyone to turn to for support, found himself in the court of Akbar who was greatly intrigued by the fact that there was a disagreement in the House of Mewar. As a result, Akbar gave Jagmal an audience and granted him the district of Jahajpur as a form of Jagir.
The Battle of Haldighati
On June 18, 1576, a great battle took place between the Rajput army and the Mughal army at Haldighati with Asaf Khan I and Man Singh leading the Mughal forces. Historians have concluded that the battle between the Mughal forces, who outnumbered the Rajput army, was one of the most intense battles ever fought. Ram Shah Tanwar was in command of the Mewar army, which was comprised of his sons including Chandrasenji Rathore, Rawat Krishnadasji Chundawaat and Maan Singhji Jhala.
The battle raged on for four hours, causing a tremendous loss of life on the Mewar side with approximately 1600 soldiers perishing, while the Mughals only had 150 soldiers and 350 wounded. During the battle, Maharana Pratap suffered a severe injury but managed to make his way to the nearby hills. Despite the Mughal Empire being able to take control of several parts of Mewar, such as Gogunda and the surrounding areas, except for certain regions of Aravellis, they were not able to defeat Maharana Pratap who continued to use guerrilla warfare tactics to harass the Mughals.
When Akbar's attentions were elsewhere, Pratap and his army emerged from their hiding places and were able to take back control of the western parts of his province.
In response to Mirza Hakim's invasion into Punjab and the uprisings in Bihar and Bengal, Akbar decided to focus his attention on resolving these issues. This caused the Mughal forces to ease the pressure they had been placing on Mewar. In the year 1582, Maharana Pratap launched an attack against the Mughal post at Dewair and was successful in occupying it.
In 1585, Akbar decided to move to Lahore in order to keep a closer eye on the events unfolding in the North-West region and stayed there for a period of twelve years. During this time period, no Mughal forces were dispatched to Mewar. Pratap saw an opportunity in this situation and utilized it to take back control of western Mewar, consisting of Gogunda, Kumbhalgarh and Udaipur. He constructed a new capital city at Chavand, a place close to Dungarpur.
First Battle of Dewair
The First Battle of Dewair, a conflict that has been largely forgotten over time, was a war fought for freedom that had Maharana Pratap of Mewar facing off against the Mughal Empire in 1582. The Maharana launched an offensive against the Mughal forces that had stationed themselves at the village of Dewair. In response to the forces of Mewar, Behlol Khan, the Mughal Commander at Dewair took retaliatory measures.
Pratap emerged victorious in a fierce battle, resulting in the death of Behlol Khan. The sudden passing of the leader caused chaos throughout the Mughal camp, resulting in the Mughal soldiers abandoning the battlefield in haste. The Mewari forces were able to avenge the damages done during the Battle of Haldighati by successfully destroying the Mughals. The Maharana emerged in triumph, with his son Kunwar Amar Singh distinguishing himself through his brave and valiant conduct on the battlefield.
After his ambitions to gain the victory of Dewair were achieved, the Maharana with the goal of regaining and reestablishing his control over Kumbhalgarh, set up a camp near the fortress along a riverbank. The results of the Battle of Dewair were so alarming to the Mughal Empire's army that they were so frightened that they even retreated from Kumbhalgarh without any further conflict. After being regained by Mewar, the mighty fortress of Kumbhalgarh was restored to its former state of grandeur.
On the 29th of January in 1597, the heroic warrior breathed his last, having been injured in the many battles he fought against the Mughal Empire, at the age of fifty-six. Amar Singh I, the eldest son of the ruler, was given the crown of Mewar in succession of his father.
Maharana Pratap is highly regarded as the first freedom fighter of India, as he resisted the Mughal armies led by the powerful Akbar. There have been a variety of television series documenting the life and successes of Maharana Pratap. A site of historical significance, dedicated to the great Maharana Pratap, known as the Maharana Pratap Memorial, is located at the summit of Moti Magri, also known as Pearl Hill, in the city of Udaipur. Maharana Bhagwat Singh Mewar constructed the monument which features a life-sized bronze statute of the brave fighter atop his horse 'Chetak.'
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