Maharana Pratap is undoubtedly one of the most famous valiant warriors known in the country. Crowned as the ruler of Mewar in 1572, the Rajput king breathed his last on January 19, 1587. While writers and poets have penned several poems and stories of his courage, one that particularly stands out is the famous battle of Haldighati, that he fought against the then Mughal emperor Akbar. Even though outnumbered, the Mewar army is said to have given a tough fight to the Mughals.
Born at Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan on May 9, 1540, he was taught war skills by his mother Maharani Jaivanta Bai Songara of Jallore. Fought on 18 June 1576, the battle of Haldighati has been noted to be as destructive as the war in Mahabharat. The battle site was a narrow mountain pass at Haldighati near Gogunda, a small village located near Udaipur in present-day Rajasthan. On this day, Pratap’s cavalry of 3,000 and 400 Bhil archers stood against Akbar’s cavalry of 85,000 led by Man Singh I of Amber. Though the Mughals won the battle after a tough fight from cavalry and archers supporting the Rana of Mewar, they were never able to capture the Rajput ruler who escaped.
A wounded Maharana escaped the battle on the back of his famous horse Chetak, who died of battle wounds after helping him make a miraculous escape from the Battle of Haldighati. The horse’s courage has been immortalised in a poem titled Chetak Ki Veerta by Shyamnarayan Pandey.
It is said that Maharana fought with a javelin that weighed 81 kg and a 72 kg armour on his chest. The weight of his spear, armour, shield and two swords together was 208 kg.
Why was the battle fought?
Mughal Empire’s siege of Chittorgarh against the kingdom of Mewar started in 1567. In 1568 it led to the loss of the fertile eastern belt of Mewar to the Mughals while the remaining wooded and hilly kingdom was still under Maharana’s control. Akbar wanted to secure a stable route to Gujarat’s prosperous seaports through Mewar. When Rana refused to submit to Akbar like several other Rajput kingdoms, war became inevitable.