It was the era of the 15th century when Mughals were strengthening in India and no strong resistance was given to their conquest except by few Hindu Kings like Maharana Pratap who and his father Udai Singh never submitted to Mughal, unlike other neighboring Rajput states. After the restoration of Mughal rule in North India due to their decisive victory in 2nd battle of Panipat against Hemu of Sur empire, Akbar was planning to expand his empire in the central and western parts of India and then Akbar asked all Rajput rulers to accept Mughal dominance else be prepared for the battle and many Rajput rulers afraid of Mughals decided to recognize hegemony of Mughal except Rajput King Udai Singh of Mewar and this culminated in war between Mughal and Mewar in which Mughal though had the upper hand in the war but they later retreated to Delhi since Udai Singh marched towards Hills of Mewar knowing that Mughals were not adept of Mountain warfare, however, Mughals besieged the Ranthambore and Chittorgarh fortification and Mughals deployed artillery to breach the walls, with Akbar going back to Delhi this paved the way for Udai Singh to recapture his Kingdom. The antagonism between Mewar and Mughal wasn’t ending and with the demise of Udai Singh, the charge of Mewar fell onto the Shoulder of his son Great Maharana Pratap.
The geographical location of Mewar is also of strategic significance since it serves as a bridge between the Delhi and coastal areas of Gujarat located on the banks of the Arabian sea through which trade could occur with the Ottomans empire and therefore the Mughals were very eager to take reins of Mewar and so Akbar first sent his Trusted general Man Singh in Mewar who was the king of Amer and married his daughter to Akbar and Man Singh asked Pratap to submit to Akbar but Maharana Pratap refused to accept the dominance of Mughal, this angered Mughals and they called for war against Mewar. The command of this battle from the Mughals was given to Man Singh who came with 80,000 soldiers out of which 10,000 were Rajputs and the rest were Mughals and they camped at Rajsamand whereas the army of Maharana Pratap consist of 20,000 Soldiers and they made their base at Loshing. Both the armies started anticipating each other’s strength before the battle could begin.
The yellow terrains of Haldighati were chosen to be the battlefield which lies in between the hills of Gogunda and Khamnaur, from Mewar’s side four elephants would be taking part in the war namely Luna, Ramprasad, Chakrwaap, and Khanderao, similarly, four elephants were joining the battlefield from Mughals they were mardana, Gazraaz, Gazmukh, and Ran Madar. Maharana gave the charge of the Forefront battalion which would attack the Mughals first to Hakim Khan who was amongst the few Muslim fighting in favor of Maharana Pratap due to his enmity with Akbar. Sayeed Hashim was leading the Vanguard of Mughals in the battle. Mewar army was on the top of the hills and the Mughals were on the foot of the hills therefore they were at an advantageous position and the first attack of Mewar was so intense and strong that this caused quarrel amongst the Mughal soldiers and they started running here and there to save their life, Mihaatar Khan who was also general in Mughal army started reconsolidating his army by peddling a rumour that Akbar is himself coming in the war which revived their confidence, it was Mewar army which outclassed Mughals in the first attack of the war, Mughals then gathered at the fertile ground of Raktatal as they knew they can’t defeat Mewar in the Hills.
Maharana Pratap on seeing the Mughal army retreating from Hilly terrain now decided to descend the Hills and fight face to face with the Mughals, this was a tactical blunder done by Maharana since the Mughals severely outnumbered them so fighting them at the plains was very risky and not a wise decision, in the second phase of the attack Mughals now started dominating in the war and Mewar army now started incurring heavy casualties due to fireballs thrown on them by Mughal cannons and use of arrows. Many times during the war it was difficult for the Muslim soldiers of Mughal to distinguish which Rajput is from our Side and who is fighting for the opponent which was described by an eyewitness of this Battle, Badaunybi.
The sun is Shinning so brightly in the sky in this intense afternoon that I am unable to differentiate which Rajput is clashing for us and which is combating for Pratap, when I asked Asif Khan (General in the Mughal army) about that then he told me that we are killing every Rajput in the battlefield without knowing to whose side he belongs because whenever kafir gets killed its the Islam which will be benefited the most, doesn’t matter whether that kafir was our friend or a foeBadaunybi, Eyewitness of battle of Haldighati
Mewar army took a decision to involve their two elephants Luna and Rasmprasad in the war since they were losing in the battlefield but this move proved to be counterproductive as both Mahouts were killed by the Mughals and control of these elephants went into the hands of the Mughals, Maharana Pratap was aware that they were thwarted by Mughals so he launched a full-frontal attack on Mughals aiming to kill Man Singh, the reason for launching this type of attack was that he was not left with any other option, Maharana was able to reach Man Singh and with his spear, he leaped on the elephant of Man Singh and tried to kill Man Singh but Mahout took that attack on himself thereby saving Man Singh but in this confrontation, his horse Chetak got injured due to the sword present on the trunk of Man Singh’s elephant, many Mughal soldiers started encircling Maharana Pratap and then one of the cruelest Mughal commander Bahlol khan made a beeline to Maharana and got pierced into two pieces in scuffle with Maharana, this incident terrified Mughal soldiers and other generals of Mughal army got irked due to killing of Bahlol khan.
In the battlefield, Maharana also got wounded and Mughals were now approaching towards him like a mad bonze therefore Jhala Bida who resembled Maharana in appearance advised him to leave the battlefield and give his crown to him so that Maharana’s life gets saved, Jhala Bida attained martyrdom in the battle, meanwhile, Man Singh started laying a trap in the counter-attack of Mughals due to which many Rajput soldiers got martyrdom, Mewar army got weakened at the center of Battlefield, Maharana Pratap then came out of the battlefield and he also ordered Rajput cavalry to retreat slowly and asked his archers to give cover fire to retreating soldiers since Maharana doesn’t want more casualties now. At balicha the injured horse of Chetak passed away, Maharana then went to Kolyari where he already had made arrangements for the treatment of his wounded soldiers, both the armies have come back from the battlefield to their base camp. In this fierce war, Mewar lost its 1600 soldiers whereas 150 Mughals soldiers were killed, we can say that the Mughals outstripped Mewar but the miracle was just about to happen.
Maharana then made a very decisive move by ordering 500 Bhil tribals who were masters of guerilla warfare to attack Mughals camps in the night by looting them, Bhil under the leadership of Punja Bhil made a frequent attack on the Mughal army which irritated them a lot when Mughals were going back to their base camp in Gogunda, Maharana played such a crucial move which turned the table of the war by seizing the hills around Gogunda with the assistance of Bhil tribals and as a result, the supply line for food and weapons of Mughals got collapsed and they started behaving like cannibals in hunger killing their own camels and began to live like prisoners, the victory of Mughals now became a liability to them, the Mughals objectives were still unfulfilled as Akbar wished to kill or arrest Maharana which didn’t happen, in this battle Maharana lost whole Mewar to Mughals but he made the Mughals very vulnerable in Mewar which had a deep impact on the morals of Mughals. Akbar wasn’t satisfied with the conquest of Mewar and therefore entry of Man Singh was forbidden for few months in the royal court of Akbar, Akbar was fully aware that Maharana Pratap would bounce back in the future, in my view both the armies unable to accomplish their aims, Mewar army lost entire Mewar and Mughals too became very weak after the war, but for the upcoming skirmishes, Maharana Pratap had made his position very strong in Mewar than Mughals which we would discuss in the next part of the series.
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.