Maharana Hammir Singh I
|Relatives||Ajay Singh (Uncle), Laksham Singh (Grandfather), Rawal Ratan Singh (Paternal Grandfather)|
|Predecessor||Rana Ajay Singh|
|Date of birth||1301 CE|
|Title||Maharana of Mewar|
|Lineage||Sisodia Rajput of Mewar|
|Successor||Maharana Kshetra Singh|
|Date of death||1364 CE|
|Reign||1326 CE - 1364 CE|
Maharana Hammir Singh was the Maharana of Mewar, who ruled from Chittorgarh beginning in 1326 CE to around 1364 CE. Following the siege of Chittorgarh by Ala-ud-din Khilji, Mewar was annexed by the academically assumed "Delhi Sultanate". It was Maharana Hammir Singh who reclaimed Mewar from the Sultanate. Rana Hammir Singh is often considered as the real founder of the modern State of Mewar.
It was during the time of Hammir Singh that, unlike the previous soveriegns of Mewar who bore the prefix Rawal with their name (indicating their lineage from Bappa Rawal), the clan name Sisodia was used to denote the common root of the various branches of the House of Mewar. Thereafter, the custodians who ruled Mewar in the name of Shri Eklingji were referred to as "Ranas" or "Maharanas". [ref]
The real history of Hammir Singh's birth is shrouded in a mass of romantic tales. According to local tradition, his father Arisimha (Ari Singh) married a low¬born Rajput woman, who possessed extraordinary physical strength. She gave birth to the future hero of Mewar, Hammir Singh. But, this story has no evidence backing this claim.
This fact is clear from the evidence of Muhanote Nensi, the seventeenth century chronicler, who maintains that Hammir’s mother came from the royal Sonigara Chauhan family, as well as from the circumstance that a similar story is narrated in connection with another Rajput hero. [ref]
First Siege of Chittorgarh & Aftermath
On January 29, 1303, Ala-ud-din Khilji set out on his campaign for the conquest of Chittorgarh. On arrival at Chittorgarh, he surrounded the town and raised his canopy on a hillock known as Chitori. He then besieged the fort with a strong army, but received strong resistance from the Rajputs under Rawal Ratan Singh, the ruler of Mewar. No impression was made on the fortress by the attacks of catapults and ballistae, nor could it be scaled by ladders. The Rajputs offered heroic resistance for about seven months and then, after the women had perished in the flames of jauhar under Maharani Padmini, the men performed Saka. Thirty thousand Rajputs were put to the sword. According to the Rajput sources Ratan Singh was among the slain on the battlefield. [ref] [ref]
After the death of Ratnasimha (Rawal Ratan Singh), who belonged to the elder branch of the Guhila family, another member of a junior or Sisodiya branch of the same family was proclaimed as the ruler. The prince who thus secured the throne in a very perilous moment was Lakshmanasimha (Lakshman Singh), who had no other alternative but to die fighting with the enemy in defence of Chittorgarh along with seven of his sons. The fort surrendered on August 26, 1303. Only one son, Ajayasimha (Ajay Singh), was allowed to save himself by flight. [ref]
Ala-ud-din remained at Chitor for some days, and during this period many temples were destroyed and the population became victims of the fury of his soldiery. He returned to Delhi, after having appointed Khizr Khan to the government of Chittorgarh. The Khaljis could not, however, long hold Chittorgarh in the face of constant and stubborn resistance of the Rajputs. Khizr Khan abandoned it in 1311-12, and then Maladeva, brother of the chief of Jalor, ruled it as a tributary to the king of Delhi. [ref] [ref]
Under Ajay Singh
Ajay Singh's (son of Lakshamanasimha) position was so precarious that he had to hide himself in the Aravallis and maintain a miserable existence. The survivor of the first siege of Chittorgarh, Ajay Singh, was now in security at Kailwára, a town in the heart of the Aravali mountains, and at the highest point of one of the most extensive valleys of the range. Here he gradually collected about him the remnants of the clans of Mewar. Ajay Singh, besides being an exile from his capital, had to contend with the chieftains of the mountains, amongst whom the most formidable was Munja, who had on a former occasion raided the Shero Nalla, the valley where Ajay Singh was now concealed and had wounded him on the head with a spear. Sajun Singh and Ajun Singh, his own sons, though fourteen and fifteen years old, an age at which a Rájpút ought to indicate his future character, proved of little aid in the emergency. [ref]
Bravery of Hammir
Hammir accepted the feud against Munja, and set out in search of him, promising to return successfully or not at all. In a few days, he was seen entering the pass of Kailwara with Munja’s head at his saddle-bow. Modestly placing the trophy at his uncle’s feet, he exclaimed: “Recognize the head of your foe.” This decided the fate of the sons of Ajaisi, one of whom died at Kailwara, and the other, Sajunsi, departed for the Deccan, where his issue rose to fame; for he was the ancestor of Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Satara throne, and his lineage is given in the chronicles of Mewar. [ref]
When he died (1314), his elder brother’s son, Hammir, succeeded to his titles.
Hamír succeeded succedded Ajay Singh and took upon the task to redeem his country from the ruin which had befallen it. The date of his accession is difficult to determine from the existing records. But from several considerations it appears very likely that it took place in about A.D. 1314. It is admitted in all available traditions that his uncle Ajayasimha (Ajay Singh) lived for some time after 1303, and it is recorded by Firishta that among the incidents of the year 1314 was a vigorous effort made by the Rajputs to get rid of the Muslims in Chittorgarh. From what we know of Ajay Singh, he could not have possibly made such an attempt in which probably are to be traced the hands of a more vigorous personality like that of Hammlr. [ref]
The day on which he assumed the ensigns of rule, he displayed in the Tíkdar an earnest of his future energy. The ceremony of Tikadar is a hunting expedidon in the enemies’ land. [ref]
The Tikadar signifies the foray of inauguration. It is a custom that has been observed from time immemorial and is still maintained where any semblance of hostility affords an opportunity for its practice. On the morning of the installation, having received the tíka of sovereignty, the prince at the head of his retainers makes a foray into the territory of anyone with whom he may have a feud, or with whom he may be indifferent as to exciting one; he captures a stronghold or plunders a town, and returns with the trophies. If amity should prevail all around, a mock representation of the custom takes place.
Hammir Singh made a rapid inroad into the heart of Balaitcha, the country of his late enemy, Munja, and captured its principal stronghold, a circumstance which his followers regarded as a sure omen of his future greatness. [ref]
Hammir’s initial attempt to oust the Muslims proved a failure but it was not wholly ineffective. Khizr Khan, who had been in charge of Chittorgarh since 1303, left the place for Delhi and Ala-ud-din sent Maldev Chauhan in his stead. According to the Muslim records, which are generally supported by the Khyai of Nensi, Maldev’s administration in Mewar proved a success, so much so that on his death in 1321, his son was allowed to succeed to his position. [Citation Needed]
Nearly a year previously, the Khaljl dynasty had come to an end being replaced by the Tughluqs. Meanwhile Hammir did not remain idle. From the notices left in the inscriptions, it appears that he proceeded in the task of reconstruction in a most statesmanlike way. The mountain stronghold of Kelwara in the Aravallis was his principal headquarters. His first attempts were directed towards consolidating his authority in the neighbourhood. In pursuance of this object he captured the fort of Jilwiira which occupied a position commanding the narrow mountain defile that connects Mewar with Marwar across the Aravallis. [Citation Needed]
He could now launch his attacks in either directions at his will and harass the Muslims both in the Mewar and the Marwar regions. The next step was the occupation of the fort of Idar in Sirohi which strengthened Iris position still further. He was now in a position to undertake the crowning achievement of his reign, the recovery of Chittorgarh. Although the later inscriptions make no direct mention of this incident, there is no doubt that this reconquest of Chittorgarh also must be attributed to him. For, all traditions unanimously ascribe it to Hammir, while in the Eklingajl inscription of 1429, Hammir is said to have made certain, gifts in favour of a temple in Chittorgarh implying thereby the accuracy of the traditional account. One may possibly find a clue to the silence of contemporary inscriptions in this respect from the facts connected with the incident itself.
Hammir’s initial attempt to oust the Muslims proved a failure but it was not wholly ineffective. Khizr Khan, who had been in charge of Chitor since 1303, left the place for Delhi and ‘Ala-ud-din sent Maldev Chauhan in his stead. According to the Muslim records, which are generally supported by the Khyat of Nensi, Maldev’s administration in Mewar proved a success, so much so that on his death in 1321,2 his son was allowed to succeed to his position. Nearly a year previously, the Khalji dynasty had come to an end being replaced by the Tughluqs.
When Ajay Singh died, Maldeo, with the imperial forces, was still holding Chítor; but he was not left in undisturbed possession. Hamír desolated the plains and left to his enemy only the fortified towns which could be occupied with safety. He commanded all who owned his sovereignty either to quit their abodes and retire with their families to the shelter of the hills on the eastern and western frontiers or be reckoned amongst his enemies. The roads were rendered impassable from his bands, to whom the intricate defiles of the hills offered a means of retreat which baffled all pursuit. He made Kailwára his residence, which became the chief refuge of the emigrants from the plains. The town was admirably situated, being approached by narrow defiles, while a steep pass led over the mountains to a still more inaccessible retreat, where at a later time the fortress of Komulmír was built, well-watered and wooded, and with excellent pasturage. This tract, above 50 miles in breadth, is 1,200 feet above the level of the plain and 3,000 above the sea, with a considerable quantity of arable land, and free communication to the west by which supplies could be procured from Márwár or Gujarát, as well as from the principal Bhíl tracts, to whose inhabitants more than one Rána of Mewár was indebted for assistance in the hour of need. The elevated plateau of the eastern frontier contained places of almost equal security; but Allah-ud-dín traversed these in person, devastating as he went.
Such was the state of Mewár; its fortresses occupied by the foe, cultivation and peaceful pursuits abandoned in consequence of the persevering hostility of Hamír, when Maldeo endeavoured to conciliate his persecutor by offering him in marriage the hand of a Hindu princess. Contrary to the wishes of his advisers, Hamír directed that “the cocoanut should be retained,”1 coolly remarking on the dangers pointed out, “my feet shall at least ascend the rocky steps trodden by my ancestors.” It was stipulated that only five hundred horse should form his suite, and thus accompanied, he set out for Chítor.
On his approach, the five sons of Maldeo advanced to meet him, but on the portal of the city, no torun was suspended. He, however, accepted the unsatisfactory reply to his remark on its omission, and ascended for the first time the ramp of Chítor. The torun is the symbol of marriage, and its absence would be regarded as an omen of the worst description. It consists of three wooden bars, fastened together in the form of an equilateral triangle, and surmounted by the image of a peacock. This emblem is suspended either from the gate of the city, or the portal of the bride. The bridegroom on horseback, lance in hand, proceeds to break the torun, which is defended by the damsels of the bride, who, from the parapet, assail him with missiles of various kinds, and especially with a red powder made from the flower of the palása, at the same time singing songs fitted to the occasion. At length, the torun is broken amidst the shouts of the bridegroom’s retainers when the fair defenders retire. Hamír was received in the ancient halls of his ancestors by Maldeo, his son Banbír, and other chiefs. The bride was led forth and presented by her father, but without any of the solemnities customary on such occasions; “the knot of their garments was tied, their hands united,” and thus they were left. It was the princess herself who revealed to Hamír the significance of the barren ceremonial. He had married a widow! His wrath at the insult thus offered to him was great; but when he learnt that his bride had been married in infancy, that the bridegroom died shortly afterwards, and that she could not even recollect his face, he grew calmer; and as he listened to her vows of fidelity, and to a scheme which she revealed to him for the recovery of Chítor, he became more than reconciled to his fate. It is a privilege possessed by a bridegroom to have one specific favour complied with as a part of the marriage dower, and Hamír was instructed by his bride to ask for the services of Jal, one of the civil officers of Chítor, and, with his bride thus obtained, and the retainer whose talents remained for trial, he made his way back to Kailwára.
Kaitsi was the fruit of this marriage, and a few months after his birth, the princess, feigning some defect in the household gods of Kailwára, obtained from her parents’ permission to bring the child to Chítor and place him before the shrine of his ancestors. The time had been well chosen, for Maldeo, with a large portion of his troops, was absent on a military expedition. Escorted by a party from Chítor, she entered the city, and, through the medium of Jal, succeeded in gaining over the troops that were left. Hamír was at hand; and a few hours later he was master of the fortress.
Enigma of imprisoning Muhummad-bin-Tughlaq
Maldev, on his return, was met with a ‘salute of arabas,’ and, his force being too weak to attempt an assault. To this epoch, Col. James Tod qoutes -
The 'standard of the sun' once more shone refulgent from the walls of Chítor, and the adherents of Hamír returned from the hills to their ancient abodes.
According to the Rajput chronicles, the Chauhan ruler Jaiza, son of Maldev, who was ruling Mewar as a feudatory of the Sultan, fled to Muhammad Tughiuq at Delhi. Thereupon the latter marched against the Maharana. Fortunately for Mewar, Sultan directed his march by way of the eastern plateau, where the intricacies of the country robbed him of all the advantage that his superior numbers would have given him (had he entered by the plains of the north). Maharana Hammir, supported by every chief in Mewar, marched to meet him. The armies met near the village of Singoli, and after a bloddy encounter, Sultan Tughlaq was defeated in the battle and was taken prisoner by the Maharana. Three months later, he was released by the Maharana after he ceded to him the territories of Ajmer, Ranthambore, Nagaur and Sooespur, paid 50 lakhs of rupees as indemnity, and gave 100 elephants. [ref]
But this circumstantial narrative is not directly corroborated by any other evidence, but according to a Jain temple inscription, dated A.D. 1438, a Muslim army was defeated by Maharana Hammir Singh. [ref]
That Mewar acknowledged the suzerainty of Tughiuq Shah is proved by an inscription in the fort of Chittorgarh. So the Muslim-Rajput clash evidently took place in the reign of Muhammad. It is also quite clear from contemporary chronicles that Muhammad Tughiuq and the later Sultans practically left Rajputana severely alone, and the various Rajput principalities recognised Mewar as the paramount power at least in name. The story of Hammir Singh's success against the Muslims cannot, therefore, be regarded as altogether baseless. [ref]
We may accept the conclusion of Ojha that not only Mewar but nearly the whole of Rajputana became practically independent of Delhi Sultanate, but, as he rightly observes, the story of the defeat and imprisonment of Muhammad Tughiuq cannot be regarded as true in the absence of corroborative evidence. Possibly the Muslim army was led by some general and not the Sultan himself. [ref]
Banbír, the son of Maldeo, offered to serve Hamír, and was given a post of honour and an estate for his maintenance. As he made the grant, Hamír said: “Eat, serve, and be faithful. Remember that you are no longer the servant of a Toork, but of a Hindu of your own faith.” Banbír shortly after carried by assault the ancient fortress of Bhainsror on the Chambal, which was incorporated with Mewar, whose boundaries were now more widely extended than they had ever been before. Hamír was the sole Hindu prince of power left in India; all the ancient dynasties were crushed, and the ancestors of the present rulers of Márwár and Jaipúr paid him homage and obeyed his summons, as did the princes of Búndí, Gwalior, Chandéri, Raisen, and Abu. He died full of years, leaving a name still honoured in Mewár, as one of the wisest and most gallant of her princes, and bequeathing a well-established and extensive power to his son.
During the two centuries which followed the recovery of the capital, the strength and solidity of the power of Mewár were greater than at any other period of her history. Though almost surrounded by Muhammadan kingdoms, Delhi in the north, Málwa in the south, and Gujarát in the west, she successfully opposed them all. The dynasty in possession, for the time being, of the imperial throne, Tughlak, Khilji, or Lodi, courted the favour of the Ránas, whose power was so consolidated that they were able not only to repel the invader, but to carry their victorious arms abroad to Suráshtra in the west, and in the north to the very walls of the Mogul capital. Besides a long repose, their subjects must have enjoyed high prosperity during this epoch, if we may judge from the magnificence of their public works, when a single triumphal column cost the income of a kingdom to erect. The Ranas were invariably patrons of the arts, more especially of architecture, and every year saw the capital enriched with new and costly monuments. That it was possible to set aside vast sums for works of this nature, and at the same time to provide adequate means for the defence of her constantly increasing territories, shows how very considerable the revenues of the state had become. The annual military expenditure must have been enormous; for it included not only the maintenance of a large standing army, consisting almost entirely of cavalry, but the upkeep and garrisoning of no less than eighty-four fortresses.