Maharana Udai Singh II
|Death place||Gogunda, Rajasthan|
|Birth place||Chittor, Rajasthan|
|Father||Maharana Sangram Singh (Maharana Sanga)|
|Date of death||28th February 1572|
Udai Singh II was the Maharana of Mewar, in the present-day Rajasthan state of India. He was born in Chittor in 1522 & was the fourth son of Maharana Sanga & Rani Karnavati. After the death of his father, Maharana Sangram Singh, he was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Maharana Ratan Singh. Ratan Singh was assassinated in 1531. He was succeeded by his half-brother Maharana Vikramaditya Singh. During his reign, when the Turkic Sultan of Gujarat Bahadur Shah sacked Chittor in 1534, Udai Singh was sent to Bundi for safety.
Ratan's half-brother Vikramaditya was murdered by the nobles who supported Vanbir’s claim to the throne & Vanbir usurped the throne of Chittor in 1536 A.D. He was an illegitimate son to Prithviraj and tried to get rid of the heir designate Udai Singh who enjoyed the esteem of the nobility. But before he arrived at the palace to kill him, the prince had been removed safely from there by the daring action of his nurse Panna who sacrificed her own son Chandan in order to save his life from his Uncle. Vanbir assumed the sleeping boy to be Udai Singh and killed him. In reality, Udai Singh had been rescued to Kumbhalgarh & was kept in concealment for a year disguised as a nephew of the governor Asha Shah Depura (Maheshwari).[ref]
When the news of him being alive reached the people, they acknowledged him as the rightful heir of Mewar. Soon after he led an expedition against the usurper Vanbir & after a hotly contested engagement between the two forces Vanbir fled from the battlefield. Udai Singh was crowned the ruler of Chittor in about 1540 A.D.[ref] His eldest son Maharana Pratap from his first wife, Maharani Jaivantabai Songara was born in the same year. He had twenty wives and twenty-five sons. His second wife, Sajjabai Solankini gave birth to his son Shakti, Sagar Singh, and Vikram Dev. Dheerbai Bhattiyani was his favorite wife and was the mother of his son Jagmal Singh.
Udai Singh had not been in office for more than four years when the disturbing news of Sher Shah Suri’s march towards his capital Chittor came in June 1544. He had already defeated Maldev of Jodhpur & occupied it. Sensing the situation getting out of control, Udai Singh sent the keys to his fort as a token of surrender. Sher Shah Suri accepted the offer wisely & allowed Rana to remain in possession of his territory as long as he paid annual tribute & accepted the Afghan suzerainty. Immediately after Sher Shah died in 1545, Chittor was freed from foreign domination.[ref]
After the occupation of Chittor by a foreign power, Udai Singh realized that it was at risk & open to attack & hence decided to shift his capital to Girwa, a mountainous region. The foundation of Udaipur was laid in 1559 & a lake named Udai Sagar was constructed in the same year. The lake was completed in 1562 & the new capital came to be known as Udaipur.[ref]
Rana also entered into a political alliance with Rao Surjan of Bundi 1554 A.D. and attacked and defeated Haji Khan Pathan of Ajmer 1556.[ref]
In 1563, Rana subdued the Rathors of Bhomat & established his authority over Juda, Ogna & Panarwa in the southwestern part of his state.[ref] He was successful in widening his power beyond Mewar & the country resumed its old vigor.
Udai Singh had extended his hospitality to Baz Bahadur of Malwa in 1562 A.D. whose kingdom had been annexed into the Mughal Empire.[ref] During this time, the greatest Mughal ruler Akbar’s fame was growing. In September 1567, Shakti Singh, the second son of Udai Singh fled from Dholpur to Chittor to inform his father about Akbar’s plan of invading his country. He called a council to decide how to defend them in that critical moment. After discussing several aspects it was decided that Udai Singh, along with the princes should retire to Gogunda in western Mewar. This decision was not welcomed by him at first but he couldn’t overrule the decision of the council. He left the fort under the command of brave Rajputs Jaimal & Patta.[ref] In the meantime, Akbar launched an expedition against Chittor & reached there on 23 October 1567 with a huge army to siege the fort. Towards the end of the sack, a population of 30,000 inside the fort, mostly civilians were put to the sword by the orders of the emperor in a kind of frenzy of victorious aggressiveness. Numerous matrons & virgins engaged themselves in an act of self-immolation called 'Jauhar' with courage. The Rajputs fought with tremendous effort & reckless bravery but after four months of fighting, the fort was occupied by enemy forces on 25th February 1568. Jaimal & Patta fought with such valor that their statues have been erected at Fatehpur Sikri.[ref]
He died on 28th February 1572 in Gogunda. Before his death, his eldest son Maharana Pratap’s claim to the throne was contested by his younger brother Jagmal. Shakti Singh, the second son of Udai Singh was out of the question as during the lifetime of his father he had left Chittor angrily and accepted a subsistence allowance from Akbar. However in the end, with the support of some nobles, Maharana Pratap was installed on the throne of Mewar at Gogunda as Rana on 28th February 1572.[ref] This was the age when Mewar witnessed a pronounced increase in royal power & prestige.