The historic Battle of Haldighati, took place in the year 1576 AD between Rana Pratap Singh, the great Hindu Rajput ruler of Mewar in Rajasthan and Raja Man Singh of Amber, the great general of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. This battle is considered as one of the most significant events in the history of the Rajputs, and this battle was also one of the shortest battles in Indian history, which lasted for only 4 hours. Today, the Haldighati pass, in which the battle took place, stands as a tourist spot, with great memoirs of Raja Rana Pratap Singh and his brave horse Chetak.
Factors leading to War
Mughal emperor Akbar had very strong desire of ruling over whole of India. By late 1500 he started conqering different kingdoms to fulfill his desire. Maharana Pratap became ruler of Mewar in 1572, by this most of the rajput kingdoms like Amber, Bikaner, etc had already surrendered to Akbar and only Mewar was left. This was the only rajput kingdom, which was not willing to compromise on its independence. To bring Mewar under him, Akbar sent four peace missions to Pratap to convince him to accept his suzerainty.
- First attempt was made in September 1572, a mission was sent under Jalal khan Qorchi. This mission failed Rana refused to submit.
- Second mission under Prince Man Singh of Amber was sent in April 1573 this too failed however Maharana accepted the gifts of Akbar brought by Man Singh but he didn’t agreed to the condition of attending Mughal court.
- Third mission was sent under Raja Bhagwan das, father of Man Singh in September October 1575 but nothing achieved.
- Finally one of the most celebrated personality of the time Raja Todar Mal was sent to Gogunda but again no result was achieved.
These futile attempts angered Akbar and this was the root cause of THE BATTLE OF HALDIGHATI.
Army strength and position
Although Mewari folklore tradition has put Maharana Pratap’s forces at 20,000 facing a Mughal Army of 80,000, modern historians give a figure of 5000-10,000 for the Mughal army while putting the Mewari forces at 3000 horsemen with 400 archers from the Bhil tribes from the kingdom of Merpur. Infantry figures for the same are unknown. Both sides possessed war elephants but the Rajputs had no firearms. The Mughals possessed muskets but fielded no heavy artillery.
Rana Pratap’s estimated 800-strong van was commanded by Hakim Khan Sur with his Afghans, Bhim Singh of Dodia, and Ramdas Rathor (son of Jaimal, who defended Chittor). The right-wing was approximately 500-strong and was led by Ramshah Tanwar, the erstwhile king of Gwalior, and his three sons, accompanied by minister Bhama Shah and his brother Tarachand.
The left-wing is estimated to have fielded 400 warriors, including Bida Jhala and his clansmen of Jhala. Pratap, astride his horse, led some 1,300 soldiers in the centre. The Bhil bowmen brought up the rear.
The Mughals placed a contingent of 85 skirmishers on the front line, led by Sayyid Hashim of Barha. They were followed by the vanguard, which comprised a complement of Kachhwa Rajputs led by Jagannath, and Central Asian Mughals led by Bakhshi Ali Asaf Khan.
A sizeable advance reserve led by Madho Singh Kachhwa came next, followed by Man Singh himself with the centre. The Mughal left wing was commanded by Mulla Qazi Khan.
Due to the disparity between the two armies, the Rana chose to mount a full frontal assault on the Mughals, committing all of his men. The desperate charge initially paid dividends. Hakim Khan Sur and Ramdas Rathore ran through the Mughal skirmishers and fell upon the vanguard, while Ram Sah Tanwar and Bhama Shah wreaked havoc upon the Mughal left wing, who were forced to flee. They took refuge with their right wing, which was also being heavily pressured by Bida Jhala. Both Mulla Qazi Khan and the captain of the Fatehpur Sikri Shaikhzadas were wounded, but the Sayyids of Barha held firm and earned enough time for Madho Singh's advance reserves to enter the fray.