Rajputs : Maharana Pratap

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Rana Sanga | Maharana Pratap

Mughal period gained in glory and power during Akbar's long reign of nearly forty years. Most of the part of Akbar's rule went on consolidating Mughal territory over India. He was a general par excellence, so when in 1573, Gujarat revolted against the Mughal rule, he marched from his capital Fatehpur-Sikri to Ahmadabad, a distance of 600 miles, with 3,000 horsemen in nine days. He defeated a large army of insurgents on the eleventh day from departure and was back in his capital again in another 32 days. This secured Gujarat for the Mughals for the next one eighty five years.

Akbar's first and the hardest campaign were against the Rajputs. Rajputs at that time although were formidable but were very divided. Until subdued they presented a permanent threat to the Mughal hegemony in northern India. The nearest state of Jaipur was first won over, and in 1568-69 the two great fortresses of Chittaur and Ranthambor were captured. Yet Udaipur and Mewar were unrelenting. Although due to his tremendous military skills Akbar had got hold of the major part of Rajputana, yet these two dominions, especially that of Mewar were not ready to accept his supremacy.

Rana Pratap

No history book on India will be complete without his description. He was the grandson of none other than the great Rana Sanga. Although not a great administrator and statesman as his grandfather was but he was a copy of his grandfather in terms of courage and self-respect. Rana Pratap (1540-1597), as he is popularly called in India, was born in the kingdom of Mewar, in modern-day Rajasthan, which was ruled by his father. In 1568, Akbar conquered Chittaur, Mewar's capital. In 1572, Pratap became Rana (king) of Mewar with the support of the elder nobles. He then began a life-long war against Akbar.

At a time when the formidable fort of Chittaur, his ancestral home, was under Mughal occupation and his co-Rajputs such as Raja Man Singh of Jaipur were part of Akbar's council. He stood alone in fighting the Mughal supremacy over Rajputana. He lived a life of a fugitive drawn away from Chittaur by Akbars's onslaught, he cherished a dream of regaining the lost glory of Mewar. Many a times Akbar tried to win him over by his friendly gestures but Maharana was unrelenting, he refused to surrender and even returned Akbar's special emissary Raja Man Singh, of Amber, saying that he is not ready to talk to a person who got his sister married to a foreigner.

Insulted Raja Man Singh, came back with a huge Mughal army. Later a gruesome and bloody battle followed between Rana Pratap's forces and Mughal forces, who were lead by fellow Rajput rulers who had joined hands with Akbar, in HaldiGhati, the year was 1576. Many soldiers of Mewar were killed or captured but Pratap wasn't. He escaped to the hills in his legendary horse Chetak.

Later on, he organized a small army of Bheels (a tribe of India) and started a Guerrilla war against Akbar. In the later stages of his life he re-conquered some parts of Mewar but due to failing health and an untimely death his long cherished goal of winning back Chittaur, remained unaccomplished.

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