Maharana Pratap : Valor and undefended, spirit personified
Maharana Pratap, is a name with bravery and determination remembering to begin with. His name is engraved with gold among the list of valiant kings who protected the Nation, Dharma, Culture and Freedom of this country by sacrificing his life. Maharana Pratap was born on 9th May 1540 in Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan. His father was Maharana Udai Singh II and his mother was Rani Jeevant Kanwar. Maharana Udai Singh II ruled the kingdom of Mewar, with his capital at Chittor. Maharana Pratap was the eldest of twenty-five sons and hence given the title of Crown Prince. He was destined to be the 54th ruler of Mewar, in the line of the Sisodiya Rajputs.
During Maharana Pratap Singh’s time, Akbar was the Mughal Ruler in Delhi. His policy was to make use of the strength of Hindu kings to bring other Hindu Kings under his control. When Pratap succeeded his father to the throne, his brother Jagmal Singh, who was nominated as the Crown Prince by Udai Singh swore revenge and joined the Mughal army. The Mughal king Akbar rewarded him with the town of Jahazpur for the help he rendered.
When the Rajputs left Chittor, Mughals took control of the place, but their attempts to annex the kingdom of Mewar remained unsuccessful. A number of envoys were sent by Akbar tried to negotiate with Pratap to strike an alliance, but that did not work. Six diplomatic missions were sent by Akbar in 1573 but were turned down by Maharana Pratap. The last of these missions was lead by Akbar’s brother-in-law Raja Man Singh. When the efforts of signing a peace treaty failed, Akbar made up his mind to face the mighty Mughal army.
The Battle of Haldighati
On June 18, 1576, the Rajput army stood face-to-face with the Mughal army at Haldighati. Maharana Pratap’s army of 22,000 soldiers met 2,00,000 soldiers of Akbar at Haldighat. Maharana Pratap and his soldiers exhibited great valour in this battle although he had to retreat but Akbar’s army was not successful in completely defeating Rana Pratap. Maharana Pratap and his faithful horse named ‘Chetak’ also became immortal in this battle. ‘Chetak’ was seriously injured in the battle of Haldighat but to save his master’s life, it jumped over a big canal. As soon as the canal was crossed, ‘Chetak’ fell down and died thus it saved Rana Pratap, risking its own life. The strong Maharana cried like a child over the death of his faithful horse. Later he constructed a beautiful garden at the place where Chetak had breathed its last. Then Akbar himself attacked Maharana Pratap but even after 6 months of fighting the battle, Akbar could not defeat Maharana Pratap and went back to Delhi.
Maharana Pratap was lying on the bed made of grass even when he was dying as his oath of freeing Chittod was not still fulfilled. At the last moment, he took his son Amar Singh’s hand and handed over the responsibility of freeing Chittod to his son and died in peace.