This Day in History (21-Jun-1576) – Mughal army defeated Rana Pratapsingh in the battle of Haldighat

Maharana Pratap was crowned as ruler of Mewar in 1572. Though majority of Rajputs had accepted Delhi’s leadership, Pratap refused to surrender to Akbar and continued to fight against Mughals. On June 21, 1576, the two armies met at Haldighati. Pratap led 20,000 Rajputs against a Mughal army of 80,000 men commanded by Raja Man Singh. The battle of Haldighati, lasted only four hours. In this short period, Pratap’s men essayed many brave exploits on the field. Pratap personally attacked Man Singh: his horse Chetak placed its front feet on the trunk of Man Singh’s elephant and Pratap threw his lance; Man Singh ducked, and the mahout was killed.

However, the numerical superiority of the Mughal army and their artillery finally began to tell. Seeing that the battle was lost, Pratap’s generals prevailed upon him to flee the field so as to be able to fight another day. To facilitate Pratap’s escape, one of his lieutenants, a member of the Jhala clan, donned Pratap’s distinctive garments and took his place in the battlefield. He was soon killed. Meanwhile, riding his trusty steed Chetak, Pratap made good his escape. But Chetak was critically wounded on his left thigh by a Mardana (Elephant Trunk Sword) while Pratap had attempted to nail down Man Singh. Chetak was bleeding heavily and he collapsed after jumping over a small brook few kilometres away from the battle field.

Two turk knights followed Pratap. The moment they started chasing him, Pratap’s younger brother Shaktisingh who was fighting from the Mughal side (he had some disputes with Pratap at the time of Pratap’s coronation; hence he had defected and gone over to Akbar’s court) realized that his own brother was under threat. He could not help but react against a threat to his own brother. He followed the Turks, engaged them in single combat and killed them. Saddned by the loss of his beloved general and horse, Pratap embraced his brother. Shaktisingh asked for his brother’s pardon, for having fought as his enemy. Pratap pardoned him. Maharana Pratap continued to fight against Mughals until his death in 1597.


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