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Monday, May 25, 2015

Battles BEFORE the Battle of Chittor - At Kumbhalgarh, Rampur, Udaipur, Mandalgarh | Marathon Series - Part-3

Hi all,

In previous post, we read about the preparations and consequent reactions in Chittor, after receiving the news of imminent attack on Chittor. It should be noted that Akbar had decided to attack Chittor using hunting trip as a pretext. Hence, Mewar had very less time for the preparations. Chittor was not the only principality to be guarded from the attack. 

Mewar was a big state. Along with Chittor, which was the capital of Sisodia Rajputs, the other regions of Mewar, which faced (simultaneous) attacks were -
Rampur{4}, etc.

Bijolia, the hometown of Maharani Ajabde Bai Sa, wife of Maharana Pratap also came under Mughal influence after this battle.

In this post, giving a brief description of the important events. Describing each battle in detail is not possible at present.

Other Posts in this Series:

1. Why did Akbar attack Chittor ? | Part-1

2. Preparation of Rajputs - Battle of Chittor | Part-2

4. ACTUAL Struggle between Mughal & Rajput Forces - Course of War BEFORE Jauhar and Saka| Battle of Chittor Part-4 | With explained Portraits from Akbarnama

5. Mughal Record of Jauhar of Rajput Women & Saka of Rajput Warriors at 3rd Siege of Chittor(1567-68) + Mughal Victory Followed by Massacre of Rajput Civilians | Battle of Chittor Part-5 | With Portraits from Akbarnama & personal pictures of Chittor Fort

6. DETAILED Rajput Record of Jauhar, Saka & Massacre of Rajputs at 3rd Siege of Chittor(1567-68) | Description of Rajput Warriors & OLD pictures of Chittor Fort | Battle of Chittor Part-6

7. Fatehnama-i-Chittor, Comparison & Pictures of Mughal-Rajput Weapons, Assessment of Akbar and Maharana Pratap, Old Portraits of Udaipur & Path for the Future Struggle of Mughals - Mewar | LONG Detailed Concluding Assessment..Last Post on Battle of Chittor Part 7

History of Jaimal and Patta with Portraits | HEROes of the 3rd Siege of Chittor

We have already seen that the council of ministers asked Rana Udai Singh to leave the capital. The reason being, the life of king was most precious. In case, anything happens to a king the battle was lost, by default. It is worth noting that in the IInd battle of Panipat, Akbar and Bairam Khan stayed many kilometres back from the battle field, while the Mughal forces were engaged in the Battle with Hemu. Here also, the motive was to save the king, i.e., Akbar.

Coming back to the point. As we know, Rana Udai Singh left the Chittor Fort. But, this news reached Mughal camp in no time. Akbar dispatched his most trusted aides to different parts of Mewar to get Rana Udai Singh. This resulted in division of Mewar's small army to other parts of the state.

Precursors to the Battle of Chittor | Battles Before the MAIN Battle at Chitor  

Till now, we have seen the events which happened in Chittor, before the arrival of Mughal Forces and before the LONG Siege of 4 months, during which Akbar had encamped at Chittor. Now let us see, the events which took place in Mewar outside Chittor BEFORE the full-fledged war/Saka in Chittor.

{1} -> The Battle at Mandalgarh

This battle was fought between the favorite general of Akbar, Asaf Khan and Wazir Khan on Mughal side versus Rao Ballu Solanki (this is the name as per Rajput Chronicles-**-) on the side of Mewar.

**->"Manuscript of Davet Udai Singhji, FF.7,8." 
This name is mentioned differently in Akbarnama, as given below.

I have taken this battle's note from - "The Akbarnama of Abu'l Fazl, Vol.-2, Page-464 (Beveridge, Sr-910, ASB, Calcutta,1907)".. Abul Fazl says- " MandalGarh was one of the strong forts of the Rana, and was defended by the valour of Rawat Balvi Solanki, but by the prestige of the Shahinshah they conquered it." 

Akbar's chronicler Nizam-ud-din Bakshi has also mentioned this event in - "The Tabaqat-e-Akbari of Nizam-ud-din Bakshi (excerpt from KCB,John, Vol.-5, Page-326, London, 1873)"..

The Fort of Mandalgarh was very strong and strategically important, as it was located between the strongholds of Menal and Bijolia. Mandalgarh Fort is about 1 km in length and 1850 feet above the ocean level. This was the third most important Fort of Mewar after Forts of Chittor and Kumbhalgarh(established by Rana Kumbha). 

Mandalgarh Fort in it's Prime. Today, it's ruins exist. The reflections of the step-wells and palaces can be seen in the water.

It was among the 84 Fortifications of Mewar under Rana Kumbha(1433-1468), the grandfather of Rana Sanga(1509-1527), who in turn was the grandfather of Maha Rana Pratap(1572-1597). This fort is worth mentioning because -> Before his untimely death in 1597, MahaRana Pratap had won ENTIRE Mewar from Akbar, except the Fort of Mandalgarh and Chittorgarh(Note that Mewar had 84 Fortifications in it's prime).

The step wells seen in above picture, are present in this picture clearly as there is no water now.

Throughout medieval history, Mandalgarh Fort remained a site of ferocious combats and bloodbaths, with Rajput forces fighting battles with the Khiljis and other clans. The Fort remained a bone of contention between the Sisodias and Mughals for the next 150 years, when it was ultimately won by Rana Amar Singh II in 1706 during Aurangzeb's rule, who had given it to Jhujjar Singh of Pisanganj(in present day Ajmer of Rajasthan). 

Further reading from location POV:

{2,3,4} -> Kumbhalgarh, Rampur, and Udaipur.

I am still in process of getting the Rajput accounts translated for these battles. They are in Sanskrit. Mughal and other Muslim records mention these fights in less details.

A. Akbar's chronicler Nizam-ud-din Bakshi has mentioned this event. I have taken the following lines from - "The Tabaqat-e-Akbari of Nizam-ud-din Bakshi (excerpt from KCB,John, Vol.-5, Page-326, London, 1873)"..

Following is the Text from Tabaqat-e-Akbari-> {I have explained the text and given my explanations in purple color.}

The royal forces were ordered to plunder and lay waste the country, { < I have marked this line in bold for a reason, remember this line for sometime} and Asaf Khan was sent to Rampur*, a prosperous town of the province. He attacked and captured the Fort, and ravaged all the neighbourhood.

Husain Kuli Khan was sent with a detachment towards Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh**, which is one of the chief fortresses in that country, and is the residence of the Rana. He ravaged several towns and villages, but finding no trace of the Rana, he returned to the Imperial camp.

* - Rampur is about 50 miles South-East of Chittor.
** - This city is called by it's old name in Mughal accounts -> "Kumbalmir" - meaning the "Lake of Lotuses".

My Views:
The above lines mention that Husain Quli Khan was sent towards Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh, but he did not find anyone there, and hence returned back. This statement marks a stark contrast with the first one mentioned above, where the Royal troops captured the fort and ravaged the neighbourhood in Rampur

We saw in Part-2 post, that the troops with Maharana Pratap were present in Kumbhalgarh. It was the most important fort after Chittorgarh, and it appears quite surprising that despite "NOT FINDING" anyone in Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh(as per this Mughal account), Husain Quli Khan did NOT take control of the place, as done by Asaf Khan in Rampur. 

From the documents dug up till now, it is quite possible that a battle was fought here as well in the Hills of Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh, but the battle has not been mentioned in Mughal records. Why?. Perhaps the results were not upto Mughal expectations. It is not digestible to me that despite finding NO ONE in Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh, the places were left UN-conquered, and only left by mere rampage and destruction..!!. Though, Rampur was captured by Asaf Khan.

I am in process of getting Rajputana accounts translated. Till then, what you all think.?. What happened in Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh ? Why were they left independent by Husain Kuli Khan if there was no one present there ?

Palace of the Rana of Mewar, Udaipur in it's Prime, 19th Century

Another Akbar's chronicler, Mulla Ahmed has mentioned this event of attack on Rampur and Udaipur. I have taken the following lines from the work - "The History of First Thousand Years of Islam written in 1592 (excerpt from KCB,John, Vol.-5, Page-171, London, 1873)"..

Following is the Text from the account -> {I have explained the text and given my explanations in purple color.}

=>Asaf Khan went under orders to take Rampur. He took the place and having plundered and ravaged the country, he returned victorious. Husain Kuli Khan went to attack Udaipur, the capital of the Rana and of his ancestors. He ravaged the country with fire and sword, and returned bringing great spoil and numerous prisoners from the fastnesses of the mountains.

My Views:
This account has given a more clear picture of the events in those hills. In case of Udaipur, the chronicler mentions that a struggle ensued and prisoners were taken from among the people of Udaipur, along with spoils. This means Mughal forces met with some opposition in Udaipur. Though, he has also "completely omitted Kumbhalgarh's name" from the picture. We know, Udaipur & Kumbhalgarh were the two forts retained by Mewar even after after this war. Let's go through more records to get clearer understanding.

Massive Walls of Kumbhalgarh, Temples are present on the left.

Another Mughal chronicler, Mutam'hed Khan has mentioned this event of attack on Rampur and Udaipur in his work Iqbalnama-i-Jahangiri. In the original Persian manuscript, the event is recorded in Volume-2 on Page-226.  

=> I have not been able to procure the exact translation for the same till now, as the work is in Persian language. But from what has been known to me till now, it says "a device was made to capture the Rana , and Husain Quli Khan and others were sent with clear instructions to capture Rana Udai Singh"
Also, From A and B, we already know Husain Quli Khan was the one sent to Udaipur to get Rana Udai Singh.

Kumbhalgarh Fort, situated on a hill.

Finally, Abu'l Fazl has also mentioned about the war of Rampur, Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh. I have taken the following lines from - "The Akbarnama of Abu'l Fazl, Vol.-2, Page-465 (Beveridge, Sr-910, ASB, Calcutta,1907)"..
Following is the Text from Akbarnama-> {I have explained the text in purple color.}

=> His Majesty(Akbar) relying on the Divine aid, and being contented to have secret auxiliaries, ordered a march forward with the idea that perhaps the Rana might hear that the army was small, and so might come out of the defiles, and be thus easily disposed of. But as that ill-fated one knew that the army had not much of a siege-train with it, and thought that on that account H.M. would not attempt to take fortresses, he strengthened the fort of Chittor, which, in the opinion of the short-sighted, was such a place that the lasso of conquest could not attain to its battlements, and supplied it with provisions sufficient for several years. He also left in it 5000 gallant Rajputs, and devastated the surrounding country so that there did not even remain grass in the fields, and retired to the defiles of the hill-country

My Views:
Remember that, in the Part-1 series of Chittor Post{Link}, i mentioned that, Akbar had a purpose of quelling the rebellion in Malwa. Hence, after sending his army for it, the task of reducing the Chittor Fort was undertaken. Further Fazl says, though a part of the enemy was send to Malwa, but still Akbar had "contentment of secret auxiliaries". This fact is cleared by the subsequent lines, which you will read below, where it's mentioned that more troops arrived later and joined the Mughal Army. Abu'l Fazl says that 5000 Rajputs were left by Rana Udai Singh in the Fort which was stocked with great provisions "capable enough of fighting for several years". This line should be viewed in a literary sense, perhaps Abu'l Fazl wants to say that a big ration of food and weapons was left in the Fort.

@Brown Text > Abu'l Fazl also says that Udai Singh "thought" Akbar would not attempt to take the Fort due to less number of forces, BUT this point holds no ground, as in the Part-1 series of Chittor Post{Link}, it was mentioned from Akbarnama itself, that Shakti Singh had already informed Rana Udai Singh about the attack which Akbar was going to unleash on Chittor under the disguise of a hunting trip. In such a situation, it was necessary to stock the fort with provisions.

=> When the sublime army encamped in the neighbourhood of Chittor, His Majesty(Akbar) did not judge it proper to pursue that doomed one(Rana Udai Singh), and to enter the heart of the hills. By Divine inspira­tion he decided to capture the fort of Chittor, which was the founda­tion of the Rana's power, and the centre of his dominions; and on the day of 10 Aban, Divine month, corresponding to Thursday 19 Rabi-al akhir, 20 October 1567, he arrived at the outskirts of the fort and pitched his camp. At this time there was a great storm of wind, accompanied by thunder and lightning, so that the earth was shaken. But after an hour the sky became clear, the world was revealed and the fortress appeared in the distance.

My Views:
Abu'l Fazl refers Rana Udai Singh as "a doomed one". He also mentions that Akbar did not find it proper to go into the hills and engage in direct combat with his enemy, at once. Rather, he pitched his camp near the fort for some time. As per Akbarnama, Akbar reached Chittor on 20th October 1567. The time when he came there, it was raining, but soon the sky became clear.

=> The world-conquering mind decided upon besieging that sky-high fortress and upon hemming in the garrison. Accordingly he next day marched from that station, and encamped on the skirt of the mountain, on the summit of which was the fortress. He then rode out, accompanied by some of his courtiers and made the circuit of the mountain. The surveyors, who are always in attendance on the royal stirrup, found by measurement that the circumference was more than two kos, while it was five kos at the part used by the general public. His Majesty applied himself to the task of taking the fortress and directed the Bakhshis to set out the batteries. The troops who had come along with His Majesty went to their batteries, and those who came up afterwards had separate batteries. In this way the whole circuit of the fort was encompassed in the space of one month.

My Views:
Now this paragraph represented how Akbar started encircling the fort. He had surveyors with him, who estimated the length of the fort and also gave an idea of number of forces required to encircle it. The Fort was surveyed and measurements taken, and Bakshi(Imperial Officers) were instructed to set the batteries(like a canon) at various places. It is also mentioned that, along with the troops who came INITIALLY with Akbar, MORE TROOPS KEEP COMING later and joined the Mughal Army. They were stationed on different batteries aimed at storming the fort. 
It is worth noting that, it took 1 month for forces of Akbar to encircle the Fort of Chittor completely. Those readers who have visited Chittor Fort must be knowing what i am talking about. :)

Fort of Chittor

=> During the same time some of the officers were sent to devastate the Rana's territory , and to punish the contumacious. Asaf Khan with a number of officers was sent off to Rampur, and he opened it with the "key of the sword" , and received the applause of the Shahinshah. 

As the Rana was pointed out as having gone to Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh, Husain Quli Khan was sent with a large force to lay hold of him. Husain Quli Khan arrived at Udaipur, which was the Rana's capital, and slaughtered the rebellious. 

Wherever he heard of any gathering of rebels of Udaipur, or the hill-country of Kumbhalgarh, he consumed them with the lightning of the fiery sword

He obtained much booty and made great search for the Rana. But as he could get no trace of that vagabond, he, in accordance with the royal command, returned and was exalted by the bliss of doing homage.

My Views:
This account of Abu'l Fazl mentions that, while Akbar was encircling the Fort of Chittor and inspecting it for positioning of batteries, "simultaneously" he sent his forces to Rampur, Kumbhalgarh and Udaipur also. There was struggle and the Mughal Forces did meet the Rajput defenders at these places. BUT, Abu'l Fazl has not given the names of the defending generals present in these areas. It is mentioned that the forces were sent to devastate the territories, and hunt down the Rana, as we know very well it was the King after catching whom the war could be won in a single stroke. Just as simple as a game of chess is over by eliminating the opponent's king, same was the play here.

The point which again leaves my question Unanswered  is the fact that, Why did NOT Husain Quli Khan take control of Kumbhalgarh and Udaipur if he was victorious in these two wars.?. He could have taken these two places like Asaf Khan did with Rampur. Here, Mughal records are silent. What you all think.?. 

Entrance to Kumbhalgarh, through Ram Pol


It is often said that history is writen by victors. If that is true, then the words fit very well in present case. As you all can see, the majority of accounts which i have used here are the Persian accounts which were written in Mughal Courts. 

Mysteriously enough, all the Mughal records are silent and none of them tell us about what happened in Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh, when Mughal generals were sent there. Though, they claim Mughal army "extinguished the opponents and returned with spoils of war" , but still the Forts of Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh were under the occupation of Rajputs. On the other hand, the Fort of Mandalgarh was taken from Rao Ballu Solanki after extinguishing the defending forces. Then why were the strategically important Forts of Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh left ? Did Mughal armies suffer reverses at these places ? Probably, we can get an idea, if we consider Rajputana records as well.

Wide View of the Fort of Chittor, seen from front

Rana Udai Singh is depicted as a doomed one / foolish / arrogant / proud / stubborn, etc. in these accounts. The reasoning being - Rana Udai Singh was "confident of the valor of his men, and hence he refused to kiss the threshold of ShahenShah". Hence, he was called foolish here. {See, post-1 Link}.

Of course, he could surrender or accept the suzerainty of Mughal Emperor. But let us think from the point of view of Rana Udai Singh. He was someone who wanted to maintain his "perfect" independence. Did he commit a mistake by not accepting the Mughal supremacy ? Before answering this question, let us ask ourselves, how many of us are willing to give up our independence ? Perhaps for some or many of us, our independence will be the most precious and dearly cherished  thing. Will look forward to the interesting comments here.

I am trying to get hold of more Rajputana accounts. From the accounts posted in Part-2 post, we know that Rana Udai Singh was asked to leave the Fort by his generals/courtiers, considering his safety. The decision used to be taken by the assembly of ministers, not by the king. The names of those people who were present in that meeting are given in Part-2 post. Link

Akbar carefully measured his moves and got the Fort measured. The post aims to highlight the strategy of wait and watch followed by both the sides. It serves as a good study.

Looking forward to reading your views on this topic...This series would be continued further. References have been provided for almost each line. I have tried to give an opinion from both the sides. Next post in this series will be about the course of this war. 

Important Note:
The Battle of Chittor was NOT and NEVER a fight of Hindus versus Muslims. It was a fight for supremacy from Akbar's end and from Mewar's end it was a fight to maintain their independence. Hindus and Muslims fought from both the sides. Maharana Pratap and Akbar, both took services of people from different religions. It is wrong to look at this war from communal angle.

This article has been posted under the Rajputs and Mughals(Akbar) section of history_geek's BLOG.

Copyright of images rest with original owners.

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