The Battle of Haldighati was a battle fought on 18 June 1576 between cavalry and archers supporting the Rana of Mewar, Maharana Pratap, and the Mughal emperor Akbar’s forces, led by Man Singh I of Amber.
Mewari tradition has it that the Rana’s forces numbered 20,000, which were pitted against the 80,000-strong army of Man Singh. While Jadunath Sarkar agrees with the ratio of these numbers, he believes them to be just as exaggerated as the popular story of Rana Pratap’s horse, Chetak, jumping upon Man Singh’s war elephant.Jadunath Sarkar gives the Mughal army as 10,000 strong.Satish Chandra estimates that Man Singh’s army consisted of 5,000–10,000 men, a figure which included both the Mughals and the Rajputs. According to Al Badayuni, who witnessed the battle, the Rana’s army counted amongst its ranks 3,000 horsemen and around 400 Bhil archers led by Punja, the chieftain of Merpur. No infantry are mentioned. Man Singh’s estimated forces numbered around 10,000 men. Of these, 4,000 were members of his own clan, the Kachhwas of Jaipur, 1,000 were other Hindu reserves, and 5,000 were Muslims of the Mughal imperial army. Both sides possessed war elephants, but the Rajputs bore no firearms. The Mughals fielded no wheeled artillery or heavy ordnance, but did employ a number of muskets.
MAHARANA PRATAP & CHETAK
With Rana Pratap able to make a successful escape, the battle failed to break the deadlock between the two powers. Subsequently, Akbar led a sustained campaign against the Rana, and soon, Goganda, Udaipur, and Kumbhalgarh were all under his control. Pressure was exerted by the Mughals upon the Rana’s allies and other Rajput chiefs, and he was slowly but surely both geographically and politically isolated. The Mughals’ focus shifted to other parts of the empire after 1579,
which allowed Rana Pratap to recover much of the lost territory in the western parts of his kingdom. Chittor and the rest of eastern Mewar continued to remain under Mughal control. According to Satish Chandra, the Battle of Haldighati was, at best, “an assertion of the principle of local independence” in a region prone to internecine warfare. Honour was certainly involved. But it was the honour of Maharana Pratap at stake, not Rajput or Hindu honour.
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