May is an eventful month, which saw birth of several eminent Indians.
One of them is Maharana Pratap Singh whose acts of bravery still resonate across India.
Maharana Pratap, the ruler of Mewar, was born at Kumbhalgarh Fort on May 9, 1540, and was the eldest son of Maharana Udai Singh and Maharani Jaiwanta Bai.
Maharana Pratap ascended the throne during a political turmoil. He was the only Rajput ruler who fought against Mughal emperor Akbar till his death to defend his homeland - Mewar - from Mughals whom he considered as foreign invaders.
Mughal poet Abdur Rahman wrote regarding Pratap's death, "All is unstable in this world; land and wealth will disappear, but the virtues of a great name live forever. Pratap abandoned wealth and land, but never bowed his head. Alone, of all the princes of Hind, he preserved his honour."
Here are 15 interesting facts about Maharana Pratap who is an inspiration for all and is a symbol of Rajput valour and faith.
Source: Wikipedia, Hindutva
The great warrior Maharana Pratap stood at 7 feet 5 inches and weighed around 110 kilograms! Here's another interesting fact you should know about Maharana Pratap. His spear weighed 81 kilograms, the armour of his chest weighed 72 kg and the overall weight of Maharana's spear, armour, shield and two swords weighed up to 208 kilograms.
Maharana Pratap had 11 wives, 17 sons and 5 daughters. Pratap's first wife Maharani Ajabde Punwar was his favourite and they were best friends who fell in love before they became man and wife. Pratap married Ajabde Punwar in 1557 and their first son and successor Amar Singh I was born in 1559.
Over the years, Maharana married many Rajput princesses, which was a measure taken to strengthen Rajput unity.
His other 10 wives were Rani Solankhinipur Bai, Rani Champabai Jhati, Rani Jasobai Chauhan, Rani Phool Bai Rathore aka Phool Kanwar who is shown in the current track of serial Maharana Pratap, Rani Shahmatibai Hada, Rani Khichar Ashabai, Rani Alamdebai Chauhan, Rani Ratnawatibai Parmar, Rani Amarbai Rathore and Rani Lakhabai.
Maharana Pratap spent most of his life in forests and there was a time when Rana Pratap and his family had to survive on rotis made of grass. There came a moment when a wild cat took away roti from Pratap's daughter. It was during these tough times that Maharana thought of surrendering before Akbar.
Maharana Pratap wrote to Akbar regarding his submission plan and hearing about it Akbar was so happy that he passed on the letter to Prithviraj, a Rajput poet and warrior, working under Akbar. It was Prithviraj who wrote back to Maharana Pratap in a way that gave him strength and Pratap withdrew his decision.
Once, Amar Singh arrested women from the enemy camp along with a Mughal officer and brought them before Pratap. Rana Pratap rebuked his son for this act. He ordered to send women back to their camp with escorts.
When Rahim Khan-e-Khana who was preparing to assault Maharana Pratap came to know this incident, he withdrew his forces.
Rahim Khan-e-Khana is none other than the ardent devotee of Lord Krishna we know as Rahim who penned beautiful verses, especially couplets, which we call 'Rahim ke dohe.' Besides being a poet, he was a skilled soldier who commanded Mughal army on several occasions.
The Rajput forces by Maharana Pratap attempted to recapture Chittor that had been overrun by Mughals. The heroic Battle of Haldighati fought in June 1576 saw 22,000 Rajput warriors fighting against more than two lakh Mughal soldiers led by Raja Man Singh and Asaf Khan.
In spite of numeric strength on their side, the Mughals could not imprison Rana who fled through a 40-kilometre long pass.
The Mughal attacks continued on the Rajput army even after Haldighati war, which weakened Pratap's army. There came a time when Pratap was left with no money to support his army and it was Pratap's minister Bhama Shah who came to his rescue and gave all his wealth to Maharana Pratap.
With the money given by Bhama Shah, Pratap was able to support his army of 25,000 men for another 12 years. Bhama Shah's financial aid also boosted Maharana's moral and confidence.
Once, Maharana Pratap received information through a tribal spy that Mughal army commander Raja Man Singh along with a few hundred soldiers were out hunting in the jungle and could easily be defeated during his hunting spree.
Rana Pratap decided not to attack Raja Man Singh. He told his forces that he would prefer to face Raja Man Singh in the battlefield than to backstab him when he is unaware of the danger.
The Mughal forces led by Akbar conquered the entire Mewar region including Chittor, Gogunda, Kumbhalgarh and Udaipur. Except for Pratap, all other Rajput rulers had surrendered before Akbar.
In 1579, Akbar lost hold over Mewar as rebellion broke out in Mughal army units of Bengal, Bihar, and Punjab. Taking advantage, Pratap gathered an army using the resources financed by Bhama Shah and recovered Kumbhalgarh and the areas around Chittor.
Rana Pratap's faithful horse named Chetak became immortal in the Battle of Haldighati. Chetak, which was gravely injured, leapt over a big canal to save Rana Pratap.
Chetak died in this effort. Maharana cried like a child on Chetak's death and mourned for his lost companion. Later, a beautiful garden was constructed in Chetak's memory at the place where Chetak died.
Maharana's sole aim was to free his homeland Mewar from Mughal influence. He told his soldiers once, "My brave warrior brothers, our Motherland, this holy land of Mewar, is still under the clutches of the Mughals. Today, I take an oath in front of all of you that till Chittor is freed, I will not have food in gold and silver plates, will not sleep on a soft bed and will not stay in the palace; instead I will eat food on a leaf-plate, sleep on the floor and stay in a hut. I will also not shave till Chittor is freed. My brave warriors, I am sure that you will support me in every way by sacrificing your mind, body and wealth till this oath is fulfilled."
There are several tales about how Maharana's birth proved auspicious for Mewar. Rana Udai Singh succeded in conquering Chittorgarh Fort from Afghans around his birth. When Pratap was born, the astrologers predicted that newborn Kunwar will bring glory to Mewar and will be remembered for ages to come.
Kunwar Pratap spent a major part of his childhood in the dense forest of Aravallis. According to a section of historians, Rana Udai Singh loved Rani Dheer Bai more and wanted their son Jagmal to be the future ruler of Mewar.
Other theories suggest that Rana Udai Singh wanted Pratap to be a strong and worthy leader and that is why he lived among tribals in the forest. Tribals who liked Pratap called him Keeka. That is why Pratap is also referred as Rana Keeka.
Most people know how much affection Maharana had for his horse Chetak. But not many know that Chetak had blue eyes. That is why Maharana is often referred as 'Rider of the Blue Horse'.
Rana Pratap had an elephant named Ramprasad. During the Battle of Haldighati Ramprasad injured and killed Mughal soldiers, horses and elephants. Raja Mansingh had to deploy seven war elephants to capture Ramprasad.
On being captured, Akbar renamed it Peerprasad and sent it to the royal army. But Ramprasad, which was loyal to Pratap did not eat or drink anything. He died on the 18th day of his capture.
Till his last breath, Maharana dreamed of freeing Chittor. While lying on his death bed, Pratap made his son Amar Singh take a pledge of liberating Chittor.