Siege of Chittorgarh

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Siege of Chittorgarh
Part of Mughal-Rajput War (1558-1578)
Akbar shoots Jaimal at the siege of Chitor.jpg
The Mughal Emperor Akbar shoots a Rajput leader, using a Matchlock.
Date 23 October 1567 - 23 February 1568
Location 250km northwest east of Agra
Result Decisive victory and a successful siege by Mughal EmperorAkbar.
Territorial
changes
The Mughal Empire swept into the territories of Udai Singh.
Belligerents
 Mughal Empire Rajputs of Chittorgarh Fort
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Mughal Empire.svgAkbar
Flag of the Mughal Empire.svgAbdullah Khan
Flag of the Mughal Empire.svgKhwaja Abdul Majid
Flag of the Mughal Empire.svgGhazi Khan
Flag of the Mughal Empire.svgMehtar Khan
Flag of the Mughal Empire.svgMunim Khan
Jaimal and Patta
Strength
60,000 men
80 cannons
95 swivel guns
800 Matchlocks
5000 War elephants
8,000 men
Casualties and losses
unknown 8000 Rajputs 30,000-40,000 civilians inside the fort

Siege of Chittor, Siege of Chittorgarh. In October 1567, well equipped Mughal forces of approximately 5000 men led by Akbar surrounded and besieged 8000 Hindu Rajputs in Chittorgarh Fort and within a few months Akbar's ranks expanded to over 50,000 men and possibly more than 60,000 troops during the late phases of the siege, which ended in a decisive victory of the Mughals.

The Rajput began to emerge as a dominant power after the defeat of the Lodi dynasty. The Rajputs were utterly opposed to the rise of the Mughal Empire and they often supported Akbar's fellow Muslim rivals including Baz Bahadur causing much tension in the region. Akbar set out on a series of campaigns against the Rajputs. In the year 1567 he fought many battles against the Rajputs and realized that the Rajput owned Chittorgarh Fort must be eliminated because it was used as a bastion for those who opposed him.

Technology[edit]

Akbar was known in his own time as a military genius. Due to the constant state of war between the Hindu Rajputs and the Mughal Empire, Akbar began to realize the importance of and utilize the Rajput blades known as the Kitar alongside the Mughal Talwars in battle. Akbar began to believe that War elephants were the keys to military success and that that a single "Armored Elephant" was equal to 500 Sowars. He also noted that elephants have the ability to move through the densest of forests clearing through woods and paving way for both the Mughal Sepoys, Sowars and Cannons. Akbar personally owned 5000 well trained elephants and recorded the use of almost 40,000 across his Mughal Empire. Akbar's war elephants were also trained to wrestle other elephants, attack Sowars and crumble entire Sepoy ranks. He is also known to have replaced pairs of elephant tusks with a pair of double-curved Tusk Swords. War elephants were also utilized to carry out executions and crush the bodies of all those who fought against the Mughal Emperor.[1]

The Siege[edit]

Rajput women commit Jauhar (self immolation) during the Siege of Chittorgarh.

The Siege of Chittorgarh began when Akbar and his personal fierce and elite Mughal force of 5,000 soldiers surrounded a 6mile territory around Chittorgarh Fort. On 23 October 1567, Akbar arrived and setup encampments he raised green flags of the Mughal Empire, according to Hindu accounts he also brought large Islamic banners and emblems (Islamic flags were commonly used by the Mughal army). His personal presence in the battlefield was a message for the Rajput flanks inside the fort that the siege was not a temporal affair. The next day Akbar unleashed his powerful cannons, but within a few days of the siege it was evident that his mortars needed higher elevation. Akbar then ordered his men to build the Mohur Margi (Mohur Hill, also known as: Coin Hill). Akbar also displayed heads of dead villagers to incite the Rajputs to come out.

After an arduous siege Akbar ordered his men and augmented them to lift baskets of earth during both day and night, in order to create a hill right in front of the fort by which the Mughal Cannons could be placed, when the hill was completed Akbar placed his cannons and mortars near its tip, but cannons were too slow to breach the thick stone walls of Chittorgarh Fort.

The Mughal Emperor Akbar believed that the only way to achieve victory and break the deadlock was to blow a hole underneath Chittorgarh Fort. Akbar then organized his sappers to dig two tunnels and to plant two separate mines under the heavy stone walls of the fortress of Chittor. More than 5000 Mughals then dug their way through a secret tunnel that neared the gates of Chittorgarh Fort, but one of the mines exploded prematurely during a military assault killing about a hundred Mughal Sowars. The casualties on the Mughal side had risen to almost 200 men a day due to Rajput muskets and archers.

As the Siege of Chittorgarh commenced a massive Mughal Army of nearly 60,000 gathered for battle and in this situation, Akbar had prayed for help for achieving victory and vowed to visit the tomb of the Sufi Khwaja at Ajmer if he was victorious. As the bombardment and the continuous assaults on Chittorgarh Fort continued, during one particular assault it is believed that a shot from Akbar's own Matchlock wounded or killed the commander of the already demoralized Hindu Rajputs. It was only when almost all the Rajput women committed Jauhar (self immolation of women) did The Mughals realize that the condition inside the fort was now out of control and the total victory was within grasp.

The Sack of Chittorgarh[edit]

Mine sappers directed by the Mughal Emperor Akbar successfully explode a section of the fortified wall of Chittorgarh Fort.

The fortress of Chittor finally fell on February 1568 after a siege of four months when it stormed by the Mughal forces. Akbar himself ordered 2 "armored Elephants" and 250 Sowars to enter through two narrow breaches on the northern wall of the fort. Instead of surrendering to the Mughals the Rajputs chose to worship the sun one last time and fight to the death. This was common practise among the Rajputs also known as saka , Akbar then ordered the victorious Mughal forces to massacre the inhabitants of Chittorgarh Fort.

Akbar then ordered the heads of his enemies to be displayed upon towers erected throughout the region, in order to demonstrate his authority.[2][3]

Aftermath[edit]

The Rajput resistance against the Mughal Empire began to breakdown many Rajput Maharajas and commanders surrendered their forts and founded large Jaghirs under Mughal patronage. The last efforts made by the Rajput to eliminate the Mughal Emperor Akbar ended in a devastating rout during the Battle of Haldighati in the year 1576 and its ruler Maharana Pratap Singh was forced to live in the hills for the next 21 years of his life. Pratap resumed the tactics of guerilla warfare. Using the hills as his base, Pratap harassed the large and therefore awkward Mughal forces in their encampments. He ensured that the Mughal occupying force in Mewar never knew peace: Akbar dispatched three more expeditions to ferret Pratap out of his mountainous hideouts, but they all failed.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Warrior Empire-The Mughals 3/9 - YouTube
  2. ^ Smith 2002, p. 342
  3. ^ Chandra, Dr. Satish (2001). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals. Har Anand Publications. p. 107. ISBN 81-241-0522-7.