Maldev Rathore

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Maldev Rathore
Rao Maldev Rathore
Ruler of Marwar
Reign9 May 1532 – 7 November 1562
PredecessorRao Ganga
Born5 December 1511[1]
Jodhpur, India
Died7 November 1562(1562-11-07) (aged 50)
Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India
Spouseseveral wives including Umade Bhattiyani
Issue15 sons and 23 daughters including
Udai Singh
FatherRao Ganga
MotherPadma Kumari

Maldev Rathore (5 December 1511 – 7 November 1562) was an Indian ruler of Marwar, which was later known as Jodhpur (in the present day Rajasthan state of India). He was a scion of the Rathore clan. His father was Rao Ganga Ji and his mother was Rani Padmavati of Sirohi. Rao Maldev fought in the Battle of Khanwa as a young prince, the defeat at Khanwa greatly weakened all the Rajput kingdoms in India, but Marwar under Maldev's capable rule turned into a powerful Rajput Kingdom that resisted foreign rule and challenged them for northern supremacy. Maldev refused to ally with either the Sur Empire or the Mughal Empire after Humayun regained control of north India in 1555. This policy was continued by his son and successor Chandrasen Rathore.[2]

The then Persian historian Firishta calls him as the "most Potent Ruler of Hindustan".[3]

Nizamuddin Ahmad in Tabaqat-i-Akbari calls Maldev as the "greatest of the rajas of Hind".[4]

According to Abul Fazl- Maldev was the most powerful ruler of the region 'both in rank and position and for the number of servants and the extent of his territories.'[5]


Maldev was born on 5 December 1511 as the eldest son of Rao Ganga, the Rathore ruler of Marwar. His mother, rani Padma Kumari, was a princess from the Deora Chauhan kingdom of Sirohi. By the time he ascended the throne in 1532, Maldev already enjoyed the reputation of being an intrepid warrior. Traditional and popular accounts list him amongst the most important rulers that Marwar has known.[6]


Rao Maldev inherited from his father the districts of Jodhpur and Pali, with Jodhpur as capital.[7] The period of Rao Maldev's reign was marked by the paucity of a dominant power in northern India. In 1540, Humayun fled into exile after being displaced by Sher Shah Suri as ruler of the Delhi sultanate. The Sisodia rulers of Mewar were yet to recover from their defeat at Khanwa in 1527. Maldev used the opportunity to extend his territory. He annexed Bikaner, Merta, Jaitaran, Siwana, Jalor, Tonk, Nagaur, Barmer, Sikar, Churu, Jhunjhunun, Ajmer and Jhajjar. By regaining the territories of Siwana, Jalor and Nagaur from Afghan occupation, Maldev Rathore restored Hindu rule in the area and abolished the Jizya tax there.[8] His northern boundary at Jhajjar was only about fifty kilometers from Delhi.[9]

According to Satish Chandra- "Maldevs kingdom comprised of almost the whole of western and eastern Rajasthan including Sambhal and Narnaul. His armies could be seen as far as the outskirts of Agra. Chandra also says that, Maldev had the mirage of reviving the 8th century Rashtrakuta empire. But unlike Rana Sanga he did not have the support of the Rajput tribes and politically no empire based in Rajasthan alone could challenge or defeat an empire that stretched from Punjab to the Upper Ganga valley." This was pointing towards Maldevs hope of competing with the Mughal and Sur empires.[10]

Aid to Rana Udai Singh[edit]

The nobles of Mewar asked Rao Maldev for help against the usurper Banbir. Maldev thus sent his famous commanders Jaita and Kumpa to Udai Singh's help. They defeated Banbir at the battle of Maholi and re-instated Udai Singh as the Rana of Mewar. This was the only battle in which Maldev Rathore and Udai Singh worked together as they continued to be rivals for most of their lives.[11][12]

Maldev and Humayun[edit]

Maldev Rathore had made an alliance with the Mughal emperor Humayun against Sher Shah Suri. But shortly after Humayun was defeated in the battles of Chaunsa and Kannouj by the Afghan emperor. Humayun upon losing most of his territories turned to Maldev for help and was called to Marwar for refuge by the Rao. According to Rajput sources, Mughals killed several cows on the way to Marwar, this made the local Rajputs hostile towards Humayun as cows were sacred to the Hindus. Humayun was thus forced to flee from Marwar. The Mughal sources however blame Maldev for betrayal and say that Maldev breached the alliance because he was given more favourable terms by Sher Shah.[13]

War with Bikaner[edit]

Bikaner was a Rathore kingdom situated towards the north of Marwar. Relations between Marwar and Bikaner had been bitter since the time of Bikaners foundation by Rao Bika. Rao Maldev used a minor border dispute as a pretext for war and fought a battle with Rao Jaitsi in 1542 at the battle of Sohaba, Rao Jaitsi was killed in battle and Rao Maldev took advantage of this situation to annex the entire kingdom of Bikaner.[14]

War with the Sur Empire[edit]

A Marital alliance with Jaisalmer secured Marwars western borders but Maldev was fiercely opposed by the dispossessed chiefs of Bikaner and Merta who made an alliance with the Afghan chief of Delhi against Marwar.[15] According to The Cambridge History of India – "Shershah invaded Marwar with an army of 80,000 horsemen but he still hesitated to attack the Rathore army of 50,000 horsemen". He thus forged letters and deceived Maldev into abandoning his commanders to their fate. After the Battle of Sammel, Khawas Khan Marwat and Isa Khan Niyazi took possession of Jodhpur and occupied the territory of Marwar from Ajmer to Mount Abu in 1544. However Maldev reoccupied his lost territories in 1545.[16][17]

War with Amer[edit]

Rao Maldev defeated Bihari Mal and captured four districts of the Amer kingdom. Bihari Mal in order to save himself sought help from Haji Khan Sur and invited him to invade Marwar.[18]

Haji Khan and the Rajputs[edit]

In 1556 many Rajput chiefs including Rana Udai Singh of Mewar, Rao Surjan of Bundi, Rao Jaimal of Merta, Rawal Pratap of Banswarra, Rao Kalyanmal of Bikaner and Rawal Askaran of Dungarpur helped Haji Khan, the Sultan of Alwar to attack Marwar. However the Rana later insisted on Haji Khan to handover his concubine Rangrai in return for his help against the Rao of Marwar. Haji Khan refused and fled to Rao Maldev, who gladly embraced his assistance against Mewar. A battle was then fought in Harmada (1557) between Rao Maldev and Haji Khan against Rana Udai Singh and his allies. Udai Singh was defeated and Merta was recaptured by Maldev after this war.[19][20][21][22]

Mughal Invasions[edit]

Akbar succeeded Humayun in 1556, he soon became the most powerful Ruler in India and formulated an imperial policy. Many Rajput chiefs mustered around him with their grievances against the Rathor Chief of Jodhpur. Akbar used this as a casus belli against Maldev and sent several expeditions against Marwar. Sharfuddin Hussain Mirza conquered Merta in 1557. Qasim Khan, Sayyid Hussain Baraha and Shah Quli Khan conquered Ajmer and Jaitaran in 1559. Akbar had planned on sending an army to conquer Jodhpur but due to the sudden death of Maldev Rathore the situation completely changed.[23][24]

Death and succession[edit]

Maldev Rathore had named his third son Chandrasen Rathore as his successor but after Maldev's death on November 7, 1562, a fratricidal contest began for the throne of Marwar. Akbar took advantage of these disturbances, he sent Hussain Quli Khan to conquer Jodhpur. The fort of Jodhpur was captured in 1564 and its ruler Chandrasen was forced to retreat to Bhadrajun.[25][26]

Preceded by
Rao Ganga
Rulers of Marwar (Jodhpur)
The Rathore Dynasty

9 May 1532– 7 November 1562
Succeeded by
Rao Chandra Sen


  1. ^ Studies, University of Rajasthan Centre for Rajasthan (1999). History and culture of Rajasthan: from earliest times up to 1956 A.D. Centre for Rajasthan Studies, University of Rajasthan. p. 162.
  2. ^ Bose, Melia Belli (2015). Royal Umbrellas of Stone: Memory, Politics, and Public Identity in Rajput Funerary Art. BRILL. p. 150. ISBN 978-9-00430-056-9.
  3. ^ Somerset Playne, R. V. Solomon, J. W. Bond, Arnold Wright (2006). "Indian states: a biographical, historical, and administrative survey", Delhi: Asian Educational Services, p. 196
  4. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, By Jadunath Sarkar, p. 34
  5. ^ Abuk Fazl, Akbarnama ed. Agha Ahmad Ali, Asiatic society of Bengal, 3 vols reprint, 1977, vol II, pp. 160, 197
  6. ^ Hooja, Rima (2006). A history of Rajasthan. 518: Rupa & Co.
  7. ^ Rajasthan District Gazetteer vol. 22, p. 22
  8. ^ Bose, Melia Belli (2015). Royal Umbrellas of Stone: Memory, Politics, and Public Identity in Rajput Funerary Art. BRILL. p. 150. ISBN 978-9-00430-056-9.
  9. ^ Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2006). The Mughul Empire, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, pp. 81–2
  10. ^ Medieval India (1526–1748) Part two. by Satish Chandra. p. 79
  11. ^ The Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society (Bangalore, India)., Volume 62. p. 24
  12. ^ The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume 7. p. 332
  13. ^ Babur and Humayun: Modern Learning Organisation By Aditya Gupta p. 58
  14. ^ Rajasthan p. 70 by Dharmpal
  15. ^ Rajasthan Directory & Who's Who p. 15
  16. ^ Mahajan, V.D. (1991, reprint 2007). History of Medieval India, Part II, New Delhi: S. Chand, ISBN 81-219-0364-5, p.43
  17. ^ The Cambridge History of India pp. 54–55
  18. ^ A History of Jaipur: c. 1503–1938 p. 34 by Jadunath Sarkar
  19. ^ Akbarnama II p. 72
  20. ^ Jodhpur Khyat p. 76
  21. ^ Vir Vinod II p. 812
  22. ^ Marwar ri pargana ri Vigat vol II p. 60
  23. ^ Akbarnama II p. 46
  24. ^ G.R. Parihar,Marwar and the Marathas: 1724–1843 A.D. p. xiii
  25. ^ Akbarnama, II, p. 358
  26. ^ Sarkar, J.N. (1984, reprint 1994). A History of Jaipur, New Delhi: Orient Longman, ISBN 81-250-0333-9, p. 41


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