Siege of Chittorgarh

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Siege of Chittorgarh
Part of Mughal-Hindu Rajput War (1558-1578)
Akbar shoots Jaimal at the siege of Chitor.jpg
The Mughal Emperor Akbar shoot a Rajput leader Rao Jaimal, 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 Emperor Akbar.
Territorial
changes
The Mughal Empire swept into the territories of Udai Singh II.
Belligerents
Mughal Empire Rajputs of Chittorgarh Fort
Commanders and leaders
Akbar
Abdullah Khan
Khwaja Abdul Majid
Ghazi Khan
Mehtar Khan
Munim Khan
Rao Jaimal
Rana Jai Singh
Rawat Patta Singh Sisodia
Strength
80,000 men
80 cannons
95 swivel guns
800 matchlocks
5,000 war elephants
8,000 men
Casualties and losses
29,336 to 39,500 8,000 Rajputs 30,000 civilians inside the fort

Siege of Chittor, Siege of Chittorgarh. In October 1567, the Mughal forces of approximately 5,000 men led by Akbar surrounded and besieged 8,000 Rajputs in Chittorgarh Fort. Within a few months, Akbar's ranks expanded to over 70,000 men and possibly more than 80,000 troops during the late phases of the siege, which ended in a decisive victory of the Mughals.[citation needed]

Background[edit]

The Rajputs began to emerge as a dominant power after the defeat of the Lodi dynasty. The Rajputs were opposed to the rise of the Mughal Empire and they often supported Akbar's fellow rivals, including Baz Bahadur. Akbar was particularly worried about Mewar's powerful and capable Prince Pratap[dubious ]. He also attempted to kill Udai Singh II but failed. During his battles against the Rajputs, Akbar realized that the Rajput-controlled Chittorgarh Fort needed to be eliminated, since it was a key bastion for his foes.[citation needed]

Technology[edit]

Due to the constant state of war between the Rajputs and the Mughal Empire, Akbar realized the importance of and utilizex the Rajput blades known as the kitar alongside the Mughal talwars in battle. Akbar also believed that war elephants were the key to military success and that a single armored elephant was equal to 500 sowars. Elephants also could travel through the densest of forests, clearing the way for Mughal sepoys, sowars and cannons. Akbar owned 5,000 well trained elephants and recorded the use of almost 40,000 across the Mughal Empire. His war elephants were trained to wrestle other elephants, attack sowars and crumble sepoy ranks. He is reputed to have replaced the tusks of some war elephants with pairs of double-curved tusk swords. War elephants were also utilized to carry out executions and crush the bodies of the Mughal Emperor's foes.[citation needed]

The Siege[edit]

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

The Siege of Chittorgarh began when Akbar and his personal force of 5,000 Mughal soldiers besieged a 6-mile territory around Chittorgarh Fort. On 23 October 1567, Akbar arrived and set up his encampment. He raised the green flags of the Mughal Empire, according to Hindu accounts, and also brought large Islamic banners and emblems. His personal presence on the battlefield was a message for the Rajputs inside the fort that the siege was not a temporary affair.

The next day, Akbar unleashed his powerful cannons, but within a few days it was evident that his mortars needed higher elevation. He then ordered his men to build the Mohur Margi (Mohur Hill, also known as: Coin Hill), i.e. to create a hill right in front of the fort atop which the Mughal cannons could be placed. When the hill was completed, Akbar placed his cannons and mortars near its tip, but the cannons still failed to breach the fort's thick stone walls.[citation needed] Akbar also attempted to enrage the Rajputs into leaving the fort to attack his forces, by displaying the heads of dead villagers.[citation needed]

Akbar then attempted to break the deadlock by blowing a hole in the fortifications. He sent sappers to dig two tunnels and to plant two separate mines under the walls. More than 5,000 Mughals dug their way through a secret tunnel that neared the gates of the fort, but one of the mines exploded prematurely during an attack, killing about a hundred Mughal sowars. The casualties on the Mughal side had already risen to almost 200 men a day due to Rajput muskets and archers.[citation needed]

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 Rajputs. It was only when almost all the Rajput women committed Jauhar (self immolation of women) did he Mughals realize that the condition inside the fort was now out of control and the total victory was within grasp.[citation needed]

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 23 February 1568 after a siege of four months when it was stormed by the Mughal forces. The siege "would have lasted longer had not Akbar killed Jaimal, the Rajput commander by a well-aimed musket shot. The garrison then gave up all hope and women immolated themselves by the rite of jauhar." About 25,000 people were massacred whom had helped the resistance.[1]

Akbar then ordered the heads of his enemies to be displayed upon towers erected throughout the region, in order to demonstrate his authority and his victory over the Chittorgarh.[2][full citation needed][3]

Aftermath[edit]

The Rajput resistance against the Mughal Empire began to break down. Many Rajput Maharajas and commanders surrendered their forts and founded large Jaghirs under Mughal patronage. The large efforts made by the Rajput to eliminate the Mughal Emperor Akbar ended in a devastating rout during the Battle of Haldighati in 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 guerrilla warfare. Using the hills as his base, Pratap harassed the several-times-larger Mughal armies and therefore awkward Mughal forces in their encampments. He ensured that the Mughal occupying force in Mewar never knew peace: Akbar during his lifetime dispatched many more expeditions to ferret Pratap out of his mountainous hideouts, but they all failed with the heavy losses to the Mughals. At the Battle of Dewar the Rajput army defeated the Mughal army. It was one of the big victories of Rajputs over Mughals.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. p. 174. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  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.