Siege of Chittorgarh
The Siege of Chittorgarh (20 October 1567–24 February 1568) was a part of the campaign of the Mughal Empire against the kingdom of Mewar in 1567. Forces led by Akbar surrounded and besieged 8,000 Rajputs and around 40,000 peasants under the command of Jaimal in Chittorgarh.
|Siege of Chittorgarh|
|Part of Mughal-Rajput War (1558-1578)|
The Mughal Emperor, Akbar, shoots the Rajput commander, Rao Jaimal, using a matchlock.
|Mughal Empire||Kingdom of Mewar|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Akbar||Rao Jaimal †|
|Casualties and losses|
The citadel was so sturdy that the only options available to the Mughals were to either starve out the occupants of the fort or to somehow reach the walls and sap beneath them. After initial aggressive attempts at reaching the wall failed, Akbar ordered a complement of 5,000 expert builders, stone-masons, and carpenters to construct sabats (approach trenches) and mines to reach the walls. Two mines and one sabat were constructed after significant casualties while three batteries bombarded the fort. A large siege cannon was also cast to breach the walls once the sabat reached the objective. The fort garrison which had been observing these preparations offered to surrender, but were rebuffed by Akbar.
Fifty eight days after the siege began, the imperial sappers finally reached the walls of Chittorgarh. The two mines were exploded and the walls were breached at the cost of 200 of the assault force. But the defenders soon sealed the opening. Akbar then steadily brought his siege cannon closer to the walls under the cover of the sabat. Finally, on the night of 22 February 1568, the Mughals were able to breach the walls at several locations simultaneously to begin a coordinated assault. In the ensuing battle, Akbar was able to kill the Rajput commander, Jaimal, with a musket shot. His death shattered the morale of the defenders who considered the day lost.
Rising pillars of smoke soon signalled the rite of jauhar as the Rajputs killed their families and prepared to die in a supreme sacrifice. In a day filled with hand-to-hand struggles until virtually all the defenders died. The Mughal troops slaughtered another 20-25,000 ordinary persons, inhabitants of the town and peasants from the surrounding area on the grounds that they had actively helped in the resistance.
Chittorgarh was damaged so heavily that it remained deserted thereafter. The other great fort at Ranthambor fell the next year and by conquering these two seemingly insurmountable symbols, Akbar had demonstrated the reality of Mughal might to all the other powers of North India. However, Udai Singh II, the Rana of Mewar, continued to remain at large until his death four years later.
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