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)|
Chittor fort today
|Mughal Empire||Kingdom of Mewar|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Akbar||Rao Jaimal †|
|Casualties and losses|
The history of the imposing fortress of Chittor is believed to date back to the 7th century. Known as Chitrakuta Durga, it is said to have been raised by Chitrangada of the Mori dynasty and then passed into the hands of the Pratiharas in the 9th century. Subsequent owners of this seat of power included the Paramaras (10th–11th century) and the Solankis (12 century) before it feel into the hands of the Guhilots or Sisodias of Mewar.
The fort stands atop a 152m hill and covers an area of 700 acres (2.8 km2). It has a number of gateways and ponds including the Gaumukha kund, which is supplied by perennial underground source of water. Heavily fortified, Chittorgarh was believed to be insurmountable until it was sacked by Alauddin Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate in 1303. It was sacked again a couple of centuries later by Bahadur Shah of the Gujarat Sultanate.
The Mughals had always been wary of the kingdoms of Rajasthan. Besides being a centre of power, the Rajput dominions also hindered access to both Gujarat and its prosperous seaports as well as Malwa. To control either of these regions, the Mughal emperor also needed to arrive at an understanding with the Rajputs. Local rulers such as Raja Bhara Mal of Amber had already submitted to Akbar in 1562. Mewar, the most powerful and prominent of the Rajput states, however, had not. While Udai Singh, the Rana of Mewar was open to accepting Mughal suzerainty and paying a tribute, he was not prepared to lower his head in obedience to Akbar as, according to Abu'l-Fazl, "none of his ancestors had bowed down and kissed the ground". Furthermore, the Rana had also vexed Akbar when he first granted asylum to Baz Bahadur of Malwa and later, to the Mirzas of Sambhal.
After handling the rebellions of the Mirzas and the Uzbek nobles in 1567, Akbar turned his eyes towards Rajasthan and its prestigious kingdom of Mewar.
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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- Chandra, Satish (2005). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals Part - II (Revised ed.). Har-Anand Publications. ISBN 9788124110669.
- Richards, John F. (1995) . The Mughal empire. New Cambridge history of India. 5. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521566032.
- "Chittaurgarh Fort". asi.nic.in. Archaeological Survey of India. Retrieved 28 July 2017.