Maharana Pratap Jayanti is observed on May 9 every year to celebrate the birth of the 13th Rajput king of Mewar – Pratap Singh I.
Some lesser known facts about Maharana Pratap:
1. Pratap’s father was Rana Udai Singh, who founded the city of Udaipur.
2. He is believed to have been of grand stature. Standing tall at 7 feet 5 inches, Pratap weighed about 110 kgs.
3. While neighbouring Hindu kingdoms had surrendered to the Mughal superpower led by Akbar, Maharana Pratap kept resisting.
4. It was his dream to avenge the annexation of Chittor. He made a pledge to eat in a leaf plate and sleep on a bed of straws till he frees Chittor.
5. Maharana Pratap fought against Akbar’s army in the famous war of Haldighati in 1576 and faced defeat. Thereafter, he fled to the hills. Mewar was left at the hands of eventual decline.
6. By 1584, Pratap had managed to win back most of his strongholds as Akbar was preoccupied in Punjab at that period of time.
7. Despite having defeated Pratap on the battlefield, Akbar could not get hold of the Rajput king till his last breath.
8. Maharana Pratap died of an injury received while tightening the string of a bow for hunting in the year 1597.
Battle of Haldighati
In the year 1568, all of Rajasthan (and almost all of what we now know as Punjab, Pakistan, Central India all the way to Bengal) had been conquered by the Mughals led by Akbar. It was either a direct rule or vassals ruled on behalf of the Mughal court. In Rajasthan, almost all major kings/chieftains had accepted Mughal suzerainty except Udai Singh (Maharana Pratap’s father and the founder of Udaipur). Akbar, who was a brilliant military commander, was quite annoyed at this pesky little kingdom holding out against his forces. In terms of scale, think about the little Gaulish village of Asterix and Obelix holding out against mighty Caesar.
The four-hour battle was between Maharana Pratap and Akbar led by Man Singh I. Akbar’s army had 80,000 soldiers while Maharana’s army consisted of 3,000 soldiers that included Rajputs, Afghans led by Hakim Khan Sur and a small contingent of Bhil tribals. Through Rajput’s zeal and patriotism, Maharana launched a direct attack on the Mughal and later to bring out a quick defeat launched an attack with elephants. Rumours of the Mughal emperor Akbar coming on the battlefield instilled a sense of courage in the Mughal troops and they surrounded Maharana’s army and at the time when Maharana would have certainly been killed, the Naik of Jhala took the crown off Maharana’s head and put it on his own head posing as Maharana and got himself killed. Grabbing an opportunity Rana aimed his spear on Man Singh but unfortunately it pierced his Mahout’s body. The Mughal army once again surrounded Maharana but his favourite horse ‘Cheetak’ help him to rescue successfully but died as it had sustained injuries. The winner of the battle is still not clear as Mughals suffered heavy casualties and Maharana escaped unhurt. Later Maharana regained control over most of his kingdom.
“Akbar kbhi jeeta nhi aur Maharana Pratap kbhi haara nhi”