Battle of Haldighati 1576 🥇Mughal-Rajput War

Battle of Haldighati 1576 – Mughal-Rajput War

The Mughal Empire was one of the strongest in Indian history and its dominance in the 16th and 17th centuries changed the course of history for the entire subcontinent.

The Mughals altered the military, economic and religious outlook of India.

But their conquest wasn’t unchallenged and was met with resistance in almost every region.

In the 2nd half of the 16th century, a loose alliance of Rajput princedoms stood in the Mughal’s way, Leading to the Battle of Haldighati.

In 1556, the 3rd Mughal Emperor – Akbar, and his Regent – Bairam Khan defeated Hemu of the Sur Empire at the 2nd Battle of Panipat, and Mughal rule over Delhi & Agra was restored.

Sikandar Shah Suri attempted to organize resistance, but in 1556, he was defeated.

By 1559, the Mughals ended the Sur Empire and once again became the dominant force in the northern part of India.

Akbar was now 18 and was eager to get rid of his Regent and rule himself.

This forced Bairam Khan to rebel, but in 1560, Akbar won a decisive battle against his former general.

The Emperor was now looking to expand his dominion into Central and Western India. The region of Gujarat was of particular interest, as it was crucial for the sea trade with the Ottomans and the Safavids.

However, a few smaller kingdoms ruled by the warrior Rajput caste controlled the lands adjacent to Gujarat.

The Rajputs were members of a unique warrior society.

Every male of the tribe was raised as a soldier, akin to the ancient Spartans.

But Rajputs fought like the Knights of medieval Europe and had a robust code of chivalry.

They were predominantly a cavalry force, with a traditional Indian addition of elephants, and relied on their fortified castles for defense.

Akbar managed to strike first.

In 1561, his generals defeated the Sultan of Malwa, Baz Bahadur, at the Battle of Sarangpur and conquered his kingdom during the next year.

Baz Bahadur found refuge at the court of the ruler of Mewar, Uday Singh II.

This was a good excuse to attack Mewar.

However, Akbar’s rule was challenged by his relatives and the Turkic tribes serving him.

These rebellions forced him to cease his expansion until 1567.

Despite being preoccupied with these matters, the Mughal Emperor found time for diplomacy with the Rajput States, successfully vassalising several.

Mewar Ruler Uday Singh was not going to bow to Akbar and in 1567, the Emperor decided to move against him.

The Mughals had a decided advantage in numbers.

They could have fielded a 100,000 strong army, while the Rajput leader had 20,000 at the most. Knowing this, Uday retreated to the mountains in the Southwest of his Kingdom, in the hopes that his fortresses would be able to stop the invaders.

Battle of Haldighati 1576 – Mughal-Rajput War

In late 1567 and early 1568, Akbar’s forces besieged Chittorgarh and Ranthambore.

Both strongholds fell after a few months but these sieges were still remarkable.

For the first time in Indian history, engineers and artillery were used in a significant way against fortifications.

Akbar and his generals employed the engineers to dig trenches and mines to reach the walls and sappers destroyed the walls of Chittorgarh.

Uday Singh’s rule was broken and as Akbar wasn’t eager to fight in the mountains, he returned to his capital.

The remainder of the Rajputs accepted Mughal dominance, with only certain clans of Mewar continuing their resistance.

In 1572, Uday Singh passed away and his son Pratap became the ruler.

Akbar was eager to secure the road to Gujarat And in 1576, he sent his general – Man Singh, a man of Rajput culture himself to negotiate a vassal treaty.

Some historians suggest that Pratap insulted Man Singh for siding with Akbar Others claimed that he just refused to become a vassal, but in any case a war became inevitable.

Pratap knew that he was severely outnumbered So he set his forces at the entrance to the Haldighati pass.

Man Singh’s forces approached the area and the iconic Battle of Haldighati was fought on the 18th of June 1576.

There is a tendency among some historians to portray this battle as a symbolic religious conflict between the Hindus and the Muslims.

Battle of Haldighati 1576 – Mughal-Rajput War

But sources are clear that Pratap’s forces had Muslim mercenaries, Well several Hindu Rajputs fought for the Mughals.

In this battle, Man Singh had 4,000 warriors from his clan, 1,000 Hindu warriors from other tribes, and 5,000 soldiers from the Mughal Army.

Although the Mughal Artillery was nearby, it didn’t participate in the battle as terrain prevented Man Singh from moving it into position.

The Mughal forces were built around cavalry but also had several Elephants and Musketeers.

Meanwhile, Pratap had around 3,000 cavalries, 500 archers, and an unknown number of elephants.

The Mughal Army had Archers and Musketeers in the front line, while the rest of the army was divided into 5 groups with the majority of the forces on the left flank.

Battle of Haldighati 1576 – Mughal-Rajput War

Man Singh and his clansmen stayed in the center.

Pratap split his troops into 4 similar units with archers in the rear.

The positioning of the elephants is not clear, but from the events of the battle, it can be deduced that they were either among the central units or in front of them.

Pratap knew that he was severely outnumbered and he started the battle with a full-frontal charge with all of his forces.

Their attacks swept away the enemy skirmishes and forced the right flank to flee.

As the Rajput center was stopped by the leading Mughal units, Pratap’s wing joined the attack.

The Mughal vanguard was soon reinforced by the center led by Man Singh.

This stopped the Rajput’s momentum and the Mughals were able to reform their lines.

Pratap sent in his elephants to attempt to break the enemy formation, but Man Singh encountered this move with his own elephants.

This point in the battle is reminiscent of a legend with sources depicting the battles between monstrous elephants in detail.

It seems that Man Singh was able to reform his flank and the Musketeers, as while the former engaged the foes left hand pinned it in place, the latter started shooting at the enemy elephants.

The Rajput elephants were killed by the shots. It was time for a Mughal counter-attack.

Man Singh divided his reserves in 2 and sent them around his wings to attempt a pincer move.

As the Rajputs failed to take control of the entrance to the pass, this maneuver worked.

Pratap had to send more of his forces to the wings and his weakened center was attacked.

Many Rajput leaders died in the encirclement and Pratap himself was wounded and fell unconscious.

It is said that Rajput cavalry started to retreat from the battlefield and a few hundred archers volunteered to cover their withdrawal.

Battle of Haldighati 1576 – Mughal-Rajput War

Indeed the archers managed to keep the Mughal forces occupied for some time and that allowed more than half of the Rajput troops alongside their leader to escape.

Soon the mountainous part of Mewar was occupied by the Mughals.

Pratap continued fighting a guerilla war against the conquerors for the next few decades and for a short time, during the crisis in the Mughal Empire, even succeeded in taking back most of the territory of Mewar.

Thank you for watching our documentary on the Battle of Haldighati.

Our channel is going to expand the geographical range of the documentaries we make so that the history of more countries will be covered.



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AUTHORNishant Chandravanshi

Nishant Chandravanshi is a YouTuber, Indian News Personality, Political Commentator & Activist. Nishant Chandravanshi is the founder of Chandravanshi & The Magadha Times.


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