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On his 480th birth anniversary, let's get to know the legendary ruler a little better: 

  • Born: May 9, 1540, in Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan
  • Father Name: Maharana Udai Singh II
  • Mother Name: Rani Jeevant Kanwar
  • Died: January 29, 1597, in Chavand

Maharana Pratap Jayanti is observed on May 9 every year to celebrate the birth of the 13th Rajput king of Mewar 
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Maharana Pratap was born on 9th May 1540 in Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan. Maharana Pratap, whose real name is Pratap Singh I was the 13th king of Mewar, Rajasthan. A Rajput born to Udai Singh II and Jaiwanta Bai. Known for his valor and fearless fighting spirit. 

Maharana Udai Singh II ruled the kingdom of Mewar, with his capital at Chittor. Maharana Pratap was the eldest of twenty-five sons and hence given the title of Crown Prince. He was destined to be the 54th ruler of Mewar, in the line of the Sisodiya Rajputs.

In 1567, when Crown Prince Pratap Singh was only 27, Chittor was surrounded by the Mughal forces of Emperor Akbar. Maharana Udai Singh II decided to leave Chittor and move his family to Gogunda, rather than capitulate to the Mughals. The young Pratap Singh wanted to stay back and fight the Mughals but the elders intervened and convinced him to leave Chittor, oblivious of the fact that this move from Chittor was going to create history for all times to come.

Uday Singh appointed before his death, Jagammal, the son of his youngest wife as his heir although Pratap Singh was elder to Jagammal he was ready to give up his rights like Prabhu Ramchandra and go away from Mewar the chieftains did not at all agree with their king’s decision. Besides they were of the opinion that Jagammal did not possess qualities like courage and self-respect which were essential in a leader and king. Hence it was collectively decided that Jagammal would have to sacrifice the throne. Maharana Pratap Singh too gave due respect to the wish of the chieftains and the people and accepted the responsibility of leading the people of Mewar. The year was 1572. Pratap Singh had just become the Maharana of Mewar and he had not been back in Chittor since 1567. His old fort and his home beckoned to him. The pain of his father's death, and the fact that his father had not been able to see Chittor again, troubled the young Maharana deeply.

But he was not the only one troubled at this time. Akbar had control of Chittor but not the kingdom of Mewar. Akbar could not realize his ambition of being the Jahanpanah of Hindustan.

The year 1573, Akbar sent six diplomatic missions to Mewar to get Rana Pratap to agree to the former's suzerainty but Rana Pratap turned down each one of them. The last of these missions was headed by Raja Man Singh, the brother-in-law of Akbar himself. Maharana Pratap angered that his fellow Rajput was aligned with someone who had forced the submission of all Rajputs, refused to sup with Raja Man Singh. Akbar understood that Maharana Pratap would never submit and he would have to use his troops against Mewar.
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Maharana Pratap’s enemy had surrounded Mewar at all its’ boundaries. Shakti Singh and Jagammal, the two brothers of Maharana Pratap had joined Akbar. The first problem was to gather enough soldiers to fight a face-to-face war which would have required vast money but Maharana Pratap’s coffers were empty whereas Akbar had a large army, a lot of wealth and a lot more at his disposal.

In preparation for the inevitable war with the Mughals, Maharana Pratap altered his administration. One day, he called a meeting of his trusted chieftains and made an appeal to them in his serious and lustrous speech. He said, “My brave warrior brothers, our Motherland, this holy land of Mewar, is still under the clutches of the Mughals. Today, I take an oath in front of all of you that till Chittod is freed, I will not have food in gold and silver plates, will not sleep on a soft bed and will not stay in the palace; instead, I will eat food on a leaf-platter, sleep on the floor and stay in a hut. I will also not shave till Chittod is freed. My brave warriors, I am sure that you will support me in every way sacrificing your mind, body, and wealth till this oath is fulfilled.” 
                 All the chieftains were inspired with the oath of their king and they too promised: “Rana, be sure that we all are with you; waiting only for your signal and we are ready to sacrifice our life.”      

In 1576, the famous battle of Haldighati was fought with 20,000 Rajputs against a Mughal army of 80,000 men commanded by Raja Man Singh. The battle was fierce though indecisive, to the Mughal army's astonishment. Maharana Pratap's army was not defeated but Maharana Pratap was surrounded by Mughal soldiers. It is said that at this point, his estranged brother, Shakti Singh, appeared and saved Rana's life. Another casualty of this war was Maharana Pratap's famous, and loyal, horse Chetak, who gave up his life trying to save his Maharana. ‘Chetak’ was seriously injured in the battle of Haldighat but to save his master’s life, it jumped over a big canal. As soon as the canal was crossed, ‘Chetak’ fell down and died thus it saved Rana Pratap, risking its own life. The strong Maharana cried like a child over the death of his faithful horse.😭
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Later he constructed a beautiful garden at the place where Chetak had breathed its last.

Then Akbar himself attacked Maharana Pratap but even after 6 months of fighting the battle, Akbar could not defeat Maharana Pratap and went back to Delhi.

As a last resort, Akbar sent another great warrior General Jagannath in the year 1584 with a huge army to Mewar but after trying relentlessly for 2 years, even he could not catch Rana Pratap.
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 It is said that at this time, one of his ministers, Bhama Shah, came and offered him all this wealth - a sum enabling Maharana Pratap to support an army of 25,000 for 12 years. Maharana Pratap was very happy and felt very grateful.
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Maharana Pratap initially refused to accept the wealth offered by Bhamashah but at his constant insistence, he accepted the offering. After receiving wealth from Bhamashah, Rana Pratap started receiving money from other sources. He used all the money to expand his army and freed Mewar except Chittod which was still under the control of the Mughals.   

After 1587, Akbar relinquished his obsessive pursuit of Maharana Pratap and took his battles into Punjab and India's Northwest Frontier. Thus for the last ten years of his life, Maharana Pratap ruled in relative peace and eventually freed most of Mewar, including Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh, but not Chittor. Bhagwat Singh Mewar: "Maharana Pratap Singh (was) called the light and life of the Hindu community. There were times when he and his family and children ate bread made of grass." Maharana Pratap became a patron of the Arts. During his reign, Padmavat Charita and the poems of Dursa Ahada were written. Palaces at Ubheshwar, Kamal Nath, and Chavand bear testimony to his love of architecture. These buildings, built in the dense hilly forest have walls adorned with military-style architecture. But Pratap's broken spirit overpowered him in the twilight of his years. His last moments were an appropriate commentary on his life when he swore his successor, Crown Prince Amar Singh to eternal conflict against the foes of his country's independence. Maharana Pratap was never able to win back Chittor but he never gave up fighting to win it back.

Maharana Pratap was lying on the bed made of grass even when he was dying as his oath of freeing Chittod was not still fulfilled. At the last moment, he took his son Amar Singh’s hand and handed over the responsibility of freeing Chittod to his son and died in peace. There is no comparison in history to his fight with a cruel emperor like Akbar. When almost the whole of Rajasthan was under the control of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, Maharana Pratap fought for 12 years to save Mewar. Akbar tried various means to defeat Maharana but he remained unbeatable till the end. Besides, he also freed a large portion of land in Rajasthan from the Mughals. He underwent so much hardship but he preserved the name of his family and his Motherland from facing defeat. His life was so bright that the other name for freedom could have been  ‘Maharana Pratap’. We pay tribute in his valiant memory!    

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