Haldighati is significantly known for the historic battle fought in 1576 between Rana Pratap Singh of Mewar and Mughal Emperor Akbar’s army lead by Raja Man Singh of Amber. The battle was fought traditionally over the rough terrain, without any use of artillery. Situated on the Aravalli Range of Rajasthan, Haldighati is a mountain pass which connects Rajsamand and Pali districts.
The origins of the battle dates back to 1567, when the Fort of Chittorgarh was captured by Akbar and Maharana Udai Singh of Mewar and his family had to move to Gogunda, a small town on the foothills of the Aravalli Range, around 35 km from Udaipur, a city founded by Maharana Udia Singh in 1559. The nobles of Mewar, after the death of Maharana Udai Singh and thereafter the death of his son Ajmal, placed his elder son, Maharana Pratap, to the throne.
Maharana Pratap was a man of honour and dignity. Where most of the Rajputs, including Raja Maan Singh and even his own brothers (Shakti Singh and Sagar Singh), served the Mughal Emperor Akbar in his Army or as members of his council, Maharana Pratap refused to accept Akbar as a Feudal Overlord and pledged to free the Fort of Chittorgarh from Akbar.
Akbar, even after several attempts, failed to find a way to have the same peaceful relations with Rana Pratap as he had with other Rajput Chiefs. Rana Prarap had the same impluse for Akbar as their grandfathers had for each other. Akbar waited for almost three years for Mahara Pratap Sing to accept his proposal of a peaceful alliance, failing which he sent a huge force under Maan Singh, his trusted commander and later known as Maharaja of Jaipur, to lead against Maharana Pratap.
Hearing this, Maharana Pratap, along with his soldiers, took position near Haldighati, which was the only route to Gogunda. His army was not as huge as Man Singh’s but it comprised of brave soldiers of Afghan contingent of Hakim Khan Sur and also a small contingent of Bhil tribes.
The Battle of Haldighati began on February 18, 1576, in which Rajputs stationed over the rough terrain were at an advantage position. Their rapid attacks pressurised the Mughal army to call for reserves. Maan Singh’s army moved slowly towards the hill when Rana Pratap’s cavalry came roaring and the right and left wing of Maan Singh’s army was crushed, many even did not stand to fight.
Maan Singh explored the situation sitting on his elephant and moved centre with Mehtar Khan, his commander and Rana Pratap, commanding the center of his army with Hakim Khan, Ramdas Rathore and a force of Bhil archers, gave a huge fight to Maan Singh. Maharana Pratap got heavily wounded by spear and arrows and despite the degrading condition of Mewar’s army, Maan Singh knew that Maharana Pratap was the only hope for Mewar and as long as he is alive he will not let the Mughal’s win over the city.
The way the army of Mahara Pratap Singh fought this battle with great patriotism and the way they used the terrain to ambush the Mughal army in the battle of Haldighati actually forced Akbar to personally lead the campaign against Maharana Pratap Singh.
Even after the battle of Haldighati, Maharana Pratap never submitted to Akbar and continued Guerilla warfare against his army. He made sure that the Mughals are not at peace and in the final battle of his life, at the Battle of Dewar, Maharana Pratap defeated the Mughal army and regained most of the lost territories of Mewar Kingdom, except Chittor, which he had planned to attack but succumbed to his injuries he got during a hunting accident.
As long as he was alive, he always protected Mewar Kingdom from invaders, including Akbar and before dying he took promise to have an eternal war with the Mughals, which he did and died like a warrior, victorious and free.
After the death of Maharana Pratap, his son, Amar Singh, inherited his glory and fought 17 wars with the Mughals inflicting heavy damage on the Mughal’s Army. Continues war with the Mughals led Mewar into a financial crisis and taking advantage of this situation, the Mughals attacked again and deprived the city of food and water.
Amar Singh, realising his duty as a King to take care of his people who were dying without food and water, decided to join Jahangir in 1616, conditionally. He made sure that even after joining the Mughals, no representative of Mewar Kingdom is present at royal Mughal court at Agra. Akbar knew importance of an ally like Amar Singh and agreed to all conditions put up by Mewar. This ended the long standing struggle of Marathas with the Mughals.