Haldighati Battlefiled, Raktatalai and Chetak’s Tomb, Rajasthan

Tomb of Jhala Mann Singh at Haldighati battlefiled, one of the commanders of Maharana Pratap’s army

Akbar became the third king of Mughal empire in 1556. He started expanding his empire either by diplomacy or by military might. Most of the Rajput kings and others accepted his offer and became vassals of Mughal empire. However, one freedom loving Rajput – Maharana Pratap did not accepted Akbar as ruler of India or Mewar. Maharana Pratap was the son of Uday Singh, who founded the city of Udaipur. Uday Singh gave refuge to Baz Bahadur of Malwa in 1562 after he was defeated by the forces of Akbar. On this pretext Akbar attacked Mewar and captured Chittor in 1567. Maharana Pratap succeed Uday Singh as king of Mewar and wanted to free Chittor. Akbar sent many diplomatic mission to Pratap to accept his rule and become a vassal.

Turmeric color soil of Haldighati

Pratap could not accept the terms and Akbar sent a large army under Rajput king of Amer (Jaipur) to defeat Maharana Pratap. Pratap devised a plan to lure the Mughals to Haldighati hills and ambush them. The hills is called Haldighati as the soil is of yellow color like turmeric (Haldi in Hindi). But after realizing this, the Mughals under Man Singh ran away to the plains around 3 to 4 km from Haldighati hill. Here a fierce battle took place between the forces of Akbar and Pratap. It is said that 18000 people died from both side over a period of 7 hours battle. During the battle it rained there and all the blood washed away to a nearby pond. The color of the pond changed to complete red and hence it is called Raktatalai (pond of blood).

Present day road through Haldighati hill

Chetak was the beloved horse of Maharana Pratap, king of Mewar region of Rajasthan. Chetak was very skilled, strong, beautiful and devoted towards its master. Chetak is now a legend in Indian history due to his deeds for his master. Chetak’s story is immortalized in Rajasthani ballads.

In the battle of Haldighati against Emperor Akhbar led by Mann Singh, Chetak also took part. Maharana Pratap rode Chetak to led this battle. On June 21, 1576 the battle which took place on the plains near Haldighati hill, Maharana Pratap’s army was outnumbered and here Pratap made an attempt to kill Akhbar’s commander Mann Singh by mounting his horse Chetak on the elephant and threw his lance. Man Singh ducked and the elephant mahout was killed. But in this process, Chetak was severely wounded. Now the tide of the battle was turning against Pratap. His followers urged him to leave the battlefield. One of his trusted lieutenant Jhala Mann Singh wore the royal insignia. The Mughals thought that he was Maharana Pratap and they jumped on him. Jhala Mann Singh was killed in the process. His tomb was erected near Raktatalai.

Raktatalai seen in the background

Meanwhile Chetak took Maharana Pratap and went around 2 km away from the battlefield. On the way there was a small stream. Chetak jumped to cross the stream. On the other side after leading his master to safety Chetak collapsed. At the same place Maharana Pratap erected a tomb in memory of Chetak. There is a small temple besides the tomb. The memorial is in good condition and is taken care by Rajasthan government tourism department.

Chetak’s tomb

The battle was indecisive and Akbar was enraged that his large army could not capture Maharana Pratap.