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Siege of Chittorgarh

Siege of Chittorgarh was Mughal Empire's military assault against Mewar kingdom when Sisodias refused to recognize Akbar's dominion.

The Mughal Empire‘s military assault against the Mewar kingdom in 1567 included the siege of Chittorgarh (23 October 1567 – 23 February 1568). After Sisodias refused to recognize Akbar’s dominion, he besieged the citadel of Chittor in October 1567.

After a nearly six-month siege, the citadel was sacked on February 23, 1568, allowing the Mughals to expand into Udai Singh II‘s realm.

Background

The Mughals had always been cautious of the Rajasthani kingdoms. The Rajput dominions, in addition to being a power center, also obstructed access to Gujarat and its lucrative seaports, as well as to Malwa.

The Mughal emperor needed to reach an agreement with the Rajputs in order to rule any of these provinces. Raja Bharmal of Amber, for example, had already bowed to Akbar in 1562. However, Mewar, the most powerful and well-known of the Rajput states, had not. 

While Udai Singh, the Rana of Mewar, was willing to accept Mughal suzerainty and pay a tribute, he refused to kneel down to Akbar because “none of his ancestors had bowed down and kissed the ground,” according to Abu’l-Fazl.

Furthermore, when Akbar first provided shelter to Baz Bahadur of Malwa and then to the Mirzas of Sambhal, the Rana had annoyed him.

After putting down the Mirza and Uzbek nobles’ rebellions in 1567, Akbar turned his attention to Rajasthan and the famous kingdom of Mewar.

Before Akbar stormed the fort in October 1567, Udai Singh convened a council of his ministers, murals, and leading citizens to discuss how to counter Akbar’s danger. 

Most of his nobles and ministers persuaded him to flee Chittor with the royal family and seek refuge in Mewar’s Western belt, where he could continue the fight.

The Mewar family was not pleased with the choice, and Prince Pratap opposed it vehemently. Udai Singh abandoned the fort with 7-8,000 Rajputs under the command of Jaimal and Patta due to pressure from his ministers and Mewar residents. He also summoned roughly 1000 musketeers from Kalpi to aid them and supported the fort with substantial food supplies.

The siege

The Mughals attempted to attack the castle directly at first, but the citadel was so strong that their only alternatives were to starve out the fort’s occupants or to reach the fort’s walls and sap beneath them. 

Following the failure of the first aggressive attempts to reach the wall, Akbar ordered 5,000 experienced builders, stonemasons, and carpenters to construct sabats (approach tunnels) and mines to reach the walls. 

After severe casualties, two mines and one sabat were built, and three guns bombarded the fort. Once the sabat arrived at the target, a big siege cannon was fired to breach the walls.

The imperial sappers ultimately reached Chittorgarh’s fortifications fifty-eight days after the siege began. At the cost of 200 members of the assault team, the two mines were detonated and the walls were breached. 

However, the defenders quickly closed the gap. Under the cover of the sabat, Akbar gradually moved his siege artillery closer to the walls. 

Finally, during the night of February 22, 1568, the Mughals were able to breach the walls in multiple spots at the same time, launching a concerted assault. 

With a musket shot, Akbar was able to kill the Rajput commander Jaimal in the next combat. His death crushed the defenders’ spirits, who thought the day was lost.

Aftermath

Following the sacking of the stronghold on February 23, 1568, Akbar ordered a brutal massacre of 30,000 unarmed civilians in the afternoon, according to Abu-Fazl. 

He went on to say that Akbar ordered the total destruction of all towers, heraths, and temples in Chittor, including the famous Eklingji temple, which the Mewar family had worshipped for centuries, as well as the idol being broken into pieces.

According to Abu-Fazl, the mass killings lasted until the next afternoon, with citizens’ bodies filling the streets of Chittor.

Akbar stayed in Chittorgarh for three days before departing for Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti‘s shrine, which he had promised to visit if he won the siege. Chittor was given the title of Sarkar of the Mughal dominion and placed under the command of Asaf Khan.

The Rana of Mewar, Udai Singh II, however, remained at large until his death four years later. Pratap Singh, his son, lost the Battle of Haldighati. Despite losing the entire Mewar until 1582, he was able to reclaim western Mewar through guerilla warfare till his death.

In 1615, Amar Singh I, Pratap Singh’s son, recognized Mughal suzerainty, and a year later, Jahangir granted him access to Chittor Fort on the condition that it not be renovated, lest it is used as a bulwark for future rebellions.

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