Indian history boasts of many heroes who fought and even laid down their lives for the sake of their motherland. Maharana Pratap Singh of Chittore in Mewar holds a unique place among such heroes. He was a descendant of Maharana Sanga who, it is said, had eighty-two sword wounds on his body received in battles. It was a time when Akbar had established Moghul supremacy in India and no one dared waging war against this great king. The brave Rajput kings and chiefs of Rajasthan states had surrendered before Akbar and even had given their sisters and daughters in marriage. At such a time, Maharana Pratap Singh stood alone defying the Moghul empire and even ridiculing their overtures for friendship because friendship with Moghuls meant to him accepting their over lordship.
Maharana Pratap Singh was the king of Mewar, a small hilly kingdom of Rajputana (Rajasthan). His capital was Chittore which was a small but strong fort situated on a hill. Here Pratap Singh lived with his family peacefully and ruled Bhils and other hilly tribes. He did not covet for furthering the frontiers of his kingdom. He did not want to attack other kingdoms and principalities to extend his own kingdom. He only wanted peace and prosperity for his subjects. But he was not allowed to rest in peace by the Moghuls.
A large army under very capable army chiefs was sent by Akbar to subdue the lion of Mewar. Pratap Singh’s own younger brother, Shakti Singh had also got angry with him and had gone over to the side of the enemy. Pratap Singh collected his army of handful soldiers and came out of Chittore to face the enemy in the battlefield of 1-laldighati. A fierce battle ensued and the Rajputs and Bhils fought with unparalleled bravery. The Moghul soldiers and generals were taken aback at their unmatched fighting skill. The battle went on till each and every soldier of the Chittore army was killed. Chetak, the horse of Rana Pratap wanted to take away his master to safety but it was also killed. The sun was going to set and in the twilight Shakti Singh saw two Moghul soldiers following Rana Pratap to kill him. Shakti galloped his horse, killed the two Moghul soldiers and saved his elder brother and returned to the Moghul camp.
Evil days fell on Rana Pratap and his family. They wandered hiding themselves in the hills and forests and had to eat chapatis made from grass. One day some citizens from Chittore came to see him and among them was Bhama Shah. He laid all his money, ornaments and jewels at Rana Pratap’s feet and requested him to organise a fresh army. Very reluctantly, the Rana accepted the offer and with the help of freshly organised army recaptured his kingdom.
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