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|Siege of Chittorgarh (1567-1568)|
|Part of Mughal-Rajput War (1558-1576)|
Chittorgarh fort today
|Commanders and leaders|
Abdul Majid Khan †
Wazir Khan †
Mir Qasim †
Hussain Quli Khan †
Syed Jamaluddin Barha †
Rao Jaimal †|
Patta Sisodia †
Aissar Chauhan †
Rawat Chundawat †
Sanda Dodiya †
Sahib Khan †
Ismail Khan †
Kalla Rathore †
|Thousands and strong artillery||
1,000 musketeers and 1 cannon
|Casualties and losses|
and 30,000 civilians
The Siege of Chittorgarh (20 October 1567 - 23 February 1568) was a part of the campaign of the Mughal Empire against the kingdom of Mewar in 1567. Forces led by Akbar surrounded and besieged 8,000 Rajputs and around 40,000 peasants under the command of Jaimal in Chittorgarh.
The history of the imposing fortress of Chittor is believed to date back to the 7th century. Known as Chitrakuta Durga, it is said to have been raised by Chitrangada of the Mori dynasty and then passed into the hands of the Pratiharas in the 9th century. Subsequent owners of this seat of power included the Paramaras (10th-11th century) and the Solankis (12th century) before it fell into the hands of the Guhilots or Sisodias of Mewar.
The fort stands atop a 152m hill and covers an area of 700 acres (2.8 km2). It has a number of gateways and ponds including the Gaumukha kund and Hathi Kund, which is supplied by perennial underground source of water. Heavily fortified, Chittorgarh was believed to be insurmountable until it was sacked by Alauddin Khalji of the Delhi Sultanate in 1303. It was sacked again a couple of centuries later by Bahadur Shah of the Gujarat Sultanate.
The Mughals had always been wary of the kingdoms of Rajasthan. Besides being a centre of power, the Rajput dominions also hindered access to both Gujarat and its prosperous seaports as well as Malwa. To control either of these regions, the Mughal emperor needed to arrive at an understanding with the Rajputs. Local rulers such as Raja Bharmal of Amber had already submitted to Akbar in 1562. Mewar, the most powerful and prominent of the Rajput states, however, had not. While Udai Singh, the Rana of Mewar was open to accepting Mughal suzerainty and paying a tribute, he was not prepared to lower his head in obedience to Akbar as, according to Abu'l-Fazl, "none of his ancestors had bowed down and kissed the ground". Furthermore, the Rana had also vexed Akbar when he first granted asylum to Baz Bahadur of Malwa and later, to the Mirzas of Sambhal.
On 20 October 1567, he encamped near the fortress of Chittorgarh. Maharana Udai Singh II had already retreated from the fortress of Chittorgarh and went to Gogunda, leaving behind 8,000 soldiers and 1,000 musketeers under the command of Jaimal and Patta. After arriving at Chittorgarh, Akbar sent Asaf Khan to Rampur and Hussain Quli Khan to Udaipur and Kumbalgarh to plunder the Rana's territories. Though both of these areas were raided, Udai Singh II was not found.
Initially, the Mughals tried to attack the fortress directly but the citadel was so sturdy that the only options available to the Mughals were to either starve out the occupants of the fort or to somehow reach the walls and sap beneath them. After initial aggressive attempts at reaching the wall failed, Akbar ordered a complement of 5,000 expert builders, stonemasons, and carpenters to construct sabats (approach trenches) and mines to reach the walls. Two mines and one sabat were constructed after significant casualties while three batteries bombarded the fort. A large siege cannon was also cast to breach the walls once the sabat reached the objective. The fort garrison which had been observing these preparations offered to surrender, and sent Sanda Silhadar and Sahib Khan to negotiate. They agreed to pay a yearly tribute and enroll in Akbar's court but were rebuffed by Akbar, who wanted Udai Singh himself to surrender.
Fifty-eight days after the siege began, the imperial sappers finally reached the walls of Chittorgarh. The two mines were exploded and the walls were breached at the cost of 200 of the assault force. But the defenders soon sealed the opening. Akbar then steadily brought his siege cannon closer to the walls under the cover of the sabat. Finally, on the night of 22 February 1568, the Mughals were able to breach the walls at several locations simultaneously to begin a coordinated assault. In the ensuing battle, Akbar was able to kill the Rajput commander, Jaimal, with a musket shot. His death shattered the morale of the defenders who considered the day lost.
Jauhar (self-immolation) was committed in the houses of Patta Sisodia, Aissar Das, and Sahib Khan after the death of Jaimal. On 23 February 1568, Akbar personally entered Chittorgarh with a few thousand soldiers and it was conquered. The 1,000 musketeers escaped from the fortress.
Rising pillars of smoke soon signalled the rite of jauhar as the Rajputs killed their families and prepared to die in a supreme sacrifice. In a day filled with hand-to-hand struggles until virtually all the defenders died. The Mughal troops slaughtered another 20-25,000 ordinary persons, inhabitants of the town and peasants from the surrounding area on the grounds that they had actively helped in the resistance.
Akbar stayed at Chittorgarh for three days before leaving for the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, as he had vowed to go to the shrine if he won the siege. The other great fort at Ranthambor fell the next year and by conquering these two seemingly insurmountable symbols, Akbar had demonstrated the reality of Mughal might to all the other powers of North India.
However, Udai Singh II, the Rana of Mewar, continued to remain at large until his death four years later. His son Pratap Singh lost the Battle of Haldighati. Though losing the entire Mewar until 1582, through guerilla warfare, he managed to regain western Mewar until his death. In 1615 Amar Singh I, the son of Pratap Singh, accepted Mughal suzerainty and a year later Jahangir, as a goodwill gesture, allowed him entry in Chittor Fort under the condition that it will never be repaired, as it might be used a bastion for future rebellions.
The right panel of the same composition by Miskina (and Sarwan) from the Akbarnama, c. 1590 - c. 1595.
Akbar shoots the Rajput commander, Jaimal, using a matchlock, Akbarnama, 1590-1595.