Land of the Ranas- Rana Sanga

( Continuing my series on Mewar, with this post on Rana Sanga, another great ruler. ).

In my previous post on the Ranas of Mewar, I had covered on  Rana Kumbha . Now we shall take a look at Rana Sangha, Kumbha’s grandson, and one of the greats of the kingdom. As I had stated earlier, Kumbha was killed by his own son Udai Singh I, who however proved to be a worthless ruler. Under Udai Singh I, Mewar lost both Abu and Ajmer, and soon there was a clash for the throne between Udai Singh and Raimal, his brother.  Raimal defeated Udai Singh I in a series of battles at Jawar, Darimpur and Pangarh, forcing him to flee. Udai Singh I tried to seek the help of the Delhi Sultanate, but was struck down by lightning and died. Raimal proved to be a successful ruler, repelling an invasion by the Sultan of Malwa, Ghiyas Shah and later his general Zafar Khan at Mandalgarh. He also put an end to the feud between Chittorgarh and Jodhpur, by marrying Rao Jodha’s daughter, Sringardevi and the Rathores would later be one of the staunchest allies of Mewar.  Ajmer was recaptured, and Mewar was once again restored to its glory under Raimal.

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Raimal however had to face the agony of seeing his 3 sons-Prithviraj, Jaimal and  Sanga, having constant fights with each other over accession to the throne.  In fact as per one version, it is said that Raimal’s own nephew Surajmal, son of Udai Singh I, was the one who instigated the fights. It’s believed that this was Surajmal’s way of getting back at Raimal, after  he overthrew his father.  One such conflict turned serious, with Sanga having to flee, Chittorgarh to save himself. Though Jaimal was declared the next successor, he was killed in a skirmish, and Prithviraj, was allegedly poisoned by his own brother in law. Having known that Sanga was still in exile, Raimal recalled him back and soon he ascended the throne as Maharana Sangram Singh, or Rana Sanga. On his ascension, he united all the Rajput clans, forming a powerful confederacy after 300 years.

One of Sanga’s first acts as the ruler was to attack Malwa, which was riven apart by internal dissension between its Sultan Mahmud Khilji and its Rajput Wazir Medini Rai.  Khilji requested Ibrahim Lodi of Delhi and Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat to assist him, while Rai took the help of Sanga, which marked a long rivalry. While Mandu fell to the forces of Gujarat, after a long siege, Mahmud Khilji amassed a large army, and marched towards Mewar. Sanga marshalled an equally large force with the support of the Rathors of Merta under  Rao Viramdeva.

In a fierce battle at Gagron( now located in Jhalawar dt) in 1519, Sanga led the Mewari cavalry through a charge in the ranks of Malwa and Gujarat, routing them. Khilji himself was taken prisoner, though he was freed, but his sons continued to remain as hostages at Chittoor.  Soon Malwa was under Rana Sanga’s control. After Malwa he now turned his attention to Gujarat, and launched an invsion in 1520, routing the Gujarat Sultan Muzaffar Shah II, while handing over Idar to Rao Rai Mall.

The North eastern part of Rajasthan, was then under the Delhi Sultanate. When Ibrahim Lodi the Sultan of Delhi, had to deal with an internal rebellion, Sanga took advantage and captured key regions there, including the crucial fort of Ranthambore. Ibrahim Lodi attacked Mewar in retaliation, and in a fierce battle at Khatoli near Gwalior, Sanga managed to defeat the Afghans under Lodi.  It was in this battle that Sanga lost an arm and a leg, had earlier lost one eye of his in a skirmish.

Seething with rage against Sanga, Ibrahim Lodi once again, gathered together a large army, to attack Mewar. He felt that the Mewari army would be tired from their constant campaigns in Malwa and Gujarat, and the 2 armies met at Dholpur. The Lodi army of 30,000 had  Said Khan Furat and Haji Khan on the right, Daulat Khan at the center, while Allahdad Khan and Yusuf Khan were placed on the left.  The Mewari army was smaller with just 5000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry.  Sanga however led the cavalry charge straight into the Lodi ranks, routing them, and chasing Ibrahim Lodi all the way up to Bayana.

With Sanga’s empire now stretching up to Agra, his next target was the very heart of political power Delhi, from where he hoped to expand even farther. Gujarat was humbled, Malwa was conquered, and only Delhi lay in his sights to achieve supremacy over the North of India. 

In the meantime Babur had defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodi at the First Battle of Panipat in  1526 AD. Sanga however  felt that like Ghazni and Ghori, Babur was more of an invader, who would attack, plunder and leave, it was a huge misjudgment. The fact is Babur was here to stay and establish his own empire. Sanga felt that the only option was to wage a war against Babur, and this was where he miscalculated. With his numerically huge army, Sanga reckoned that victory against Babur would be a formality, he had not however reckoned with the latter’s artillery and cannons that played a major role at Panipat. Sanga even took the help of other Muslim rulers like the fugitive Afghan prince Mehmud Lodi and the Mewati Khanzada ruler Hassan Khan Mewati. Though Sanga had the larger army, Babur used more advanced tactics, that made the difference. Knowing that he stood no chance against the Rajputs in an open plai Though Sanga had the larger army, Babur used more advanced tactics, that made the difference. Knowing that he stood no chance against the Rajputs in an open plains warfare, he formed a defensive encampment, from where he could deploy his artillery and muskets, before making the final strike. The front line had a row of carts, fastened by iron chains, with gaps for the cavalry to charge. Muskeeters, falconets and mortars were placed behind the carts, to both fire in defense and even advance if needed. Right behind were two contingents of heavy Turkic horsemen kept in reserve for flanking.

  On March 16, 1527, the combined forces of Rana Sangha, Hassan Khan Mewati, Mahmud Lodi and Medini Rai clashed with Babur’s forces at Khanwa, near Fatehpur Sikri. As Sanga charged the Mughal ranks, his forces were shot down in large numbers by the artillery, while the horses and elephants scattered in confusion due to the sounds. Finding it impossible to attack the center, Sangha led the attack on the flanks, as a bloody battle was fought for close to two hours. While the Mughals fired on the advancing Rajput forces, they attacked in waves forcing the Mughals to retreat.

It was one of the most fiercely fought battles ever,  and at a crucial moment, Silhadi  with a 30,000 strong contingent, defected to Babur’s side. It was a great betrayal, and totally demoralized the Rajputs.  Though Sanga tried to rally back his forces, there was utter confusion and chaos in the ranks, and he himself was injured. 

Babur’s army also had the advantage of superior fire power, using the latest cannons, and artillery, and soon the Rajput army suffered heavy reverses. Rana Sanga wounded was carried away from the battlefield by the Rathores of Marwar, and he later learnt of the humiliating rout at Khanwa. The Battle of Khanwa, was a game changer, it made Babur the undisputed ruler of Delhi, and he soon began to consolidate his hold over the North.  Sanga made a vow not to step into Chittorgarh till Babar was defeated. He however could not live up to it, and in 1528, he died a broken hearted man, injured physically, betrayed by his own.

About Ratnakar Sadasyula

Blogger with a passion in movies, music,books and history. A techie by profession, and a writer at heart. Author of City of Victory a book on Vijayanagar Empire
This entry was posted in Medieval India, Mewar, Rajputs. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Land of the Ranas- Rana Sanga

  1. Pingback: Mewar Chronicles- Rana Pratap | History Under Your Feet

  2. Pingback: Mewar Chronicles - Rana Sanga -

  3. Rahul says:

    Very informative piece Ratnakar ji.

    Most of young Rajasthani’s haven’t read about Rana Sanga …
    Thank you for sharing this..


  4. S. Ahmad says:

    Your description confirms what Babur wrote in his memoir and it was a great pleasure to see that you didn’t pollute the history as many do these days.


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