Typically when we speak of Mewar, it usually ends with Rana Pratap and the Battle of Haldighati. Not much is really known about his succesors, nor his son Amar Singh. While Pratap’s rivalry with Akbar is well known and chronicled, not known is the fact that his son Amar Singh fought an equally long war with Jahangir, before he was forced to surrender. Sadly many historians evaluated him on the basis of the treaty with Jahangir, not understanding the fact that it was a rather painful decision, and even that treaty was not complete surrender. Nor many are aware of the fact that much like his father, Amar Singh, fought 17 battles with the Mughals, winning a good many of them.
It was not an easy childhood for Amar Singh, born on March 16, 1559 at Chittorgarh, having had to endure a life of hardship. From a very young age, he accompanied his father in his military campaigns, and grew up in a rather harsh environment. After Haldighati, Amar Singh lived the life of a nomad, with his father, moving along the jungles of the Aravalli hills. The exposure to the battle field, growing up in the forests, made him physically and mentally tough. Later when his father, recaptured most of the forts, Amar Singh played a pivotal role in the campaigns.
With the passing away of his father, he was coronated as the ruler, at Chavand, the capital his father had built, on January 29th, 1597. Akbar immediately sent an army under Prince Salim( later Jahangir) in 1600 to subdue Mewar. Amar Singh however countered back, routing the Mughal army at Unthala, killing their killerdar Kayam Khan, and capturing the outposts at Mohi, Koshithal, Mandalgarh. He went right up to Malpura in Amber state.
Meanwhile Prince Salim, was coronated in November 1605, as Jahangir, ascending the throne after his father’s death. This continued a new rivalry between Jahangir and Amar Singh, that went on for a long time. Assisted by Rajputs like Maha Singh, grandson of Raja Man Singh of Jaipur, he declared Rana Sagar, son of Udai Singh, as the Rana of Mewar. His hope was that all the chieftains would abandon Amar Singh, and come over to his side. However the chieftains, swored their allegiance to Amar Singh, and when Jahangir’s son Parvez, attacked Mewar, he was defeated soundly. Another move made in 1608 too failed, when Amar Singh, routed Mahabhat Khan, who was camping at Unthala. Jahangir had to recall Mahabhat Khan, and the mission proved to be a failure.
Another expedition by Abdullah Khan in 1611, too ended in failure, and Jahangir was fored to appoint Raja Basu, the ruler of Nurpur( Punjab).However Basu was once again defeated by Amar Singh, and Mewar now remained the last frontier for the Mughals. It was strategically important as it gave them a passage to Gujarat. Undertaking a pilgrimage to Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti’s dargah in Ajmer, he stationed himself there, and sent a large expedition to Mewar under Prince Khurram( Shahjahan) on December 26, 1613.
Khurram led a massive force that had Rana Sagar, Khan Azam Mirza of Malwa, Abdullah Khan of Gujarat, Raja Narsingdev Bundela, Sur Singh Rathore of Jodhpur, Hada Rattan Singh of Bundi and many other mansabdars. The massive army marched towards Mewar,establishing many outposts en-route to ensure steady supplies. While Jamal Khan was at Mandal, Dost Beg was at Kapasan and Saiyed Sihab at Debari. Abdullah Khan met Khurram at Udaipur, and the Mughal army wreaked havoc on Mewar. Villages were devastated, temples were destroyed, many Hindus were looted, murdered.
Amar Singh countered with an equally large force, that had Jhala Hardas of Bari Sadri, Panwar Shubhkaran of Bijolian, Jhala Kalyan of Delwara and many other chieftains. Much like his father, he began to use the hilly terrain of Chittorgarh, to launch guerilla attacks on the Mughal army. However Abdullah Khan,being familiar with the terrain, managed to reach the formidable capital Chavand, and capture it. It was a massive blow to Amar Singh, who fled to the hills of Idar, while the Mughals began to capture more and more forts in Mewar.
It was a hard decision now for Amar Singh, Mewar was hopelessly outnumbered, by the Mughals, as well as other Rajput rulers who had allied with them. It was a losing battle, all of the chieftains of Mewar, had seen the loss of one generation of theirs. Mewar itself was devastated, many of it’s people migrated to other places. The chieftains of Mewar met with Prince Karan Singh, and it was decided to sign a peace treaty with the Mughals. With no other option left, Rana Amar Singh, had to sign the treaty reluctantly and with a heavy heart at Gogunda in 1615.
It was not an easy decision to take for Amar Singh, he had to respect the legacy of his ancestors, who never surrendered, yet at the same time Mewar was devastated, it’s subjects were suffering. The 90 year old conflict between Mewar and Mughals, that started with the Battle of Khanwa in 1527 between Rana Sanga and Babur, had come to an end. A dejected Amar Singh who had fought 17 battles with the Mughals, gave up the throne, made his son Karan Singh the next ruler, and lived a life of isolation at Maha Satiyan near Udaipur where he passed away on January 26, 1620.
It was a sad ending, for a great warrior, who spent all his life, battling the Mughals, and had to surrender in the end. Even worse was the fact that history judged him rather harshly for the treaty he signed with the Mughals. However it was not a complete surrender, it was agreed that the Rana of Mewar would never appear in the Mughal court, he would be represented by a relative. Nor would Mewar have any matrimonial relations with the Mughals, unlike other Rajput states. Most of the captured territories, including Chittorgarh would be returned. While the rulers of Dungarpur and Banswara, who had become independent during Akbar’s reign, once again became vassals. In defeat too Mewar held it’s head high.
Rana Amar Singh, unlike his more famous father, never really got his due, and the fact that he signed a surrender treaty, ensured he would be judged harshly. But yet this was a man, as worthy as his father, who fought till the end, and had to surrender only under extreme duresss. A hero who refused to sit on the throne, after the surrender, and walked away from it all.