Rajasthan : History of Mevar

 

Mewar primarily covers the south Western region of Rajasthan, bordering Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Consisting of the districts of  Bhilwara, Rajsamand, Chittorgarh and Udaipur,  it is flanked by the Aravallis in the North West, and the southern region is mostly hilly, dotted with forests.

The region’s rather rugged landscape could have played a role in shaping the spirit of it’s rulers, and people a tough, never say die, independent streak.  Ecologically this is one of India’s most important regions, being a part of the Kathiawar-Gir ecosystem, and containing wildlife sanctuaries like Kumbalgarh, Sita Mata, Bassi and Jaisamand. The rugged terrain consisting of  valleys, hills,mountain passes and forests, provided the backdrop for some of the fiercest resistance to the Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal rule. While the massive fort of Chittorgarh, and the sweeping grandeur of Udaipur, mark the region’s most visible landmarks, it has some other memorable landmarks. The huge fort of Kumbalgarh with it’s Great Wall of India, the crafts village of Shilpagram near Udaipur, the temples of Eklingji and Nathdwara,  the Jain temples of Ranakpur are equally prominent landmarks too. Apart from Rana Pratap, and the Ranas, the region has been home to two remarkable women- Meera Bai, the poetess and devotee of Krishna, one of the foremost icons of the Bhakti movement, and the brave, noble midwife Panna, who sacrificed her own son for the future of Mewar.

The region was originally called Medhapat, which in due course of time, became corrupted to Mewar.  The patron deity of the region is Eklingji,  one of the oldest temples dating back to the 10th century built by the Guhilas.  Located near Udaipur, the current temple was rebuilt on the ruins of an earlier temple and is famous for it’s 4 faced image of Shiva in granite.  To date the ruler of Udaipur, visits this temple every Monday and he considers himself as the Dewan here. Shiva is also referred to as Medhapatheshwar, the ruler of the Mewar region.

 

The history of Mewar dates back somewhere to the 2nd century AD, when a certain Kanak Sen hailing from Kosala, migrated to Saurashtra.  His descendants, established the city of Vallabhi, now located near Bhavnagar in Gujarat.  The city was the capital of the Maitraka rulers, who expanded their territory all over Saurashtra as well as the Southern part of Rajasthan. Sometime in 770, when Vallabhi fell during the Arab invasion, the Maitraka queen, Kamalavati handed over her new born son to a Brahmin woman and committed Sati after her husband Shiladitya was killed in battle. The new born was named Grihaditya, also called as Guhil, one born in a cave, and he grew up in Idar( now in the Sabarkantha district of Gujarat).  He lent his name to the clan Guhilot which in due course of time, became better known as Gehlot. For a major part, the Guhilots supported the dominant Pratiharas  and Chauhans against the early Arab invasions.  While they initially ruled from Idar, they had to abandon it and later a new capital was established at Nagada( now located in Ujjain district of Madhya Pradesh).

 

The actual founder of the Mewar kingdom was Bappa Rawal, the son of Mahendra II, the last surviving Gehlot ruler of Nagada.  His real name as Kalbhoj, and though he belonged to the Gehlot clan, he never used that family name. Instead he established a new dynasty called the Rawals, after the area he had conquered.  Though born to a royal chieftain, he grew up near the hills of Nagada. Living as a shepherd,  it is believed he was blessed with Harita Rishi, that he would be the king. While his father was of the Gehlot clan, his mother belonged to the Paramara clan, and was the sister of Maan Mori, the Paramara ruler of Gujarat. While the Gehlots, claimed themselves as Suryavanshi Rajputs, the Paramaras on the other hand, identified themselves as one of the four Agnikula Kshatriyas( born from fire). The others being Chauhans, Parihars and the Solankis.

 

Bappa Rawal, would however earn his fame due to his exploits in the famed Battle of Rajasthan.  Primarily fought during the 8th century AD, the Battle of Rajasthan was a series of wars between the Rajput clans the invading Arab armies from Sindh. Uniting the smaller states of Ajmer, Jaisalmer, Bappa Rawal created a powerful alliance, that repelled the Arab invasion. Mohd Bin Qasim who practically overran Sindh, and defeated it’s ruler Dahir was forced to retreat thanks to Bappa’s aggression. In fact Bappa pursed Bin Qasim, back, through Saurashtra right up to the western banks of the Indus. Not content with that, he marched right up to Ghazni (now in Afghanistan) and defeated it’s ruler there.  He not only repelled the Arab invasions, but managed to expand his territory right up to Ispahan in current day Iran, and covered vast swathes of Afghanistan. After his conquests and a reign of 20 years, he abdicated the throne in favor of his son, and became an ascetic.

 

Now we will have a chronology of the rulers of Mewar. Mewar was rulled by following Dynasties :-

  1. Guilot Dyanasty
  2. Sisodiya Dynasty

Guhilot Dynasty

AD 734 – 1303

The creators of Mewar’s ruling dynasty in Rajputana came originally from the Guhilot clan. Foundation stories claim this clan originated in Kashmir and migrated to Gujarat in the sixth century. In the seventh century they migrated again, to the plains of Mewar, in the area around Magda, which was named after one of the earliest clan leaders. Bappa Rawal, the later founder of a dynasty of rulers of Mewar, was born as Kalbhoj. After a promising beginning as a good warrior for, and possible relative of, an obscure local chieftain called Maan Mori in Malwa and Mewar, Bappa Rawal usurped his patron’s territory and established himself as its new ruler (although some sources insist he was the son of Maan Mori and simply ruled after his assassination). All subsequent rulers of the territory traced their lineage to Bappa Rawal.

  • 550 Pushpavati      Queen who fled Vallabhi when it was invaded by raiders.
  • 569 – 603 Guhil (‘Cave-born’)     Became clan chief aged 11. Founded the Guhilot clan.
  • 603 – 615 Bhoj
  • 615 – 625 Mahendra        Rebel Bhils killed him and wrested back their territories.
  • 625 – 646 Naagaditya      Moved capital to Nagdhara and renamed it Nagda.
  • 646 – 661 Sheeladitya
  • 661 – 688 Aparjit / Aparaji
  • 688 – 716 Mahendra II     Arab raiders attacked Chitor, ruled by Paramaras during his time.

 

  • 731/734 Bappa Rawal (Kalbhoj)           Guhilot dynasty founder and creator of the state.
  • 731 or 734 Born as Kalbhoj, Bappa Rawal is the founder of a dynasty which later comes to rule Mewar. He takes Chittor from the Maan Mori dynasty and wards off Muslim attacks on his territory.
  • 753 – 773 Khumar           Warded off several attacks on his kingdom.
  • 773 – 793 Mattat
  • 773 – 813 Bhratrabhat     Co-ruler or relative
  • 813 – 828 Sinha
  • 828 – 853 Khuman II       Repelled up to 24 Muslim attacks. Ruled a Golden Age in Mewar.
  • 853 Deoraj establishes the royal family of Jaisalmer and makes Lodorva his capital.
  • 853 – 878 Mahayak         Faced several invasions.
  • 878 – 942 Khuman III
  • 942 – 943 Bhratrabhat II
  • 943 – 953 Allat
  • 943 Possibly near start of his reign, Allat is driven from Chittor by the Paramara king of Malwa, Munja Raja, who then rules Chittor and is succeeded by his nephew, Raja Bhoj. Allat establishes a new capital at ancient Ahar.
  • 953 – 971 The death of Allat leaves a gap in the succession, and there is no Guhilot leader at all for a total of eight years while the Paramaras attack Ahar. It takes until 971 for a new Guhilot king to reign.
  • 961 The Paramara king, Vakpati Raj of Malwa, rules Chittor.
  • 971 – 973 Naravan / Narvahan
  • 973 – 977 Shalivahan
  • 977 – 993 Shaktikumar
  • 993 – 1007 Amba Prasad  Fought against Mahmud Ghazni (Yamin-ud-Dawlah Mahmud).
  • 1007 – 1021 Suchivarma
  • 1021 – 1035 Narvarma
  • 1035 – 1051 Kirtivarma
  • 1037 Raja Dulha Rao is generally given as the founder of the Rajput kingdom of Amer, while his son’s successor, Hunadev, is the one to hammer home the final nail in the Meena coffin.

 

  • 1051 – 1068 Yograj
  • 1068 – 1088 Bairat / Vairat
  • 1088 – 1103 Hanspal
  • 1103 – 1107 Vairi Singh
  • 1107 – 1127 Vijay Singh
  • 1127 – 1138 Ari Singh I       Chittor is captured by Malwa.
  • 1138 – 1148 Chaur Singh    The Western Chalukyas attack the Paramaras who hold Chittor.
  • 1148 – 1158 Vikram Singh / Vikramaditya I
  • 1158 – 1168 Karan Singh
  • 1168 The royal family divides, possibly near the end of Karan Singh’s reign. His son Rahap establishes the Sisodia branch of the family while another son, Mahap, establishes the Dungarpur kingdom.
  • 1168 – 1172 Kshem Singh
  • 1172 – 1179 Samant Singh
  • 1179 Samant Singh occupies Bagar (in the Dungarpur area) during his reign. After seven years on the throne he is slain by Kirtipal Solanki of Nadol in battle at Ghaggar (Punjab).
  • 1179 – 1191 Kumar Singh   Possibly relocated capital to Nagda at end of his reign.
  • 1191 – 1211 Mathan Singh  Possibly relocated capital to Nagda at start of his reign.
  • 1191 – 1192 Mathan Singh fights in the Battles of Tarain, in which the Chauhan ruler, Prithviraj III, and the Rajput confederation which includes Mewar (the Hindu League) are defeated by the Ghurid Sultan Mohammed Ghuri.
  • 1194 The Hindu Rajputs of Amer and the Gahadavalas who had governed much of the region around Delhi now lose that territory and the city itself when they are defeated by a slave of the Ghurid sultan. The sultanate of Delhi is subsequently founded.
  • 1207 Chittor is taken and ruled by the Western Chalukyas just as they are facing their own terminal decline.
  • 1211 – 1213 Padam Singh
  • 1213 – 1253 Jait Singh / Jaitra Singh
    • During his reign, Jait Singh defeats the Malwa Rajputs who rule Chittor, reinstating its fort as the capital of Mewar. This probably occurs shortly after Sultan Iltutmish of Delhi has destroyed Nadga.
  • 1226 Rao Siyaji, grandson of King Jai Chandra of the Gahadavalas, founds the kingdom of Marwar.
  • 1234 Sultan Iltutmish of Delhi is defeated by Mewar when he invades the region.
  • 1253 – 1261 There is an apparent interregnum. No known ruler of Mewar exists during this period, although the circumstances behind the gap are unknown. The relation of the next known ruler of Mewar to his predecessor is also unknown.
  • 1261 – 1267 Tej Singh         Ruled from Chittor.
  • 1267 – 1273 There is a second apparent interregnum. No known ruler of Mewar exists during this period, and the fate of Tej Singh is unknown, as are the circumstances behind the gap are unknown. It takes six years for Tej Singh’s son to ascend the throne.
  • 1273 – 1302 Samar Singh   Ruled from Chittor.
    • Samar Singh builds wall around Mahasati in Chittor. His son, Kumbh Karan, migrates to Nepal (where his descendants become the Nepalese royal family).
  • 1302 – 1303 Ratan Singh    Last Guhilot king to rule.
  • 1303 The army of the sultan of Delhi, Muhammad Shah I, invades north-western India under the command of Malik Kafur, conquering the Rajput states, including Mewar. With the capital and main fort at Chittor about to fall, the women inside commit mass suicide rather than fall into the hands of the invaders, while the men make a heroic charge in the face of insurmountable odds. The few survivors of the fall of Chittor take refuge in the hills. Administration of the captured state is handed to the ruler of the neighbouring state of Jalore, Maldeo.

 

Sisodiya Dynasty

AD 1326 – Present Day

Once Mewar had been conquered by the sultan of Delhi, a vassal ruler was placed on the throne, governing Mewar as well as his own domains in Jalore. In order to establish some cooperation from the locals, he married his widowed daughter, Songari, to a member of a minor branch of the former ruling dynasty, a young man named Hamir. In 1326, Hamir organised a coup against his father-in-law and re-established an independent Mewar. Hamir could trace his descent from Bappa Rawal (AD 731), although his ‘new’ dynasty was named after the mountain village of his birth, Sisoda.

There were a number of small Rajputana kingdoms at this time, including Amer, Bikaner, Bundi, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Malwa, andMarwar, and all were eventually conquered by the Moghuls.

  • 1303 – 1326 Maldeo            Vassal of Delhi and ruler of Jalore.
  • 1326 – 1364 Hamir Singh I  Grandson of Ratan Singh. Founded the Sisodiya dynasty.
  • 1342 Rao Deva founds the Rajput kingdom of Bundi.
  • 1364 – 1382 Kshetra Singh Continued work retaking Mewar provinces from Tughlaqs.
  • 1382 Kshetra Singh is assassinated by the Hara chief of Banbaoda in a dispute about a daughter he is to marry.
  • 1382 – 1421 Laksha Singh
  • 1398 Laksha Singh falls out with his heir, Prince Choonda, over a princess of Marwar whom Laksha himself marries. Choonda renounces his right to throne. Later, Laksha appoints Choonda as regent for his young step-brother, Mokal, son of the princess whom Choonda spurned.
  • 1400 Rao Chanda seizes control of Marwar and founds his own Rajput dynasty there.
  • 1421 – 1433 Mokal  Ascended throne aged 5.
  • 1433 During his relatively short reign, Mokal’s mother, Rajmata Hansabai, deposes Choonda as regent, and he retires to Mandu, the capital of Malwa. Rao Ranmal of Marwar and other of Hansabai’s relatives move into Chittor as part of an attempted political takeover. Ultimately, in 1433, Mokal is killed by his father’s step-brothers, Chacha and Mera.
  • 1465 Rao Bika of the Rathore clan founds the city of Bikaner and his own Rajput kingdom.
  • 1433 – 1468 Kumbhkaran / Kumbha          Ascended throne as a minor.
    • Kumbhkaran ascends throne after his father’s murder. Rao Ranmal kills Mokal’s assassins and, in a move to take over the throne, he murders Choonda’s brother, Raghudeo. The dowager queen, Rajmata Hansabai, asks Choonda to return and he drives out invaders before forming the Choondawat clan at Salumbar. Khumba survives the crisis period to become a renowned warrior, builder, writer, and patron of the arts.
  • 1458 – 1468 A Charan predicts Kumbha’s imminent death, so he banishes the Charan tribes from Mewar. Crown Prince Raimal supports the Charans so he is exiled to Idar. A decade later, Raimal’s younger brother, Udai (Uda), assassinates Kumbha and usurps throne.
  • 1468 – 1473 Udaikaran / Uda / Udai Singh I           Usurper, nicknamed Hatyara, ‘The Murderer’.
  • 1473 Crown Prince Raimal comes out of exile, amasses an army, attacks Chittor, and claims the throne that is rightly his. Udai Singh flees to Delhi to get help from Sultan Bahlul Lodi but in a bizarre twist of fate he is struck and killed by lightening.
  • 1473 – c.1519 Raimal
  • 1501 Rudra Pratap founds the Orcha kingdom of Bundela rajas who are of Chhatri Suryanvanshi Rajput descent.
  • 1519 – 1527 Rana Sanga (Sangram Singh)           Son. Severely wounded and defeated in battle.

 

  • 1517 – 1526
    • Ibrahim Lodhi, sultan of Delhi, faces a number of rebellions by nobles within the sultanate as well as pressure from outside, as Rana Sanga extends his own territory at Delhi’s expense. From 1519, the ruler ofKabul, Babar, also leads a great many raids on Delhi. In 1526, he is invited by the nobility to invade (Rana Sanga being included amongst that nobility), and Ibrahim is killed at the Battle of Panipat. Babar creates a Moghul empire which sacks and then controls Delhi as the heart of that empire.
  • 1527 – 1528 Babur increases his territory by defeating Rana Sanga at the Battle of Khanua, despite having an army only half the size, and conquering Mewar. In 1528 it is the turn of Rana Sanga’s vassal, Medina Rai of Malwa to be defeated.
  • 1527 – 1531 Ratan Singh
  • 1531 – 1532 The new Moghul emperor, Humayun, faces an invasion of Rajputana when Bahadur Shah of Gujarat takes Malwa (1531) and Raisen (1532). However, the problem is quickly dealt with and Rajputana is restored to Moghul control.
  • 1531 – 1568 Vikramaditya
  • 1566 The Mirza princes who survive Akbar’s defeat of an attempted coup of the Moghul throne flee first to the Rajputs (including Mewar), and then to Gujarat.
  • 1568 – 1572 Uday Singh II / Udai Singh II
  • 1564 – 1568 The Moghul emperor, Akbar, takes on the might of the Rajputs. He sends his emissaries to various Rajput princes, asking them to accept his suzerainty but, knowing the Rajput reputation for valour, he uses subtle diplomacy to win them over, entering into marriage alliances with many of them. The ruler of Amer (Jaipur), Raja Bharmal, gives his daughter to Akbar and sets the precedent. Akbar inducted Raja Bharmal’s son, Bhagwandas, and grandson, Man Singh, into his body of high ranking courtiers. The new ruler, Maharana Uday Singh refuses the offer, so Akbar attacks him and Chittor, which has remained the capital of the Sisodiyas until this year, is sacked. The Sisodiya capital is moved to Udaipur as half the kingdom is annexed. Uday Singh holds on tenaciously to the remaining half of his kingdom for the remainder of his life.

 

 

  • Jagmal Singh
  • 1572 Maharana Pratap Singh                      Son and chosen heir, but politely removed by the nobles.
  • 1572 – 1597 The legendary Pratap Singh also refuses to follow the bidding of the Moghul emperor, Akbar. In 1576, Akbar meets him at the famous Battle of Haldighati. In a struggle that is comparable in Indian warfare to the bravery of the Spartans at Thermopylae, the Rajputs fight valiantly but are outnumbered. Pratap Singh escapes to the adjoining jungles and continues his struggle from there, waging a guerrilla battle against Akbar until his death.
  • 1576 Amar Singh
  • 1597 – 1620 Emperor Jahangir continues the Moghul campaigns against Mewar, encountering stiff resistance all the way. Many battles take place in this period, but one notable victory for the ranas is when Amar Singh wins back the fort of Chittor. In 1615 Amar Singh agrees to sign a peace treaty on the advice of courtiers and his son, Prince Karan Singh. He agrees to accept the suzerainty of the Moghuls in return for the restoration of Mewar’s territories.
  • 1605 – 1615 Karan Singh
  • 1620 – 1628 Jagat Singh
  • 1628 – 1654 Raj Singh                    Rebuilt Chittor from the ruins.
  • 1654 – 1681 While a revolt against Moghul emperor Aurangzeb is already underway in Marwar, Raj Singh revolts against the jaziya tax. Aurangzeb is quick to retaliate, destroying perhaps 173 temples in Udaipur and 63 temples in Chittor. Raj Singh is defeated in battle in 1680, but for a time he joins the guerrilla war being waged by Marwar. Aurungzeb eventually agrees a treaty with his son, Jai Singh.
  • 1678 – 1680 Maharana Jai Singh
  • 1681 – 1700 Amar Singh II              m daughter of Jaswantsingh of Jaisalmer.
  • 1700 – 1716 Raja Chatrasal founds the Bundela kingdom of Panna. The Bundelas are Chhatri Suryanvanshi Rajputs by origin.                     Restored the independence of the kingdom.
  • 1707 Maharana Sangram Singh II
  • 1716 – 1734 Udajirao Pawar assists Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao I in his Malwa campaign. In reward for his services, Udaji Pwar is given Dhar as his jagir (estate). His ancestors had been Gurjars who assumed the status of Chandravanshi Rajput Kshatriyas (claiming descent from Raja Vikramaditya of Malwa).                        Regained the kingdom’s lost territories.
  • 1728 Udajirao of Dhar falls out with the Peshwa and his jagir rights are transferred to his two brothers, Tukaji Pawar and Jivaji Pawar, who establish themselves as rulers in Dewas. Udajirao is sent off to Multan, where he dies.
  • 1732 Jagat Singh II
  • 1734 – 1751 Jagat Singh II begins his reign with a revival of the triple alliance between Mewar, Marwar, and Amer, which had first been agreed during the reign of Amar Singh II but which had failed at the time. This renewed union of states is formed at Hoorlah, a town within Amer. Unfortunately, it again fails, due to individual ambition, and the increasingly powerful Maratha empire is able to conquer the entire Rajasthan region.
  • 1734 Jagat Singh II places his eldest son, Ishwari Singh, on the throne of Amer. Politics being played by Jagat Singh’s queen mean that Ishwari Singh commits suicide in 1750. Jagat Singh’s misrule in his own kingdom sends it into a decline following his death, with the throne being occupied by incompetent successors.
  • 1743 Pratap Singh II
  • 1752 -1755 Raj Singh II                 Continually fighting off Maratha invasions.
  • 1755 – 1762 On the death of Raj Singh, his uncle makes sure the order of succession is amended to allow him to claim the throne.
  • 1762 Ari Singh II
  • 1762 – 1772 Hamir Singh II             Assassinated, apparently by Rao Raja Ajit Singh of Bundi.
  • 1772 – 1778 Pratap Singh Prabhakar Bahadur is granted the panch hazari mansab by Moghul Emperor Shah Alam, and founds the Rajput kingdom of Alwar as a result.
  • 1775 Bhim Singh II
  • 1778 – 1828 The Third Maratha War results in a decisive victory for the British against the Peshwa in India. The last Peshwa, Baji Rao II, is defeated, and the Maratha empire is largely annexed, bound by treaty to the British Crown. It is at this time (in 1818) that Bhim Singh also officially accepts the superiority of British power in the country.              Acceded aged 8.
  • 1818 Maharana Jawan Singh
  • 1828 – 1838 Sardar Singh
  • 1838 – 1842 Maharana Swaroop Singh                  Adopted son.
  • 1842 – 1861 Maharana Shambhu Singh                 Adopted son.
  • 1861 – 1874 Sajjan Singh                Adopted son.
  • 1874 – 1884 Maharana Fateh Singh                       Adopted son.
  • 1884 – 1930 Maharana Bhopal Singh                     Adopted son. Powers curbed by British in India. Titular ruler only.
  • 1930 – 1955 India achieves independence from Britain and begins the process of taking control of the princely states. Mewar is one of the first of the princely states to merge with the new dominion. Later in 1949, twenty-two princely states of Rajasthan merge to form the Union of Greater Rajasthan, acknowledging the maharana of Udaipur in Mewar as their head. The states which cease to exist include Alwar, Amer, Bikaner, Bundi, Dewas, Dhar, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Malwa.
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