For twenty years, he fought Emperor Akbar and the mighty Mughal army, defending until his dying breath his kingdom’s independence and honour. From his bold exploits on the Battle field to the daring guerrilla raids launched from his Hideouts in Mewar’s hills and forests, this book brings Maharana Pratap and his times vividly alive.
The horses were saddled and waiting at the outskirts of the rugged fort of Gogunda, nestled in the hills of Mewar. Everything was ready for Prince Pratap's quick and quiet departure. But before lie left, there was one last thing to do. Bending down to gather up some earth from the ground, he applied a pinch on his forehead, and tied the rest in a piece of cloth which he tucked away in a corner of his turban. Wherever fortune would take him, he would carry the soil of his beloved Mewar with him.
Within the ramparts of Gogunda, the funeral rites of Mewar's ruler and Pratap's father, Maharana Udai Singh 11, were taking place. As the eldest son, and widely regarded as the most able and gifted, the thirty-one-year-old Prince Pratap should have succeeded him, but the dying Rana had declared that his chosen heir was Pratap's younger half-brother, Prince Jagmal, born of his favourite wife. Prince Pratap, refusing to squabble over the throne of Mewar with his half-brother — a move which could have plunged Mewar into civil war — decided to leave quietly with his small retinue, while everyone was busy with the royal funeral. But even as he gathered up the reins and mounted his horse, several of his father's senior courtiers and kinsmen suddenly arrived and stopped him. They told Prince Pratap that he was the people's favourite as well as theirs, and that as Maharana Udai Singh's eldest son he was now their king.
Pratap's absence at his father's funeral had not surprised the crowd of mourners — convention decreed that the successor to the throne did not join his predecessor's funeral cortege, and it was assumed that as the eldest son he would be in the palace inside the fort, awaiting the hour of his enthronement. What was noticed, however, was the absence of Prince Jagmal.
Some senior Mewar nobles, among them Rawat Kishan Das of Salumber and Rawat Sanga of Deogarh, hastened back to the palace in search of him. They found Jagmal seated on the ceremonial Mewar gaddi (throne) reserved for the Mahayana of Mewar. Two of the nobles then politely but firmly took Prince Jagmal by his arms — one on each side — and as they did this, they declared loudly for all to hear, `You have made a mistake, Maharaj, that place belongs to your brother.' They then marched him to a seat just a little removed from the throne, where a ruler's brothers would traditionally sit in the court. White with rage and humiliation, Jagmal shook himself free of the nobles and immediately left the ball, and subsequently the fort of Gogunda.
Sunset was approaching. Since the coronation ceremony had to be performed before nightfall, Pratap was hastily escorted to the nearby Mahadeo stepwell on the outskirts of the fort, where there was a flattish stone that was the right height for him to be ensconced upon. Seated on it, Pratap received the ceremonial anointment from Mewar's leading noblemen Rawat Krishna Das of Salumber and Rawat Sanga of Deogarh, the kingdom's Brahmin priests, as well as the Bhil tribal chieftains of Oguna and Undri, whose presence was essential to the time-honoured enthronement ceremony in Mewar.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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