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Battle of Ranthambore | Indian History | Free PDF Download

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BACKGROUND

  • Ranthambore was reputed to be an impregnable fort, and Alauddin’s predecessor Jalaluddin had made an unsuccessful attempt to capture it in 1291.
  • In 1299, Alauddin Khalji sent his generals Nusrat Khan and Ulugh Khan to capture Gujarat. When the army was returning to Delhi after its successful campaign, some of the Mongols staged a mutiny against the generals, near Jalore.
  • The mutiny was crushed, and the army returned to Delhi. Two rebel Mongol leaders Muhammad Shah and Kabhru managed to escape with some of their followers. Hammira of Ranthambore (called Hamir Dev in Muslim chronicles) granted asylum to these Mongol fugitives.

BACKGROUND

  • Ulugh Khan was the governor of Bayana near Ranthambore. After returning to Bayana from Delhi, he sent messengers to Hammira, urging him to kill the Mongol fugitives as a friendly ruler. • He also threatened to wage a war against Hammira, if this request was not complied with. However, Hammira refused to do so. He replied to Ulugh Khan that he had no desire to start a conflict, but he would not give up the refugees who had sought his asylum. He added that he was not afraid of a war, and had enough money and soldiers to participate in a war

REVENGE

  • When Alauddin learned about Hammira’s reply, he dispatched an army led by Ulugh Khan to capture Ranthambore.
  • Ulugh Khan’s army marched unopposed up to the Banas River. There, Hammira’s general Bhimasimha stopped his advance. Bhimasimha underestimated the strength of the Delhi, and launched a direct attack on them.
  • The Delhi army retreated temporarily, possibly deliberately to fool the Chahamanas into dropping their guard.This led Bhimasimha to believe that he had foiled the invasion.
  • However, while Bhimasimha was returning to Ranthambore, Ulugh Khan’s forces re-assembled and attacked his contingent. The defenders were defeated, and Bhimasimha was killed in the battle. BETRAYEL
  • After Dharmasimha’s dismissal, Hammira’s brother Bhoja became the chief royal counsellor. However, Bhoja was unable to arrange sufficient money for raising an army that could defeat Alauddin’s invasion
  • Dharmasimha, who now maintained a grudge against Hammira, took advantage of this financial crunch. He contacted the king through a court dancer named Dhara, and offered to arrange horses for Hammira’s cavalry from Malwa. Hammira took Dharmasimha back into service.
  • The Hammira Mahakavya further states that Bhoja and his brother Pithasimha decided to leave Ranthambore as a result of Dharmasimha’s scheming. Hammira did not try to stop his brothers, and instead, gave Bhoja’s post of danda-nayaka to his general Ratipala.
  • Feeling insulted, Bhoja defected to Alauddin, who received him with honour. Alauddin gave him the jagir (fief) of Jagara, which was earlier held by the rebel Mongol leader Muhammad Shah.

CHAHAMAN VICTORY

  • The Delhi army marched to Ranthambore, ransacking the Hindu territories on their way. At a mountain pass called Hinduvata, the Chahamana army inflicted a heavy defeat on the Delhi forces.
  • This army was led by Hammira’s own generals as well as the Mongol leaders who had taken asylum at Ranthambore. The Chahamana army captured much of the Delhi army’s equipment as a result of this victory.
  • The Hammira Mahakavya states that the Chahamanas also captured a large number of Muslim women after this victory. These women were forced to sell sour buttermilk in the villages of Hammira’s kingdom, in order to spread the news of the Chahamana victory.
  • Hammira’s Mongol allies then attacked Jagara, the former jagir of Muhammad Shah that Alauddin had granted to Bhoja. They captured Bhoja’s family members, and brought them to Ranthambore as prisoners. Bhoja survived the attack, as he was at Delhi WAR

BEGINS .

  • After these initial reverses, Alauddin asked Nusrat Khan, the governor of Awadh, to lead an army in Ulugh Khan’s support. The joint armies of Nusrat Khan and Ulugh Khan invaded Hammira’s territory.The Delhi army captured Jhain, and renamed it as Shahr-i Nau (“new town”).
  • Finally, the Delhi army reached Ranthambore, and encamped near the fort walls. A messenger from Alauddin offered two alternatives to Hammira: 1 – Present 400,000 mohurs (gold coins), 4 elephants and Hammira’s daughter in marriage to Alauddin 2 – Surrender the Mongol rebels who had taken refuge at Ranthambore
  • Hammira scornfully rejected the demands, and replied that Alauddin could have 400,000 sword wounds instead. The Delhi army then besieged the fort, and tried to scale its walls

ALAUDDIN KHILJI

  • When Alauddin learned about Ulugh Khan’s defeat, he decided to personally lead a stronger force to Ranthambore.When Alauddin reached Ranthambore, the fort was already surrounded by the Delhi army.
  • He realized that a direct attack on the fort was not feasible: the advantage lay with the defenders. Alauddin ordered the construction of a pasheb, an inclined mound built to fill the ditch separating his camp and the fort.
  • Weavers from the neighbouring areas were brought, and asked to sew a large number of bags. Alauddin’s soldiers then filled these bags with soil, and used them to build the pasheb mound. • There was heavy loss of lives on both the sides. During this time, Alauddin’s army also plundered the neighbouring region.

ALAUDDIN KHILJI

  • Alauddin once offered to negotiate a peace treaty. As a result, Hammira sent his general Ratipala (or Ratanpal) to Alauddin’s camp. Alauddin received Ratipala with great honour, and treated him good food and drinks. Alauddin then won Ratipala over to his side, by promising him the governship of Ranthambore after Hammira’s defeat.
  • After returning to Ranthambore, Ratipala did not inform Hammira about what had actually transpired at the meeting. Instead, he told Hammira that Alauddin was willing to establish peace in return for marriage to Hammira’s daughter. • Later, he also turned another general named Ranamalla (or Ranmal) against Hammira. One evening, Ratipala and Ranamalla led their forces out of the fort, and joined Alauddin’s army

LAST STAND

  • The construction of the pasheb, which started in March-April, seems to have finished around the beginning of the rainy season in July.
  • Scarcity of food resulted from a conspiracy by Sarjan Shah, a Buddhist merchant (bania) belonging to the Sharaoji sect. Sarjan Shah’s father had been killed by Hammira.
  • Having been betrayed by his trusted generals, and under the famine-like circumstances in the fort, Hammira realized that Alauddin would capture the fort sooner or later.
  • Hammira decided to fight to death with his loyal men, while the ladies of the fort prepared for suicide by jauhar (mass self-immolation to avoid falling into the enemy hands).
  • Hammira asked his brother Virama to be his successor, but Virama too decided to accompany Hammira in his last fight.

LAST STAND

  • Hammira had all his valuables thrown into the Padmasara lake, and appointed his minister Jaja as his successor.
  • Like other loyalists, Jaja had also been offered a safe passage out of the fort, but decided to stay behind. He supervised the organization of the jauhar, in which Hammira’s queens, daughters and other female relatives committed suicide.
  • Hammira and his loyal companions marched to the top of the pasheb mound, where they fought to death with Alauddin’s army. Some Rajput-era bards claim that Hammira severed his own head and offered it to the god Mahadeva when faced with a certain defeat.

AFTERMATH

  • Jaja continued to offer resistance for two more days after Hammira’s death

. • In the fort, Alauddin found the Mongol rebel Muhammad Shah lying wounded. Alauddin asked Muhammad Shah what he would do if pardoned and saved.

  • Muhammad Shah replied that he would kill Alauddin and appoint Hammira’s son as the new king. An angry Alauddin ordered Muhammad Shah to be trampled by an elephant. However, later he ordered Muhammad Shah to be buried with honour because of he appreciated the dead man’s courage and loyalty.
  • Alauddin ordered punishments for Ratipala and Ranamalla, who had deserted Hammira to join him. Ratipala was flayed alive, while Ranamalla and his followers were killed.

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