Rana Sanga Fiercely Defeated Delhi Sultan in Khatoli Battle; Story Not Glorified in Textbooks
Rana Sanga! Indian history is full of acts of valor and daring glories. As we delve into the aspects of Indian history that has been kept out of reach of text books, we find many such unsung heroes whose bravery, magnanimity and courage made them look almost like super humans. It is a pity that our text books either make just a passing remark on such characters and acts, or just ignore them completely.
One such character was Maharana Sangram Singh aka Rana Sanga. In this particular article an effort has been made to look at a very important battle where Rana Sanga destroyed the Lodhi army of Delhi Sultanate and even captured a Lodhi prince. This particular battle was fought at Khatoli in the year 1518. Khatoli is a village near Harauti in Rajasthan.
Rana Sanga was the ruler of Mewar from year 1508 to 1528. He was born in the Sisodiya clan of Rajputs to Rana Rai Mal on 14 April 1484 at Malwa. He was a daring and courageous warrior who quickly started to expand his territories. This expansion brought him in direct conflict with the Lodhi dynasty of Delhi.
Sikander Lodhi had died in A.D. 1517 and his son Ibrahim Lodhi succeeded him. News of Rana Sanga extending his territories was a bad omen for the Delhi Sultanate, as Sanga’s extended territory almost touched the boundaries of Delhi. To wipe this threat of a resurging Hindu power, Ibrahim Lodhi decided to stop Rana in his tracks. He collected and organised a large army and started to move towards Mewar to intercept Rana Sanga.
Maharana Sanga decided to meet the foe head on and moved with his army. Both armies met face to face at Khatoli or Ghatoli village near the borders of Harauti. Ibrahim’s army was larger and better prepared in terms of numerical superiority and weapons. Rana Sanga and his army lacked it but they were motivated to the extent that were ready to embrace death, fighting for the motherland. This holy death is the ultimate outcome of following Kshatriya Dharma, where a warrior gets either victory or death with no other option.
Ibrahim was himself commanding the army seated on his favorite war elephant. He had heavy cavalry as well as a well trained and equipped infantry. He placed infantry in the front and his heavy cavalry on the flanks. He himself along with a reserve force was at the back of his lines.
Rana Sanga had an army mostly comprising of cavalry units from Mewar and Shekhawti. He also had a formidable infantry. Maharana decided to lead the army himself. His mere presence on the field was a great morale booster for his troops and tales of his daring and valor had already struck fear in his adversaries.
The battle started as a series of skirmishes between Lodhi horse and the Rajput horse. Rajputs had the upper hand in these skirmishes and they were repeatedly taunting the main lines of Sultan’s army. Ibrahim decided to put an end to this and ordered his lines to advance and engage the Rajputs in a full frontal attack.
Maharana Sanga quickly assessed the situation and ordered his heavy cavalry to form a spear head. He himself decided to lead the charge. His army was motivated to thrash the Sultanate’s army. Rajputs descended on the advancing Lodhi lines in a furious charge with Rana Sanga leading from the front. The impact and momentum of the charge was such that Lodhi army lines started to crumble and were scattered here and there. Lodhi cavalry quickly tried to counter the onslaught but the momentum of the charge was so intense that they were unable to withstand.
Ibrahim decided to throw in his reserve in order to salvage the day. His reserve moved forward but their forward movement was hampered by routing Lodhi horsemen and infantry. The reserve of Lodhi army could not form a solid base against which they expected to turn the tables on Rajputs. A general and disorganised rout followed during which the Rajputs played havoc with the Lodhis. Ibrahim managed to run away but a royal prince of his family was caught. He was later released on payment of a hefty ransom.
In the words of a Lodhi era historian ‘Sultan’s armies scattered like dead leaves caught in a gale in front of Rajput cavalry charge’.
This battle lasted for just around 5 hours. These 5 hours were a nightmare for the Lodhis which they could never forget. This battle crippled the Lodhi army to such an extent that they could not challenge Sanga again for a while. This battle also gave Mewar control over north eastern Rajasthan.
Rana Sanga was wounded in this battle but that did not deter his courage from taking part in further battles. He lost an arm by a sword cut and an arrow made him lame for life. He was already blind by one eye before his coronation.
There is an interesting incident which shows the greatness of Sanga. After this battle, Rana Sanga returned to Mewar. On the day he was to assume his duties by sitting on the throne, he surprised everyone by sitting instead on the ground among lesser nobles. The whole court was bewildered, they asked Rana the reason for such behavior to which he replied that ‘when an idol of deity is broken in any form, it is not worshiped but instead kept outside the house and a new idol is put in its place’. He said similar was his case as he had lost an arm and a leg so he should not continue as the Maharana. The whole court was stunned; Medini Rai, a Rajput chief took Rana Sanga by his hand and made him sit on the throne.
There are many such stories from Indian history which are worth sharing and applauding the character and bravery of Indian warriors. It is a pity that most of our young generation is totally unaware of their own roots. Or have they been kept unaware by design?
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Image Courtesy: Varun Rampal (Coroflot) and Pinterest.