Rana Hammir Singh: Regained Mewar from Delhi Sultanate and Rajputana from Tughlaqs
Mewar had been a robust kingdom until Ala-ud-Din Khilji established his supremacy after sacking Chittorgarh. In less than 25 years, Rana Hammir Singh regained Mewar. He was a direct descendant of Bappa Rawal, who along with Nagbhat Gurjar and a confederacy of other North and South Indian rulers, had driven the Arabs out of India in around 738 AD. Hammir Singh also helped the Marwar Rajputs regain their supremacy. He defeated Muhammed Bin Tughlaq in the battle of Singoli, captured him, and released him against a huge ransom. He regained the entire Rajputana from the Tughlaqs. His name is hardly mentioned in History books!
Kingdom of Mewar
Mewar included several principalities – Udaipur, Pirawa, Neemuch, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand, including parts of Madhya Pradesh (Mandsaur) and parts of Gujarat. Chittorgarh was the main base. Mewar’s defense was the formidable and well fortified Chittor Fort, built during the 7th century. This fort, spread across 700 acres, had stood robust against the tides of time and attacks!
How Mewar Came under Delhi Sultanate
During the reign of the Delhi Sultanate under Ala-ud-Din Khilji, Mewar, ruled by Rana Ratan Singh, was the strongest Rajput kingdom. Ala-ud-Din Khilji, who proclaimed himself the Sultan of Delhi after killing his father-in-law and uncle Jalal-ud-Din Khilji, attacked Chittor Fort with a huge army in January 1303. Ala-ud-Din Khilji laid siege of Chittor Fort on all sides. The strong defense in and around the fort dampened his spirits.
On 26th August, 1303, Ratan Singh with his army, donning saffron turbans, made a suicide attack (Saaka) against the enemies. Their goal was to defend or die. In the battle that followed, they perished. Rani Padmavati and thousands of Rajputinis committed Jauhar to save themselves from disgrace at the hands of the enemies.
Hammir Singh’s Ancestors
Lakshman Singh, a distant kinsman of Rawal Ratan Singh and a direct descendant of Bappa Rawal, had eight sons. His eldest son Ari Singh was married to Urmila from the Chandana Rajput clan from Unnava village. The couple had a son named Hammir Singh. During the siege of Chittor Fort by Khilji, Ajay Singh, the second son of Lakshman Singh took the infant Hammir to Kelwara in Kumbhalgarh for safety.
In the battle between Khilji and the Mewar Rajputs, all of the Raputs and Rajputinis present in Chittor Fort perished. The king of Mewar had died issueless. Only Ajay Singh and the infant Hammir Singh from the royal lineage survived.
Hammir Singh’s Upbringing and as Head of Sisodia Clan
The people of Mewar banked upon Ajay Singh to continue their fight against the Delhi Sultanate and regain Mewar. Ajay Singh pursued a guerrilla campaign against the Muslims who occupied Chittor Fort. The guerrilla warfare involved involvement of a small group of combatants in ambushes, hit-and-run tactics, sabotage, raids, etc. using arms. This continued for years together.
Meanwhile, Hammir Singh started growing up under the care of his uncle, who trained him in the art of warfare. While still young, Hammir Singh killed Munja Balecha, the king of a small neighboring kingdom called Kantaliya for creating chaos. This act of bravery led Ajay Singh bestow on Hammir with the claims of rulership.
Ajay Singh died in the mid 1920s. The people of Mewar then declared Hammir Singh as the rightful heir to the throne of Mewar. Hammir’s grandfather Lakshman Singh hailed from Sisoda of Mewar and thenceforth he was known as the head of the Sisodia clan.
Marriage and Claim to Mewar Throne
Ala-ud-Din Khilji, after occupying Chittorgarh, entrusted the administration of Mewar to Maldeo, ruler of a nearby Rajput kingdom. Maldeo had earlier sided with Khilji during his war ventures. Maldeo had a widowed daughter named Songari. Aware that Rana Hammir Singh was of royal lineage, he sent him a marriage proposal for his daughter.
Hammir Singh agreed to the proposal. After the marriage was solemnized, Hammir Singh overthrew his father-in-law Maldeo and ascended the throne of Mewar in 1326. He easily subjugated all from the Delhi Sultanate who opposed him. In a few years, Hammir Singh also helped the neighboring Marwars of Jodhpur regain their lost territory.
The Delhi throne was then no longer under the Khiljis. Ala-ud-Din Khilji had died in 1316. Four years later, i.e in 1320, one Khusro Khan killed Khilji’s son Mubarak Khilji and claimed authority of Delhi. But the other nobles and ministers of the Khilji dynasty did not recognize his claim. They invited Ghazi Malik, the then governor of Punjab, recruited by Khilji, to overthrow Khusro Khan. Grabbing the opportunity, Ghazi Malik marched towards Delhi, killed Khusro Khan, and assumed power of Delhi under a new name – Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, laying the foundation of the Tughlaq dynasty.
Battle of Singoli
Muhammed Bin Tughlaq, earlier known as Ullugh Khan, ascended the throne of Delhi in 1325 AD after getting his father Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and brother treacherously killed. Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq was a cruel ruler but his son was many times crueler than him.
Muhammed Bin Tughlaq imposed heavy taxes on Hindus, 10 to 20 times more than those levied earlier. Farmers were forced to give half of the crop yields in addition to taxes. Many farmers left farming, left their lands and started living in the forests. Tughlaq’s men pursued them and executed them. They also executed those who could not pay taxes or paid lower than the decided amount.
Muhammed Bin Tughlaq did not even spare certain sect of Muslims. He routinely executed Sayyids (Shia), Sufis, Qalandars, and other Muslim officials. Ziauddin Barni, his court historian wrote in Tarikh-I Firoz Shahi – ‘Not a day or week passed without spilling of much Musalman blood’. Such was the atrocities committed by Muhammed Bin Tughlaq. The list of more atrocities committed by him is unending.
Tughlaq was also on an empire expansion spree soon after he ascended the throne of Delhi. He even dreamt of advancing beyond the Himalayas and conquering China. He laid attacks on kingdoms on the way to China. But his dreams of conquering China was shattered after he was defeated by the Katoch Rajputs of Kangra.
Muhammed Bin Tughlaq then set his eyes on Rajasthan. He wished to subjugate the whole of Rajasthan under his dominion. Ajmer, Ranthambhore, Nagor and Shivapuri – all Rajputana kingdoms were under his siege. He then advanced towards Mewar with a huge army.
A fierce battle took place between Muhammed Bin Tughlaq and Hammir Singh in 1336 at Singoli in Neemuch (currently Madhya Pradesh). Hammir Singh had the support of Charans, who were known for their preference to die rather than break a promise, and neighboring Rajput forces. The combined Rajput army was a disaster for Tughlaq’s forces. Muhammad bin Tughlaq was badly defeated and taken captive.
Following the rules of Dharma, the Mewar Rana did not kill the Tughlaq Sultan. The Tughlaqs came forward with a proposal agreeing to pay ransom against their ruler’s release. Hammir Singh agreed. He released Muhammed Bin Tughlaq against a ransom amount of 5,000,000 tankas. Besides, Hammir Singh annexed the territories of Ajmer, Ranthambhore, Nagor and Shivapuri which were subjugated by the Tughlaqs, into the Mewar empire. Entire Rajputana was regained.
Such was the humiliating defeat of Muhammed Bin Tughlaq at the hands of Hammir Singh that the Tughlaqs left the idea of attacking Rajasthan again. So did the next two successive Muslim dynasties in Delhi. The Lodis did try to subjugate the Mewar Rajputs but were defeated.
1. A Textbook of Medieval Indian History Sailendra Sen
2. A Brief History of the Indian Peoples, William Hunter
3. Tarikh-I Firoz Shahi, Ziauddin Barni
Featured image (representation purpose only) courtesy: unacademy.com and hellotravel.com.