eroes are ordinary people, who leave behind extraordinary legacies. - Anonymous
Released in the year 2018, the movie Padmaavat made everyone well aware of the great battle between Alauddin Khilji and Raja Rawal Ratan Singh for Khilji’s undying thirst of catching a glimpse of and capturing Rani Padmini. The movie ended with the heroic defeat of Ratan Singh, the gut-wrenching sacrifice of Rani Padmini’s jauharand the colossal destruction of Mewar. With many historians calling the movie as an actual retelling of events taken place during the early 14th Century, the one fact that has always been side-lined, is the aftermath of those events. Raja Ratan Singh’s defeat left behind a leaderless kingdom, whose public, having suffered enough, fell prey to dacoits, plunderers and the malicious intents of neighbouring kings. Alauddin Khilji had not only destroyed Mewar. He had burnt its very soul.
The movie Padmaavat, a recounting of the battle between Raja Rawal Ratan Singh and Alauddin Khilji
But far off somewhere, in the densely populated forests of Chittorgarh, a young boy was preparing for Mewar’s redemption. A boy orphaned as soon as he was born. A boy who suffered at the cruel hands of fate. A boy, who later came to be called as Maharana Hammir Singh Sisodia. This is the story of that boy. This is the story of Mewar’s glorious rise from the ashes.
The year was 1303. Lakha Singh, a distant relative of Ratan Singh and a subedar in his army was busy preparing for the Great War against Alauddin Khilji. Descendants of the Bappa Rawal clan, Lakha Singh was father to seven brave sons, the eldest of all, Ari Singh, who married Urmila (belonging to the Chandana Rajput dynasty), and bore a son with her, Hammir Singh. As fate would have it, Ari Singh got martyred in the battle against Khilji, while Urmila sacrificed herself in the mass jauhar. And in one blow, Hammir Singh lost both his parents. Growing up witnessing the atrocities being committed against Mewar by dacoits/plunderers/evil kings, Hammir Singh, at the tender age of 10, beheaded dacoit Munja Balecha with his swift archery skills. Coincidentally, Hammir Singh’s uncle Ajay Singh, who had managed to survive the battle, was an observer to this interesting turn of events. Impressed by his nephew’s skills and wit, Ajay Singh took him under his wing and trained him at the small, yet well-built fortress of Kelwara.
A graphic painting of Maharana Hammir Singh, who reclaimed Mewar’s lost glory
After defeating Ratan Singh, Khilji handed over the ruins of Chittor to Rao Maldev Sagar, a ruler of the neighbouring Jalore kingdom, who had deliberately refused to assist Ratan Singh in his battle against Khilji. The rise of young Hammir Singh posed a threat to Maldev’s absolute supremacy. In a bid to tarnish Hammir Singh’s image, Maldev Sagar offered him the hand of his own daughter Princess Sonagiri, a child widow, in marriage. Remarrying widows was considered a taboo and an insult to the Rajput clan, yet not only did Hammir Singh marry Sonagiri, but he also enabled her to exact revenge from her father for his selfish intentions. Doing so, Hammir Singh established the concept of widow remarriage thereby empowering all women in Mewar.
Kelwara fort, where Maharana Hammir Singh received his training from Ajay SIngh
In time, Hammir Singh reclaimed his motherland, Chittor, and ascended to the throne of Mewar in 1326. He became the first Maharana of Mewar. Now that Hammir was the ruler of Mewar, he refused to accept suzerainty of the Sultan of Delhi, Mohammad Bin Tughluq. Enraged by his defiance, and a prey to his own impatience, Tughluq waged war against Hammir Singh. Having already lost at the hands of the Katoch Rajputs in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, Tughluq still didn’t learn from his mistakes. Coincidentally, the Sultan had camped at the fortress of Singoli, a place too familiar to Hammir Singh. Knowing well that the only way of winning the war was by slaying his enemies, Hammir Singh attacked the Sultan’s camp at night. Small in number as compared to Tughluq’s massive army, Hammir Singh deployed his knowledge of guerrilla warfare tactics as well as his training in the Kelwara fort, using the Singoli fort to his tactical advantage and vanquishing Tughluq’s army. Tughluq was captured and kept captive until he promised to never set foot in Mewar again.
Maharani Hammir Singh valiantly fighting against Tughluq’s massive army
And with this we conclude the story of Maharana Hammir Singh. Though he retired in 1364, his folklore was passed down from generation to generation. A true visionary, Maharana Hammir Singh restored Mewar’s lost glory and prosperity. His is a tale of utmost valour and love for one’s motherland. An unsung hero, Maharana Hammir did what only few heroes do. He gave his life to something bigger than himself. And maybe, that’s not the history that has been taught to us. But it’s the history we ought to know. The history of Mewar’s white knight. For, heroes may die. But their legends live on forever.