Maharana Sangram Singh I, popularly known as Rana Sanga, born in 1482, was a king from the Sisodia dynasty. He ruled Mewar, the traditional territory of Guhilas (Sisodias) in present-day North-Western India. However, through his capable rule, his kingdom turned into one of the greatest power of Northern India in the early sixteenth century. He controlled present-day Rajasthan, North Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. His capital was located at Chittor. Despite being the son of a king, things didn’t come easy to him. He had to work through many challenges, including a strained relationship with his brothers and the betrayal of his trusted lead. The three sons of Rana Raimal, the King of Mewar, Sanga, Prithviraj, and Jaimal often quarrelled with each other about the succession of the throne. These quarrels troubled the king, who wanted his sons united for the sake of his kingdom. The king also blamed his brother-in-law Surajmal for setting the princes against one another. Maharana succeeded to the throne after his father’s death following a prolonged power struggle against his brothers.
During these periods, he was associated with a group of Rajput rebels under disguise. After a while, Maharana married the daughter of the chief of the rebels, revealing his true identity to them. He reigned during a very tumultuous period in Indian history.
Under the rule of Rana Sanga, Mewar reached the summit of its prosperity in the 16th century. He reunited the warring clans of Rajputana through diplomacy and marital alliances. Sanga wanted to capture Delhi when he saw the decline of Ibrahim Lodi’s reign.
There was an ongoing conflict between Rana Sanga and the invading Muslim Sultans of North India, culminating in the Battle of Gagron. In the ensuing battle, Khilji and his Muslim allies were wholly routed and, Khilji was taken as a prisoner of war. By the Rajput ideology and tradition, Rana treated the captured Sultan with honour in a gesture of kindness and benevolence, freed him and restored his kingdom in exchange for one of his sons who was being kept as a hostage.
Emerging victorious from the battle of Gagron, Rana Sanga became more ambitious. He started expanding his kingdom by conquering the areas of north-eastern Rajasthan, which was under the control of the Afghan Lodi dynasty. He successfully captured many regions, including the Fort of Ranthambhore, by his aggressive invasion. In retaliation, Lodi attacked Mewar with all his might. However, the ethnic Afghan army of Lodi failed to make any significant contribution in the face of the onslaught of the strong Rajput forces of Rana Sanga. Historically known as the Battle of Khatoli, the battle lasted for only 5 hours, during which Ibrahim Lodi was captured and made a prisoner in the hands of Rana Sanga’s army. He was released after some time in exchange for a payment of ransom. Unfortunately, Rana Sanga got severely injured in this battle. He lost an arm by a sword cut, and an arrow made him lame for life.
Most of the soldiers fighting for Ibrahim Lodi fled during the debacle of the Battle of Khatoli, and his resources were severely compromised. Humiliated and smarted by the disastrous defeat inflicted by Rana Sanga and his Rajput army, an enraged Lodi was forced to remain quiet for the time being and concentrate on reorganising his forces. He found a golden opportunity to avenge the loss when Rana Sanga’s army was busy in their wars with the Sultan of Malwa and Gujarat. He attacked Mewar, trying to take advantage of the situation.
A battle took place near Dholpur. However, once again, Lodi and his men were no match for the crafty and superior Rajputs. They fell like ninepins and were comprehensively beaten by Rana Sanga’s army. In his bid to further consolidate and expand his kingdom, Rana captured most of the areas of present-day Rajasthan following the victory at the Battle of Dholpur. Gradually Rana Sanga’s image as an Indian-origin powerful ruler gained momentum. With the stature of a cardinal player in the power struggle of Northern India, his ambition to conquer the Muslim rulers of Delhi grew in confidence. His objective was to bring the whole of India under his control. Having conquered Gujarat and Malwa, he began marching towards Agra on his mission to wrest control of Delhi ultimately. Mughal invader Babur, at this juncture, defeated Ibrahim Lodi and captured the Delhi Sultanate.
Emerging victorious from the battle of Gagron, Rana Sanga became more ambitious. He started expanding his kingdom by conquering the areas of north-eastern Rajasthan, which was under the control of the Afghan Lodi dynasty
According to legends, Sanga had fought 100 battles and lost only once. In the various struggle, he lost his wrist and was crippled in his leg. Sanga defeated Sultans of Delhi, Malwa, and Gujarat in 18 pitched battles in his illustrious military career. It expanded his domain by conquering much of Present-day Rajasthan, Western Madhya Pradesh and Northern part of Gujarat. He also removed the Jizya tax from the Hindus, which Muslim rulers earlier imposed. In 1526, Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi to capture Delhi. Rana Sanga immediately started the preparations for war in Chittor. Unaware of Babur’s strength and firepower through his cannons, Rana Sanga decided to wage war against the Mughal Emperor. With the support of Raja Hasan Khan Mewati, Raja Medini Rai of Alwar and the Afghan Prince Mehmud Lodi, Rana ordered Babur to leave India. He sent an emissary named Sardar Silhadi of Raisen to convey the message to the Mughal Emperor. Unfortunately, Silhadi was won over by Babur and became his spy. He convinced Rana to believe that war was the only alternative. On the other hand, Babar realised the fact that he needed to engage in the fight to fulfil his ambition to rule North India.
In 1527, the forces of Babur and Rana Sanga met on the battlefield of Khanwa. The Babur’s men met with strong resistance, and Babur’s reinforcements too made a hurried retreat. On the second day of the battle, Babur met Shiladitya, the emissary sent by Rana Sanga. Babur offered him Chittor in return for his help to win the war. Overcome by greed, Shiladitya agreed to side with Babur.
Unaware of this betrayal by Shiladitya, Rana Sanga appointed him to lead the frontal attack. Soon at the battlefield, Rana Sanga realised the treachery when his forces joined Babur to attack Chittoor. Since a major part of his army was under Shiladitya’s command, Rana Sanga abandoned his fort and retreated into the hills. Due to the loss of his land and defeat, Rana Sanga’s health worsened, and he died at Vasva in 1528, a small village in the hills, regretting not being able to defend his land.