From being a vegetable seller on the streets to crowning himself the independent king of Delhi, Hemchandra Vikramaditya or Hemu, as he is more popularly known lived a great and happening life full of achievements. His biggest achievement was defeating the Mughals in the battle of Delhi in 1556, & becoming the ruler of Delhi and crowning himself as Raja Vikramaditya(Bikramaditya). Here is his life story:
Early life of Hemu:
Born in Alwar district of Rajasthan, Hemchandra Vikramaditya popularly known as Hemu was probably one the most intelligent military commanders that medieval India has produced.
In his childhood Hemu sold vegetables and Saltpeter (potassium nitrate) but due to constant decline in agriculture production he left farming and his interest developed in military services.
Impressed by Hemu’s discipline, loyalty, and hard work , Islam Shah the successor of Sher Shah appointed him as the superintendent of the market. Hemu’s main work at that time was to manage the supplies for the entire afghan army (food and civil supplies).
Due to his organizational abilities Islam shah gave him the post of Chief of Intelligence to spy on rebellious Afghan nobles, whom he suspected of being traitorous.
In 1553, Islam shah was succeeded by Adil shah( nephew of Sher Shan). Adil shah appointed Hemu as his Prime minister and commander in chief of the Afghan army.
Distinguished Military Career:
Abul Fazl the court historian of Akbar noted that prior to the battle of panipat ,Hemu had fought and won all the 22 battle and never lost any battle. In fact it would be wrong to not mention this fact in Hemu Biography.
In 1555 , Ibrahim shah suri dethroned Adil shah and revolted against him in Agra.Due to this the Sur Empire was divided into four regions. Ibrahim shah occupied Delhi and Agra while Bengal was taken by Shamsuddin Shah, Sikander shah suri occupied Punjab and the area from Bihar to Agra remained under Adil Shah only due to Hemu’s power.
Hemu’s last battle was fought at Chunar with Taj Khan Karrani. Karrani fled the battlefield to Bengal. Hemu chased him all the way to Bengal and established a strong base in east India.
While hemu was in Bengal the Mughals under Humayun defeated Sikander shah suri on 23 july 1555 and captured Delhi and Agra.
After the death of Humayun on 26 january 1556 14 years old minor Akbar was proclaimed padshah at Kalanaur(Haryana). This gave hemu an ideal opportunity to capture Delhi.
Hemu marched from Bengal towards Delhi capturing Mughal cities of Banaya,Etawah,Sambhal,Kalpi,Narula and Agra. One incident that further add stars on Hemu’s leadership is the famine that occur in Delhi-Agra region during 1556. Scarcity of food and water occur in several region and men were eating each other.
When Hemu’s army reached Banaya, 50mi from Agra although people of Agra and Delhi were starving Hemu was able to feed his 500 war elephants with rice, sugar, and butter such was his genius in logistics.
The Mughals deployed Pir Muhammad Sharwani with an army as reinforcement to the Mughal forces led by Tardi Beg khan towards Agra to stop undefeated Hemu and the stage was set for a titanic encounter that would decide who will rule Hindustan.
Battle of Delhi(7 October 1556) and becoming the last independent hindu king of Delhi :
Hemu advanced through Agra and reached the outskirt of Delhi.
The Mughal army was divided into 4 wings. The vanguard, the center under Tardi beg and Afzal khan, the right wing under Qasim malik and the left wing under Abdullah uzbeg.
Hemu divided his army into 3 lines with elephants in front, cavalry in second and infantry in third.
The Mughal vanguard attacked Hemu’s right wing. In this attack the commander of Hemu’s right wing Rai Hussain got killed. The Mughals then ordered their left wing to follow the same in order to outflank Hemu’s wing and encircle its center.
Hemu with his select corps unit which consist of 3000 cavalry and 300 war elephants waited for their turn. When Mughal center was separated from their two wing Hemu ordered his special corps to smash Mughal’s center.
The select corps of Hemu was able to break the Mughal center. The Mughals couldn’t match the ferocity of the charge and soon after it the Mughals started retreating from the battlefield , it was a total disaster for the Mughals.
Victorious Hemu captured 1000 Mughal horse. Tardi Beg Khan returned to Sirhind but Bairam Khan executed him for his failure.
Hemu occupied Delhi and adopted the title Vikramaditya and declared himself an independent ruler of Delhi. For the first time in 300 years , Delhi again had a Hindu ruler. But unfortunately,it would not last for long.
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