Maharana Udai Singh II

Maharana Uday Singh II (1552-1572): The brave and indomitable: Story of a forgotten knight of Mewar who refused to surrender against the Mughals

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The land of Mewar had given India countless warriors who had protected the ancient civilization of this sub-continent for many centuries. From the reign of Bappa Rawal to the rise of the great Maharana Pratap the history of endless resistance from the Rajputs to the invaders is well known.

Maharana Uday Singh
Rajput king of Mewar
Maharana Uday Singh II
Image Source: Wikipedia

But there are some heroes in our history whose names had been forgotten or sidelined whenever we talk about Indian history. One name that had to suffer criticism from many historians is Maharana Uday Singh II.

Many people don’t know that prior to the struggle of Maharana Pratap his father i.e. Rana Uday Singh had already launched guerrilla warfare against Akbar and shielded Mewar from the clutches of Mughal.

Rise of Mahrana Uday Singh II

Rana Uday Singh was an astute leader just like his father Rana Sanga. He was the youngest of the four brothers and from the beginning, he had developed a gallant spirit to protect his kingdom and country from invaders.

His birth date is not sure but it is believed that he was born between 1520- 1522 CE. After the death of Rana Sanga Mewar witness a political struggle among its rulers.

Due to this the position of Mewar became vulnerable and sultanates like Malwa and Gujarat now decided to take their revenge for the countless defeats that they had suffered in past from Mewari Rajputs.

Bahadur Shah the sultan of Gujarat attacked Mewar in 1532 and 1535 CE. Due to this Rani Karmavati and other women committed Jauhar in order to save their honor while the brave men died fighting for their land.

At this time Rana Uday Singh was a minor and Rani Karmavati gave the responsibility of the former to Panna Dhai. The great Panna Dhai sacrificed her own son from the soldiers of Vanavir or Vanveer in order to protect Rana Uday Singh. 

After a bit of struggle, Rana Uday Singh II ascended the throne of Mewar in 1540 CE by gaining the support of several nobles.

Visionary Leadership of Uday Singh

The visionary leader of Mewar realizes the vulnerability of Mewar and its civil population. So in order to protect and defend the kingdom from advanced weapons like artillery and others, Rana Uday Singh constructed the city of Udaipur (The city of Lakes).

Maharana Udai Singh
Image Source: Wikipedia
Image of the city of Udaipur

The city was well protected by the hills fort and a lake known as Uday Sagar was also built for agricultural purposes.

Uday Sagar Lake

Maharana Uday Singh can be regarded as the first person who realized the vulnerability of Mewar and its weak defenses. Around the same time, the relation between Jodhpur and Mewar became fragile. This resulted in a useless battle which only increased their problems.

By now the politics of northern India also witness a dramatic change. The Mughal Empire of Babur was overwhelmed by an Afghan warlord i.e. Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah twice defeated the Mughals (in 1539 & 1540) and carved out the Sur Empire which controlled the region between Punjab and Bengal.

After this success, Sher Shah decided to invade Rajputana and the region of Malwa and others.

He defeated the Marwar Rajputs in the Battle of Sumel in 1544 CE. The battle resulted in a pyrrhic Afghan victory and after this Sher Shah shifted his focus on Mewar. But cunning Uday Singh used diplomacy rather than endless war against Sher Shah.

Many don’t agree with this move from Maharana Uday Singh of accepting the suzerainty of Sher Shah but it was a tactical move from Uday Singh. With the death of Sher Shah in 1545 CE at Kalinjar, his empire also disintegrated and now Uday Singh made his move.

Mughal Threat to Mewar

The Mughals under Humayun once again decided to challenge the throne of Delhi and in 1555 CE they attacked Delhi. But their leader i.e. Humayun died in 1556 CE and 11 years old Akbar became their king.

After capturing Delhi the position of Mughal was still weak and their forces had to stop the rising threat of Hemu who had already defeated them in the battle of Delhi (in 1556). In the second battle of Panipat Mughals defeated Hemu and captured Delhi. Their new king i.e. Akbar followed the path of expansionist policy and increased the dominance of Mughals in all directions.

Their first target was Ajmer and in 1559 they brought it under the Mughal flag. Marriage alliance began between some Rajput chiefs and Mughals (Akbar married Raja Bharmal of Amber).

The gallant leader of Marwar i.e. Maldev Rathore died in 1562 CE and due to this Mughals decided to annex this region too.

Note: In 1562 Mughals attacked malwa and defeated Baz Bahadur of Mandu.

In a very short time, king Akbar brought all the neighboring kingdoms under the Mughal flag. But there was one place which from its origin never bowed against invaders and that was the land of Mewar. Its independence always haunted the Mughals and to finish the matter of Mewar once and for all Akbar in 1567 CE attacked Mewar.

According to Kaviraj Shyamaldas when the news of Mughals attacking the city of Chittor reached Uday Singh he called a council of war. The Rajput nobles told Uday Singh that at present their army is not in a position to conduct large-scale war against Mughals.

Their previous wars with the Gujarat sultan had widely affected the economy and they haven’t recovered from it. That’s why the nobles suggested or urged Maharana to leave Chittor.

After a long discussion, Uday Singh agreed to leave Chittor and he placed 8000 Rajput soldiers to defend the city from invaders.

Raimal and Patta were the two brave leaders of the Rajputs at Chittor. For five months the Rajputs at Chittor inflicted heavy casualties on the Mughals. But with the death of Raimal, they decided to launch their final attack on the Mughals. Also, there was a shortage of provisions inside the fort.

Women’s in order to protect their honor committed Jauhar while the soldiers died fighting. After the battle, Akbar ordered the mass execution of 30,000 innocent civilians and according to Kaviraj Shyamaldas around 40,000 people lost their lives of which 39000 died fighting while 1000 were executed

Note: Chittor was annexed in February 1568.

But the victory of Akbar was nothing more than failure because his main objective was to capture Maharana Uday Singh which never happened. Furthermore, Akbar even sent Husain Quli Khan to capture Uday Sing but he failed too.

The Forgotten Hero

Now the question that arises here is that was Maharana Uday Singh a coward?

In 1570 Akbar organized a Durbar at Nagaur in which almost every single king went including the gallant leader of Marwar i.e. Rao Chandrasen Rathore. Only one person was absent who cannot compromise with the legacy and pride and that person was Maharana Uday Singh and the blood of Mewari Rajputs. 

Below is the map of the Mughal Empire during the reign of Maharana Uday Singh and here you can see that only Mewar had remained independent while the rest of the Indian sub-continent had been annexed by the Mughal invaders.

Under Akbar, the Mughals annexed Ranthambore 1569, Bikaner in 1570, and Jaisalmer entered into a marriage alliance with Akbar.

So when kingdom after kingdom were accepting the rule of Mughals it was Maharana Uday Singh who refused to surrender his land and remain independent for his entire reign.

On 28 Feb 1572 this son of Mewar and India died at Gogunda. But the flames of independence remained alive in the hearts of the Rajputs who never accepted the Mughals as their leader and remained independent.

After the death of Maharana Uday Singh his eldest son i.e. Maharana Pratap crushed all the ambitions of Akbar and the Mughals who not only refused to surrender Mewar but also defeated the Mughals at Dewair and through his vehement guerrilla tactics he harassed the Mughals for eternity.


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