Haldighati spoke to me through the history books all through my school days. The history of Maharana Pratap and his courage seeped in through the poetry books that we read. The battle of Haldighati also called Haldi Ghati stands as the turning point in the history of Mughal and Rajputana history. Chetak, the horse who flew on three legs remains a symbol of loyalty and companionship many generations after he did that mean feat for his master Maharana Pratap.
I was in Nathdwara and Haldighati is not too far from there. In fact, as I was driving from Udaipur towards Nathdwara and Haldighati all the stories that I had heard or read were doing rounds in my head. I was trying to place those characters in my head in the landscape I was passing through.
What is Haldighati?
One of the key things that I wanted to see was if the soil at Haldighati is actually the color of Haldi. Haldi is Turmeric in Hindi and is known for its characteristic bright yellow color. I had to wait to see this Haldi color at Haldighati till I reached the small mountain pass on Aravali Hills where a road has been built through a small hill. And yes the color of this rock is absolutely the color of Turmeric of Haldi. We stopped right in the middle of the road and clicked pictures of this insanely yellow rock.
My driver said it is the blood of the soldiers who fought in the battle of Haldighati that has turned the rock and soil yellow. I am sure it is a myth for have we not seen rocks in all possible colors.
This pass on Aravalli has become a tourist stop where everyone stops to take a picture and a selfie.
Battle of HaldiGhati
Battle of Haldighati was fought way back in 1576 between Maharana Pratap and Man Singh who was representing Akbar. Mughals had an upper hand with their size of the army being many times that of Maharana Pratap’s Army. Rajputs fought bravely but at some point in time, Maharana Pratap was injured and unconscious. His general Man Singh Jhala exchanged his armor with him to confuse the Mughal Army and directed his horse Chetak to take him to the safe grounds. Chetak’s one leg was also injured but he carried Maharana Pratap on 3 legs across the hills and across the river. He will be best remembered for this feat. Chetak died leaving Maharana Pratap alone.
In the battlefield, Man Singh Jhala got killed and it took some time for Mughal Army to figure out that they have not yet killed Maharana Pratap. They searched for him but could not find him though they managed to capture the region.
Apparently, the battle lasted for only 4 hours.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the only memorial dedicated to a horse. Chetak, the horse who fought equally in a battle as his master, saved his master’s life at the cost of his own life.
A small canopy and a plaque standing in the middle of a garden remember Chetak – the horse of Maharana Pratap. A small sculpture shows maharana Pratap riding his horse Chetak. This is the same spot where Chetak breathed his last.
A small Shiva temple that looks old stands next to it.
You feel a tinge of sadness mixed with pride when you stand there in front of this memorial.
Maharana Pratap Memorial
Maharana Pratap Memorial documents the history of Maharana Pratap- his life and times, episodes from his life and of course the battles he fought. Located very close to the Chetak Samadhi, this is a whole new building, built in typical Mewari Architecture.
A row of camels lines outside for those who may want to roam around the local style.
But the ticket and enter the lovely fort like structure. There is a small Shiva temple on the right, in all white.
You are greeted by a large bronze sculpture depicting the deception of Mughal Army by Man Singh Jhala. This is done using a horse with an elephant head while the opponent army guy is on an elephant.
Inside the museum, the scenes of battle are depicted using paintings and a series of interactive dioramas. The whole of Mewar is recreated to tell the stories from the life of Maharana Pratap. It was like walking through the history lessons once again.
There is not just history of Maharana Pratap, but more or less history of Mewar covering places like Kumbhalgarh and Chittorgarh Fort.
Behind the museum is a rural village re-created with a small lake to boat around, some shops to shop at. I liked the stack of colorful Pagris at one of the shops – so typically Mewari.
Poetry on Haldighati
The courage of Mewar Rajputs has been celebrated very well by the poets like Shyam Narayan Pandey. His poem describes the bloody battle in gory details – using the metaphors that heighten the emotion of war and the inequality of the facing armies.
Haldighati region is now becoming famous for Chaitri Gulab or pink roses that are commercially grown here. Chaitri refers to the Chaitra month of the Hindu Calendar, and would typically fall in March. Products based on Rose such as Rose water, Gulkand, Rose Squash, Rose fragrance and other medicinal products are produced here. On the way to Haldighati, you would see many stalls selling these products, though, to see the Rose plantations you must visit sometime around March. I was there in November and I saw a lot of Marigold flowers all around, providing a different hue of yellow to the ambiance.
Haldighati and Maharana Pratap memorial are an easy one day trip from Udaipur. You can also combine it with a trip to Nathdwara and Eklingji.
Recommend you to read following Places to visit in Rajasthan near Haldighati.