India is not just a land of brave warriors, but also a land of brave animals that played a significant role in protecting India from the Islamic invaders. Usually, books, poems and songs are not written on any one particular animal, but here several books, poems and songs have been written on this animal.
The animal is Chetak, the brave horse ridden by Maharana Prathap.
If it was not Chetak, then the Mughals would have won the battle of Haldighati under Akbar, but due to the heroism of Chetak, the life of Maharana Pratap was saved and eventually, he went on to win the Haldighati battle.
Marwari, Sindhi and Kathiawari were the breeds of horses that were popular in the religion during the reign of Maharana Pratap. Due to the special characteristics of Chetak, Maharana Pratap chose it as his horse in the war field. Chetak was from Marwari breed and was between 14.2 to 15.2 hands height.
While Chetak’s ears were curved and curled, it had a broad chest. However, the size of this horse was small and had a peacock shaped neck. Chetak was naturally an aggressive and arrogant horse, could be controlled only by Maharana Pratap.
In the battle of Haldighati that was fought on 21 June 1576, the Akbar’s Army was clearly larger in size and Maharana Pratap’s Army was of no match. What added to the woes of Maharana Pratap was that there was immense disunity among the Rajput kings and few had even joined hands with the Mughuls.
When we speak of the then situation, almost the entire nation was under the control of Akbar. So it was not at all an easy task for Maharana Pratap to fight against Akbar’s army.
No one can forget how Maharana Pratap had sliced the mightiest commander of Akbar, i.e. Behlol Khan along with his horse in a single blow. Even in this, Chetak had played a significant role and then Maharana’s next target was Man Singh, who had joined hands with Akbar.
But it was not a cake-walk as Man Singh was guarded by hundreds of Mughal soldiers. Due to Chetak, Maharana Pratap managed to pierce through Mughal soldiers and finally reached closer to Man Singh, where he was seated in an elephant. A report states “Chetak made its way through the tough army of the opponent and reached near the elephant on which Man Singh was seated. Chetak reared its forelegs and planted the hooves on the face of the elephant. Rana Pratap attempted a frontal charge and threw his lance, which misfired and killed the elephant driver”.
Yes, such was the bravery of Chetak and now let us try to know his loyalty to his master Maharana Pratap.
Chetak’s face was covered with an elephants mask, just to deceive his rivals and this plan of Maharana Pratap yielded high results in the battlefield. In the Haldighati battle, elephants’ trunks were tied with knives so that it would harm the rivals. So Chetak’s one leg was almost cut as he tried to jump in the battlefield. Yet he didn’t leave his master midway.
Even amidst extreme pain, Chetak didn’t stop his run and had managed to take Maharana Pratap to a safer place, away from the battlefield. But at last, Chetak had to jump over a flowing river so that Maharana Pratap would be saved form the rivals. What will surprise you is that Chetak had crossed the huge distance (over 15 feet) by jumping with a broken leg.
That was his last jump as he breathed his last breath on the lap of Maharana Pratap, his master. Later on, Maharana Pratap built a memorial in the place where the brave and loyal Chetak breathed his last breath.