Contrary to popular belief Chittor and Ranthambhor are not located in the Aravalli Range—instead these famous Rajput forts were built on the flat-topped hills of the plateau running into Rajasthan from the Vindhya Range. Known variously as the northern plateau, the Malwa plateau, or the Central Indian plateau, this uneven landscape stretches in a wide semi-circle along the course of the River Chambal as it flows north and then curves east to fall into the River Yamuna—the edge of the plateau in the east lies along the banks of the River Yamuna and comprises the territories of Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand.
The other famous forts in this plateau (from west to east) are Pavagarh, Gagraun, Chanderi, Gwalior, Kalinjar, and Orchcha. Politically the plateau covers the modern state of Madhya Pradesh, although a substantial portion was annexed by Rajasthan during the resistance to the Islamic invasions in the medieval era.
While all the drainage of the plateau runs to the east, the drainage of the Aravalli Hills flows due west into the River Luni or north into the River Banas. The plain land between the plateau and the Aravallis, which is commanded by the fort of Chittor, depends on lakes and shallow streams for its irrigation.
In the south the Aravallis rapidly fall in height, forming a mass of low hills tightly packed together in a region called Bagar, where the Rajput states of Sirohi, Dungarpur, and Banswara were located. Beyond these hills lie the plains comprising the modern state of Gujarat—in fact three distinct stretches of plain.
The first expanse running along the coast to Maharashtra (bound by the Malwa plateau on its east) was known in ancient times as Lata. The second portion forms Saurashtra and the peninsula of Kathiawar while the third is the island of Kutch lying beyond the salty waste of the Rann. As will be seen later Kutch has always had a distinct identity from the rest of the state.
The fate of the ruling clans
From the accession of Ala-ud-din Khalji as Sultan of Delhi (in 1296) to the death of Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq (in 1351) lies an important epoch in the history of India. In these fifty odd years all the great Hindu kingdoms of the west and south were destroyed—political Islam made its second great forward movement in India. It seemed that whole continent would soon fall to Islam with the pacification of these conquered areas and the conversion of the inhabitants.
However the unbending resistance in these destroyed kingdoms created insurmountable roadblocks in this forward movement—the occupying Muslim armies were bled dry and finally repulsed. Islam in India was denied its ultimate victory.
After the dust settled, the territory of the Sultanate of Delhi shrank back to the Indo-Gangetic plain and powerful new kingdoms like Mewar, Marwar, and Vijaynagar carried the torch of Hindu independence for the next two centuries. However this success was not repeated in Gujarat, Malwa, and Devagiri, all of which came under their own Muslim dynasties. The case of Devagiri has been discussed in an earlier post—the Rajput clan hierarchy that had won famous victories over the invaders in Rajputana could only ensure the creation of petty principalities in Malwa and Gujarat.
There are two reasons for this. Firstly Gujarat and Malwa had not experienced a direct Islamic invasion, with the prolonged sieges of forts and destruction of cities—the invading armies had been defeated at the borders or had withdrawn after some plundering. The inhabitants of these kingdoms had not learnt to fortify their villages or wall their cities, to burn crops and grasses, or to poison wells on the approach of a Muslim army. So when the Turks captured Gujarat in 1298 and Malwa in 1305, they had under their control well-cultivated plains, secure roads, and flourishing ports and cities with a large civilian population.
Secondly what North India had learnt from bitter experience—that the conquest and plundering was only a prelude to the captivity and conversion of the ruling classes and the forcible erasure of the pre-Islamic identity of their lands—became apparent to the people of Gujarat and Malwa only after their forts and cities had fallen to the enemy. Rajputana preserved its identity through jauhar and prevented Islam from striking roots in its territory. But in Malwa and Gujarat the Islamic invaders gained great wealth and large numbers of enslaved converts—the latter carried all the secrets of the former rulers, the intimate knowledge of their forts and cities, and assisted greatly in the conquest of these lands.
The Parmar rulers of Malwa had been weakened by their conflict with the neighboring kingdoms of Gujarat and Ranthambhor. After the Turk conquest many Parmar princes sought refuge in Rajputana or migrated east—some of these even found their way into the hills of Maharashtra. In Gujarat the Solanki rulers had seen conflicts within their ruling family, in which their Vaghela vassals assisted the winning side and eventually usurped the throne of Gujarat. After the invasion of the Turks many of these Vaghelas migrated east into the plateau region—they grew in numbers and power to give the name Baghelkhand to their new home. Some branches of the Solankis remained in Gujarat, like the chiefs of Lanch, while others migrated to Rajputana.
In both kingdoms there had been a hierarchy of other Rajputs clans, which ensured the formation of small principalities that continued the fight against the sultans. Sometimes resisting the Muslim armies from their forts, sometimes paying tribute to the sultans, and sometimes inviting neighboring powers like Mewar to their aid. Some of these states survived this era as well as the subsequent Mughal rule and Maratha conquest of Gujarat and Malwa.
Political and military strength of any ruler is based on the economy of his kingdom. Malwa was blessed with a fertile and well-watered soil, many cities and pilgrimage centers, and large stretches of forest. Gujarat in addition had its ports that catered to sea-borne trade and fishing, and subsequently became the gateway to India for Muslim immigrants and their horses. These resources were thoroughly milked through hefty taxes on agriculture (kharaj), trade, pilgrimage, and religion (jaziya)—with this income the sultans waged wars against each other, against the remnants of Hindu resistance within, and against the powerful rulers of Rajputana.
Apart from the Rajput principalities, the remote forest areas in Gujarat and Malwa had tribes like the Kolis, Bhils, Gonds, and Ahirs. The priestly and trading classes, the Kathi, Mawassi and Girassia village chiefs, the Jats, the Patels—all of these came under direct Muslim rule.
The Sultans of Gujarat were descendants of converted Hindus and in the course of their numerous wars also converted some of the local chieftains to Islam. Their officers and soldiers were mostly Turks but from the sea came other Muslim immigrants like Arabs, Persians, and Ethiopians (Siddis) who carved out their own petty estates—Gujarat also has the distinction of being home to dissenting Islamic sects like the Ismailis, Bohras, and Khojas, all of whom suffered persecution at the hands of the Sultans and the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
The Malwa Sultans were Turks who colonized the cities of Malwa with their Turk followers. Their Afghan soldiers were settled in the rural areas and by this quirk of history struck roots in the local culture and grew in population while the Turks were later absorbed by the Mughal invaders. The territory under the direct rule of the sultans included the fertile lands of the Narmada valley and some portions of the plateau through which the River Chambal and its many tributaries wound their way (up to Ujjain). On the east were a cluster of Rajput principalities ruled by clans like the Bundelas, Gaurs, and Bhadaurias, while on the north around Gwalior were the Tomar Rajputs.
But it was on the northwest that the greatest challenge to the Sultanate of Malwa existed—Rampura was ruled by the Chandrawats, while from their main fort at Gagraun the Khichi Chauhans ruled over Khichiwara. The Hada Chauhans, even though possessing lands on the Malwa plateau were vassals of the Maharanas of Mewar and had conquered this territory before the Sultanate became independent. Their lands were called Hadoti (or Haravati) and despite numerous invasions by the Malwa Sultans remained within Rajputana.
The Sultanate of Gujarat comprised the plains of Lata with Rajput principalities in Saurashtra and Kathiawar on the north and west—these were ruled by clans like the Jhalas, Jadavs, Gohils, Rathors, Chudasama, Solankis, and Vaghelas. The Rajas of Jhalawar, Idar, and Lanch fought repeated battled with the Muslims and successfully kept them at bay—however Dwarka and Girnar in Saurashtra were ultimately conquered in the 15th century. The brief conflict of the sultans with the Portuguese has been described elsewhere.
To the east and on the border with Malwa lay Champaner, ruled by the Khichi Rajputs. After a succession of back-and-forth battles Champaner was finally conquered by the Sultan Mahmud Begarha in 1484 (nearly a century after the sultanate had come into existence)—the spirited attitude of Raja Jayasimha when captured showed that love of independence and belief in their ancestral faith of the Hindus in Gujarat remained unshakeable in spite of the non-stop conflict with the Muslim invaders.
Despite such setbacks, immigrations of fresh Rajput clans continued apace in both regions. In the early 16th century Kutch was conquered by the Jadeja Rajputs, and remained independent throughout the reign of the Sultans and even during the heydays of the Mughal Empire. Other clans like the Gohils and Jhalas founded fresh principalities in the Kathiawar peninsula while in the north the conflict with the Rathors of Idar and the Chauhans of Sirohi ensnared the Sultans in a strenuous contest with the Maharanas of Mewar. Idar in particular was attacked several times, its temples were broken and replaced by mosques, and a Muslim army was left to colonize the land and convert the population. But each time the ruling Rathors expelled the Muslims, tore down their mosques, and rebuilt the temples.
The Malwa Sultans eventually conquered Chanderi, Bhilsa, and Sarangpur. At the same time many Hindu chieftains took up service with the Sultans—in the early 16th century these Rajputs, led by Medini Rai, formed a confederacy that threatened to overthrow the Sultanate. Here again the history of this Rajput revolution in Malwa overlaps with the saga of the Kingdom of Mewar.
The shadow of Mewar
The same Kshetrasimha defeated an invasion of the first Malwa Sultan, Dilawar Khan Ghori, with the aid of his Hada vassal Rao Mahadeva in 1389 CE. The Hada Chauhans spread further into the Malwa region and captured a large territory that came to be named Hadoti. In the reign of Maharana Kumbha a conflict broke out between the Rathors of Marwar and Sesodias of Mewar. How the neighboring Muslim rulers took advantage of this conflict and how they were ultimately repulsed by Kumbha has been described earlier.
Under Maharana Sanga the Kingdom of Mewar delivered shocking blows to its neighbours causing first the Disintegration of Malwa. With Maharana Sanga's invasion of Gujarat Mewar, already the leading kingdom in North India, now headed a confederacy to oust the Mughal invader Babur from Delhi.
But just at that time Sultan Muzaffar II died and a dispute arose over the succession to the throne of Gujarat—to secure the rear while his army was marching north, Sanga helped Bahadur to become the next Sultan of Gujarat. Unfortunately Babur had by that time collected his forces and besieged Bayana leading up to the hard-fought Battle of Khanua.
After his victory Babur attacked and killed Sanga’s vassal Medini Rai at Chanderi. Meanwhile three rulers successively ruled over Mewar in a very short period marked by much infighting. Taking advantage of these troubles Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, seeking revenge for Gujarat’s humiliation (but forgetting Sanga’s aid to him) attacked Chittor (in 1534 CE). Bahadur also captured Malwa and extinguished the Turk family ruling at Mandu.
In the Indo-Gangetic plain, the Mughals were expelled by Sher Shah Sur who became Sultan of Delhi in 1540 CE. He campaigned in Rajputana, Malwa, and Bundelkhand, treacherously capturing Raisen from its Tomar Rajput ruler, and dying of severe burns at the siege of Kalinjar fort.
Despite these setbacks the shadow of Mewar continued to fall on Malwa and Gujarat—even after they became regular provinces in the Mughal Empire of Akbar. Broadly speaking the policy of Akbar against the Rajputs was: alliance with the smaller states, and war against the large states. Many vassals of Mewar, like the Hadas of Bundi, the Guhilots of Dungarpur and Banswara, the Khichis of Gagraun, the Chandrawats of Rampura, all joined the service of Akbar who further pacified them by his tolerant governance of the larger Hindu population.
The rulers of smaller Rajput states that were annexed by the Mughals (like Gwalior and Merta), and the descendants of Sher Shah Sur, naturally remained allied to the Rajputs of Mewar and continued opposing the Mughals down to the famous Battle of Haldighati.
The fighting (Mughal-Mewar conflict) was finally ended by a peace treaty between the Kingdom of Mewar and the Mughal Empire in 1615. By the terms of this treaty, Mewar promised not to shelter the enemies of the Mughals within their kingdom while the latter returned the fort of Chittor (and all the lands under it) to Mewar. But since an army from Chittor could at any time invade and annex neighboring Malwa, the Mughals inserted a clause in the treaty that some bastions of the fort would be pulled down and not repaired by the Rajputs—making Chittor useless for garrisoning.
Akbar, who had ascended the throne as a teenager, was under the influence of his ministers and family members for the early part of his reign. It was his foster-brother Adham Khan, who conquered Malwa and pocketed all its treasures—Akbar had him thrown off the balcony of the Agra palace in a fit of anger. His growing alliance with the Rajputs gave Akbar a freer hand in dealing with his own kinsmen and rebellious Muslim generals.
The early Mughal administration of the two provinces is given in the Ain-i-Akbari (see Malwa and Gujarat). In Malwa the Mughals changed the capital from Mandu to the more centrally located Ujjain—Malwa (and Khandesh) became the base for operations against the Gond kingdoms and the south. Gujarat became the chief trading center of the empire, and was the route for Muslim pilgrims traveling to Mecca. The rich port of Surat and the taxation of its trade were kept in the hands of the emperor.
Malwa and Gujarat had retained a primarily Hindu character under the Sultans due partly to the local resistance and partly to the bloody conflict with Mewar that exhausted the military resources of the Sultans and drained their energies. Under Akbar (the pragmatic) and Jehangir (the drunkard) matters remained the same in both regions. In Malwa Akbar had taken the fort of Gagraun from the Khichi Chauhans and compensated them by his recognition of their two states of Khilchipur and Raghogarh. In a later period the offshoots of the Jodhpur Rathors carved out their own states in Malwa (Ratlam, Sitamau, and Sailana). In Gujarat Jehangir was pleased to welcome the Rao of Kutch to a durbar in Gujarat—however due to its remote location, and its utility in the shipping of Mecca pilgrims, Kutch remained outside the Mughal orbit.
Despite this outward bonhomie (sulah-kul), there were also rebellions against the Mughals, and attempts by the latter to intervene in the domestic disputes of these Rajput states. But with the accession of Shah Jahan (the bigot) and Aurangzeb (the fanatic) the bloody days of ceaseless warfare returned.
The Rajput state of Nawanagar (later known as Jamnagar) was attacked in 1635 by Shah Jahan’s subahdar Azam Khan…again in 1662 the Mughals invaded and captured Nawanagar, this time renaming it Islam-nagar! However the Jadeja Rajputs, with aid from their kinsmen of Kutch, continued a guerrilla war and recovered Nawanagar in 1667. But the constant back-and-forth of the battles between Hinduism and Islam, was seen once again in the battle-scarred history of the Rajput state of Idar, which had defeated all attempts of the Gujarat Sultans to conquer it.
The Mughal prince Murad, as the next Subahdar of Gujarat, attacked Idar and appointed a Muslim governor there—but when he set out to fight the war of succession to the Mughal throne (1657) Rao Punja expelled the Muslims and recovered his ancestral kingdom. Aurangzeb as Emperor again captured Idar but the Rathors fought a guerrilla war, killing 200 of the occupying Mughals in 1670, while in 1675 Rao Gopinath expelled Sayyid Kamal and recovered Idar. He was defeated and killed by the imperialists in 1680 and Idar again fell to the Mughals—during the Rajput War in neighboring Rajputana, the army of Mewar entered Gujarat and sacked Vadnagar and Visalnagar. Taking advantage of the Mughal difficulties, Gopinath’s son hired a band of Rajput adventurers and finally recovered Idar.
Thus from the date of its founding (in the 13th century) this small Rajput state was attacked over a dozen times by the Islamists, with the familiar massacres and desecration of temples, but was recovered and the marks of Islam were expunged from the land each time.
After his defeat in the war of succession, Dara Shukoh escaped to Punjab and Sindh, and finally took refuge with the Rao of Kutch. Both the Rao and his kinsman of Nawanagar helped Dara in conquering Gujarat and equipping another army to fight Aurangzeb. After the failure of that attempt (Battle of Deorai) Dara returned by the same route and was conveyed across the Rann to Sindh and Baluchistan where he was treacherously captured by the Pashtun chief Malik Jiwan (see also Bikaner-Aurangabad connection). The Rao of Kutch, while not opposing the Mughal army chasing Dara, did not aid it in crossing the waterless Rann and caused it immense losses in men and horses.
The same war of succession in Malwa saw the participation of the local Rajput clans under the banners of Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur. After the accession of Aurangzeb there were minor revolts in Malwa—of some Bhils under Chakra Sen in 1660 and of the Gonds under Bhupal Singh in 1669. Both these risings were put down by the local officials. But these outbreaks eventually mingled with the fight for religious freedom brought on by Aurangzeb’s fanatical ordinances against the Hindus—but it is less well known that Aurangzeb showed a similar attitude towards non-Sunni Muslims.
The Bohras were originally Hindu traders (Sanskrit Vyavharin) of Gujarat who were converted by a Muslim saint to Shiaism. Since their practices did not tally with the Sunnis some of the Bohras were forcibly converted to the Sunni faith by the Gujarat Sultans. Aurangzeb further converted the Bohra mosques to Sunni usage, killed their leader Sayyid Qutb and 700 of his followers, and arrested another named Khanji. Orthodox Muslims were appointed to instill Sunni doctrines in the Bohra children across each city and village of Gujarat.
The Khojas were another class of Hindus (mostly in Kathiawar) who were converted by Sayyid Imam-ud-din—his lineal descendants were worshipped as saints by the Khojas, which offended the Sunni fanatic Aurangzeb. Sayyid Shahji was arrested and killed, after which the Khojas went on a rampage, defeating a Mughal force and capturing the port-city of Broach in 1685. The Gujarat subahdar attacked that place and slaughtered the Khojas, many of whom willingly drowned their families in the Narmada rather than have them converted to the Sunni faith.
Aurangzeb as Subahdar of Gujarat (1645) desecrated the Chintamani temple in Ahmedabad but Shah Jahan ordered the restoration of the holy building to the Hindus. As Emperor, Aurangzeb in 1659 issued the Benares Charter (cited by the leftists as a sign of his liberality) stating that no old Hindu temples would be demolished (rather they would eventually disappear through lack of repair) but new temples would be pulled down (so that the natural growth of their faith would be denied to the Hindus). But in 1669 even this ludicrous farce was abandoned and a general order was issued to demolish "all the temples and schools of the idolators."
Following this order the temple of Somnath on the Gujarat coast was demolished (but was recovered by the local Hindus) while temples in Ujjain were also attacked in 1671—in the latter case the Rajputs of that place defeated the Mughal commander and prevented this outrage on their faith. In 1674 all religious land grants (wazifa) to the Hindus in Gujarat were confiscated. The customs duty for Muslim traders was set at 2.5% while it was doubled to 5% for Hindu traders! In 1679, after invading Rajputana, Aurangzeb imposed the hated jaziya tax on the non-Muslims to force their conversion to Islam. In Gujarat this tax yielded an annual sum of Rupees five lakh, which was nearly 3.5% of the gross revenue of the province.
Jaipur, Jodhpur and the Marathas
The ripples of the Rajput war also affected Malwa when a Mewar army sacked Dhar (1680) where they broke mosques and burnt copies of the Koran in retaliation to the desecration of temples by Aurangzeb.
In 1685 Lal Singh Khichi and Pahar Singh Gaur united against the Raja of Bundi and captured his camp and treasures—Aurangzeb, then in the Deccan, demanded that they send the captured booty to him (instead of returning it or compensating his own Hindu general! See the parallel case of Jujhar Singh and Shah Jahan)! On refusal Pahar Singh was attacked and killed by the Subahdar of Malwa, but his sons continued the rebellion and joined Chhatrasal of Bundelkhand in his war against the Mughals.
Another Bundi vassal, Durjan Sal Hada, joined the Marwar Rathors in 1687, slaughtered the Mughal outposts in Marwar and went on to sack Rohtak and Rewari in the Delhi Subah! The effects of this continuing Rajput War were also felt in Gujarat—as a result of a fresh peace treaty Durgadas Rathor was granted the territory of Annhilwara Patan in 1697. But only a few years later the Mughals, under Safdar Khan Babi, tried to imprison Durgadas and when that attempt was foiled, chased him back to Marwar.
The effects of Aurangzeb’s wars in the Deccan also overlapped into Gujarat and Malwa. The same Safdar Khan Babi was defeated by Dhana Jadav at the Battle of Ratanpur (1706), after which the Marathas extracted chauth, and the tribal Kolis, taking advantage of the disturbance, came down from their forest abode and sacked Baroda.
In Malwa the rebellions of Khichis and Gaurs, and the fighting to save temples, encouraged other communities like the Afghans to also rebel, and created conditions for outside interference. So first Krishna Savant in 1699 and then Nima Sindhia in 1703 ravaged Malwa but withdrew each time when chased by Mughal armies.
Rao Gopal Singh Chandrawat of Rampura was serving in the Deccan when his son Ratan Singh usurped their ancestral kingdom. Gopal complained to Aurangzeb but the fanatic emperor spurned his loyal general since the latter’s son had converted to Islam and was now a member of the ummah! The disgusted Rajput chief deserted the Mughals and returned home to recapture Rampura in 1700—his son drove him out with Mughal aid and renamed the kingdom Islampura. The Chandrawat chief ultimately took refuge with his kinsmen of Mewar and with their aid finally recovered his kingdom from Muslim occupation (1714).
After Aurangzeb’s death, his son Bahadur Shah was defeated by the Rajputs and was forced to return their kingdoms and end the anti-Hindu ordinances of his father. While the Maratha raids continued in both Gujarat and Malwa, Maharajas Ajit Singh of Jodhpur and Jai Singh of Jaipur were appointed subahdars of the two provinces (respectively).
After their experiences in Aurangzeb’s reign these two kings were naturally prompted by self-interest and had no stake in the revival of the pragmatic alliance of Akbar the Great. Ajit Singh pulled down the mosques forcibly built on temple sites, restored those temples, and banned the slaughter of cows. Former Mughal officers like the Babis created their own estates like Junagadh while two of Ajit Singh’s sons (Anand Singh and Rai Singh) captured Idar from Rao Chandra and became the founders of the modern princely state of Idar—the old Rathor family was compensated by the estate of Vijaynagar.
Ironically this small state, that had repulsed the continual assaults of Islam for over five centuries finally lost its ancestral land to fellow Hindus—and that too of the same Rajput clan!
Jai Singh’s governance of Malwa involved a grand alliance of Rajput states like Mewar, Kota, Bundi, Rampura, and Bundelkhand. The real purpose of this alliance was to hold the balance of power between the Mughals and Marathas. The Jaipur King remained on friendly terms with the Marathas and it was in his absence, and against his advice, that the Mughals fought a useless war against the southern power with the result that Malwa was finally won by the Marathas. Here again the former Mughal officials carved out their own kingdom of Bhopal.
The Maratha officers of the Peshwa secured the two provinces for their master and eventually formed their own princely states—in Gujarat it were the Gaekwads (Baroda), while in Malwa it were the Scindias (Gwalior and Ujjain), Pawars (Dewas), and Holkars (Indore).
The Maratha domination over North India was full of ironies—the original alliance with the northern powers like the Rajputs was for a common desire for freedom from Mughal oppression. However due to the financial constraints arising out of their war with Aurangzeb, the Marathas had to impose tribute on the Hindu states of the north. Thus Chhatrasal was compelled to cede fully a third of Bundelkhand (forming the region of Jhansi and Banda) to the Marathas, while the Chandrawats, Khichis, and Jhalas were forced to pay annual tributes.
The natural result of such exactions were rebellions by the Rajputs, Jats, Gonds, and Ahirs against Maratha rule. The Maratha wars against Jodhpur and Jaipur are more understandable, since the rulers of these states were Subahdars of Gujarat and Malwa and duty-bound to fight the Marathas.
But what is mystifying is the Maratha invasion of Mewar! The land of Kumbha, Sanga, and Pratap! The one state that resisted even a pragmatic alliance with Akbar, which beat back the tide of Islam for centuries, the state that saw generations perish in the flames of jauhar…even this Rajput state was not spared by the Marathas.
There were attempts by the Rajput states to combine against the Marathas first in 1734 (Hurda conference), again in 1761 (after the debacle of the Panipat campaign), and finally in 1787 (after Mahadji Sindhia was defeated in Jaipur). In the case of Mewar the minister Somchand Gandhi managed to ally with the Raos of Kota and recovered some lands in the Rampura-Mandsaur belt (August 1787)—but the allies were defeated by Ahalya Bai Holkar (February 1788). Mewar lost a part of its territory to the Marathas (and which now forms part of Madhya Pradesh), but Kota managed its relations better and annexed a still greater part of Malwa to Rajasthan (including the fort of Gagraun).
The natural result of these rebellions and wars was the subjugation of Marathas, Rajputs, and everybody else to the British Empire in the 19th Century.
 According to some geographers the Deccan, Malwa, and Chhota Nagpur plateaus actually form a single mass called the Great Indian Plateau. In this mass they also include the plains west of Chittor and the Aravalli Hills. Furthermore they contend that the Vindhyas are not a mountain range but an escarpment carved out by the rift valley of the Narmada River!
 The two most prominent of these were Malik Kafur and Khusrav; both converted Hindus who became leading generals of Ala-ud-din and his son Mubarak (respectively).
 There were Parmar states and landholders in Bundelkhand. In Bihar the Ujjainia Rajputs of Jagadishpur are a branch of the Parmars, their ancestors having migrated from Ujjain (in Malwa) to Bihar after the Turk conquest.
 The Vaghelas were a branch of the Solankis who got their name from the estate of Vyaghrapalli in northern Gujarat.
 Gujarat itself had an indigenous breed of horses from the Kathiawar peninsula, which spread out to parts of Rajasthan and helped the Rajputs form strong cavalry units to match the Turks on their foreign horses.
 The Sultanate of Malwa initially ruled from the old Parmar capital of Dhar but the sultans shifted to the relative safety of Mandu on the south side of the Vindhya Range.
 The histories and other interesting details of these clans are listed here: http://www.rajputsamaj.net/miscellaneous/gujaratrajputs.htm. Another peculiarity of the Rajputs in Gujarat and Malwa is that they write and pronounce the surname Singh as Sinh.
 Sultan Mahmud Begarha asked Jayasimha and his minister what inspired them to fight against his vastly superior forces. The Rajputs had been captured wounded while their families perished in the flames of jauhar, and their fort and city were destroyed. But despite these calamitous losses Jayasimha very firmly replied, “I hold this territory by hereditary right, and being descended from a line of noble ancestors, have been taught to respect the name which they handed down to me.” The Sultan was impressed with this manly attitude and persuaded the two Rajputs to convert to Islam, but on their refusal he cruelly put them to death.
 Medini Rai was described as a Purabiya Rajput in the contemporary accounts, which means that he was either from the eastern part of Malwa or that he and his clansmen migrated there from UP.
 His father, Maharana Hammir, had been acknowledged as overlord by an earlier Raja of Idar named Jaitrakarna. The latter’s son Ranamalla was attacked by Sultan Muzaffar but who, as the inscription at Kumbalgarh records, “brought to an end the pride of the Saka ruler.”
 The Hada Chauhans had earlier captured lands in the region south of Ranthambhor with the aid of the Mewar rulers——later when Mewar was invaded by Ala-ud-din they became independent and built the fort of Bundi (in 1342 CE) and captured Mandalgarh. Hammir Sesodia expelled the Muslims from Mewar while his son reasserted Mewar’s authority on the Hadas.
 After defeating Ibrahim Lodi, Sanga had ambitions of conquering the Delhi Sultanate. When he heard of Babur’s conflict with the Lodis, Sanga proposed an alliance whereby the Mughals would capture Delhi and Mewar would annex Agra. Sanga had not factored in his calculations that the Afghan army could be completely crushed by Babur at Panipat.
 Like Babur, Sultan Bahadur also used field artillery commanded by Ottoman Turks and Portuguese.
 The jaziya and pilgrimage taxes were revoked, the forcible conversion of prisoners of war was ended, the killing of cows (and peacocks) and cutting down of the pipal trees was also declared illegal.
 In 1654 Maharana Raj Singh attempted to repair these fortifications but Shah Jahan moved to Ajmer and sent a large army towards Mewar prompting the Rajputs to back down. In 1679 Aurangzeb annexed Marwar and invaded Mewar, which had given shelter to the Rathor prince Ajit Singh—the war between the Rajputs and Mughals ended in a stalemate but with the defeat of the latter’s larger plans. In a new treaty (1681) with Mewar, Aurangzeb withdrew his forces from Mewar, the latter promising to cede three districts, while recognizing Ajit Singh as ruler of Marwar when he came of age. Since the last condition was not fulfilled by Aurangzeb, the Maharana too did not cede the promised land to the Mughals.
 These rebellions had a strong undercurrent of Islamist thinking—many contemporary Muslim scholars and teachers went to the extent of terming Akbar a kaffir and called upon all Muslims to wage a jihad against him. Among these were the historian Al Badauni, Mullah Ahmed Sirhindi, Shah Mansur, and the chief qazi of Jaunpur. Many of his Uzbek and Mughal commanders joined the rebellion, which was finally ended by the defeat of Akbar’s brother, Mirza Muhammad Hakim at Kabul in 1581. The Rajputs of Jaipur and Bikaner played a leading part in these victorious campaigns, as also in the suppression of the Islamic Raushaniya fanatics.
 There were also struggles between neighboring Rajput states for greater power. For example the Khichi state of Raghogarh increased its power by subduing its neighbors in the reign of Jehangir.
 It was a Sunni Bohra named Abdul Wahab (of Patan) who issued a Fatwa declaring that since Shah Jahan was bed-ridden the Mughal throne was really empty and Aurangzeb was justified in occupying it. His reward was the post of Chief Qazi. His grand-father had earlier aided the Mughal government in suppressing Shia practices in the Bohra community.
 Durgadas was invited to a durbar at Ahmedabad—the previous day having been ekadashi, Durgadas was keen to first break his fast. But when the Mughals again and again pressed him to come to the durbar the Rathor’s suspicions were aroused. Quickly setting fire to his camp he escaped to Patan and then to Jodhpur, whence started the third phase of the Rathor war of independence, ending in victory for Maharaja Ajit Singh in 1707.
 But with no resources to raise an army, Rao Gopal at first returned to the Deccan. Aurangzeb, anxious to keep Malwa quiet, pardoned the Rajput chief and gave him the estate of Kaulas near Hyderabad. But a few years later even this estate was taken away, upon which the Rao went over to the Marathas, joining them in their raids on Gujarat. In 1714 with the aid of Mewar forces the Chandrawats finally liberated Rampura from Muslim occupation and became tributaries of the Maharana.
 The fort of Ranthambor came into the hands of the Maharajas of Jaipur. In 1753 a civil war between the Sunni and Shia nobles stained the streets of Delhi with blood and prompted the young Mughal Emperor Ahmed Shah to seek the aid of Jaipur. The Jat ruler Suraj Mal was fighting on the side of the Shias, and since his ancestors had been vassals of Jaipur, Maharaja Madho Singh brought him over to his side and also persuaded the Shia leader Safdar Jang to return to his estate of Awadh. For these services the grateful Mughal Emperor transferred the imperial territory of Ranthambhor to Jaipur.