MX Player’s historical web series, Chhatrasal, starring Jitin Gulati and Ashutosh Rana in the leading roles, has just been released.
Set in 1649 and narrated by Neena Gupta, the series tells the story of Maharaja Chhatrasal who fought Mughal emperor Aurangzeb for years to ensure Bundelkhand stayed free.
Pehli bar ek Maharaja ne di Aurangzeb ko kadi chunauti!
— MX Player (@MXPlayer) July 28, 2021
Here are eight facts you should know about Bundelkhand’s unsung warrior king.
1. Chhatrasal was born in 1649 CE in Kachar Kachnai (present day district of Tikamgarh in MadhyaPradesh) to Champat Rai and his wife Lal Kunwar.
His father was a Bundela chieftain who rebelled against Aurangzeb, who had him executed in 1661 CE.
2. As a young boy, he was taken under the wing of Mughal commander Mirza Raja Jai Singh and even served in Mughal campaigns against the Martha’s, winning several mansabs for his bravery.
However, he never got over the guilt of fighting on the side of his father’s executioners.
3. In his book, ‘Shivaji and His Times‘, renowned historian Jadunath Sircar writes about how Chhatrasal used the excuse of a hunting trip to leave the Mughal camp and visit Chhatrapati Shivaji at the Maratha capital.
He requested the legendary guerrilla warrior to employ him, but was advised to return to his homeland and fight for its independence.
4. A young Chhatrasal listened to Chhatrapati Shivaji’s advice and returned to Bundelkhand. There, he set up a camp in the jungles of Panna and raised a small army with which he launched an attack on Mughal forts in the region.
5. His bravery made him famous — at the age of 22, he defeated an entire troop of Mughal soldiers with a team of just five horsemen and 25 infantry soldiers. Soon enough, his kingdom extended from Panna in the east and Gwalior on the west.
In the years that followed, Chhatrasal never stopped fighting against the presence of Mughals in Bundelkhand.
6. Highly respected for his sense of honour and love for his people, he was given the title of ‘Maharaja’ by Sant Prannath.
Interestingly, according to local folklore, the same saint is also believed to have blessed the King with a boon ‘May diamonds be always found in your kingdom’. This led to the discovery of the world-famous diamond mines of Panna!
7. In 1700, Aurangzeb made a series of attempts to subdue Maharaja Chhatrasal but was defeated every time.
In fact, in 1730, the Mughals sent their famous Pathan warrior Muhammad Khan Bhangash to Bundelkhand. Though Chhatrasal was aged by now, he won a final victory over the Mughals with help from Peshwa Baji Rao I.
8. As a sign of appreciation and respect for the Peshwa, Chhatrasal gave his beautiful daughter Mastani as a bride to Baji Rao I.
When he passed away one year later at the ripe old age of 81, he also bequeathed one-third of his kingdom to Baji Rao I, whom he considered his own son.
Today, his bravery is remembered in the names of several roads, colleges and even a prominent stadium known for wrestling, Chhatrasal Stadium in north Delhi.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)