Rani Padmini, Fictional Queen of Chittor Whom Ala-ud-din Khilji Longed

Delhi Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji's (r: 1296-1316) conquest of Chittor in 1303 is a matter of controversy for some people. In January 1303, Ala-ud-din Khilji  marched towards Chittor (the capital of Mewar) with a large army, and after a siege of 6-7 months, Chittoor was reduced. Rana Ratan Singh (Ratnasimha) offered his submission. Ala-ud-din then bestowed the government of Chittor on his son Khizr Khan and named it Khizrabad.

However, there are many stories related to Ala-ud-din's invasion of Chittor. According to one version of the story, Ala-ud-din Khilji conquered Chittor to get possession of Padmini, the beautiful Sri Lankan wife of Rana Rawal Ratan Singh. Ala-ud-din laid siege to Chittor for 8 years. He then sent a message to the Rana promising to raise the siege if he would let him see Padmini through a mirror. Ala-ud-din had a look at her reflection. After this he treacherously made the Rana prisoner and took him to Delhi and demanded the surrender of Padmini for his release. Padmini accepted Ala-ud-din's terms and played a clever trick to release the Rana. She sent word to Ala-ud-din that she will come to his camp on the next day attended by her handmaidens. Early next morning, a long line of palanquins entered Ala-ud-din's camp, in which Rajputs disguised as Padmini and her female companions were concealed. Half an hour was granted for the parting meeting between the Rana and his queen. At this time, the armed band of Rajputs forth sprang from the palanquins and fell upon Ala-ud-din's army in surprise. They freed the Rana and took him back to Chittor. Shortly after his arrival in Chittor, Ratan Singh died of the wounds received in fighting Devapala of Kumbhalgarh. Meanwhile, Ala-ud-din laid siege to the fort once again and captured it. However, Padmini committed Jauhar and the Rajput men died fighting.

Rani Padmini, the legendary queen of Chittor

Ferishta, Haji-ud-Dabir, Abu'l-Fazl and James Tod also tells a similar story. Now what's the truth? Rani Padmini or Padmavati is no real person but a character in Malik Muhammad Jayasi's fictional poem 'Padmavat' compiled around 1540. This work formed the base for Ferishta (around 1612), Haji-ud-Dabir (around 1605), Abu'l-Fazl and Tod's (1829) narrations. "No medieval historical record alludes to her existence before Jayasi's Padmavat", says Irfan Habib. Amir Khusro, Ala-ud-din's court poet, who accompanied him to Chittor does not make any mention of 'Padmini' or Jauhar. However, Khusro mentions Kamla Devi and also narrates the love story of Ala-ud-din's son Khizr Khan and Dewal Devi in his works. No contemporary historian mention anything about Padmini. "At the end of his work, Jayasi himself says that Padmavati's love story is a fictional one and the names of characters are metaphors", says Ali Nadeem Rezavi.

Anyway, it is true that Ala-ud-din fell in love with the Gujarati queen Kamla Devi, and married her afterwards. So to conclude, Ala-ud-din Khilji had not invaded Chittor for capturing this fictitious queen, but for extending his dominions.

Kamla Devi, wife of Ala-ud-din Khilji

Ala-ud-din finally transferred the government of Chittor from Khizr Khan to the Rana's nephew. "This Hindu prince in a short time restored the principality to its former condition, and retained the tract of Chittoor as tributary to Ala-ud-din during the rest of this reign", Ferishta writes. However, in the last year of Ala-ud-din's reign (1316), during the regency of Malik Kafur, the Rajputs of Chittor expelled the Mohammedan governors and declared their independence.

Notes:

Litter: palanquin (a vehicle used to transport people; usually for one passenger, containing a bed or couch often covered by curtains and carried on men's shoulders)

Jauhar: is the Self Immolation done by Royal Rajput ladies when the battle is about to lose, rather than surrender and fall to harem of enemies.

Reference:

History of the Rise of Mahommedan Power in India By Ferishta

Comments

  1. Nice job dear.. Very happy that u shared saga of our Indian heroine :)

    http://zigzacmania.blogspot.in/

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  2. A very nice informative post Anjana :)

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  3. Interesting to know the history of Rani Padmini,who is revered for her beauty and bravery.

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  4. when I read about Rani padmini I can't control my tears. She was really a brave women.

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  5. We indians must have proud of our ancient queens especially maharani padmini I Pranav really want to salute the virangana of rajputana ........

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  6. Padmani story is rejected by modern historian
    And please name any one contemporary Persian chronicle or rajput who hv recorded this episode
    No one padmani and alauddin incident never happen it's not mentioned in even rajput chronicle

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    1. Hi Seema, if you scroll to the bottom of this post you can find the reference list.

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  7. Referance from contemporary chronicle
    Even Amir khurau accompanied alauddin for chittor conquest did not mentioned or barani he was the critical of sultan did not mentioned this incident. Important thing is even rajput have not recorded in their chronicle.
    It was rumours spread that time
    And after two centuries sufi hv written and that poetic imagination which deal good and bad.
    Padmini stand for good and alauddin for lust

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  8. Hii madam
    But I read ur most of the post and I loved it all
    Thank you for posting all the romantic stories of india

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  9. And one request please post the love affair of razia and her husband Malik altunia
    Thank u

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  10. There is no historical(padmini or padmavati "jauhar 1303) evidence in these story.malik mohhmad jayasi(1540 )was written this story after 240

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  11. But this story is not true and it is not mentioned in any of the works of contemporary writers and poets of that time. It is only much later we find metion of Rani Padmini in work of antionalist historians and poets.

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  12. Nice Work .

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  13. It is really good history.
    Every Sri lankans respect her.

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  14. Excellent Blog and a nice Thoughtful effort to depict History ...I love History and would follow your blog dearly
    Best wishes

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  15. This article was so helpful since I was a bit hazy on the topic. But the story seems incredibly familiar to the plot of the Bollywood movie Padmavati. Are they related?

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    1. Hi Ananya, I haven't seen that movie yet. You may check the reference list at the end of the post.

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