Rawal Ratan Singh, formally referred to as Ratnasimha was the king of Mewar/ Medapata kingdom located in what is currently known as Rajasthan state in India. Ratnasimha was from the Guhila dynasty’s Rawal family branch. The dynasty ruled the region from Chittorgarh, then called Chitrakuta fort.
Ratan Singh is the name assigned to Ratnasimha in the different legends about him written in vernacular languages. One of the fictionalized legendary versions of Singh was Ratan Sen; he was first featured in the poem ‘Padmavat’ composed by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. As per this literary work, Alauddin Khilji invaded Chittor after hearing about the immense beauty of Ratan Sen’s wife Rani Padmini. Khilji wanted to take Padmini back to Delhi as his prize and hence attacked the fort. Alauddin was successful in capturing the fort, but the Rani along with many other women in the fort self-immolated to protect their honor and avoid being taken hostage by the enemy.
Historical accounts of Rawal Ratan Singh and attack by Khilji
Samarasimha, Medapata’s Guhila ruler, was the father of Ratnasimha. He ascended the throne in 1302 CE. His rule has been attested by an inscription on the Dariba temple. Historians have also found some coins which were issues by Ratnasimha.
Alauddin Khilji, Delhi Sultanate’s Muslim ruler, attacked Chittor in 1303. The earliest reports of the siege of the fort by Alauddin have been chronicled by Muslim recorders Barani and Amir Khusrau. The latter had accompanied Khilji during the 1303 campaign against Rawal Ratan Singh and he described the siege in the 1310 CE book titled ‘Khaza’in ul-Futuh.’
- As per Khusrau, Alauddin left Siri fort on January 28 1303 and embarked on the campaign to capture Chittorgarh. After arriving at Chittor hill, his army’s two wings attack Chittor fort from 2 different sides. The siege lasted for 2 months and still Khilji was not able to breach the fort, despite the use of mangonels to pelt stones at the fort.
- The attackers were finally able to gain entry into the fort on August 26 1303. The Rai of the fort surrendered and he was given royal mercy by Khilji. However, all others were ordered to be executed and around 30,000 inhabitants of the fort were massacred after this order.
- Amir does not state the name of the ruler, neither Rawal Ratan Singh nor Ratnasimha. He only used the title Rai to refer to the ruler of the fort. Contemporary historians have however identified the Rai as being Ratnasimha. There have been many interpretations of who was captured by Khilji after the battle and whether or not Rawal Ratan Singh was present at the battle or had deserted his people.
Jain and Hindu accounts of the siege of Chittor are also available. The earliest such account was the 1460 CE inscription by Guhila family’s Kumbhakarna; he was from the Rana branch of the family and was a rival to the Rawal branch headed by Ratnasimha. As per the inscription, Rawal Ratan Singh entrusted the fort to Lakṣmasimha and departed. Lakṣmasimha then defended the fort against the invasion and died in battle.
Rawal Ratan Singh – Pictures
In the movie ‘Padmavati (2017), the character of Rawal Ratan Singh is reprized by Shahid Kapoor.