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Historians have immortalised the brave horse, Chetak of Maharana Pratap in the pages of history books through poems, folktales and local stories. Let’s read about his antics on the battle field and his dedication to his master whom he did not leave till his last breath.

Here’s a story of a legendary king and his battles. But it’s also a story about a horse…beautiful, spirited, intelligent and loyal. History claims that Maharana Pratap Singh was one of the 10 strongest warriors ever born in India. The Battle of Haldi Ghati in June 1576 saw his forces decisively outnumbered by the Mughal army led by Man Singh. Mounted on his favourite horse Chetak, Maharana Pratap charged towards the commander of the Mughal army and made a frontal attack on Man Singh’s elephant. Once near, Chetak reared high in the air and planted his hooves on the forehead of the elephant. This was a turning point in the battle. In the general chaos that followed, Chetak received a fatal wound on one of his legs. An elephant’s tusk tore through his rear legs and crippled it. But he would not give up. With his wounded king on the saddle, Chetak made his way back to safety on his three good legs. People do not remember the defeat of Maharana Pratap, but the courage and valour of his men and his horse. Chetak was exhausted but laboured on, carrying his master, about 2 miles from the site of the battle near a small stream. It was here, while trying to leap across the stream that Chetak collapsed.

The Maharana erected a small monument for his loyal companion at the place where he fell and till date we pay a tribute to this brave warrior and his brave horse, Chetak.

According to historians, Chetak a small horse had a certain blue tinge and hence in the local folklores, Maharana Pratap is often referred as the ‘Rider of the Blue Horse’. In fact, many claim that the horse had a well defined personality, almost like his master himself. When it came to traits and behavior, Chetak was no less than his proud owner and thus a unique emotional bond existed between the two. Till date ballads, songs, poems are dedicated to honour this brave and valiant horse and immortalize him in the pages of history.

Here is folklore on Chetak – a paean …

Three Legged Dark Blue Horse

About brave battles and true grit

When all that history is writ

There will sit saddled, one great name

Within the heroes’ hall of fame

The horse Chetak’s, a Marwari

A breed that would the least tarry.
Three things are known of Marwari

A battle horse of victory.

That, its speed forges a path free,

In danger helps the rider flee.

That, man wounded, is not alone,

And dead, astride he would reach home.

One such, with such a human heart

Would not from his rider be part

Was, Chetak bred of faculty

To serve with love and loyalty

The horse friend of Rana Pratap

When battle turned hazard of hap.
So unlike, the rest of his breed

He was the rarest of a steed

Not black, not grey, not bald of pie

Still strange dark blue of darkened sky

The brave king, renowned was of course

Called ‘Rider of the Dark Blue Horse’.
Chetak’s amble and limbs were fine

His hooves of dynamics divine

When times the Rana rode a course

Folks vied to catch a glimpse perforce

Yet, they caught sight of, just blue tinge

When Chetak raced, his sight would sing

One Imperial Majesty

Stoked battle at Haldigati

Mughal Man Singh, war exponent

Strode atop an elephant

Fitted with wheels of sword-long-blades

No charge could break his armoured glade.

Thus, Haldigathi battlefield

Where Rana’s men fought not to yield

Saw them go down like pins unkempt

So Rana made his last attempt

A path through Mughal soldiers traced

With Chetak towards Man Singh raced.

Reared up the horse and brave man

Above those blades, a daring plan

Leapt and struck the elephant’s head

Missed Singh, but mahout died instead

The plan totally misfired

Horse and king men-locked and mired.

One foreleg of Chetak got cut

Three legged he managed to butt

Three legged he ran just as fast

Two miles from that battlefield past

His croup read Rana’s horsemanship

Snaking, wobbling, frothing at lip.

Chetak galloped, flew off a cliff

Three legged flight, a challenge stiff

Safe banks of the stream he touched

Then shuddered hard and sideways lurched

The stunned Rana giving God thanks

Saw Chetak drop on the stream-banks.

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