Rawal Ratan Singh was the ruler of Medapata kingdom or the Mewar region located in the state of Rajasthan, India. His formal title as the king of the land was Ratnasimha. Singh belonged to the Rawal family which was a part of the Guhila dynasty. This dynasty controlled and ruled the lands from the Chitrakuta fort, which is now referred to as Chittorgarh.
In those days, it was common for kings to have more than one wife. So while Ratan Singh already had a wife called Nagmati, he went to the ‘swayamvar’ held by Padmavati’s (Rani Padmini) father and was able to win her hand in marriage, defeating hundreds of potential suitors, kings and princes.
There are many legends and stories about this formidable ruler of Mewar. In most of these stories he has been assigned the title of Ratnasimha. In one of such fictionalized stories, Rawal was referred to as Ratan Sen. This character was initially characterized in ‘Padmavat,’ a poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. According to this poem, Chittor was invaded by Khilji Dynasty king Alauddin Khilji after he heard testimonials about the bewitching beauty of Rani Padmini, the wife of Ratan Sen.
Alauddin wanted to capture Padmini and make her his own. Hence he launched the attack on Rawal’s lands. Khilji did manage to capture the fort after several days of siege and battles. However, he could never take Rani Padmini as hostage. She along with several other women of the fort committed self-immolation to maintain their honor and to prevent capture by the enemy.
The battle between Rawal Ratan Singh and Alauddin Khilji
Presented below is a historical account of the reign of Ratan Singh.
The father of Rawal Ratan Singh was Samarasimha, a Guhila king of Medapata. He became the ruler of the region in 1302 CE. Evidence about his time on the throne can be found on the inscriptions present on the Dariba temple. A few different coins issued by Ratnasimha have also been found by Indian historians.
In 1303, the ruler of Delhi Sultanate Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittor. The siege of the Chitrakuta fort was chronicled and written by Amir Khusrau and Barani, well known Muslim recorders of that era. Amir had travelled along with Khilji when he had led his campaign against the Mewar ruler. He has described the siege and battles at the fort in his book ‘Khaza’in ul-Futuh’ which was released in 1310 CE.
According to the book, Khilji started his journey on 28th Jan 1303 from the Siri fort and began his march towards Chittorgarh. After reaching the destination, the 2 wings of his army attacked the fort from two different angles. The fort was in siege for a period of two months and still it could not be breached by Khilji’s men. The army also used mangonels to launch stones onto the walls of the fort, but to no avail.
Khilji was finally able to breach the fort and gain entry on 26th Aug 1303. Alauddin awarded royal mercy on the Rai of the fort after he surrendered. He however ordered all the others to be killed and subsequently, nearly 30,000 people who were living inside the fort were put to the sword and slaughtered.
Khusrau did not name who the king of the region was. He did not mention either of the names, i.e., Rawal Ratan Singh or Ratnasimha. He just mentioned the ruler of the fort by the title of ‘Rai.’ Modern historians believe that the Rai mentioned by Amir was Rawal Ratan.
Till now, several experts have offered varied interpretations of the events during the siege. There are different opinions about whether Ratan Singh was present in the fort during the siege or whether he had deserted his subjects, and about who and how many people were captured and massacred by the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate.
Hindu and Jain versions of the Chittor fort siege are also present. The earliest Hindu account of the siege was Kumbhakarna’s 1460 CE inscription. Kumbhakarna was from Guhila family and belonged to the Rana branch. This branch of the family were rivals with Ratnasimha headed Rawal branch. Kumbhakarna’s version states that Rawal Singh had left the fort after handing it over to Lakṣmasimha. It was thus Lakṣmasimha who fought against Khilji and eventually died in the battlefield.
Rawal Ratan Singh in Padmavati Movie
Shahid Kapoor reprised the role of Rawal Ratan Singh in the movie Padmavati, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Deepika Padukone played Padmavati and Ranveer Singh played Alauddin Khilji.