Letters of Marque



Notes by Brigadier A. Mason, M.C., R.E. for the ORG, with minor additions and amendments by David Page.



[October 12 2011]

Chapter X


A Little of the History of Chitor, and the Malpractices of a She-elephant


First Publication

14th January, 1888, in the Pioneer and 18th January, 1888, in the Pioneer Mail.


Notes on the text


This Chapter starts by describing that part of the return journey set out in Chapter VI, from Udaipur to Chitor. Several of the words appearing in this chapter are defined there. [DP]

[Page 82, line 4] Actaeon the hunter who surprised Artemis (Diana) while she was bathing, he was changed into a stag and eaten by his own hounds.

[Page 83, line 1] sponsons are platforms formed on a warship’s side, most often used to provide mountings for the secondary armament. [DP]

[Page 83, line 11] Eleven and a half centuries ago i.e. about A.D. 736. [DP]

[Page 83, line 12] Bappa Rawul or Rawal (Kalbhoj) (b. Prince Kalbhoj, ca 713-d. 753, possibly at Eklingji), eighth ruler of the Guhilot Dynasty and founder of the Mewar Dynasty (r. 734-753); said by genealogists to be 80th in descent from the god Rama. Eventually, around the age of 21, he succeeded his father Rawal Mahendra II.

[Page 83, line 13] twenty cubits a cubit was the length from the elbow to the end of the fingers, on average 18 inches. Thus, twenty cubits indicates the height of Bappa Rawul as being about thirty feet. [DP]

[Page 83, line 16] Man Singh, the Mori Prince otherwise known as Maan or Maun Mori, was chief of the Paramaras from whom Bappa Rawal wrested Chittor in AD 734 to establish the Mewar Dynasty. A palace of Maan Mori is still to be seen at Chittor.

[Page 83, line 22] Khorasan or Khurasan, a Province of NE Iran. The Mewar Encyclopaedia confirms the Bappa Rawul legends described by Kipling. [DP]

[Page 83, line 23] Daughters of Heth the Old Testament Book of Genesis relates that Heth was a son of Canaan (10:15); the Sons of Heth (23:3), the children of Heth (23:5) and the daughters of Heth (27:46) are also mentioned. [DP]

[Page 83, line 24] Nowshera Pathans Nowshera was a garrison town about 20 miles east of Peshawar in what is now Pakistan. It is also a District which is bisected by the Kabul River.

[Page 83, line 28] the Pramar Rajputs or Paramaras. James Tod adds that Chandragupta, the first Mawrya Emperor of India, was a Mori Pramara and that the tribe had 35 branches and fourteen capitals founded or conquered; among those best known were Ujjain, Chitor, Abu, near Indore and the first of them was Maheswar on the Narmada river.

[Page 83, line 31] Kathiawar is part of the Gujarat State, and is the peninsula between the gulfs of Cambay and Kutch, on the western coast of India. Rajputana lies just to the east.

[Page 84, lines 1 & 2] Nine princes the Mewar India website indicates that there were rather more than nine rulers between 728 and 1068. [DP]

[Page 84, line 3] Alluji thought to be Allat Rawal who ruled from 951 to 953.

[Page 84, line 12] Samar Singh he was born in Mewar in the 12th century and, having helped the Chauhan tribe, who held Delhi as well as Ajmir, to recover a treasure buried at Nagaur, about 75 miles from both Ajmir and Jodhpur, married a Chohau princess, sister of the famous Prithvi Raj, who was then attacking Kananj. That city then appealed to Shahabuddin, otherwise Muhammed of Ghor, for help. The latter first took Multan and Uch, near the middle reaches of the Indus, but was defeated by Mularaja, a Rajput Solanki leader of Anhilwara or Patan, when he tried to occupy Guzerat. In 1187 he took the Punjab and in 1191 he met Prithwi Raj at Tarain near the Ganges, where he was wounded; five years later in a second battle at the same place, Samar Singh and Prithvi Raj were both killed and Delhi and Amber were both sacked.

[Page 84, line 22] the Kaggar or Ghaggar river (or Ghuggur on a 1902 map) only flows during the monsoon rains. It originates in the Sivalak Hills of Himachal Pradesh and flows through Punjab and into Rajputana, north of Bikanir. Tod called this the Coggar, and Kipling the Gugger River in Kim and also “The Miracle of Purun Bhagat”.

There is also a Ghaghara or Gogra river which rises in SW Tibet, flows south through Nepal and then SE through Uttar Pradesh and into the Ganges near Chapra but it is considered that this cannot be the river described here since it is too far to the east. [DP]

[Page 84, line 27] Kutbuddin or Qutbuddin was a slave of Muhammed of Ghor (or Ghur) who rose to high position in the army and became his viceroy. In 1206, Qutbuddin crowned himself as the sultan of the slave dynasty. He is thus the first Muslim ruler of Delhi built Quwwat-ul-Islam (might of Islam) mosque. This is the earliest extant mosque in India. Qutb Minar was also built by him. See India Travel Times.[DP]

[Page 85, line 7] Ala-ud-din Khilji he was actually a Ghilzai, from the Ghazni area where many northern invaders were being converted to Islam. He was a nephew of the Sultan of Delhi, from whom he got leave to invade Malwa; but he went much further, collecting much loot and taking Ellichpur in Berar State and then murdering his uncle and seizing the throne in 1296 A.D. As well as repeatedly invading the Deccan, he conquered Gujarat and captured the two strongest Rajput fortresses, Chitor and Ranthambor, in the south of Jaipur in 1301 and 1303. Many Mongolians from Turkistan had settled near Delhi and he had all males massacred in one day after an attempted rising. His eunuch, Malik Kafur, penetrated as far south as Madura, Daulatabad in Hyderabad and the capital of Mysore State. He built a new city of Delhi at Siri and died in 1316. There is some doubt if he actually took Chitor; Tod said it was sacked three and a half times, the fraction being the work of Ala-ud-din.

[Page 85, line 8] Dekkan or Deccan or Dakshin. Much of India south of 23° North Latitude but, more narrowly, the tableland between the Rivers Narbada, which runs into the Gulf of Cambay on the west, and Krishna, which flows right across India and empties into the Indian Ocean on the east.

[Page 85, line 11] Rana Lakhsman Singh Rana is a Hindu title and the name of a Rajput tribe. It was adopted in the 12th century as a title to replace, in Mewar State, that of Rawal for the ruler of the tribe. He was Pudmini's husband. The name was taken in the 12th century from Mandor – north of Jodhpur.

[Page 85, line 27] The four lines of verse starting “. . . trusted a Mussulman's word" are from Sir Edwin Arnold's (1832-1904) The Rajah's Ride.

[Page 86, line 31] Ajai Singh Chitor was twice attacked by Ala-ud-din and it lost its best fighters in the first siege. Over 4,000 women sacrificed themselves in sati and much the same number of men were killed masquerading as women in the escort of the queen. For the survival of the race, one prince had to survive the slaughter and the Rana selected Ajai Singh, who escaped to Khairwara, 40 miles south of Udaipur.

[Page 87, line 1] Hamir a grandson of Lakhsman who was selected to carry on the line and, having proved his manhood by killing a formidable mountain chief, he lived for 64 years and recovered Chitor.

[Page 87, line 3] Maldeo, Chief of Jhalore Ala-ud-din had handed over charge of Chitor to this man. Hamir applied more or less the scorched earth policy and accepted marriage with a widow chosen by his enemies. With her help he turned out the garrison. Jhalore was a Chohan town 42 miles north of Abu, and SSW of Jodhpur, sometimes given as Jalor(e).

[Page 87, line 14] Kumbha Rana
became chief of Mewar in 1433, when she had recovered much of her strength. In 1437 he was attacked by Malwa and Gujerat who were defeated and he sent the crown of Malwa to Akbar, and released the Moslem chief of Malwa without ransom. He rebuilt 32 forts for the defence of Mewar, the greatest of which was Kumbhalgarh. [DP]

[Page 87, line 15] Ghilzai when a Moslem advance approached the Chumbal he was defeated at Singowli and made prisoner by Hamir in Chitor until a ransom was paid.

[Page 87, line 17] Mahmoud of Malwa of the Ghon dynasty, whose capitals were first Dhar and then Mandu. Most eminent of these Sultans of Malwa was Mahmoud Khan, who poisoned his predecessor and fought Gujerat as well as the Rajputs, He built a seven storeyed-tower at Mandu to celebrate a victory at Chitor, which matched that at Chitor, but it collapsed.

Malwa is the region to the south of Mewar, the principal city being Indore. [DP]

[Page 87, line 26] Bahadur Shah a Moslem who ruled Gujerat from 1526 to 1537 when he was killed by the Portuguese. Having stormed Chitor, he annexed Mahwe and then suffered defeat by Humayum who scaled the walls of Champaner.

[Page 87, line 31] Rana Bikrmajit or Vikramaditya II – a Hindu title (the Sun of Valour) was Maharana of Mewar from 1531 to 1536 when his predecessor, Sanga Rama was killed at Khanua in battle with Babar the Moghal King of Kabul. Bahadur Shah had attacked Mewar to take revenge for the defeat of Muzuffur who was prisoned in Chitor with the infant heir to Mewar.

Artillery was also arriving from Babar's army for the siege. Bikrmajit, who had just insulted the chief of Bundi, could not resist all this strength, but was rescued by the arrival of Humayun from Biana by Dholpur and close to Khanua. But Chitor was blown up with the new explosives with many casualties and a new capital of Udaipur had to be built. Kipling appears to have made a mistake over Deola.

[Page 87, line 32] Deola a town in Mewar, which once had the distinction of having its chief resident, Prince Bagh Singh made temporary ruler of Mewar at the second sack of Chitor (1534-35).

[Page 88, line 10] johur or jauhar. The suicide of all the women of a besieged city by fire to escape falling captive. In Chitor there is a large open courtyard, the Mahasati (Sthal) where Royal cremations were held and which is believed to be the site of the three acts of johur carried out before each of the three sackings of the city.

[Page 88, lines 18 & 19] Edwin Arnold, Sir. (1832-1904), poet and journalist amongst whose many works was The Light of Asia. [DP]

[Page 89, lines 4 & 5] Hara Prince of Boondee also spelled Boondi or Bundi. [DP]

[Page 89, line 11] Pudmini or Padmini. Her story is told in some detail on pages 85 & 86. The elephant of Petersen Sahib in "Toomai of the Elephants" (The Jungle Book) is called Pudmini. [DP]

[Page 89, line 22] enlightened and loyal feudatories Kipling probably means the able Residents and their staffs who tried to preserve these remarkable ruins. For example, during the Viceroyalty of the Marquess Curzon of Kedleston (1859-1925) from 1898-1905, Chitor and many other great monuments in India were preserved by the Viceroy's direct interest in them. It was he who saw that the money was provided.

[Page 90, line 3] A female pauper when she received snuff Thought to be a reference to Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, chap. XXIV:

Stretching forth her trembling fingers as she spoke, the old creature shook them exultingly before her face, and fumbling in her pocket, brought out an old time-discoloured tin snuff-box, from which she shook a few grains into the outstretched palm of her companion, and a few more into her own. [DP]
[Page 90, line 4] mahout elephant driver, groom and keeper.

[Page 90, line 20] coir coir rope similar in properties to grass-line which is made from sisal. Coir is made with yarn spun from the fibre of the coconut case. It is lighter but only one-quarter the strength of manila rope, and rots after wetting if not dried before stowing away; its chief virtue is that it floats. [DP]

[Page 90, line 25] hathi elephant. See also The Jungle Books where Hathi was the name of the leader of the elephants.

[Page 91, line 11] way-inspector’s trolly hand-operated trolley used on railway lines for the examination of the track by an inspector looking for damage. [DP]

[Page 92, line 21] nullahs shallow depressions in. the ground such as the dry bed where storm water flows in times of heavy rainfall.





[A.M./D.P.]

©A Mason and David Page 2007 All rights reserved