Udaipur : Chetak, Maharana Pratap’s horse is perhaps the most famous and popular of all the legendary stallions in the world. Hardly anyone can recall the names of favorite mounts of Prince Siddharth (Kanthak) , Alexander of Macedon (Bucephalus), Akbar (Rahbar), Napoleon Bonaparte (Marengo), Duke of Wallington (Copenhagen). It had been perhaps the immense popularity of Chetak that he outshined his brothers Natak and Atak who were equally strong and loyal.These two were also well- trained war horses which had all the 5 S’es needed in an ideal war horse i.e Strength, Stamina, Swiftness, Saddle-trained, and Surefooted.
Were they Arab stallions or Kathiyawadi or Marwadi local breed is not certain but experts feel that their use in hilly Aravalli forest terrain rule out their Arab breed. However, some are of the opinion that Arab traders have had a long relation with the Mewar rulers since long and Chetak too had been an Arabic horse.
“Atak was put on trial for hilly and river terrain test during which it was injured in foot but he passed the trial with flying colors, so Pratap bought all three horses, Natak was given to his younger brother Shakti Singh, Chetak (possibly a Blue Roan – with bluish shade of hide, neela rer in local language, akin in shade to Neel-Gai/Rozda) was retained for Pratap, Atak was sent to animal care center” informs informs retired professor and history enthusiast P.S Ranawat. Chetak proved to true war horse that died on battle-field. ” Chetak was associated with Rana Pratap and hence raised to glory while the other characters like Shakti Singh were lesser known and hence were their horses too” says writer and historian ShriKrishna Jugnu.
“Horses, because of their significance in wars as mounts or for drawing chariots were highly coveted “companions” of the kings and their cavalry. War and transport horses have been traded for centuries and were one of the main commodities of trading in the ancient world, including a trade route named after it” Ranawat claims. Arab as well as central Asian horses were popular imports. Local breeds of Kathiyawadi and Marwadi were very popular in the history of Mewar; the first Maharana Hameer was given 500 Kathiyawadi horses by Barbadi Devi-a lady horse trader from Gujarat so that he may regain Chittaurgarh! Imagine a lady horse-trader who had authority of “loaning” 500 horses on ‘deferred payment basis” way back in early 1300s CE! Thereafter too the local horse breeds were popular because they were at ease in the rugged terrain of Aravalli Hill Range. The present-day Pathaan horse-breeders of Udaipur have pure white with pinkish hue to bluish ones named Neela-Rer horses in their stables, old literature has quite a few ‘neela’ prefixed names of horses as well as paintings (image), therefore the contention of a few persons that neela refers to white is not right-the blue hued horses can be seen even now. Besides Chetak, an elephant named Ram Prasad was also very dear to Maharana Pratap. However, during the Haldighathi battle, Mansingh killed the Mahawat and captured RamPrasad who was taken to Akbar’s royal court at Delhi and renamed as Peer Prasad.