History of Fort Begu
1. History of Begu 7. Dispute between Govind Das ji and Kishan Das ji over Begu
2. Crown Prince of Mewar - Chunda ji renounces his birth right 8. Rawat Kali Megh ji I wins 84 Mughal military posts of Emperor Jahangir
3. Chunda ji’s departure and return to Mewar 9. Rawat Devi Singh ji
4. 23 generations of the Begu lineage since Prince Chunda ji 10. Rawat Sawai Megh Singh ji II
5. Rawat Ratan Singh ji 11. Rawat Sawai Anop Singh ji II
6. Rawat Saidas ji 12. Special mention of Col. James Tod – British Political agent to Rajputana from 1818 – 1824


Begu lies in the south- eastern part of Rajasthan. It has been an integral part of the Mewar region since centuries. Begu was offered along with Gothlai to Chunda ji – crown prince of Mewar and founder of Begu in the 15th century AD. Begu’s neighbours are the former princely states of Bundi, Kota, Gwalior and Indore.

The Rawat Sawais of Begu were among the 16 premier nobles (Umraos) of Mewar and their status was equivalent to that of the rulers of the princely states of India. The Maharana of Mewar was considered the highest in terms of status amongst the Hindu princely states of India. “Hindua Suraj” (light of dawn of the Hindu race) was the title bestowed on the Maharanas of Mewar by the pundits of Kashi. They fought the Muslim invaders for almost 500 years until Emperor Jahangir’s reign, when a respectable treaty was signed between Maharana Amar Singh I and the Emperor wherein the Maharana was exempted from attending the Mughal court in person and the Mewar royalty was not obliged to maintain matrimonial alliances with the Mughals.

In the bygone days of aristocracy and hierarchy, the fief of Begu was one of the oldest and earned the highest revenue. At one point it comprised of 500 revenue villages which included 4 paraganas (districts) in the erstwhile Rajputana. Over a period of time its original boundaries were altered and some famous nobles branched out from it to form their own jagirs. Before India gained her independence Begu had 18 forts, both large and small. Most of these were surrendered by Rawat Sawai Hari Singh ji to the Govt. of India in 1952. The family retained 3 of the 18 forts which are maintained by its members even today.

The rulers of Begu served Mewar with great loyalty and offered exemplary military services. Five of its 23 rulers gained martyrdom consecutively fighting the Mughals, which is indeed a matter of pride for the Rajputana.


Chunda ji, being the heir apparent to the throne of Mewar was to inherit the title of Maharana of Mewar. But a certain twist of events changed that. It so happened that Rao Ranmal of Mandore , Marwar visited the court of Mewar and offered the hand of his sister Hansa Bai in marriage to the crown prince Chunda ji of Mewar. Rao Ranmal of Mandore was received by Chunda ji’s father Maharana Lakha as Chunda ji was out on a hunting expedition. Maharana Lakha ji was past the prime of his life and when this marriage proposal (in the form of a coconut) came from Rao Ranmal for Maharaj Kunwar Chunda ji. Maharana Lakha ji drawing his fingers over his mustache said “I didn’t expect such playthings to be sent to an old grey- beard like me.” According to historian James Tod, Chunda ji was offended when he saw how his father sacrificed delicacy for wit and declined to accept the symbol assuming that his father still had a secret longing for married life. Chunda ji made up his mind that Lakha ji should himself accept the coconut.

Chunda ji remained adamant in his resolve and implored Rao Ranmal to give his sister in marriage to the old Maharana but Rao Ranmal declined. He wanted his sister to be married to the crown prince so that the child born of this wedlock would inherit the throne. However, a rejected marriage proposal would have been a matter of shame for the bride’s family. So Rao Ranmal hit on a proposal which he thought would turn the tables on Chunda ji. He suggested through Charan Chandan Khadiya ( the royal bard) that Chunda ji should renounce his right to the throne of Chittorgarh in favour of the child his sister would have after her marriage to the Maharana. The magnanimous Chunda ji whose sole desire was to gratify the supposed wish of his father, unhesitatingly agreed. The marriage was celebrated and Mokal was born of this union.

Meanwhile there was unrest in Gaya. The priests of Gaya cried for help and requested Maharana Lakha to evacuate the Muslim marauders from the holy city. Before leaving on a war- like pilgrimage to Gaya to expel the Muslim invaders who were looting and plundering the temples and the city, Lakha ji told Chunda ji that he might not return alive as he was very old. He sought to settle the inheritance of his estates and titles between Chunda ji and Mokal. When the question of what Mokal should inherit arose, Chunda ji’s quick and honourable reply was “The throne of Chittor” and to set any suspicions at rest, he performed the installation ceremony before Lakha ji’s departure. Chunda ji was the first one to pay homage and swear obedience and fidelity to his future sovereign.


Rao Ranmal’s brother Kanha took charge of Mandore after their father’s death. Ranmal opted to serve Chittor and was granted a jagir of 40 villages by Maharana Mewar. Chunda ji became the regent to Mokal ji after Maharana Lakha’s death. The queen mother of Chittorgarh Hansabai (Ranmal’s sister) was young and inexperienced and parties with vested interests began to poison her ears. As a result, she told Chunda ji to leave Mewar or she would retire to some other place with her young son Mokal. Once again the chivalrous Chunda ji, who in the past had willingly renounced the throne of Mewar in favour of Mokal, showed exemplary strength of character and left Mewar immediately. After Chunda ji’s departure Ranmal became the chief adviser of the queen mother. Gradually, the Rathors were given high ranks and jagirs in Mewar. This Rathodisation of Mewar naturally irked the nobles of Mewar. Finally, the palace maid Bharmali (a favourite of Ranmal) exposed Ranmal’s design to usurp the throne of Mewar. Apparently, he had confided in the palace maid Bharmali and told her about his secret desire while in a state of drunkenness and intimacy. She immediately informed the queen mother of Mewar, who, alarmed by the situation, called for Chunda ji. Once again Chunda ji came to the rescue of Mewar.

Arrangements were made for Chunda ji to enter the fort of Chittorgarh on an appointed day. He got Rao Ranmal killed by his soldiers. Ranmal’s son Jodha (founder of Jodhpur) who was at the base of the fort ran for his life to Marwar. Chunda ji and his sons, along with some soldiers followed Jodha and captured Mandore. Chunda ji subsequently handed over Mandore to two of his sons and left for Mewar. Mandore remained under Mewar rule for seven years after which brave Rao Jodha regained it and later named Jodhpur as his capital. He offered his daughter Shringardevi in marriage to Maharana Kumbha’s son Raimal to end the feud.


Rawat Chunda ji (1430 – 1443)
Rawat Kandhal ji (1443 – 1513)
Rawat Ratan Singh ji (1513 – 1527)
Rawat Sai Das ji (1527 – 1568)
Rawat Khangar ji (1568 – 1569)
Rawat Govind Das ji (1569 – 1578) Twin brother Kishan Das ji went to Salumber
Rawat Kali Megh ji I (1578 – 1628)
Rawat Raj Singh ji (1628 – 1677)
Rawat Maha Singh ji I (1677 – 1683)
Rawat Mohkam Singh ji (1683 – 1684)
Rawat Kushal Singh ji (1684 – 1685)
Rawat Alu ji (1685 – 1692)
Rawat Anop Singh ji I (1692 – 1700)
Rawat Hari Singh ji I (1700 – 1707)
Rawat Devi Singh ji (1707 – 1740)
Rawat Sawai Megh Singh ji II (1740 – 1804) Additional title of “SAWAI” bestowed
Rawat Sawai Pratap Singh ji (1804 – 1807)
Rawat Sawai Maha Singh ji II (1807 – 1823)
Rawat Sawai Kishor Singh ji (1823 – 1833)
Rawat Sawai Madho Singh ji (1833 – 1870)
Rawat Sawai Megh Singh ji III (1870- 1890)
Rawat Sawai Anop Singh ji II (1890 – 1947)
Rawat Sawai Hari Singh ji II (1948 - )

Most of the rulers of Begu were brave warriors and ruled with élan. The following traces incidents from the lives of some of these illustrious rulers.


Rawat Ratan Singh ji defeated Turram Baig, captured and annexed the Ranthambore fort to Mewar. He built the famous Ratangarh fort. (Now in Madhya Pradesh) about 26 kms from Begu, overlooking the Malwa plains. He led the Mewar army in the famous battle of Khanwa fought between Maharana Sangha and the first Mughal emperor Babur in 1527 AD. Before the battle of Khanwa the Mewar army had captured the fort of Bayana. The survivors of the defeated army narrated tales to Babur about the irrepressible gallantry of the Rajput soldiers who seemed to be possessed. This demoralized the Mughal army before the Khanwa battle took place. Babur himself confessed this in his memoirs “Babur Namah.” It was the first real resistance faced by the Mughals in India which compelled Babur to send emissaries for a peace treaty and was even ready at one point to pay a yearly tribute to Maharana Sangha. But destiny had something else in the offing for India.


The descendants of Chunda ji have always been in the HARAWAL (the vanguard) of the Mewar army. It was a rule and has been a tradition with the Chundawats to lead the army of Mewar. Rawat Saidas ji of Begu once again followed tradition and led the army when Akbar attacked Chittorgarh in 1568 AD. He laid down his life along with his son Kunwar Amar Singh ji at the Suraj Pol (gate) of the fort. Also, this was the third and final blow to Chittorgarh where all Rajput men perished defending the fort and all their women committed “JAUHAR” (self -immolation) upholding the motto – “Death rather than Dishonour.” This was the third time that “Jauhar” was committed in the fort of Chittorgarh. Such acts of valour are unsurpassed in history.


When Rawat Khangaar ji’s sons Govind Das ji and Kishan Das ji came of age they fought for the seat of Begu. They were twins, as a result of which both laid claim to the throne. The matter was settled by Maharana Udai Singh ji II in 1569 AD. According to the settlement Govind Das ji held the seat of Begu and Gothlai whereas Kishan Das ji was asked to take over Salumbar in lieu of Begu. Kishan Das ji was entrusted with the responsibility of the Bhanjgarh (administration) of Mewar and Govind Das ji held the reins of the original estates of Chunda ji namely Begu and Gothlai. Govind Das ji died fighting Akbar’s general Mirza Shahrukh near Athana (in Madhya Pradesh). Kishan Das Ji laid his life in the battle of HALDI GHATI in 1576 AD.


One of the most illustrious rulers of Begu was Rawat Kali Megh ji I. In the month of March 1608 the Mughal emperor Jahangir sent a powerful army under the command of his famous general Mahabat Khan to defeat and capture Maharana Amar Singh ji I. He was accompanied by war veterans like Zafar Khan, Raja Vir Bundela, Narayan Das Kachwaha, Ali Quli Khan etc.

This army of 20,000 camped at Menar village near Udaipur. The battle-hardened Mewar army was reduced to a few thousand soldiers owing to their relentless fight for 500 years against the invading Muslims. Therefore, Rawat Kali Megh ji I, as the head of the Mewar army, thought of a strategy which is now recorded in many books on Indian Military strategy.

He chose to attack and surprise the Mughal army at night. He bought several thousand oxen and cattle from the cattle herders of Marwar who generally entered Mewar in search of greener pastures. He then ordered his soldiers to fix fire lit torches on the horns of the cattle and load their backs with fire works. They assembled on three sides of the Mughal camp and one side was occupied by 500 of the brave Mewar cavalry. Rawat Kali Megh ji then gave orders of a lightning charge and the effect was so dramatic and ferocious that the Mughal army ran helter- skelter from the camp assuming a huge army had attacked them - all hell broke loose, it was like a bolt from the blue! The outnumbered Mewar army under Rawat Kali Megh ji I chased Mahabat Khan and his men till the outer limits of Mewar and won all the temporary 84 military posts back from them. Emperor Jahangir was waiting anxiously at Ajmer to hear about the outcome of the combat but was disgusted at their defeat and immediately recalled his most celebrated general Mahabat Khan. This victory gave the much needed impetus to Mewar and two years later this led to a respectable treaty with the Mughals. Finally peace prevailed and led to the prosperity and progress of Mewar after almost 500 years of turmoil, tribulations and war ravages.

After the treaty when Rawat Kali Megh ji I met Emperor Jahangir in person he immediately asked Rawat ji to narrate the entire episode of his victory over Mahabat Khan. He was so impressed with Rawat ji’s military genius and courage that he affectionately named him “Kali Megh ji” (black thunder cloud). Rawat Kali Megh ji I was offered Mansabdari by Jahangir and the fief of Malpura in Subah (province) Ranthambore, with an annual income Rs. 22 lac rupees (a copy of the farman in Persian can be read in Vir Vinod). Besides this, special privileges and honours were given to him such as NARAZU (Royal Insignia), CHATTER (Royal Umbrella), NAKKARA (Kettle Drums) and the permission to fly the Royal Flag on formal occasions. He resided in Malpura for a few years. But Rawat ji’s heart and soul always remained in Mewar and on crown prince of Mewar Karan Singh ji’s insistence he immediately accompanied him to Mewar and established himself at Begu. Rawat ji returned the estate of Malpura to Emperor Jahangir.

He also built a large temple near Malpura at village Baghera (near Ajmer) dedicated to lord Vishnu in Varha Avtar (wild boar incarnation). It’s a very famous place of worship and unique because one rarely finds a temple in India dedicated to Lord Vishnu in “Varha Avtar.” The stone inscription at the temple mentions the name of Rawat ji as the builder and also the date of its construction.


Rawat Devi Singh ji was very pious and wore saffron robes in place of royal finery. He delegated the mundane routine task of running the administration to his ministers. He spent most of his time on the bank of Rajgarh Lake near Begu. He prayed at the Lord Shiva temple situated in the lake flanked by a beautiful palace. Till date he is revered in and around Begu. It is very interesting to note here that a 125 kg stone SHILA (structure) which at present lies in the Fort of Begu, floats in water. According to legend it was Rawat Devi Singh ji’s grace and touch that made it float. On special occasions it is still made to float in water.

He was famous for leading battles with just a baton in his hands. He would order his army with that baton in hand in place of a sword. In fact, he won the battle of Rampura in 1717 by just sitting on a horse with that baton in hand and the enemy soldiers misunderstood it to be a magical wand.

He was a highly learned scholar of the Hindu scriptures and wrote religious prose and poetry. Devi Singh ji had an in-depth knowledge of astrology and an exceptional power of prediction. A great philanthropist, he once gave away Rs. 3 lac as alms to the poor. He was willing to give more but the exchequer of the fief held his hand and begged him to refrain.

Rawat Devi Singh ji’s daughter was married to the King of Bundi Maharao Budh Singh Ji. When his kingdom was captured by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur, he was given asylum at Begu along with his son Ummed Singh for 12 years. All the resources of Begu were at his disposal and he enjoyed Devi Singh ji’s generous hospitality, records of which are documented in books on history. When Maharao Budh Singh died at Begu a royal cremation was performed. DeviSnghji helped BudhSinghji’s son Maharao Umed Singh to regain Bundi from the usurper. The world famous fresco paintings (Chitrashala) in the Bundi fort palace were commissioned by Maharao Umed Singh. They display a fine synthesis of the Mewar and Hadoti forms of miniature paintings.


Begu was at its zenith during his rule. Megh Singhji got the fort walls restored and a deep masonry moat was dug all around the fort, adding to its grandeur.

Rawat Sawai Megh Singh ji II received the title of “SAWAI” which means “one and a quarter more than the others in every respect”. He successfully suppressed a major Bhil rebellion in Bhilwara.

During the 18 century, anarchy prevailed in most of India. Mughal rule disintegrated and many small power centers emerged. It became a yearly feature for some to increase their wealth and status by demanding ransom from other states. Failure to meet these demands would result in their being looted and plundered.

On one such occasion Rawat Sawai Megh Singh ji II challenged Mahadji Scindia of Gwalior, who asked Begu to pay a ransom. Mahadji Scindia’s army immediately surrounded Fort Begu and a battle ensued for 06 months but to no avail. When they could not win over Begu, stratagem preceded fighting. The strategy involved winning over Kunwar Pratap Singh ji (Rawat ji’s son) on to their side. Finally, the gates of the fort were opened and a compromise was made wherein Rawat ji had to pay Rs. 12 lakhs (equivalent to 100,000 pounds sterling in 1775 AD) as war indemnity to Mahadji Scindia.


He ruled Begu from 1890 – 1947 and was popular for his handsome personality and eccentricities all over Mewar. He was an intellectual in his own right. He was also a Sanskrit scholar.

During the peasant uprising of Begu and Bijoliya in 1921 - 1922 AD, he favoured the peasants of Begu and requested the Maharana of Mewar and the British government to accept some of their legitimate demands. This was a farsighted move as he realized that losing the trust of the peasants would prove detrimental. This enraged the ruling Maharana and the result was that Begu was put under the rule of the crown. Rawat Sawai Anop Singh ji II moved to Mt. Abu, a hill station in Rajasthan where he finally breathed his last. The crown gave up its rule and the present ruler Rawat Sawai Hari Singh ji II succeeded him in 1948.


Col. James Tod was an integral part of the discussions that led to the drafting of the Mewar- British treaty. He witnessed its signing in 1818 AD. After the treaty was signed between the two great powers, he set out to gain a first hand view of the prevailing condition of the Mewar region.


Rawat Sawai Anop Singh II
Rawat Sawai Anop Singh II
Col. Tod’s classic and exhaustive work “Annals and Antiquities of Rajputana” is valued by present day research students studying the rich and heroic history of the Rajputana. Col. James Tod visited Begu on 26th February 1822 during Rawat Sawai Maha Singh ji II’s rule. The purpose of his visit was to settle the ongoing feud between the ruler of Begu and the Scindias of Gwalior. Col. Tod not only amicably settled the dispute between the two but also helped Begu in retrieving the villages that were usurped by the Scindias. He met with a near fatal accident during his visit to Begu. He wrote in his memoirs - “The chances were nine hundred and ninety- nine to one that I ever touched a pen again.”

One of the gateways of the fort built by the famous Rawat Kali Megh ji I was smaller in size as compared to the others. An elephant with a howdah could not enter through that gate. Contrary to the mahout’s (elephant driver) advice Col. Tod advanced towards the gate. According to Tod, the hollow sound of the bridge and the deep moat on either side, alarmed the elephant, and she darted forward with the celerity occasioned with fear. As he approached the gateway, Col. Tod measured it with his eye and expecting inevitable and instantaneous destruction, he planted his feet firmly against the howdah and his forearms against the archway. The elephant pursued its flight inside as Tod fell unconscious on the wooden bridge, about an inch away from the projecting spikes of the gateway. He was immediately carried in a palki (wooden carrier) to his tented accommodation at Raj Bagh in Begu.

Rawat ji and his brethren rushed to his tent and Tod was overwhelmed to see Rawat ji in person asking about his well being. Col. Tod was given a grand reception two days later when he entered the fort of Begu but was disappointed when he saw the noble gateway built by Rawat Kali Megh ji I reduced to a ruin. Col. Tod deplored the rash destruction of the gateway blaming himself for the accident. Rawat ji declared that he could never look upon it with ease, since it had nearly taken the life of the one who had brought life back to them.