Chetak, hero of India
People called him Pratap; rider of the blue horse.
The Marwari is an exotic horse breed from India most famous for its lyre-shaped ears. They are known for their toughness, stamina and beauty, and during war-times their loyalty, their courage and their ability to always bring their riders home. They are said to be so in tune with their riders they can read their minds and predict orders before they are given. There are many Marwaris throughout legend and history that showcase these attributes through hardships and war. But no horse displayed these features better than the amazing “dark blue” horse, Chetak.
In 1576 Northwestern India was ruled by Rana Pratap. He was a strong king, fair and just, and wanted what was best for his people. He often found himself on the battlefield, fighting relentlessly to keep his people safe from the enemy, but no matter how far he was from home, his dear Chetak was always with him. The horse was strong and slender, with a high profile and sparkling eyes, but most notable was his strange dark blue coat colour. And thus the people called Pratap: "rider of the blue horse".
Emperor Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor, wanted to capture Pratap's lands for himself, and set out to meet him at the Haldaghiti Pass. The battle which followed was fierce, Pratap's forces were heavily outnumbered but his men did not give up easily and they fought like tigers. When the Mughal Emperor came unto the battlefield riding his elephant, Pratap took his chance and charged at him, brandishing his spear. Upon reaching the elephant Chetak, panting and furious, reared up and slammed his hooves into the trunk, giving his rider the chance to kill the Emperor. As Pratap struggled to take the shot, the elephant retaliated by raising his head and piercing Chetak's leg with his sharpened tusk - but Chetak did not budge.
Pratap finally aimed his spear and threw it at the Emperor, but missed him by a scant inch. Before he could try again the enemy troops drew closer, drawing their sabres. Realizing his rider was in danger Chetak turned and ran on three legs away from the fray.
Pratap tried to stop him but Chetak would not listen and leapt clear across a wide stream, carrying his rider with him to safety.
Upon landing, Chetak collapsed from pain and blood loss. Wrought with grief Pratap held his beloved horse's head in his arms until Chetak finally passed away.
His forces would lose that battle that day but King Pratap was saved and managed to gather enough men to finally push back the Emperor.
Rama Pratap riding Chetak. The commemorative statue in Moti Magri Park, Udaipur
Chetak has been immortalized in statues, shrines and museums across India. And today the Haldaghiti battle is not remembered for the King's defeat at the hands of his enemy, but instead for the bravery of a horse who gave everything to protect his country and king.