40. Second Battle of Anandpur Sahib
The Rajas of Jammu, Nurpur, Mandi, Bhutan, Kullu, Kionthal, Guler, Chamba, Srinagar, Dadhwal, Handur and others, assembled at Bilaspur to discuss the newly created situation. Raja Ajmer Chand of Kahlur (son of late Raja Bhim Chand) addressed them that if they overlooked the growing power of the Guru, he would one day drive them out from their territories. On the other hand if they were to seek assistance from Delhi again and again, they might be taken over by the Mughal empire for ever. It was, therefore, decided that they must defend themselves. If all the hill Rajas contributed reasonable contingents, they could muster a large army which would be sufficient to annihilate the Guru and his Sikhs. Thus a simple and feasible measure was thought out to invest the Guru's capital, Anandpur, and starve its occupants into submission. Accordingly all the Rajas brought their contingents and marched towards Anandpur. On arriving near thecity they dispatched a letter to the Guru in which they wrote," The land of Anandpur is ours, we allowed your father to dwell on it and he never paid any rent. Now you have originated a new religion which is opposed to our religious system. We have endured all this up to the present, we can no longer overlook it. You should pay the arrears of rent for the occupation of our land and promise to pay it regularly for the future. If you fail to accept these terms, then prepare your departure from Anandpur or be ready for the consequences." The Guru replied," My father had purchased this land and he paid for it. If you deprive me of Anandpur, you shall have it with bullets added thereto. Seek my protection, and you will be happy in both worlds. Also seek the protection of the Khalsa and abandon pride. Now is the time for a settlement. I shall act as a mediator between the Khalsa and you. You may then rule your states without apprehension." It was now clear to the Rajas that the Guru would not surrender. Next morning they beat the drum of war.As anticipated a large number of Ranghars and Gujars under the command of Jagatullah flocked to the side of the hill Rajas. Five hundred men from the Majha area arrived under the command of Duni Chand to join the Guru's forces, and ther reinforcements from other quarters also arrived at that juncture. There were two main forts, Lohgarh and Fatehgarh. The Guru ordered his forces not to advance beyond the city but remain as far as possible on the defensive. Sher Singh and Nahar Singh were appointed as chiefs to guard Lohgarh, and Fatehgarh was entrusted to Ude Singh. Sahibzada Ajit Singh, Guru's eldest son, asked his father's permission to join hands with Ude Singh. The hill Rajas opened fire with large guns on the Guru's fortress. Several brave Sikhs made a determined stand against the enemy and forced them to retreat. The allied chiefs then held a brief council of war in which it was decided to despatch Raja Kesari Chand, the haughty chief of Jaswal, to attack the right flank and Jagatullah the left flank of the Guru's position while Ajmer Chand himself and his troops made a front attack on Anandpur. Jagatullah was shot dead by Sahib Singh and the Sikhs did not retreat to allow the enemy to remove his body. Raja Ghumand Chand of Kangra rallied his troops but failed to cause the Sikhs to retreat. The hill chiefs were in great dismay at the result of the battle and held a council of war during the night. Raja Ajmer Chand advised the council for peace with the Guru saying that the Guru occupied Guru Nanak's spiritual throne and there would be no indignity in appealing to him as supplicants. Many Rajas agreed to the proposal but Kesari Chand of Jaswal opposed the reconciliation and promised to fight with more determination the next day in order to oust the Guru from Anandpur. Next morning the allied forces contented themselves with concentrating their attack on one particular part of the city but the Sikhs again offered valiant resistance. The allied forces rallied many times but could not overcome the brave Sikhs and so they decided to siege the city which lasted for a few weeks. As the blockade prolonged successfully, Raja Kesari Chand prepared to intoxicate an elephant and direct him against the city. Whole body of the elephant was encased in steel. A strong spear projected from his forehead for the purpose of assault. The intoxicated elephant was directed towards the gate of Lohgarh fort and the allied army followed him. The Guru blessed his Sikh, Bichitar Singh to combat the elephant. Bichitar Singh took a lance to meet the furious animal. He raised his lance and drove it through the elephant's head armor. On this the animal turned around on the hill soldiers, and killed several of them. Meanwhile Ude Singh continued to advance against Kesari Chand, challenged him, and then with one blow cut off his head. Mohkam Singh, one of the Five Beloved Ones, cut off the mad elephant's trunk with one blow of his sword. What remained of the hill army now fled. In the retreat the Raja of Handur was severely wounded by Sahib Singh. On the following day Ghumand Chand of Kangra directed the efforts of his troops against the city. Ghumand Chand's horse was killed by a bullet from the musket of Alim Singh. The battle lasted with varying success until evening, when Ghumand Chand, as he was proceeding to his tent in the evening, was mortally wounded by a chance bullet. All the hill chiefs now became disheartened and demoralized. Raja Ajmer Chand was the last to leave Anandpur and marched home in the dead of night. This battle was fought in 1701.