The battle of Bharatpur was the battle between the ego of the British and the determination of the Indians. In their rule of more than two centuries, the fort of Bharatpur was the only fort the British failed to seize.
All of this started when a confident Yashwant Rao Holkar decided to drive the East India Company out of India. He had won ten battles consecutively, despite a lack of support from fellow Maratha leaders. But Holkar knew that to defeat the EIC he needed more men and so he decided to make some alliances.
The Company had the Mughal king Shah Zafar under house arrest in Delhi. Holkar knew that if the Mughals and the Marathas were to join their forces, they could easily overpower the East India Company. So he rallied towards Delhi.
The reputation of Holkar reached the ears of yet another great king, Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh was the unifier of Sikh tribes and ruled over the Punjab region. He liked the visions of Holkar and wanted to help him in every way. His men scouted a perfect fort to make their hold near Delhi. The fort was strong and big enough to accommodate both their armies. A wealthy Ranjit Singh filled the fort with as much ration and infantry as possible. Both the armies arrived at the fort and then they waited.
The first unit of the EIC was handed the job of scouting the weakness of the fort. Five hundred men lost their lives while doing so.
Based on information from the first unit, the second unit came prepared to attack the eastern wall. They even managed to breach the wall. But what waited inside the walls was a nightmare. The Jat unit of Ranjit Singh was made of soldiers, all of whom were six feet or above in height. The whole battalion of seven hundred men, including their commander, lost their lives inside the fort.
Lord lake, the army general, declined the idea of peace offering. For the third attempt, he sent in a much larger army with artillery support. At first, the canons tried to break the walls of the fort. But the thick mud walls of the fort did not crack. Then the canons gave soldiers a cover to reach the walls of the fort. They climbed onto those walls and fought hand-to-hand battles. The war-experienced Maratha warriors of Holkar proved superior to rusty EIC soldiers. After losing twelve hundred men, EIC returned empty-handed.
Lord Lake was still stubborn in his decision. He was optimistic that once the regiments from Mumbai came they would win. But to his surprise, Holkar and his men came out of the fort and attacked. The depleted and under-prepared army of EIC stood no chance and lost the battle as well as their base.
This whole event happened within three months. The local folklore compares it to the battle of Mahabharata. At last, the East India Company offered a peace offering to Holkar. Holkar became the only king to receive such an offer from the British and the fort of Bharatpur became the only fort that was never captured by the British.