Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti: Remembering 7 great battles of Maratha Empire Shivaji Maharaj

Sonali PimputkarUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 12:05 AM IST
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Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Empire, was a legendary personage in the history of India. Named after the Goddess Shivai, Shivaji was born on February 19, 1630, in the prestigious Shivneri Fort. His birth anniversary is celebrated as Shivaji Jayanti with great enthusiasm. The warrior king is known for his bravery, tactics and for his administrative skills preserving the Swarajya value and Maratha heritage. There are countless tales of his braveries to his credit. On the occasion of 388th birth anniversary here are seven great battles of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj we all need to know.

Battle of Mysore Plateau (1677)
The battle was fought between Shivaji and his stepbrother Venkoji on November 26, 1677. Shivaji won the battle and seized most of the Mysore plateau. Seeing brothers at war, Venkoji’s wife Dipa Bai took the responsibility of negotiations. Shivaji respected his sister-in-law and agreed to it. After the talks and under certain conditions, Shivaji returned the seized territory back to Venkoji. In return, Venkoji distanced himself from Adil Shah and his advisors.

Battle of Sinhagad (1670)
Battle of Sinhagad was fought on February 4, 1670, between Tanaji Malusare and Udaybhan Rathod, fortkeeper under Mughal Army Chief Jai Singh I. Tanaji along with a small army was sent on a mission to capture Kondana fort. The fort was under the control of Mughals. The fort was attacked during the night and victory was secured but with the loss of Tanaji. As a tribute to Tanaji, Shivaji renamed the fort as ‘Sinhagad’.

Battle of Surat (1664)
Also known as Sack of Surat, the battle took place on January 5, 1664, and was fought between Shivaji Maharaj and Inayat Khan. In the battle, Shivaji challenged Mughal Fauzdar of Surat and attacked Surat. The town was sacked for nearly three weeks, during which the Maratha army looted all possible wealth from Mughal and Portuguese. The wealth was later used to develop and strengthen the Maratha state.

Battle of Poona (1663)
In January 1660, Aurangazeb’s maternal uncle Shaista Khan with his well-equipped army of 3,00,000 seized Pune and established his residence at Shivaji’s palace of Lal Mahal. In April 1663, Shivaji along with 200 Marathas infiltrated Pune, using a wedding procession as a cover. Shivaji’s army entered Khan’s quarters and killed his sons and other members of his family. Khan escaped but lost his thumb. He took refugee with the Mughal forces and was later transferred to Bengal by Aurangazeb for the embarrassment.

Battle of Umberkhind (1661)
The battle was fought on February 3, 1661, between Shivaji and Uzbek General Kartalab Khan. The aim of the battle was to reduce Shivaji’s power in the Konkan region. Mughals did not attack openly and while on their way to Konkan captured Lohagad and Rajmachi forts. But Shivaji was well-prepared for the battle and attacked Khan and his troops at Umberkhind, present-day Khalapur, defeating the Mughal forces. The Mughals gave up their plan to conquer Konkan. The battle boosted the morale of the Marathas and provided them enough arms and ammunition for their next battle.

Battle of Pavankhind (1660)
After the victory of Marathas in the earlier battles, Mughals formed an alliance with Adilshah to get rid of Shivaji. In 1660, Abyssinian general of repute Siddi Jauhar planned to attack Shivaji on the Southern border while the Mughals from the Northern side. In addition, the British provided their support to the Mughals. Shivaji and his force were encamped at Panhala fort, the present day Kolhapur. The enemy forces also blocked the supply routes to the fort thus increasing the trouble for Marathas. Shivaji, however, managed to escape the fort. The battle killed 200 Marathas and 1,400 enemy soldiers. The battle resulted in losing the Panhala fort to Siddi Jauhar.

Battle of Pratapgad (1659)
The Battle of Pratapgad fought on November 10, 1659, was the first Maratha victory that led to the establishment of the Maratha Empire. To entice Shivaji, Afzal Khan started destroying temples such as Bhavani at Tuljapur and Vittal temple at Pandharpur. Failing to do so Khan along with his army moved to Pratapgad. Shivaji sent a message to Khan that he did not want a war and was ready for peace. Hence a meeting was arranged at a shamiana at the foothills of Pratapgad between the two on the condition that the two would meet unarmed along with ten bodyguards each. Nine bodyguards would stand at a distance while a single bodyguard would wait outside the tent. Khan hid a small dagger in his coat while Shivaji wore armour underneath his clothes and carried a wagh nakha (tiger claws). While embracing Khan tried to strangle Shivaji but was saved because of the armour. Shivaji fought back using wagh nakha. Khan sustained many injuries during the scuffle and lost his life.

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