Baji Prabhu Deshpande is a revered figure in the Indian history. Deshpande, who was commander in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's Maratha empire is often remembered as the braveheart who laid his life to enable Shivaji's escape from the Panhala fort.
Baji Prabhu, who is said to have born around 1615, worked under Krishnaji Bandal of Rohida near Bhor. He joined Shivaji after he defeated Krishnaji and captured the fort and commanders.
Filmmaker Digpal Lanjekar directorial Pawankhind is a cinematic tribute to one of the greatest warrior who died on July 13 enabling Shivaji's escape.
Two silent films were made in his honour much before Lanjekar's film. Reportedly, Baburao Painter made a silent film titled Baji Prabhu deshpande in 1929 while Omkar Films released another silent film in the same year titled Veer Baji.
On his death anniversary, here's a look at the warrior commander's contribution in the battle of Pawankhind.
The Battle of Pawankhind
The battle was the last stand that took place on July 13, 1660 at a mountain pass in the vicinity of fort Vishalgad near Kolhapur, Maharashtra.
Shivaji, in 1660, was trapped inside the fort of Panhala, under siege by an vastly outnumbering army of Adilshah led by General called Siddi Masud who wanted to kill him.
Maratha warrior Baji Prabhu and Shivaji planned an escape to fort Vishalgad; they dashed through the army at night while a barber named Shiva Kashid, who resembled Shivaji, distracted the forces with a facade.
Shivaji made his escape on the night of July 13 with his troops with the Adilshah army of 10,000 in pursuit, who had also surrounded Vishalgad.
Realising that a troop of soldiers will have to stay back, Baji Prabhu, his brother Fulaji Prabhu and 300 Maratha soldiers stayed back at Ghod Khind (Horse's Pass), the position chosen for defence.
Baji Prabhu, who occupied the Ghod Khind, blocked the path of Adilshahi troops and relentlessly fought them for hours despite being severely wounded.
Shivaji had informed the warrior that he will hear the cannon being fired five times signalling his safety. Legend has it, Baji Prabhu fought until he heard the cannon fire.
Legends also say that Ghod Khind was later renamed as Pawankhind to honour the martyred Maratha soldiers and Shivaji's loyal commander, Baji Prabhu.