Historical Notes: Shivaji’s miraculous escape from Aurangzeb’s court will leave you spellbound!

Okay, school history books have always influenced our lives in one or the other way. Remember? Our history teacher recited one such incident in an interesting manner about how Shivaji and his son escaped themselves by hiding themselves in huge baskets of sweets, making their getaway historic. But did you ever thought of how and why huge baskets of sweets were provided to the prisoners as we all are aware of Mughals’ well-organised management? Here’s an interesting tale. Read on.

Shivaji Maharaj with his Guerilla method got hold of Juvile area in 1646, with a small force of 16. He was successful in occupying several forts. After he defeated Shaista Khan, Mughal viceroy Aurangzeb sent a force of 10,000 soldiers under the leadership of Maharaja Jai Singh in 1664. The army attacked the fort of Purandar where Shivaji was residing. Hence a treaty of peace was signed that declared to hand over 23 out of 35 forts to the Mughal emperor. Jai Singh suggested Shivaji accompany him to Agra to meet Aurangzeb for sanctioning the treaty and also assured him that his journey will be taken care of. Also, the Mughal emperor sent a letter on April 5, 1666, to Shivaji that he will be treated royally on arrival.

Shivaji reached Agra on June 11, 1666, accompanied by his son and a small force. When he reached the Mughal durbar, Aurangzeb ignored him. He was made to stand in courtiers’ row and this angered Shivaji and when he made his move he realised he was under house arrest. On Shivaji’s request, few of his companions were left. Though Shivaji was never kept in prison he was not allowed to leave Agra for three months.

In August, Shivaji alleged to have suffered from stomach ache and for his treatment doctors were called. After a three-day treatment, he was declared fit. Shivaji asked for sweets and money to distribute among doctors, Brahmins, and poor people. And hence sweets were made in huge quantities and were transported in large bamboo baskets. A strict inspection was carried and after few days the security persons passed the basket without inspection.

Shivaji realised that this was the right moment for escape and on August 19, he along with his son broke out hiding inside huge baskets of sweets. On moving out of the durbar instead of moving towards Maharashtra, the two moved towards Mathura. Before moving, Shivaji dressed up two of his courtiers like himself and his son. And so when an informer informed in the durbar of seeing Shivaji and his son, the emperor replied no such getaway was made.

After reaching Mathura, the father-son and their followers shaved off their usual beard and mustache and applied ash on their face, posing like beggars. From Mathura, they proceeded to Prayag (Allahabad) and then to Bundelkhand (Madhya Pradesh) and then to Golconda (Andhra Pradesh) and with a journey of 60 days reached Raigarh in October 1666.

On June 6, 1674, Shivaji was coronated with the title ‘Chhatrapati’ in Raigarh fort.

Free Press Journal