Oct 13 2009

Raigad | The Maratha Capital | Photographs

Published by under Forts

Coordinates 18°14′2.69″N 73°26′24.83″E
Built by Moropant Trimbak Pingle
Stone, Lead
Height 820 metres (2,700 ft) ASL
Government of India
Open to
the public
Controlled by Marathas
Commanders Shivaji
Occupants Sambhaji

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Sep 29 2009

The Birth

Published by under The History

Shivaji Maharaj was the son of Shahaji and Jijabai Bhonsale. Shivaji Maharaj’s birth date has been a matter of controversy but recently a consensus has been reached and is deemed to be 19 February 1627. He was born on Shivneri Fort, Junnar, 60 kilometres north of Pune and was named Shiva after Shivai, deity of the fort. Shivaji Maharaj was the fifth son born to Jijabai, 3 of whom had died as infants and only Sambhaji survived. While Shivaji Maharaj was accompanied mostly by his mother, Sambhaji lived with his father Shahaji at present day Bengaluru. During the period of Shivaji Maharaj’s birth, the power in Maharastra was shared by three Sultanates – Bijapur, Ahmednagar, and Golconda. Most of the then Marathas forces had pledged their loyalties to one of these Sultanates and were engaged in a continuous game of mutual alliances and aggression.

Shahaji Bhosle – Shivaji Maharaj’s father – was the elder son of Maloji Bhosale of Verul (present day Ellora, Maharastra). Legend has it that Maloji Bhosale was insulted by Lakhujirao Jadhav, a sardar in Nizamshahi, due his refusal to allow his daughter Jijabai’s (Shivaji Maharaj’s mother) marriage to his son- Shahaji. This led Maloji to greater conquests to obtain a higher stature and an important role under Nizamshahi, something that eventually led him to achieving the title of Mansabdar (military commander and an imperial administrator). Leveraging this new found recognition and power he was able to convince Jadhavrao to give his daughter in marriage to his son Shahaji.

Shivaji’s birthplace on Shivneri Fort
Shahaji following in the footsteps of his father, began service with the young Nizamshah of Ahmednagar and together with Malik Amber, Nizam’s minister, he won back most of the districts for the Nizamshah from the Mughals who had gained it during their attack of 1600. Thereafter, Lakhuji Jadhav, Shahaji’s father in law attacked Shahaji at the Mahuli fort and laid a siege. Shahaji was accompanied by Jijabai who was four months pregnant. After seeing no relief coming from Nizam, Shahaji decided to vacate the fort and planned his escape. He sent Jijabai off to the safety of Shivneri fort which was under his control. It was here at Shivneri that Shivaji Maharaj was born. In the meanwhile, suspecting his disloyalty, Lakhuji and his three sons were murdered by the Nizamshah in his court while they came to join his forces. Unsettled by this incident, Shahaji Raje decided to part ways with the Nizamshahi Sultanate and raise the banner of independence and establish an independent kingdom.

After this episode Ahmednagar fell to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and shortly thereafter Shahaji responded by attacking the Mughal garrison there and regained control of this region again. In response the Mughals sent a much larger force in 1635 to recover the area back and forced Shahaji to retreat into Mahuli. The result of this was that Adilshah of Bijapur agreed to pay tribute to the Mughals in return for the authority to rule this region in 1636. Thereafter, Shahaji was inducted by Adilshah of Bijapur and was offered a distant jagir- land holdings, at present-day Bangalore, but he was allowed to keep his old land tenures and holdings in Pune.

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Jun 23 2009

Cracks appear in Shivaji Maharaj temple

Published by under Current Events & News

The only temple of Chhatrapati Shivaji is on the verge of collapse. Rain water leakage and lack of maintenance are spelling doom for the 344-year-old Shivarajeshwar temple at the Sindhudurg Fort in Malwan.

The temple trustees say repeated requests to the state government for funds have fallen on deaf ears. They say it is ironical that on one hand the government is spending Rs200 crore to erect a Shivaji memorial off Mumbai’s coastline, while on the other it grants just Rs5,029 per year for the temple. The amount is meant to cover maintenance costs and salaries of the trust staff. “The annual salary of the man who plays the nagaras (temple drums) is just Rs26. Can you believe that? It’s a joke,” said a person associated with the temple trust.

“The roof and walls of the temple have become hollow due to rain water leakage,” said Mangesh Sawant, a devotee who stays near the temple. “The public works department (PWD) is responsible for maintaining the temple, but they do nothing. Because of the continued negligence, I fear the roof will collapse one day.”

The trust needs at least Rs40 lakh to preserve the monument, said Pradeep Vengurlekar, a trustee. “But the policies of the government have our hands tied. Not only does it not increase funding, but it also denies us the right to collect donations from tourists,” he said. “Last year, around four lakh tourists visited the fort. Donations from them could add up to a big amount.

“We have conveyed our concerns to the district administration from time to time, but to no avail.”

The temple has interfaith significance. Among the occupants of the fort — all descended from the 12 families who, the legend goes, were asked by Shivaji to never leave it — is the family of Sadik Sheikh, a Muslim. Sheikh’s forefathers used to play the nagaras.

“Maharaj (Shivaji) had ordered our forefathers to not leave the fort till the sun and moon were there. That is why we continue staying here,” said Sheikh, who fears damage to Shivaji’s idol by the elements. “We collected donations for its restoration, but could not raise the required amount.”

PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal said he had no idea about the temple’s maintenance.

Source: DNA India (Mumbai)

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Oct 21 2008

Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj

Published by under Introduction

Period 1664 – 1680
Regime June 6, 1674 to April 3, 1680
Born February 19, 1630
Died April 3, 1680
Birthplace Shivneri Fort, near Pune, India
Place of death Raigad Fort
Children Sambhaji, Rajaram and Six Daughters
The Character of Shivaji is one of the most enigmatic characters in the history of India. There are people who deify him and put him on the pedestal of god. Few of them are on the way of declaring him as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Many myths are now associated with him. Many others view that he was a mere local Maratha chieftain who was rebelling against the Mughal Empire and completely overlook the role he played in Hindu revival in India. Many others, who cannot comprehend the pragmatic approach of Shivaji, which was most practical given his humble beginnings, brand him as a mere plunderer and looter and equate him with ordinary dacoits. Between these two poles of emotions, Shivaji, the man, is on the verge of extinction. This is an attempt to resurrect him.In the process of understanding Shivaji, few events need to be understood.In the long list of those events, first one is about his grandfather, Maloji Bhonsale and his great grandfather Babaji Bhonsale. Documents suggest that Maloji was a Jagirdar of Pande-Pedgaon. He inherited substantial part of his jahagir. Shahaji was born in 1602, Maloji died in 1607 in the battle of Indapur. Shahaji was 5 years old when this tragedy struck. Maloji, at the time, was a Bargir serving Lakhuji Jadhav of Sindkhed Raja, a place in central Maharashtra.

Jijabai gave birth to six children. First four did not survive. Fifth and sixth were Sambhaji and Shivaji respectively. Shivaji’s own marital life was not very different from his father. He never gave importance to any of his queens and rarely entertained their interference in politics. He performed all the duties as a husband and kept his wives in as much comfort as possible, but no importance.

Shivaji Maharaj was an able administrator who established a government that included modern concepts such as cabinet (Ashtapradhan mandal), foreign affairs (Dabir) and internal intelligence. Shivaji established an effective civil and military administration. He also built a powerful navy and erected new forts like Sindhudurg and strengthened old ones like Vijaydurg on the west coast. The Maratha navy held its own against the British, Portuguese and Dutch.

Shivaji is well known for his benevolent attitude towards his subjects. He believed that there was a close bond between the state and the citizens. He encouraged all accomplished and competent individuals to participate in the ongoing political/military struggle. He is remembered as a just and welfare-minded king. He brought revolutionary changes in military organisation, fort architecture, society and politics. Shivaji successfully led and marshalled his forces to cope and overcome several major enemy invasions. He was inexorable in expanding the boundaries of his kingdom. His success was driven by his determination to establish a free and independent homeland, and in this goal he was supported by the high level of loyalty, respect and commitment he received from his soldiers, followers and citizens.

He was an innovator and an able commander, he successfully used effective tactics including hit-and-run, strategic expansion of territories and forts, formation of highly mobile light cavalry and infantry units, adaptation of strategic battle plans and formations, whereby he succeeded in out-manoeuvering, time and again, his vastly bigger and determined enemies. Towards the end of his reign he had built up the Maratha forces to be over one hundred thousand strong. He was able to effectively keep the Mughal forces in check and on the defensive while expanding his kingdom southwards to Gingee, Tamil Nadu. Shivaji Maharaj’s kingdom served as a Hindu bulwark against Mughal powers within India. His brilliant strategic and tactical maneuvering on battlefields, acute management and administrative skills helped him to lay the foundations of the future Maratha empire in India.

During his long military career and various campaigns his strong religious and warrior code of ethics, exemplary character and deep seated and uncompromising spiritual values directed him to offer protection to houses of worship, non-combatants, women and children. He always showed respect, defended and protected places of worship of all denominations and religions.

Shivaji was once offered a very beautiful young lady as a war booty, by an uninformed Maratha captain. She was the daughter-in-law of a defeated Muslim Amir (local ruler) of Kalyan, Maharashtra. Shivaji was reported to have told the lady that her beauty was mesmerizing and that if his mother was as beautiful as her, he would have been as handsome as well. He told her to go back to her family in peace, unmolested and under his protection. His behaviour, was noted by those around him, to be always of the highest moral caliber. He unambiguously embodied the virtues and ideals of a true nobleman.

He boldly risked his life, his treasure, his personal well being and that of his family, to openly challenge his immensely larger enemies to defend and achieve freedom and independence for his country. He unflinchingly defied overwhelming odds stacked against him by the mighty Mughal Empire and the regional sultanates. He overcame and succeeded in the face of an unprecedented level of difficulties and challenges posed by his enemies. He did not spend any resources on projects designed for self-aggrandizement or vanity, instead he was propelled by his deeply held sense of Dharma (sacred duty) to his people and country.

Shivaji did not believe in being treated as royalty, in fact he mingled freely with his subjects to spend time with them to maintain a close rapport with them. It is reported that he enjoyed simple meals of crushed onion and ‘bhakris’ – a type of Indian peasant bread with his foot soldiers (mavlas). His character could be termed as ‘down to earth’ and while he took his mission with utmost seriousness he did not seemingly consider his own needs to be above his people’s welfare or their security. As a result of this Shivaji struck a deep chord with his followers and the citizenary. And the high level of admiration and respect he earned from his followers and subjects sets him apart from most other Indian kings or chieftains in the recorded Indian history. Even today he is venerated in India and especially in the state of Maharashtra with awe and admiration and is viewed as a hero of epic proportions.

Source: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj – An Analysis by Manish Zanpure

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Oct 16 2008

Shahaji Raje

Published by under Introduction

Shahaji was a Sardar in Nizamshah’s court at Ahmednagar. Nizamshah willingly sacrificed Lakhuji Jadhav for Shahaji. Yet, Shahaji went to Adilshah in 1624. Despite of valiantly fighting for Adilshah for two years, he returned to Nizamshah in 1626. He again changed his loyalties and became Mughal Sardar in 1630. Yet again, after valiantly fighting for Mughals, he returned to Nizamshah in 1632. In all these transitions, he maintained his Jagir in Pune at his discretion. He maintained an army that was loyal to him and him alone, irrespective of the power he was serving. He initiated the policy of uniting Deccan against North Indian Mughals. Many notable people like Khavaskhan, Kutubshah, Madanna and Akanna of Golconda, Murar Jagdev supported this united Deccan policy that Shahaji initiated. Shivaji repeatedly pronounced this policy. Sambhaji considered himself as a patron of Adilshah and Kutubshah.

Shahaji appointed Dadoji Kondadev, a his chief administrator of Pune Jagir. He himself was administrating his Jagir in Bangalore, Karnataka. It was his vision that he distributed his property between two sons in 1636. The Karnataka Jagir was for elder son Sambhaji and Pune Jagir for younger son Shivaji. He made Adilshah to appoint Dadoji Kondadev as Subhedar of Pune and gave him control of some army (about 5000 strong) 15-20 forts, and entire administrative personnel in the form of a Peshwa, an accountant and others. Shivaji took his oath on Rohireshwar of establishing a Hindavi Swarajya in presence of Dadoji. The first letter bearing the official seal of Shivaji is dated 28th January 1646. It is difficult to comprehend that young Shivaji who was a teenager of 15 years, had all this blueprint of establishing a Hindu Swaraj along with seals and official letterheads in his mind. One has to accept the vision and power of Shahaji that was guiding him, correcting him and shaping him.

Shahaji was carving a kingdom of his own in Karnataka. He was doing exactly the same thing through Shivaji in Maharashtra as well. At both places, the administrators, Shahaji in Bangalore and Shivaji in Pune were calling themselves as Raja, were holding courts, and issuing letters bearing official seals in Sanskrit. Adilshah was weary of this and in 1648; two independent projects were undertaken by Adilshah to eliminate these two growing kingdoms in its territory. Shivaji defeated Adilshah’s general Fateh Khan in Pune, Maharashtra. At the same time, his elder brother Sambhaji defeated Adilshahas other general Farhad Khan in Bangalore. The modus operandi of Maratha troops on both the frontiers is similar, again reinstating the guiding vision of Shahaji. The subsequent treaty that was signed between two Bhonsale brothers and Adilshah to rescue Shahaji, who was held captive by Adilshah, marks the first Mughal-Maratha contact. In 1648-49, Adilshah captured Shahaji in order to blackmail his two sons to cede the territory conquered by them and accept Adilshahas supremacy. Shivaji wrote a series of letters to Dara Shikoh (Subhedar of Deccan), pledging to be subservient to Mughals. Mughals recognized Shivaji as a Mughal Sardar and pressurized Adilshah to release Shahaji. In return, Shivaji ceded Simhagad, and Sambhaji ceded Bangalore city and Kandarpi fort in Karnataka.

We can see the coherency in actions of Shivaji and Sambhaji. The men assisting both the brothers were loyal to Shahaji and were trained under him. Even though Shivaji was administrative head of Pune Jagir, many people appealed to Shahaji against Shivaji’s decisions up to 1655. Up to this point, Shahaji’s word was considered final in all of the important matters. Until this point, Shivaji was not at all free to take all the decisions on his will. There was a higher power that was controlling his activities. Gradually after 1655, this interference went on diminishing, and Shivaji started emerging more and more independent.

Thus, if we see these three men in a link, Shahaji, Shivaji and his son Sambhaji, all the actions of Shivaji start making sense. In this way, we are better able to grasp the greatness of the man, Shivaji.

Shivaji had himself coronated as a Kshatriya King in 1674. Shahaji initiated this policy. The Ghorpade clan of Marathas considered themselves as descendents of Sisodiya Rajputs. Shahaji attested his claim on the share in Ghorpade’s property from Adilshah long before 1640. In reality, there is no connectio whatsoever between Sisodiya Rajputs and Bhonsale clan. Nevertheless, Maloji started calling himself as Srimant Maloji Raje after becoming a bargir. Shahaji legalized this claim of being a Rajput from Adilshah. This was of great help to Shivaji at the time of his coronation in 1674. It is interesting to see that even after coronating himself as a Hindu Emperor, Shivaji continued writing letters to Aurangzeb, referring him as Emperor of India, and stating that he was a mere servant of Great Aurangzeb. We can see the basic pragmatic mindset of Shivaji which was fueled by great dream of establishing Hindu Self ruling state.

Source: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj – An Analysis by Manish Zanpure

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