The Mighty Sardars of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Subedar Tanhaji Malusare:

Sinhagad was one of the first forts which Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj re-captured from the Mughals. The capture was made possible by scaling the walls at night with ladders made of rope. A fight followed in which Tanhaji Malusare was killed but the fort was won. The battle and Tanhaji’s exploits are still a popular subject for the Marathi ballad.

During the siege, Malusare scaled a steep cliff that led to the fort through the assistance of a monitor lizard called Yashwanti (also referred to as ghorpad in Marathi) This type of lizard was tamed since the 15th century and Yashwanti was trained to pull the rope up the cliffs for Malusare and wind it around the fort’s bastion. Climbing up the fort, the Marathas were intercepted by the garrison and combat ensued between the guards and the few infiltrators that had managed to climb up by this time. Both Tanhaji and Udaybhan were killed in the battle but the overwhelmed Maratha forces managed to capture the fort after the reinforcements penetrated the gateway of the fort from another route.

Netaji Palkar:

During the period of the rise of Shivaji Maharaj from 1645 to 1665, Netaji was given charge of many expeditions which he successfully completed. His greatest success was the campaign against the Adilshah of Bijapur that followed the killing of Afzal Khan. His standing among the local population was such that he was known as Prati Shivaji (Image of Shivaji Maharaj). After an agreement between Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Shivaji Maharaj, Shivaji Maharaj was made to give 23 forts to the Mughals and also fight against the Adilshah of Bijapur. During this period, Netaji Palkar, as a tactic joined the Bijapur forces and weakened the Mughals by counter-attacking them using Adilshah’s army. In turn, Shivaji Maharaj used Mirzaraja Jai Singh’s army to weaken the Adilshahi.

Baji Prabhu Deshpande:

Bijapuri forces under commander Siddhi Johar sieged Panhala Fort where Shivaji Maharaj was present. On a stormy full moon’s night a band of 600 men, led by Baji Prabhu and Shivaji Maharaj, broke through the siege. They were followed by the Bijapuri forces under Siddhi Masood. Tradition and legend describe feats of valor displayed by the Marathas during this rear-guard action. Baji Prabhu had mastered the art of using a weapon called “Dand Patta”. Through the entire battle, Baji Prabhu, even though grievously injured, continued fighting, inspiring his men to fight on until Shivaji Maharaj’s safe journey to Vishalgadh was signaled by the firing of three cannon volleys. It should be mentioned that when Shivaji Maharaj approached Vishalgad with 300 men, the fort was already under siege by Bijapuri sardars named Suryarao Surve and Jaswantrao Dalvi. Shivaji Maharaj with his 300 men had to defeat Surve to reach the fort. The pass where Bajiprabhu fought the enemies was later named as ‘Paawan Khind’

The Paawan Khind

Kondaji Farzand:

Farzand was a skilled warrior who was specialized in warfare (sword fight, wrestling), climbing high scale peaks, and planning battle strategies. Farzand only gathered 60 skilled warriors to take a might against 2500 soldiers guarding Panhala. Farzand not only captured the Panhala fort but also avenged the death of Tanaji by killing Beshak Khan. He was highly praised by Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj for capturing Panhala. After the death of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, his son Sambhaji Maharaj ascended the throne and continued the fight for Swarajya. The Janjira fort was under the control of Siddis and had to be gained back. Kondaji Farzand took this mission to recapture Janjira by befriending Siddi and attacking his artillery and ammunition. But Farzand’s plan to recapture Janjira was failed as his identity was revealed to the enemy by an inside mole. The brave Kondaji Farzand was taken captive and killed. Had Kondaji not been betrayed, he would have regained Janjira fort back for Chattrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. Sambhaji Maharaj was very devastated after hearing about the death of his great commander Kondaji Farzand.

 Sarnobat Hambirrao Mohite:

Hambirrao was the Senapati of Maratha Army. At that time, the Koppal province of Karnataka was under Adilshah’s general Abdul Rahimkhan Miyana and his brother Hussain Miyana. Both brothers used to forcibly take the grain of the farmers. The people of Koppal complained to Shivaji Maharaj when sent his Sarsenapati Hambirrao. In Yelburga, on January 1677, both armies collided. Hambirrao and Dhanaji Jadhav showed incomparable valor in this battle. More than half of Adilshah’s army was killed in this battle. Hambirrao killed Abdul Miyana and imprisoned Hussain Miyana.

When Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje passed away on 3 April 1680. On 21 April, the corrupt ministers of Swarajya crowned Rajaram Maharaj. At that time Rajaram was only ten years old. Rajaram Maharaj was the nephew of Hambirrao. The ministers of Swarajya ordered Sambhaji to be imprisoned. When Hambirrao came to know about this, Hambirrao captured all the ministers and presented them to Sambhaji Maharaj. This shows how deep Hambirao’s undying loyalty to Swarajya was.

Categories: Culture and History