Sunday, 22 February 2009

10. In Siege of Panhala ...

Fleding of Vijapur army after Afzalkhan’s death made Shivaji to capture strong fort of Panhala on 28th Nov. 1659. There was a panic in court of Vijapur. Now Adilshah again assembled a force & sent it under the leadership of Rustum Zaman. Fazal khan – son of Afzalkhan, Malik Ambar, Fateh Khan, Sarjerao Ghatge were serving under him. Shivaji himself led the attack against Rustum Zaman. Battle was fought near Panhala. Vijapur forces again fled & broke badly. 12 elephants & 2000 horses were captured. After that Shivaji carried raids as far as Athani (now in Belgaun). Shivaji even advanced to lay siege to the fort of Miraz.

Mean while, Vijapur made one more effort again Shivaji. A well-equiped force under command of Vijapur noble, Siddhi Jauhar with 16000-20000 cavalry & 35000-40000 foot soldiers. The Vijapur forces besieged Panhala with Shivaji inside the fort. Shivaji’s effort to divert the enemy by sending his troops to environs of Vijapur & plundering them did not succeed. This was March 1660. The siege last for 6 months. Netali Palkar tried another diversionary attack, but he failed to achieve his purpose.

Mean while Shaista khan marched into Poona from Aurangabad & captured Shivaji’s Lalmahal on 9th may 1660. He was in full correspondence with Siddhi Jauhar. Shaista khan also took possession of Kalyan – Bhiwandi. With plains securely held by Mughals, forts were strongly held by Shivaji. Now he tried occuping Shivaji’s territory.

Siege of Panhala was a tight siege. Mughals were capturing Shivaji’s Swarajya. He decided to leave Panhala & return to Rajgad. Taking advantage of rainy season & dark nights, on 13th july 1660, Shivaji slipped out of Panhala & made for the fort of Vishalgad, 64 km away. He was accompanied by a small contingent of 600 men. Siddhi Jauhar learnt of Shivaji’s escape. The Adilshahi forces pursuit him. The plateau leading to Vishalgad was 6-9 km long. The place called Gajapur Khind or Ghod Khind was perfect to fight with enemy. Shivaji placed his sturdy men to fight with Vijapur forces & he himself pushed on towards Vishalgad. Maratha leader BajiPrabhu Deshpande earned glory in this fight. He died fighting. It was he, who stopped Vijapur forces long enough to enable Shivaji to reach Vishalgad.

The Ghod Khind is now generally known as Pavan Khind – the sacred platue.

Soon after, Shivaji returned to Rajgad. With Mughal pressure steadily increasing, he was in dire need of territory & finances for the war.

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