Sunday, 22 February 2009

8. Father of the Indian Navy

Portuguese letter dated 6th aug 1659 says, “a son of Shahaji, rebel against Adilshah, has captured the areas near Bassein (Vasai) & Chaul. He has grown strong. He has constructed some fighting vessels in the Bhiwandi, Kalyan & Panvel ports of the Bassein region. We are therefore forced to remain alert. We have ordered the Portuguese captain not to allow these vessels to come out of the ports & see that they do not move out on the seas.”

Now Shivaji was threat to all his enemies. He was in full control of kalyan & began to hum with navy – building activities by 1657-58. The work of building 20 fighting vessels started under trained hands. According to Shivaji, ostensibly the navy was to be used against the Siddis, but in reality his aim went far beyond.

As the Konkan came increasingly under possession, Shivaji started building number of coastal fortresses such as Padmadurg, Vijaydurg, Suvarnadurg, Sindhudurg & other small to afford protection to his coastal navy & to watch & to curb the activities of the Portuguese.

Mughals & Vijapur were land based power. They always neglected building up a navy. Their pilgrim & merchant ships depended on Europeans in the sea. Under such circumstances Shivaji’s stress on naval activities reveals his far-sightedness.

He can well be acclaimed as ‘Father of the Indian Navy.’

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