Friday, 13 March 2009

22. War With Mughals

The cause of conflict was the suspicious nature of Aurangzeb & the latter’s bid to disarm & imprison men & officers of the Maratha contingent at Aurangabad. From 17 aug to 15 sept. 1669, Aurangzeb caused havoc in Benaras & destroyed temples. Between 14 dec to 11 jan 1670 peace between Mughals & Marathas came to end. Prataprao & Anandrao returned to Rajgad from Aurangabad with their contingents.

Aurangzeb’s policy of buttressing his rule by relying on orthodoxy was extremely short-sighted. It hurt the overwhelming majority of the people. It caused a deep anguish to the deeply religious & tolerant nature of Shivaji. During the years 1667 to 1669, Shivaji quietly devoted himself to building up his strength. The forts were strengthened through repairs. Strong garrisons were stationed in them. The army was put on a war footing. It was a national army. Comprising neither foreigners nor mercenaries. Shivaji looked far & wide for arms, ammunitions, guns & weapons. The Deccan state of Golconda was moved close to Marathas. Vijapur had given up its hold on Konkan for good. Shivaji could not have chosen a better time for the attack. Viceroy of Deccan, prince Muazzam, was a unwar-like & peace loving. Only Daudkhan Qureishi, general of Khandesh, was active & energetic.

In 1670, Shivaji burst upon the Mughals with a fury that stunned them. His 1st aim was to clear his homeland from the Mughals. 23 forts that he handed over to Mughals & territory of 4lakh hones (16 lakh rupees). He attacked Mughals wherever he found them - on the forts, in the valleys, villages & cities. The struggle was a bitter one. Forts after forts went down to Marathas. Some after great struggles. A popular stirring tale relates to capture of Sinhagad on 4th feb 1670. The assault led by noted Maratha warrior Tanaji Malusare. The bitter fight ends with his death. He has become immortal in history of Marathas. Sinhagad was passed onto Marathas. Equally strong fort of Purandar fell to Marathas on 8th march 1670. Lohagad & Rohida fort were soon captured by Marathas. There was utter chaos among the Mughals. Marathas were fighting in every part of deccan. Mughal news letters were full of such reports. Some of them are- Latter dated 24th jan 1670 “Shivaji’s forces are plundering the province of berar. They have collected 20 lakh rupees from imperial territory.” Barkhurdar khan, gov. of fort of ausa( today in osmanabad dist., marathwada) wrote, ”Shivaji’s troops consisting 20,000 men have arrived in this region. They are plundering the province & collecting booty. They are camping at only 2 kos (6km) from the fort. I have no means of subsistence left. They have plundered my jagir. I may be favored with some money.”

Fort of Mahuli was defended well by Mughal commandant Manohardas Gaud. But due to lack of arms, ammunition & provisions he withdrew from his post. Daud khan asked him to change his mind, but to no effect. He appointed Allahwardi Khan as new commandant of Mahuli. As soon as Duadkhan returned to Junnar, Marathas attacked Mahuli & captured it on 15th june 1670. Allah wardi khan died fighting. Kalyan – Bhiwandi were also won soon. No. of Mughal officials were returning to Aurangabad in disgrace & in miserable condition. Soon afterwords Marathas attacked Prabhavalgad (today known as Prabalgad near Matheran) & fort Karnala & captured them on 23rd june 1670. By the end of june almost all forts were won back by Marathas in 6 months.

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