The founder of the Maratha Kingdom, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was one of the most sharp-witted, bravest, and sensible rulers in our country known for his military tactics and strategies on the battlefield. With endless victory stories, he was born to be a natural leader and fighter on 19th February 1630 in the famous Shivneri Fort to Jijabai and Shahji Bhonsle, who was a 17th-century Indian military leader and a high official in Bijapur court.
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Upholding the Swarajya values and Maratha heritage, Shivaji established his name in history with his remarkable administrative and war skills during fighting against the Mughals. As per many historians, all those military strategies adopted by Shivaji can be used to fight against modern terrorism. And why not? The whole world knows his guerrilla war tactics. Also, he successfully fought against the commanders of Adil Shah, i.e. Afzal Khan, by using his innovative war tactics.
In this blog, we will learn how his military war tactics made him one of the greatest emperors of Bharat. Take a look:
Chhatrapati Shivaji realised at a very young age that one must be familiar with the geography of his kingdom before getting involved in a fight with the enemy. Getting extensive and in-depth knowledge of the battlefield was one of his famous Maratha war techniques. He knew every mountain, river, valley, hillock, fort etc., within the Deccan area. No wonder people called him a “mountain rat” due to his remarkable attentiveness to the geography of his land.
After returning to Pune, he quickly thoroughly explored the mountains and forest areas with the assistance of locals who were aware of the surroundings from an early age. This exploration wasn't just about getting familiarised with the local geography; it helped him get a loyal group of followers and supporters who believed in him and his ideologies regarding Swarajya.
A brilliant example of the victorious application of guerrilla warfare tactics was set by the Maratha king Shivaji in the battle of Umberkhind.
Umberkhind is a mountain pass on the Sahyadri Mountain Range along the edges of the Patalganga River in the Raigad District of Maharashtra, India. After Aurangzeb acquired the Mughal Throne in 1659, he sent Shahista Khan to the Deccan as his representative with a large Mughal army to enable a treaty signed by the Mughals with the Adil Shahi of Bijapur.
Shahista Khan went along with Uzbek Kartalab Khan, who was specially sent to fight and defeat Shivaji. Meanwhile, the Maratha emperor enjoyed a formidable reputation after killing Afzal Khan, a famous Adilshahi general, in 1659. Shahista Khan arrived at Aurangabad in January 1660 and started holding on to the Pune area, Shivaji’s heartland.
He attacked the fort of Chakan and Kalyan and banished Marathas from Pune. He then sent Kartalab Khan and Rai Bagan in early 1661 to enter Umberkhind to become prey to Shivaji’s preplanned guerrilla warfare tactics.
When the Mughals entered Umberkhind, Shivaji’s soldiers started attacking them with arrows and swords as they were hidden in the dense forests unknowingly by the Mughals. The Mughal army couldn't see their enemies in the dark, so they couldn't attack back. Marathas killed a large number of Mugal soldiers in this way.
Using his extensive knowledge of the surroundings, he tricked the Mughals and acquired his land back. This guerrilla warfare Shivaji left a quick surprise for the Mughals.
Soon at an early age, Shivaji realised the importance of a naval force and, therefore, built a powerful navy at the coastline to protect the Konkan side of Maharashtra from foreign intruders such as Dutch, Portuguese and British as well as pirates. The Jaigad, Vijaydurg, Sindhudurg and many other naval forts give testimony to his ideas and strategies. This is why he is popularly called the father of the Indian Navy.
You might not know, but he was one of the few rulers who built India’s first-ever Navy and invested a lot in raising naval fleets. His naval fleets included Portuguese, French, Dutch and English ships of several types, whereas his naval force was made of fishermen, pirates, and other sea-faring tribes.
Soon, he acquired the fort of Kolaba, which was later made the naval headquarters of the Marathas. These naval fleets were used to attack richly loaded pilgrim vessels heading for Macca and other wealthy fleets working through the Maratha naval stations. Apart from this, he also knew the importance of a solid army. Shivaji Maharaj army size was expanded to 10,000 soldiers by Shivaji, which was 2000 in his father’s time. Before this, the Marathas had no army. He appointed both Hindus and Muslims to the army without any discrimination.
“Torna” was the first fort he acquired using political excellence and diplomacy. He was a war strategist, and despite being deprived of enough resources, he showed outstanding warfare skills in capturing the “Torna” fort at a very young age. By 1655, he successfully acquired the Kondan, Jawali and Raigarh forts. Apart from his remarkable war tactics, he never lagged in supporting women and their honour. He was against any type of violence, harassment and disrespect against women.
No doubt that many of his military war tactics are strengthening the base of modern war strategies. He was a true warrior at heart who considered different methods to protect the land of Marathas. Most of his attacks were used to surprise the enemies, and his epitome of attacks can be seen in the attack against Shaista Khan in Pune, popularly known for guerrilla tactics. He also laid strong economic policies and levied taxes like Chauthai and Gaokhandi to maintain his army.
1. Who did Shivaji Maharaj fight against?
Shivaji Maharaj fought several battles, including the Battle of Kolhapur, the Battle of Pratapgarh, Pavan Khind, Chakan, Surat, Purandar and the most famous Umberkhind.
2. When is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti celebrated?
Every year, on February 19th, his birth anniversary is celebrated as Shivaji Jayanti.
3. At what age Shivaji died?
The great warrior died at 50 on 3 April 1680 due to illness.