Timeline – Marathas under King Sambhaji (1680 to 1689):
After the death of Shivaji in 1680, a brief power struggle ensued in the royal family. Finally Sambhaji became the king. By this time Aurangzeb had finished his North missions and was pondering a final push in Deccan to conquer all of the India.
In 1681 sambhaji attacked Janjira, but his first attempt failed. In the same time one of the Aurangzeb’s generals, Hussein Ali Khan , attacked Northern Konkan. Sambhaji left janjira and attacked Hussein Ali Khan and pushed him back to Ahmednagar. By this time mansoon of 1682 had started. Both sides halted their major military operations. But Aurangzeb was not sitting idle. He tried to sign a deal with Portughese to allow mughal ships to harbor in Goa. This would have allowed him to open another supply route to Deccan via sea. The news reached sambhaji. He attacked Portughese territories and pushed deep inside Goa. But Voiceroy Alvor was able to defend Portughese headquarters.
By this time massive Mughal army had started gathering on the borders of Deccan. It was clear that southern India was headed for one big conflict.
Sambhaji had to leave Portughese expedition and turn around. In late 1683, Aurangzeb moved to Ahmednagar. He divided his forces in two and put his two princes, Shah Alam and Azam Shah, in charge of each division. Shah alam was to attack South Konkan via Karnataka border while Azam Shah would attack Khandesh and northern Maratha territory. Using pincer strategy, these two divisions planned to circle Marathas from South and North and isolate them.
The beginning went quite well. Shah Alam crossed Krishna river and enterd Belgaum. From there he entered Goa and started marching north via Konkan. As he pushed further,he was continuously harassed by Marathas. They ransacked his supply chains and reduced his forces to starvation. Finally Aurangzeb sent Ruhulla Khan for his rescue and brought him back to Ahmednagar. The first pincer attempt failed.
After 1684 monsoon, Aurangzeb’s another general Sahabuddin Khan directly attacked the Maratha capital, fort Raygad. Maratha commanders successfully defended Raygad. Aurangzeb sent Khan Jehan for help, but Hambeerrao Mohite, Commander-in-Chief of Maratha army, defeated him in a fierce battle at Patadi. Second division of Maratha army attacked Sahabuddin Khan at Pachad, inflicting heavy losses on Mughal army.
In early 1685, Shah Alam attacked South again via Gokak- Dharwar route. But Sambhaji’s forces harassed him continuously on the way and finally he had to give up and thus failed to close the loop second time.
In april 1685 Aurangzeb rehashed his strategy. He planned to consolidate his power in the South by taking expediations to Goalkonda and Bijapur. Both were Shia muslim rulers and Aurangzeb was no fond of them. He broke his treaties with both empires and attacked them. Taking this opportunity Marathas launched offensive on North coast and attacked Bharuch. They were able to evade the mughal army sent their way and came back with minimum damage.
On Aurangzeb’s new Southern front, things were proceeding rather smoothly. Bijapur fell in September 1686. King Sikandar Shah was captured and imprisoned. Goalkonda agreed to pay huge ransom. But after receiving the money, Aurangzeb attacked them in blatant treachery. Soon Goalkonda fell as well. King Abu Hussein of Goalkonda was captured and met the same fate as Sikandar Shah.
Marathas had tried to win mysore through diplomacy. Kesopant Pingle, (Moropant Pingle’s brother) was running negotiations, but the fall of Bijapur to mughals turned the tides and Mysore was reluctant to join Marathas. Still Sambhaji successfully courted several Bijapur sardars to join Maratha army.
After fall of Bijapur and Goalkonda, Aurangzeb turned his attention again to his main target – Marathas. First few attempts proved unsuccessful to make a major dent. But in Dec 1688 he had his biggest jackpot. Sambhaji was captured at Sangmeshwar. It was in part his own carelessness and in part because of treachery. Aurangzeb gave him option of converting to Islam, which he refused. Upon refusal, Aurangzeb, blinded by his victories, gave Sambhaji the worst treatment he could ever give to anyone. Sambhaji was pareded on donkey. His tounge was cut, eyes were gorged out. His body was cut into pieces and fed to dogs.
There were many people who did not like Sambhaji and thus were sympathetic to Mughals. But this barbaric treatment made everyone angry. Maratha generals gathered on Raygad. The decision was unanimous. All peace offers were to be withdrawn. Mughals would be repelled at all costs. Rajaram succeeded as the next king. He began his reign by a valiant speech on Raygad. All Maratha generals and councilmen united under the flag of new king, and thus began the second phase of the epic war.
Filed under: Hinduism, History, India, Indian History, Maharashtra, Marathi, Mumbai, Politics, Religion, Shivaji, Strategy, Warfare | Tagged: aurangzeb, dhanaji, maratha, rajaram, sambhaji, santaji, shahu, Shivaji, tarabai |