Battle of Sinhagad
|Battle of Sinhagad|
|Part of Mughal Wars|
|Maratha Empire||Mughal Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Tanaji Malusare †
|Uday Bhan †|
The Battle of Sinhagad was a night battle that took place on March 15, 1670 in the fort of Sinhagad, near the city of Pune, Maharashtra, India. It was fought between Tanaji Malusare, a commander of Maratha ruler Shivaji and Udaybhan Rathod, fortkeeper under Jai Singh I. Tanaji's army won the war to hand over control of the fort to the Marathas with casualties 300 from Mughal side and 50 from Marathas as well as around 4000 Mughal troops imprisoned by mere 500 Marathas.
The fort, which was previously known as Kondhana, was controlled by Mirza Raja Jai Singh, and was strategically located amidst other forts in the region such as Rajgad, Purandar and Torna. The Mughals maintained an army of roughly 5000 men led by Udaybhan, a relative of Jai Singh, and the fort itself was defended by cannons at each turret.
Only one turret was left unguarded as it was at the top of a steep cliff, which was thought impossible to scale. Tanaji was able to infiltrate the fort and carry out a surveillance. He also discovered that there was a party on the night of the battle, so the Mughal soldiers would be off their guard. Tanaji was assisted by his brother Suryaji along with 300 Mavalas, who were light infantry of Maval.
Legend has it that Tanaji used a monitor lizard named Yeshwanti, with a rope tied around its waist for climbing up the steep vertical rock face. After 342 marathas reached on the top with Tanaji Malusare, the rope gave away due to abrasion against the rocks and 60 Marathas who were climbing on the rope fell down and died. Tanaji Malusare then instructed his brother Suryaji to continue the attack with other Marathas from the Kalyan darwaja with the assurance that the Mahadeo Kolis would help him get through.
Once inside, they set upon Udaybhan and his men. A fierce combat took place between Tanaji and Udaybhan. Udaybhan managed to rid Tanaji of his shield, who then continued to fight by tying a cloth over one of his hands and using it to ward off Udaybhan's sword attacks. Tanaji fought fiercely in spite of losing his shield. He managed to acquire another sword and was thus fighting Uday Bhan with two swords while the latter fought with a sword and a shield. At the climax of the battle, each one struck a fatal blow to the other, both collapsing and succumbing to their injuries. The fall of Tanaji created a panic amongst his soldiers who tried to use the ropes as an escape route. Legend states that the ropes were then cut by Tanaji's brother Suryaji forcing the soldiers to either fight or jump down the sheer cliffs to their deaths. This was in line with the ideology of Shivaji, wherein the Marathas were not fighting for a king or a master, but for the freedom of their motherland. A loss of the leader should not deter the morale of the force but instead a new leader should take his place without any delay. Tanaji's surprise attack in the dead of the night caught the defenders offguard and the fort was captured by the Marathas. Shivaji subsequently renamed Kondana fort to Sinhagad (Lion's Fort) in honor of Tanaji, whose nickname was "the Lion".
Nearly 1500 Mughal infantry fled to Pune from Sinhagad after the battle taking advantage of darkness of midnight. This battle significantly boosted confidence of Marathas and within two months after this battle Marathas won all nearby forts like Purandar, Lohagad so on. Till beginning of rainy monsoon season, excluding Pune, Indapur and Baramati all regions were won by Marathas. In June 1670, the Mogul army was totally unprepared and ill-equipped as monsoon had arrived. Sensing this as unique opportunity Chatrapati Shivaji decided to attack urban area of Pune, Baramati, Supe and Indapur in the rainy season. Within 10–15 days, Marathas captured all these areas from Mughal Empire, this transition happened nearly after 10 years that is in 1660, these cities were captured by Mughal army headed by Shahista Khan.
Upon hearing the news of the capture of the fort at the cost of Tanaji's life, Shivaji was greatly aggrieved and is said to have remarked, "Gad aala, pan Sinha gela" - "We won the Fort, but lost the Lion". The legend says that the fort was renamed from Kondhana to Sinhagad, in honor of Tanaji (who Shivaji metaphorically referred to as a Lion).
Today, there is a monument with a bust of Tanaji in honor of his valour. The name of the road from Pune City to Fort is known as Tanaji Malusare Road.
- Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the National Revival under the Marathas
- Grant Duff - History of Marathas, Oxford University Press, London
- S.D.Samant - Vedh Mahamanvacha