Battle of Salher
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|Battle of Salher|
|Part of Imperial Maratha Conquests|
|Maratha Empire||Mughal Empire (supported by Rajputs, Rohillas, and Pathans)|
|Commanders and leaders|
Sardar Prataprao Gujar (Senapati) |
Sardar Moropant Pingle (Peshwa)
Diler Khan (Mughal Viceroy of Deccan)
|25,000 soldiers(composing mostly infantry and cavalry)||45,000 soldiers(composing infantry, cavalry, war elephants, war camels, and artillery)|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Salher which was a battle fought between the Maratha Empire and the Mughal Empire in February 1672 CE. The battle was fought near the fort of Salher in the Nashik district. The result was a decisive victory for the Maratha Empire. This battle is considered particularly significant as it is the first battle in which the Mughal Empire lost on an open field.
The Treaty of Purandar (1665) required Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to cede 23 forts to the Mughals. Strategically important forts, which were fortified with garrisons, such as Sinhagad, Purandar, Lohagad, Karnala, and Mahuli were turned over to the Mughal empire. At the time of this treaty, the Nashik region, that contained the forts Salher and Mulher, was firmly in the Mughal Empire's hands since 1636. The signing of this treaty resulted in Shivaji's visit to Agra and after his famous escape from the same in September 1666, 2 years of ‘uneasy truce’ followed. However, the destruction of the temples of Viswanath and Benares along with Aurangzeb’s rejuvenated anti-hindu policies resulted in Shivaji declaring war against the Mughals once again.
The period between 1670-1672 saw a dramatic rise in Shivaji’s power and territory. Shivaji’s armies successfully conducted raids at Baglan, Khandesh, and Surat and retook more than a dozen forts. This culminated with a decisive victory against a Mughal army of more than 40,000 on an open field near Salher.
Sardar Moropant Pingle and along with his army of 15,000 captured the Mughal forts Aundha, Patta, Trimbak and attacked Salher and Mulher in January 1671. This led Aurangzeb to send two of his generals Ikhlas Khan and Bahlol Khan along with 12,000 horsemen to reclaim Salher. In October 1671, the Mughals laid siege on Salher. In return Shivaji Maharaj commanded his two commanders Sardar Moropant Pingle and Sardar Prataprao Gujar reclaim the fort.
The battle lasted for an entire day and it is estimated that around 10,000 men were killed on both the sides. The Mughal military machines (consisting of cavalry, infantry, and artillery) were outmatched by the light cavalry of the Marathas. The imperial Mughal armies were completely routed and the Marathas gave them a crushing defeat. 6,000 horses, an equal number of camels, 125 elephants, and an entire Mughal train were captured by the victorious Maratha Army. Other than this, a large amount of goods, treasures, gold, jewels, clothes, and carpets were seized by the Marathas.
The Sabhasad Bakhar describes the battle as follows "As the fighting began, such a (cloud of) dust arose that for a space of a three-kilometer square, friend and foe could not be distinguished. Elephants were killed. Ten thousand men on the two sides became corpses. The horses, camels, elephants (killed) were beyond counting. A flood of blood streamed (in the battlefield). The blood formed a muddy pool and in it (people) began to sink, so (deep) was the mud."
The battle resulted in a decisive Maratha victory which resulted in the liberation of Salher. Further, the nearby fort of Mulher was also taken from the Mughals as a consequence of this battle. 22 wazirs of note were taken as prisoners and Ikhlas Khan and Bahlol Khan were captured. Among the Mughal soldiers who were prisoners around one or two thousand escaped. The notable Panchazari Sardar of the Maratha army Suryajirao Kakade was killed in this battle and was revered for his ferocity during the battle. Approximately a dozen Maratha sardars were gifted for their remarkable achievements in the battle and the two officers (Sardar Moropant Pingle and Sardar Prataprao Gujar) were specially rewarded.
Most of Shivaji's victories until this battle had been through means of guerilla warfare, but the Maratha's use of light cavalry on the Salher battlefield against the apparently superior Mughal forces proved effective. This grand victory resulted in the saint Ramdas to write his famous letter to Shivaji in which he addresses him as Gajpati (Lord of Elephants), Haypati (Lord of Cavalry), Gadpati (Lord of Fords), and Jalpati (Master of the High Seas). Although not as a direct outcome of this battle, a couple of years later in 1674 Shivaji was crowned as an Emperor (or Chhatrapati) of his realm.
- Imperial Maratha Conquests
- History of India
- Maratha Army
- Maratha India
- Battle of Panhala
- Battle of Saraighat
- Battle of Raichur
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