Battle of Delhi (1737)
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|First Battle of Delhi|
|Part of Mughal-Maratha Wars|
|Maratha Empire||Mughal Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Baji Rao I||Mir Hasan Khan Koka
Amir Khan Bahadur
Muin ul-Mulk (Mir Mannu)
By 1735, the Marathas had gained control over entire Gujrat and Malwa. But some towns and areas under the influence of local mughal officers and zamindars refused to acknowledge Maratha control. The Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah was also dillydallying over passing an official order chartering chauth and sardeshmukhi rights to the Marathas. Efforts by Bajirao to seek audience with the mughal emperor were also ignored. The Marathas decided to assert themselves.
Bajirao I personally marched towards Delhi with a large Maratha army in Dec 1737. He divided the army into two. One contingent was led by Peshwa Bajirao and the other by Pilaji Jadhav and Malharrao Holkar. The contingent of Holkar was however anhilated by a much larger army led by Sadat Khan, the Nawab of Oudh and mughal governor of Agra . Malharrao Holkar himself managed to escape and reach the other group led by Bajirao.  The contingent of Bajirrao, in a swift movement, completely bypassed the encamped mughal army and reached the outskirts of Delhi (28 March 1737), covering a ten-day journey in just forty eight hours.
What followed thereafter was the direct attack on Mughal army. The Mughal emperor himself hid in the safe confines of Red Fort, while Bajirao and his men gain control of the countryside. A twelve thousand strong mughal army led by Mir Hassan Koka did try to take on Bajirao, but they were hopelessly outmanoeuvered and Mir Hassan himself was wounded in the skirmish. Then before the mughal army could get reinforcements and gather their wits, Bajirao with his entourage returned to the Deccan. On 31 March 1737, the victorious Maratha army left Delhi leaving behind Mughals, mauled and humbled. On the way back to Pune, Bajirao planted his trusted lieutenants at various places won from mughals in north and central India, which were to remain their permanent places of influence in the near future.
The Mughals were devastated by the fierce attack and ask all muslim rulers to help against the Hindu army of Marathas. Nizam left Deccan to rescue Mughals from the invasion of Marathas, but was defeated decisively in the Battle of Bhopal. The Marathas extracted large tributaries from Mughals and signed a treaty which ceded Malwa to the Marathas.
This Maratha plunder of Delhi weakened the Mughal Empire, which got further weakened after successive invasions of Nadir Shah (1739) and Ahmad Shah Abdali (1750s). While Marathas got support from local Hindus who welcomed them partly due to religious freedom and taxation. The continuous attacks led to an end of Mughal Empire by year 1757 in which Marathas became the rulers of Delhi.
- Advanced Study in the History of Modern India 1707-1813
- History Modern India
- An Advanced History of Modern India
- Robinson, Howard; James Thomson Shotwell (1922). "Mogul Empire and the Marathas". The Development of the British Empire. Houghton Mifflin. p. 106-132.