History of Satara district

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The History of Satara district can be traced back to 200 BCE. Historical inscriptions of circa 200 BCE indicate the oldest known place in Satara district in Maharashtra is Karad (mentioned as Karhakada). It is also believed that the Pandavas stayed in Wai, then known as 'Viratnagari', in the 13th year of exile.

The empire of Chandragupta II, known as Mahendraditya Kumargupta I, extended as far as Satara district in Deccan when he ruled between 451 and 455 CE. The Mauryan empire in the Deccan was followed by the rules of "Satvahans" for about two centuries between 550 and 750 CE.

The first Muslim invasion of the Deccan took place in 1296. In 1636 the Nizam Shahi dynasty came to an end. In 1663 Shivaji conquered Parali and Satara fort. After the death of Shivaji, Aurangzeb conquered Satara fort later won by Parshuram Pratinidhi in 1706. In 1708 Chattrapati Shahu was crowned within the Satara fort. The direct descendents of The Great Maratha King Chh. Shivaji continue to live in Satara. The current king of Satara, Chh. Udayanraje Bhonsale is the 13th descendent of Shivaji.

After their victory in the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1818, the British Empire annexed most of the Maratha territory to Bombay Presidency, but restored the titular Raja Pratap Singh, and assigned to him the principality of Satara, an area much larger than the present district. As a result of political intrigues, he was deposed in 1839, and his brother Shahji Raja was placed on the throne. When this prince died without a male heir in 1848, Satara was annexed by the British government and added to Bombay Presidency.

Muslim Rule[edit]

In 1429 Bahmani Sultanate's Malik-ut-Tujjar, the Subedar or governor of Daulatabad, with the hereditary officers or deshmukhs, went through the country restoring order. Their first operations were against some Ramoshis in Khatav Desh and a body of banditti that infested the Mahadev hills. The army next marched to Wai and reduced several forts. So entirely had the country fallen waste that the old villages had disappeared and fresh villages had to be formed, which generally included the lands of two or three old villages. Lands were given to all who would till them, free of rent for the first year and for a horse-bag of grain for the second year. This settlement was entrusted to Dadu Narsu Kale, an experienced Brahman, and to a Turkish eunuch of the Court [Grant Duff's Marathas, Vol. I p. 51.].

In 1453, Malik-ut-Tujjar, who was ordered to reduce the sea coast, of Konkan forts, fixed his headquarters at Chakan, a small fort eighteen miles north of Poona, and, after reducing several chiefs, laid siege to a fort whose chief was named Shirke who he speedily obliged to surrender, and to deliver himself and family into his hands. Malik-ut-Tujjar insisted that Shirke should embrace the Muhammedan faith or be put to death. Shirke on this, assuming an air of great humility, represented that there existed between him and Sharikar Ray of Khelna or Vishalgad in Kolhapur a family jealousy, and that should he become a Muhammedan, his rival, on Malik-ut-Tujjar's retreat, would taunt him with ignominy and excite his own family and subjects to revolt. He further promised to accept the Muhammedan faith if Malik-ut-Tujjar would reduce his rival, and agreed to guide him and his forces through the woody and very difficult country to Shahkar's dominions. Malik-ut-Tujjar marched against the chief of Khelna but was treacherously surrounded and killed in the woods by Shirke[Briggs' Ferislita, III. pp. 438–39.].

In 1481, on the death of Mahmud Gavan, his estate of Bijapur including Satara was conferred on Yusuf Adil Khan the future founder of the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur was a Turk, a son of Amurath Sultan (1421–1451) of Constantinople. At the same time the Nizam Shahi dynasty under Ahmad Nizam was established at Ahmadnagar (1490–1636), the Kutb Shahi dynasty under Sultan Kutb-ul-mulk at Golkonda (1512–1609), and the Barid Shahi under Kasim Barid at Bedar (1492–1609).

The principal Maratha Chiefs in Satara under the Bijapur government were Chandrarao More of Jaoli, about thirty-five miles northwest of Satara, Rav Naik Nimbalkar of Phaltan about thirty-five miles north-east of Satara. Junjharrav Ghatge of Malavadi about twenty-seven miles east of Satara, Daphale of Jath about ninety miles south-east of Satara, Mane of Mhaswad about sixty miles east of Satara, and the Ghorpade of Kapshi on the Varna about thirty miles south of Karad.

A person named More, originally a Karnatak chief was appointed in the reign of Yusuf Adil Shah (1490–1510) to the command of a body of 12,000 Hindu infantry sent to reduce the strong tract between the Nira and the Varna. More was successful. He dispossessed the Shirkes and completely suppressed the depredations of their abettors, the chiefs of whom were Gujar, Mamulkar, Mohite, and Mahadik. More was dignified with the title of Chandrarav and his son Yeshvantrav, having distinguished himself in a battle fought with the troops of Burhan Nizam Shah (1508–1553), in which he captured a green flag, was confirmed in succession to his father as Raja of Javli and had permission to use the banner he had won.

Rav Naik Nimbalkar or Phaltanrav was the Naik of Phaltan. His original surname was Pawar; he had taken the name of Nimbalkar from Nimbalik or Nimlak where the first Nimbalkar lived. The family is considered one of the most ancient in Maharashtra as the Nimbalkar was made sardeshmukh of Phaltan before the middle of the seventeenth century by one of the Bijapur kings. The deshmukh of Phaltan is said to have become a polygar or independent chief and to have repeatedly withheld the revenues of the district. Vangoji or Jagpalrav Naik Nimbalkar who lived in the early part of the seventeenth century was notorious for his restless and predatory habits. Dipabai the sister of Jagpalrav was married to Maloji Bhonsle, Shivajis grandfather who was one of the principal chiefs under the Ahmadnagar kingdom. Jagpalrav Naik seems to have been a man of great influence. It is said that it was through his exertions that the marriage of Maloji's son Shahaji and Jijabai, Lukhdev Jadhavrav's daughter, was brought about against the wishes of the girl's parents. One of the Phaltan Naiks was killed in 1620 in a battle between Malik Ambar and the Moghals. Nimbalkar never exchanged his ancient title of naik for that of Raja.

Junjharrav Ghatge, the deshmukh of Malavadi was the head of a powerful family whose founder Kam Raje Ghatge had a small command under the Bahamani kings. His native country Khatav was separated from that of the Nimbalkar by the Mahadev Hills. The Ghatges were deshmukhs and sardeshmukhs of the pargana of Man. In 1626 Nagoji Ghatge was given the title of sardeshmukh as an unconditional favour by Ibrahim Adil Shah II, together with the title of Jhunjarrao.

The head of the Mane family was deshmukh of Mhaswad, adjoining the district of the Ghatges. The Manes were distinguished shiledars or self-horsed cavaliers under Bijapur, but were nearly as notorious for their revengeful character as the Shirkes.

The Ghorpades, who were originally Bhonsles, according to then-family legend acquired their present surname during the Bahamani times from having been the first to scale a fort Khelna or Vishalgad in 1471. See Sherwani II. K., Bahamanis of Deccan, p. 298.] in the Konkan which was deemed impregnable by fastening a cord round the body of a ghorpad or iguana. They were deshmukhs under the Bijapur government and were divided into two distinct families, one of Kapshi near the Varna river and the other of Mudhol near the Ghatprabha in the Karnatak. Under Bijapur the Kapshikar Ghorpades were known as the navkas or nine-touch Ghorpades and the Mudholkars as the satkas or seven-touch Ghorpades, a distinction which the two families maintain. The head of the Mudholkar Ghorpades was the patil of a village near Satara. The Ghorpades seem to have signalized themselves at a very early period. The high Musalman titles of Amir-ul-umra or Chief of the Nobles was conferred on one of the members of the Kapshi family by the Bijapur kings. The first Ghorpade that joined Shivaji was one of the Kapshikars while the Mudholkars were his bitter enemies.

The Daphales were deshmukhs of the pargana of Jath. Their original name was Chavhan and they took the surname of Daphle from their village of Daphlapur of which they were hereditary patils. They held a command from the Bijapur kings [Grant Duff's Marathas, Vol. I, pp. 69–71.].

Shivaji Era - 1627-1680[edit]

In 1636 the Nizam Shahi dynasty came to an end. In 1637 Shahaji Bhonsle, the son of Muloji Bhonsle, who had taken a considerable part in Nizam Shahi affairs during the last years of the dynasty, was allowed to retire into the service of Mahmud Adil Shah of Bijapur (1636–1656). In 1637, besides giving Shahaji his jagir districts in Poona, Mahmud Adil Shah conferred on Shahaji a royal grant for the deshmukhi of twenty-two villages including Masur [Patrasar Sangraha No. 885.] in the district of Karad, the right to which had by some means devolved on government [Grant Duff's Marathas, Vol. I, p. 96.]. Before the middle of the 17th century, Shahaji's son Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha empire, had begun to establish himself in the hilly parts of Poona in the north where he had been put in possession of his father's estate of Poona and Supa. By 1648 he obtained control over the strong forts of Torna [According to jadunalli Sarkar the fort of Torna was captured in 1646 and Kajgad was a new fort built by Shivaji in the same year (Jadnnath Sarkar -Shivaji, p. 34).

The date of acquisition of Koudana is not known. At this time the south of the Nira, as far east as Shirval and as far south as the range of hills north of the Krshna, was farmed by the hereditary deshmukh of Hirdas Maval, a Maratha named Bandal, and the fort of Rohida was committed, to his care, fie early entertained a jealousy of Shivaji and kept a strong garrison and carefully watched the country round Purandhar. The deshpdnde of the place was a Prabhu. Wai was the station of a Bijapur Mukasadar or manager who had charge of Pandugad, Kamalgad and several other forts in the neighbourhood.

Chandrarav More, Raja of Javli, was in possession of the Ghatmatha from the Krsna to the Varna [Grant Duffs Marathas, Vol. I, p. 109.]. The Bijapur government being impressed with the idea that Shivaji was incited by Shahaji, caused him to be imprisoned, and at the same time sent an army under Fateh Khan to attack Shivaji; but Shivaji proved more than a match for him and killed him in the battle of Belsar near Purandhar. Shahaji was subsequently released in the same year, and an effort was made to bring about reconciliation between him and Baji Ghorpade, the Mudhol Chief who had been instrumental in his capture. To induce both parties to forget what had passed, Mahmud Adil Shah made them exchange their hereditary rights and inams as deshmukhs. Baji Ghorpade thus obtained from Shahaji the deshmuki rights of twenty-two villages in Karad which Shahaji had acquired in 1637 from Bijapur [Grant Duffs Marathas, Vol. I, p. 115.]. This agreement however was not acted upon. Shivaji turned his attention to the Mores of Javli who were very powerful in that region.

Afzal- Khan killed, 1659.

Afzal Khan, an officer of high rank, volunteered to command the expedition, and in his public leave-taking, in the vaunting manner particularly common to Deccan Muhammedans of those days, pompously declared that he should bring back the insignificant rebel and cast him in chain under the footstool of the throne. To avoid impediments which presented themselves on the straight route from Bijapur and the heavy rains which seldom subsided in the neighbourhood of the hills till the end of October, the army proceeded in September 1659 from Bijapur to Pandharpur and thence marched towards Wai. Shivaji, on its approach, took up his residence in Pratapgad and sent the most humble messages to Afzal Khan. He pretended to have no thought of opposing so great a personage, and seemed only anxious to make his peace with the Bijapur government through the Khan's mediation; he affected the utmost sorrow for his conduct, which he could hardly persuade himself would be forgiven by the king, even if the Khan should receive him under the shadow of his protection; and he would surrender the whole of his country to the Khan were it possible to assure himself of his favour. Afzal Khan, who had all the vanity of a Muhammedan noble, had also a thorough contempt for his enemy. At the same time as he had formerly been in charge of the Wai district he was aware of the exceeding difficulty of an advance through the wild country which he must penetrate. With such considerations and mollified by Shivaji's submission, Afzal Khan in answer to repeated applications despatched a Brahman in his own service named Gopinathpant with suitable attendants to Pratapgad. On his arrival at Par, a village below the fort, Shivaji came down to meet him. The Brahman stated that the Khan, his master, and Shahaji were intimate friends, that the Khan bore no enmity towards his son, but on the contrary would prove his desire to aid him by interceding for his pardon, and even endeavouring to get him confirmed as jagirdar in part of the territory he had usurped. Shivaji acknowledged his obligation although his reply at the public meeting was not couched in the same humble strain he had used in his message. He said that if he could obtain a part of the country in jagir it would be all he could expect, that he was the king's servant and that he had been of considerable use to his government in reducing several chiefs whose territory would now come under the royal authority. This was the substance of what passed at their first interview. Shivaji provided accommodation for the envoy and his suite, but assigned a place for the Brahman at some distance from the rest. In the middle of the night Shivaji secretly introduced himself to Gopinathpant. He addressed him as a Brahman, his superior. He represented that all he had done was for the sake of Hindus and the Hindu faith, that he was called on by the Goddess Bhavani herself to protect Brahmans and cows, to punish the violators of their temples and their gods, and to resist the enemies of their religion, that it became Gopinathpaht as a Brahman to aid a course which Bhavani had sanctioned, and that if he did, he should ever after live among his caste and countrymen in comfort and wealth. Shivaji seconded his arguments with presents, and the solemn promise to bestow the village of Hivra on him and his posterity for ever. The Brahman envoy could not resist such an appeal seconded by such an inducement and swore fidelity to Shivaji, declared he was his for ever, and called on the goddess to punish him if he severed from any task Shivaji might impose. They consulted on the fittest means for averting the present danger. The Brahman, fully acquainted with Afzal Khan's character, suggested tempting him to a conference and Shivaji at once approved of the scheme. He sent for Krishnaji Bhaskar, a confidential Brahman, informed him of what had passed, and of the resolution which he had adopted. After fully consulting on the subject they separated as secretly as they had met. After holding some interviews and discussion for the purpose of masking their design, Krshnaji Bhaskar as Shivaji's agent was despatched with Gopinathpant to the camp of Afzal Khan. Gopinathpant represented Shivaji as in great alarm; but if his fears could be overcome by the personal assurance of the Khan, he was convinced that he might easily be prevailed on to give himself up. With a blind confidence Afzal Khan trusted himself to Gopinathpant's guidance. An interview was agreed on, and the Bijapur troops with great labour moved to Javli Shivaji prepared a place for the meeting below the fort of Pratapgad; he cut down the jungle, and cleared a road for the Khan's approach but every other avenue to the place was carefully closed. He ordered Moropant and Netaji Palkar from the Konkan with many thousands of the Mavli infantry. He communicated his whole plan to these two and to Tanaji Malusare. Netaji was stationed in the thickets a little to the east of the fort, where it was expected that part of the Khan's retinue would advance, and Moro Trimal with a body of old and tried men was sent to hide himself in the neighbourhood of the main body of the Bijapur troops which as had been agreed remained near Javli. The preconcerted signal for Netaji was the blast of a horn, and the distant attack by Moro Trimal was to begin on hearing the fire of five guns from Pratapgad which were also to announce Shivaji's safety. Fifteen hundred of Afzal Khan's troops accompanied him to within a few hundred yards of Pratapgad, where, at Gopinathpant's suggestion they were desired to halt to dispel any doubt and fear that Shivaji had professed about Khan's preparations. Afzal Khan, dressed in a thin muslin garment, armed apparently only with his sword, and attended, as per mutual agreement only by two armed soldiers, Bada Sayyad or Sayyad Banda and another, advanced in his palanquin to' a well-decorated reception tent set up for the occasion, about halfway up the ascent of the fort. Shivaji while preparing himself to meet the Khan for peaceful negotiations, had taken complete precautions to meet any contingency. It was Thursday, 10 November 1659. On that day after a morning bath and usual worship and prayers, Shivaji took his meals and bid a hasty but affectionate farewell to his friends, committing his son Sambhaji to their care. He rose, put on a steel chain cap under his turban and chain armour under his cotton gown, held Bhavani sword in his right hand, concealed a crooked dagger or bichva in his left sleeve, and put on a shield to cover his back. Thus armed he slowly descended from the fort. The Khan had arrived at the place of meeting before him, and expressed his jealous indignation at the lavish grandeur of decoration of the mandap which surpassed something that could be observed at Bijapur and which the son of a sardar of Bijapur should be in a position to display. By that time Shivaji was seen advancing, attended by two of his companions Jiva Mahala and Sambhaji Kavji.

Shivaji viewing Afzal Khan at a distance expressed fear for the presence of Bada Sayyad and requested Khan, through Pantaji Gopinath that Bada Sayyad be kept a few paces away, to which Afzal Khan readily agreed and as if to dispel fear, even handed over his sword to Krshnaji Bhaskar who was standing nearby. Khan however, was not left completely unarmed; for he had a dagger fixed by his right side near the waist. With characteristic over-confidence Afzal Khan took no objection to Shivajis companions although they had possessed their usual arms with them, a circumstance which might have passed unnoticed, being common amongst Marathas. He advanced two or three paces to meet Shivaji; they were introduced to each other by Pantaji Gopinath and further in the midst of the customary embrace, the tall and mighty Khan was able to hold the neck of comparatively short statured Shivaji under his left arm. As the Khan tried to press it, he took out his dagger from his waist on the right side and tried to hit the left side of Shivaji. As Shivaji was clad in armour, the steel weapon only made a sharp rubbing sound against his side but did not hurt him. Thereupon Shivaji, ever on his guard hit the bichva in his left hand on the right side of the Khan. Unfortunately the Khan wore no armour and therefore the hit proved singularly effective and ripped open his bowels [The story told by Sabhasad and reproduced by Grant Duff, that Shivaji fixed Vaghnakhs or steel tiger's claw on his fingers and used the weapon for killing Afzal Khan, is not supported by Shiva Bharat, which is a contemporary and a comparatively more reliable evidence. That Vaghnakhi were found in the collection possessed by the later Chhatrapatis of Satara is however true. In 1827 Raja Pratapsinh then Chief of Satara (1810–1839) gave the Vaghnakhs to Mr. Elphinstone. They were most formidable steel hooks and attached to two rings fitting the fingers and lay concealed in the inside of the hand. Colbrooke's Elphinstone. II 188. See also Scott Waring's Marathas, 69,]. Khan uttered the words 'treachery' 'treachery' and shouted for help. Khan's hold on Shivajis neck by this time was naturally slackened and Shivaji having made himself free quickly thrust his sword right through Afzal Khan's stomach and in a moment Afzal Khan lay dead on the ground. Krishnaji Bhaskar who possessed Afzal Khan's sword tried to rescue him but was held at bay by Shivaji who with another stroke of his sword separated the head of the Khan from the trunk of his body. At this moment Sayyad Banda rushed forth and tried to attack Shivaji but Jiva Mahala finished him. The palanquin bearers of Khan tried to take away the body putting it in the palanquin but Sambhaji Kavji hit at their legs, seized the head of the Khan and marched towards the gate of the fort. The sharp shrill sound of the bugle-like horn was a signal to Netaji Palkar and the Mavalas lying in concealment, who fell upon Khan's army, that was resting at the foot of the hill. Moro Trimal also, began his operations on hearing the sound of five guns fired from Pratapgad on Shivaji coming out safe. Few of the Bijapur soldiers had time to mount their horses or stand to their arms. Netaji Palkar gave no quarter; but orders were sent to Moropant to' spare all who submitted.

Shivajis humanity to his prisoners was conspicuous on this as on most occasions. Many of those that had attempted to escape were brought in several days afterwards in a state of great wretchedness. Their reception and treatment induced many of the Maratha prisoners to enter Shivaji's service. The most distinguished Maratha taken was Jhunjharrav Ghatge whose father had been the intimate friend of Shahaji, but Shivaji could not induce him to depart from his allegiance to Bijapur. At his own request he was allowed to return, and was honourably dismissed with valuable presents. The son and family of Afzal Khan were taken by one of Shivaji's officers, but on being offered a large bribe he agreed to guide them to a place of safety, and led them by unfrequented paths across the mountains and along the banks of the Koyna, until he safely lodged them in Karad. When this treachery came to Shivaji's knowledge he was condemned to death and at once executed.

In 1662 when Shivaji thought of making Raigad in Kolaba his capital he held the Konkan Ghatmatha that is the hilly west Deccan from the Bhima to the Varna [Grant Duff's Marathas, 147.]. In 1665, in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Purandhar by which Shivaji ceded to the Moghals the forts which he had taken from them and twenty others taken or built by him in the old Nizam Shahi territory and obtained the right of levying the chauth and sardeshmukhi over the Bijapur dominions and to co-operate with the Moghals to subdue Bijapur, Shivaji with a body of 2,000 horse and 8,000 infantry joined Jaisingh and the combined army marched about November. Their first operations were against Bajaji Naik Nimbalkar a relation of Shivaji and jagirdar of Bijapur. Phaltan was reduced and the fort of Tathvad scaled by Shivaji's Mavlis. All the fortified places in their route were taken. Ali Adil Shah had prepared his troops, but endeavoured to prevent the invasion by promises of settling the demands of the Moghals. But Jaysingh continued his advance and met with little opposition until near Mangalvedha in Sholapur [Grant Duff's Marathas, 165.] In 1668 Shivaji obtained a yearly payment of money from the Bijapur Government in lieu of a levy of the Chauth and Sardeshmukhi over the Bijapur dominions and in spite of the narrowing of his territory by the Purandhar treaty he still retained the western Satara hills.

Shivaji's institutions[edit]

The years 1668 and 1669 were of greatest leisure in Shivaji's life. Some of his contemporaries, speculating on the future, supposed from his apparent inactivity that he would sink into insignificance, but he employed this interval in revising and completing the internal management of his government, which with his various institutions are the key to the forms of government afterwards adopted by every Maratha state. Shivaji's regulations were gradually formed and enlarged, but after a certain period underwent no change by the extension of his territory until he assumed the ensign of royalty. Even then the alterations were rather in matters of form than in rules. The plans of Maratha expansion which were afterwards pursued so successfully by his nation may be traced from a very early period and nothing is more remarkable in regard to Shivaji than the foresight with which some of his schemes were laid and the fitness of his arrangements for the genius of his countrymen.

The foundation of his power was his infantry; his occupation of the forts gave him a hold on the country and a place of deposit for his plunder. His cavalry had not yet spread the terror of the Maratha name; but the rules of formation and discipline for his troops, the interior economy of his infantry and cavalry, the regulations for his forts, his revenue and judicial arrangements, and the chief offices through which his government was administered were fully developed. Shivaji's Infantry was raised in the West Deccan and Konkan; the men of the West Deccan tract were called Malis or westerners, those of the Konkan, Hetkaris or southerners. These men brought their own arms and required nothing but ammunition. Their dress, though not uniform, was generally a pair of short drawers coming halfway down the thigh, a strong narrow band of considerable length tightly girt about the loins, a turban, and sometimes a cotton frock. Most of them wore a cloth round the waist, which likewise answered the purposes of a shawl. Their common arms consisted of a sword, shield and matchlock. Some of the Hetkaris, especially the infantry of Savantvadi used a species of firelock, the invention of the lock for the flint having been early received from the Portuguese. Every tenth man, instead of firearms, carried a bow and arrows which were useful in night attacks and surprises when firearms were kept in reserve or forbidden. The Hetkaris excelled as marksmen but they could seldom be brought to the desperate sword-in-hand attacks for which the Mavails were famous. Both of them had unusual skill in climbing, and could mount a precipice or scale a rock with ease, where men of other countries must have run great risk of being dashed to pieces. Every ten men had an officer called a Naik and every fifty a Havaldar. The officer over a hundred was termed Jumladar and the commander of a thousand was styled Ek-hazari. There were also officers of five thousand, between whom and the Sarnobat or chief commander there was no intermediate step. The Cavalry was of two kinds. Bargirs, literally bridlemen or riders who were supplied with horses and shiledars who were self-horsed; Shivaji's bargirs were generally mounted on horses, the property of the state. A body of this description was termed pagah or household troops, and Shivaji always placed more dependence on Bargirs than on the Shiledars or any horse furnished on contract by individuals; with both he had a proportion of his pagah mixed, to overawe the disobedient and to perfect his system of intelligence which abroad and at home penetrated into a knowledge of the most private circumstances, prevented embezzlement, and frustrated treachery. The Maratha horsemen were commonly dressed in a pair of tight breeches covering the knee, a turban which many of them fastened by passing a fold of it under the chin, a frock of quilted cotton, and a cloth round the waist, with which they generally girded on their swords in preference to securing them with their belts. The horseman was armed with a sword and shield; a proportion in each body carried matchlocks, but the great National weapon was the Spear, in the use of which and in the management of their horses they showed both grace and skill. The Spearmen had generally sword and sometimes a shield; but the shield was unwieldy, and was carried only in case the spear should be broken. Over every twenty-five horsemen Shivaji had a havildar. To one hundred and twenty-five there was a jumladar, and to every five jumlas or six hundred and twenty-five was a Subhedar. Every Subha had an accountant and auditor of accounts appointed by Shivaji, who were liable to be changed and were invariably Brahmans or Prabhus. To the command of every ten subhas or six thousand, two hundred and fifty horse, which were rated at only five thousand, there was a commander styled Panch-hazari with whom were also stationed a Muzumdar or Brahman auditor of accounts and a Prabhu registrar and accountant called Amin. These were government agents. Besides these, every officer, from the jumladar upwards, had one or more karkuns or writers paid by himself as well as others in the pay of government. Except the Sarnobat or chief, no officer was superior to the commander of five thousand There was one sarnobat for the cavalry and one for the infantry. Every jutnla, subha, and panch-hazari had an establishment of news-writers and spies besides secret intelligencers. Shivajis head spy was a Ramoshi named Bahirji Naik. The Marathas are peculiarly roused from indolence and apathy when charged with responsibility. Shivaji at the beginning of his career personally inspected every man who offered himself, and obtained security from some persons already in his service for the fidelity and good conduct of those with whom lie was not acquainted. This system of security must soon have made almost every man answerable for some of his comrades; and although it could have been in most instances but a form, owing to the ease with which the responsibility could be evaded, the demand of security was always a part of Shivajis instructions to his officers. The Mavlis sometimes enlisted, merely on condition of getting a subsistence in grain; but the regular pay of the infantry was 1 to 3 pagodas [A pagoda was equal to from Rs. 3 to Rs. 4.] a month; that of the bargis or riders, was 2 to 5 pagodas and that of the shiledars or self-horsed cavaliers 6 to 12 pagodas a month. All plunder as well as prizes was the property of government. It was brought at stated times to Shivajis darbar or place of public audience and individuals formally displayed and delivered their captures. They always received some small proportionate compensation; they were praised, distinguished, and promoted according to their success. In fact to collect plunder from the enemy's ranks was usually regarded by the Marathas to express a victory, of which in their estimation it could be the only tangible proof. The horses, especially at an advanced period of Shivaji's history, were subsisted during the fair season in the enemy's country; during the rains they were generally allowed to rest, and were cantoned in different places near kurans or pasture lands, under the protection of some fort, where the grass of the preceding season was stacked and grain prepared by the time they returned. For this purpose persons were appointed to whom rentfree lands were hereditarily assigned. The system was preserved when many of Shivaji's institutions were neglected, and it proved a great aid to the success of his countrymen.

Shivaji kept the Hindu festival of the Dasara with great pomp. It falls in October at the end of the south-west rains, and was particularly convenient for a general muster and review of his troops previous to their taking the field. At this time each horse was examined and an inventory and valuation of each soldier's effects were taken to be compared with what he brought back or eventually to be made good. If a horseman's effects were unavoidably lost, his horse killed, maimed, or destroyed in government service they were on due proof replaced. On the other hand, all plunder or articles discovered, of which no satisfactory account could be given, were carried to the credit of government, either by confiscating the article or deducting the amount from the soldier's arrears. It was at the option of the captors to keep almost any articles if fairly brought forward, valued, and paid for. The, accounts were closed every year, and balances due by government were paid either in ready money or by bills on the collectors of revenue in favour of the officers, but never by separate orders on villages. The only exceptions to plunder made by Shivaji were in favour of cows, cultivators, and women; these were never to be molested. His system of intelligence was the greatest check on every abuse, and his punishments were rigorous. Officers and men who had distinguished themselves, who were wounded, or who had suffered in any way, were always gratified by promotion, honour or compensation.

Shivaji did not approve of the jagir or estate system; he confirmed many, but, with the exception of the establishment for his forts, he seldom bestowed new military estates and gave away very few as personal assignments, Inam Lands were granted by him as well in reward of merit as in conformity with the tenets of his faith; a gift of land, especially to Brahmans, being of all charities the most acceptable to the divinity.

Shivaji's discipline, which required prompt obedience to superiors in every situation, was particularly strict in his forts. The chief person or Killedar in the command of a fortress was termed Havaldar and under him there was one or more sarnobats. In large forts there was a sarnobat to each face. Every fort has a head clerk and a commissary of grain and stores; the head clerk, a Brahman was termed Sabnis; the commissary was commonly of the Prabhu caste and was called Karkhannis. The orders regarding ingress and egress, rounds, watches, and patrols, care of water, grain, stores, and ammunition were most minute, and the head of each department was furnished with distinct rules for his guidance from which no deviation was allowed. A rigid economy characterised all Shivaji's instructions regarding expenditure. The garrison was sometimes partly composed of the common infantry. Independent of them, each fort had a separate and complete establishment. They were maintained by permanent assignments of rent-free lands in the neighbourhood of each fort, which with the care of the fort passed from father to son. The Ramoshis and Mahars were employed on outpost duty. They brought intelligence, watched all the paths, misled inquiries, or cut off hostile stragglers. This establishment while new and vigorous was admirably suited to Shivaji's purpose as well as to the genius of the people. The Gadkaris described the fort as the mother that fed them, and among other advantages, no plan could better provide for old or deserving soldiers.

Shivaji's revenue arrangements were founded on those of Dadoji Konddev, Shahaji's Brahman manager, to whom Shivaji's education in Poona was entrusted (1641) [D.V. Kale: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj p. 27.]. The assessments were made on the actual state of the crop, the proportionate division of which is stated to have been three-fifths to the husbandmen and two fifths to government. As soon as Shivaji got permanent possession of any territory, every species of military contribution was stopped, all farming of revenue ceased, and the collections were made by agents appointed by himself. Every two or three villages were superintended by karkun under the tarafdar or Talukdar who had charged of a small district, and was either a Brahman or a Prabhu. A Maratha havildar was stationed with each of them. Over a considerable tract there was a Subhedar or Mamlatdar who had charge of one or more forts in which his collections both of grain and money were secured.

Shivaji never permitted the deshmukhs and deshpandes to interfere in the management of the country; nor did he allow them to collect their dues until their amount had been ascertained, when an order was annually given for the amount. The patil's, khots and kulkarnis were strictly superintended, and Shivaji's government though popular with the common cultivators, would have been unpopular with village and district officers, of whom Shivaji was always jealous, had it not been for the recourse which all had of entering his military service.

The method which the Brahman ministers of the Maratha government afterwards adopted, of paying the military and civil servants by permanent assignments on portions of the revenue of villages, is said to have been early proposed to Shivaji. He objected to it, not only from fear of immediate oppression to the husbandmen, but from apprehending that it would in the end cause such a division of power as must weaken his government and encourage the village and district authorities to resist it as they frequently did that of Bijapur. With the same view he destroyed all village walls and allowed no fortification in his territory which was not occupied by his troops. Religious establishments were, carefully preserved, and temples for which no provision existed had some adequate assignments granted to them, but the Brahinans in charge were obliged to account for the expenditure. Shivaji never sequestrated any allowance fixed by the Muhammedan government for the support of tombs, mosques, or saints' shrines. The revenue regulations of Shivaji were simple and judged by the standards of those times undoubtedly judicious.

People were encouraged to clear the jungles, raise crops and revive the village panchayats. They were further assured that the authorities would not take anything more than whatever be due according to law. This persistent effort to foster the rule of law and create an atmosphere of security endeared him to his people, it is just possible, however, that his judicious measures may not have been attended with immediate improvements and prosperity to the people as is sometimes alleged; for his districts were frequently exposed to great ravages, and he never had sufficient leisure: to complete his arrangements by that persevering superintendence which alone can perfect such institutions. The Muhammedan writers, and Fryer, a contemporary English traveller describe his country as in the worst possible state, and the former only mention him as a depredator and destroyer. Still those districts taken by him from Bijapur which had been under the management of farmers or direct agents of government undoubtedly experienced great benefit by the change. The judicial system of Shivaji in civil cases was that of panchayat or council which had invariably obtained in the country. Disputes among his soldiers were settled by their officers. He drew his criminal law from the Hindu sacred works or Shastras; but as the former rulers were Musalmans they had naturally introduced changes which custom had sanctioned and perpetuated. This accounts for the difference that long afterwards persisted between Hindu law and Maratha usage.

To aid in the conduct of his government, Shivaji established eight offices; 1st the Peshwa or head manager whose office was held by Moro Pant or Moreshvar Trimbak Pingle; second the Muzumdar or general superintendent of finance and auditor general of accounts, whose office was held by Abaji Sondev, Subhedar of the province of Kalyan; third the Surnis or general record-keeper, superintendent of correspondence, examiner of letters; the office was held by Annaji Datto; fourth the Vanknis or private record-keeper and superintendent of the household troops and establishment; the office was field by Dattajipant; fifth the Sarnobat or chief captain of whom there were two, Prataprao Gujar over the cavalry and Yesaji Kank over the infantry; sixth the Dabir or minister for foreign affairs, an office held by Somnathpant; seventh the Nyayadhish or superintendent of justice, an office managed by Niraji Ravji and Gomaji Naik; and eighth the Nyaya Shastri or expounder of Hindu law, an office held first by Shambhu Upadhya and afterwards by Raghunathpant.

The officers at the head of these civil situations, except the Nyayadhish and Nyaya Shastri, held military commands and frequently had not leisure to superintend their duties. All therefore were aided by deputies called Karbharis who often had power to fix the seal or mark of their principals on public documents. When so empowered they were styled Mutaliks. Each department and every district establishment had eight subordinate officers under whom were an adequate staff of assistants. These officers were. 1st the Karbhari, Mutalik or Divan; 2nd the Muzumdar or auditor and accountant; 3rd the Fadnis or Fadruvis deputy auditor and accountant; 4th the Sabnis or clerk sometimes styled Daftardar: 5th the Karkhannis or commissary; 6th the Chitnis or correspondence clerk; 7th the Jamdar or treasurer in charge of all valuables except cash; and 8th the Potnis or cashkeeper. Attached to himself, Shivaji had a treasurer, a correspondence clerk, and an accountant besides a Farisnis or Persian secretary. His clerk was a Prabhu named Balaji Avji, whose astuteness and intelligence were remarked by the English at Bombay on an occasion when he was sent there on business. Balkrshnapant Hanmante, a near relation of Shahajis head manager was Shivajis accountant. On Shivaji's enthronement at Raygad in 1674 the names of such offices as were formerly expressed in Persian were changed to Sanskrt and some were marked by higher sounding titles. There was only one Sarsenapati or commander-in-chief for the infantry and cavalry and one Nyayadhish or judge [Grant Duffs Marathas, 206'-:207.

Shivaji's Ministers in 1674 with New Titles were, Moropant Pingle - Mukhya Pradhan, Ramchandrapant Bavdevkar - Pant Amatya, Annaji Datto - Pant Sachiv, Dattajipant - Mantri, Hambirrao Mohite - Senapati, Janardanpant Hanmunte - Sumant, Balajipant - Nyayadhish, Raghunathpant - Panditrav.

In May 1673 a detachment of Shivaji's Mavlis surprised Parali about four miles south-west of Satara. Its capture put the Musalman garrisons on the alert, and Satara, a fort that had always been kept in good order by the Bijapur government, which was next invested, sustained a siege of several months and did not surrender till the beginning of September. It is remarkable that this fort which had long, perhaps before the Adil Shahi Dynasty, been used as a slate prison, often became the prison of Shivaji's descendants in later years. The forts of Chandan, Vandan, Pandavgad, Nandgiri, and Tathvad all fell into Shivaji's hands before the fair season [Grant Duffs Marathas, 202. Satara was captured on 27 July and after the capture of Satara Shivaji installed his Guru in the neighbouring hill for of Parali or Sajjangad, and guides still point out the tourists the seat on the top of the Satara hill from which Shivaji used to hold conversation with the saint across 4 miles of the space (Sarkar-Shivaji p. 193 and p. 363).].

In 1675 Shivaji again possessed himself of all the forts between Panhala in Kolhapur and Tathvad. As soon as he was occupied in Konkan and had carried down all the infantry that could be spared, Nimbalkar and Ghatge, the deshmukhs of Phaltan and Malavdi, attacked Shivaji's garrisons, drove out the posts and recovered most of the open country for Bijapur [Grant Duff's Marathas, 208.].

In 1676 Shivaji for the third time took possession of the open country between Tathvad and Panhala. To prevent future inroads by neighbouring proprietors Shivaji gave orders to connect the two places by a chain of torts, which he named Vardhangad, Bhushangad, Sadashivgad, and Machhindragad. Although of no great strength they were well chosen to support his intermediate posts and to protect the highly productive tract within the frontier which they embraced. While engaged in this arrangement Shivaji was overtaken by a severe illness which confined him at Satara for several months. During this period he became extravagantly rigid in the observance of religious forms, but he was at the same time planning the most important expedition of his life, the invasion of the Madras Karnatak [Grant Duff's Marathas, 209.]. The discussion of his legal claim to share in half his father's Karnatak possessions and the possibility of making this a cloak for more extensive acquisitions in the south was a constant subject of consultation [Grant Duff's Marathas, 213.]. While Shivaji was in the Karnatak a body of horse belonging to Ghatge and Nimbalkar laid waste Panhala in the south and retired plundering towards Karad. A detachment from Shivaji's army under Nilaji Katkar overtook them at Kurli, attacked and dispersed them, recovering much valuable property, which, as it belonged to his own subjects, Shivaji scrupulously restored [Grant Duff's Marathas, 221].

In 1679, Shivaji's son Sambhaji joined "the Moghals [According to Sardesai, Sambhaji joined the Moghals in 1678 but the fort was captured in 1679 (Sardesai-New History of Marathas Vol. 1 p. 251 and Sarkar-Shivaji p. 317).]. Diler Khan the Moghal general, intent on making Sambhaji the head of a party in opposition to his father, sent a detachment of his army from before Bijapur which they had invested, accompanied by Sambhaji as Raja of the Marathas, and took Bhupalgad in the Khanapur sub-division Shivaji's easternmost outpost [ Grant Duffs Marathas, 225.]. At the time of his death in 1680, Shivaji, who during the last two years of his life had become an ally of Bijapur against the Moghals, possessed that part of Satara of which the line of forts built from Tathvad to Panhala distinctly marked the eastern boundary Shinganapur in the Man sub-division in the east with the temple of Mahadev was his hereditary inam village given by one of the Ghatges to his father Shahaji [Grant Duffs Marathas, 231.]. Ramdas Svami, Shivaji's guru or spiritual guide, whose life and conduct seem to have deserved the universal praise of his countrymen, a few days before his death in 1682 January wrote to Sambhaji his elder son from Parali an excellent and judicious letter, advising him for the future rather than upbraiding him for the past, and pointing out the example of his father yet carefully abstaining from personal comparison [Grant Duffs Marathas, 238.].

The name of Ramdas Swami is closely associated with many places in Satara region. On the completion of his all India pilgrimage he settled at Masur north of Karad near the river Krshna, in about 1644. After staying there for about three or four years he shifted to Chaphal where he continued his practice of celebrating the annual Ramnavmi festival for which Shivaji, is reported to have made an annual grant of 200 hons or about Rs. 700. There is some controversy as to the nature of relationship between Ramdas and Shivaji as also about the exact year in which they met each other, one side advocating that Ramdas met Shivaji as early as in 1649 and initiated him into his favour, while the other advocating that the two could not have met each other earlier than in 1672 [G. S. Sardesai: New History of Marathas, Vol. I, p. 266.]. Even accepting the later year i.e. 1672 as the one of their actual meeting it should be taken into account that their spheres of activity in which they worked for over thirty years, overlapped each other. Under the circumstances it is highly improbable that they might not have heard of each other. In fact there is ample indirect evidence to believe that the two held each other in high respect [G. S. Sardesai: New History of the Marathas Vol. I, p. 265,]. There is however no first hand evidence to prove that Shivaji ever took his inspiration from Ramdas for his political mission. Similarly there is also no first hand evidence to show that Ramdas's teaching which had been first purely religious, developed a secular and political character later because he was influenced by Shivajl's activities. It must be remembered that Ramdas started collating his famous Dasbodh in 1654, the piece-meal composition of which must have been done much earlier[Patra-Sar-Sangraha-1039.]. In 1676 Samarth Ramdas at the request of Shivaji came to stay at Parali which soon came to be known as Sajjangad [Patra-Sar-Sangraha, 1864.]. On Shivaji's return from the Karnatak campaign in 1678 Shivaji was apprised of the misconduct of his son Sambhaji whereupon Shivaji asked him to go to Samarth Ramdas at Sajjangad and stay with him for some time, hoping of course that the association of the saint would bring about the required change in his son's conduct. Unfortunately the hope was not realised, for Sambhaji soon chose a moment to escape from Sajjangad with the object of joining Diler Khan.

After Shvaiji's death. Rajaram his younger son was placed on the throne at Raygad by his mother Soyarabai, who was supported by Shivaji's confidential secretary Balaji Avji.[1]

Post 1848[edit]

The present district of Satara owes its administrative evolution to the several changes that took place, first during the British rule, and subsequently during the post-independence period till as late as the year 1960. The core of the district was supplied by the Satara Principality after its lapse in the year 1848. Several boundary and sub-divisional adjustments were later on made with the neighbouring districts, like Solapur district, and with the lands of the neighbouring Indian princes. With the merger of the Princes' territories in 1947, the district was enlarged and divided into North Satara and South Satara. in 1960, the North Satara reverted to its original name Satara, South Satara being designated as Sangli district. The district, accordingly, has eleven talukas and petas.


  1. ^ [1] Archived June 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Selections from the Historical Records of the Hereditary Minister of Baroda. Consisting of letters from Bombay, Baroda, Poona and Satara Governments. Collected by B.A. Gupte. Calcutta 1922.