Kanhoji Angre

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Sakal Rajkarya Dhurandhar Vishwasnidhi Rajmanya Rajeshri

Kanhoji Angre

Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre I.jpg
18th Century Maratha Navy Admiral
Native name
कान्होजी आंग्रे
Born1669 (1669)
Suvarnadurg, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, India
Died4 July 1729(1729-07-04) (aged 59–60)
Alibag, Maharashtra, India
AllegianceMaratha Empire
ServiceMaratha Navy
Years of service1689-1729
RankSar-Subhedar (Grand admiral)
  • Mathurabai
  • Lakshmibai
  • Gahinabai
  • Sekhoji
  • Sambhaji
  • Manaji
  • Tulaji
  • Yesaji
  • Dhondji

Kanhoji Angre (August 1669 – 4 July 1729) was the chief of the Maratha Navy in 18th century India. In historical records, he is also known as Conajee Angria or Sarkhel Angré (Sarkhel is a title equal to Admiral of a fleet[1]).

Kanhoji fought against the British, Dutch and Portuguese naval interests on the coasts of India during the 18th century. Despite the attempts of the British and Portuguese to subdue Angre, he remained undefeated until his death.

Early life[edit]

Angre was born in the village of Angarwadi, six miles from Pune in the Maval Hills in the year of 1669. His surname "Angre" is derived from Angarwadi; the family's original name was Sankpal, and the family members before Kanhoji were known as Sankpals.[2] Modern Dutch Historian, Rene Barendse, specializing in South Asian history as well as history related to the Indian ocean, claims that Kanhoji Angre's origin is highly controversial. According to British opinions, he was ethnically of Siddi (East African) descent. According to the Portuguese, he was originally from a Koli caste. And according to Maratha literature, a Maratha.[3][4] Historian V. G. Dighe, in 1951, cites G. S. Sardesai's Selections from the Peshwa Daftar, and calls them "blue-blood Marathas" who "would spurn to marry in families lower than those of Deshmukhs, Jadhavs, Jagtaps and Shitoles."[5] However, Indian historians such as S.R.Sharma seem to agree with the Portuguese opinions and believe him to have been a "Maratha Koli captain".[6] Kanhoji grew up among Koli sailors,[7] and learned seamanship from them.[8]

Angre's mother was Ambabai and his father, Tukoji, served at Suvarnadurg under Shivaji with a command of 200 posts.[8] Little is known about his early life except that he was involved in daring exploits at sea with his father. He spent much of his childhood in the Suvarnadurg Fort, where he would later become the governor.

Naval career[edit]

He was originally appointed as Sarkhel or Darya-Saranga (Admiral) by the chief of Satara in c. 1698.[9] Under that authority, he was master of the Western coast of India from Mumbai to Vingoria (now Vengurla) in present-day state of Maharashtra, except for the property of the Muslim Siddis of Murud-Janjira who were affiliated with the powerful Mughal Empire.[10]

Kanhoji started his career by attacking merchant ships of the British East India Company and slowly gained respect from all the colonial powers. In 1702, he abducted a merchant vessel from Calicut with six English sailors and took it to his harbor.[10] In 1707, he attacked the frigate Bombay which blew up during the fight.[10] In time, the British feared that he could take any merchant ship except large European ships.[10] When Maratha Chhatrapati Shahu ascended the leadership of the Maratha Empire, he appointed Balaji Viswanath Bhat as his Senakarta (Commander) and negotiated an agreement with Angre around 1707. This was partly to appease Angre who supported the other ruler, Tarabai, who claimed the Maratha throne. As per agreement, Angre became head of the Maratha Navy.

A painted scroll depicting different types of ships of the Marathan Navy, primarily grabs and gallivats, but also including some captured English ships.

When the Maratha empire was weak, Angre became more and more independent and in 1713, an army was sent headed by Peshwa Bahiroji Pingale to control Angre, but Angre won the battle and captured and held Bahiroji Pingale as his prisoner.[10] Angre planned to march to Satara where Chhatrapati Shahu was acting as a head of state and where Angre was requested to appear for negotiations, after which Angre was confirmed as Admiral (Sarkhel) of entire fleet.[10] Angre was also placed as chief of 26 forts and fortified places of Maharashtra.[10]

In 1720, Angre captured the vessel Charlotte along its owner, a merchant named Curgenven who had been bound to China from Surat.[11] Curgenven would be imprisoned for 10 years.[11]

Europeans on rolls[edit]

Angre employed Europeans, generally Dutch, to command his best vessels.[10] He also employed a Jamaican pirate named James Plantain and entrusted him with significant responsibilities such as the chief gunner post.[12] Angre reemployed Manuel de Castro, who was considered as a traitor and punished by the (British) Bombay Council[13] for his failure in capturing Khanderi Island, which was controlled by Kanhoji Angre.[14]


  • In 1698, Angre located his first base at Vijayadurg ('Victory Fort') (formerly Gheriah), Devgad Taluka, located about 485 km from Mumbai.[15] The fort which was originally built by king Bhoj and strengthened by Maratha ruler Shivaji,[15] is located on the coast and has an entrance hollowed out in it to accommodate entry of a vessel from the sea.
  • Angre created an operating base from the fortified islands of "Kolaba" at Alibaug. Khanderi and Underi off the coast of Thal, Alibaug, and attempted to levy a tax on every merchant vessel entering the harbour.
  • He established a township called Alibag on seashore at southern tip of Mumbai.[16] The main village at that time, was today's Ramnath. Kanhoji even issued his own currency in the form of a silver coin called the Alibagi rupaiya.
  • In 1724, Angre built a port at Purnagad, located in Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra.[17] Seven guns and 70 cannonballs were found in the port.[17] The port was also used for limited trading activities.[17]


Kanhoji's controlled the northern coastline of the highlighted Konkan coastal area of India

Kanhoji intensified the attacks on naval powers like Great Britain and Portugal on the western coast of India. On 4 November 1712, his navy even succeeded in capturing the armed yacht Algerine of the British President of Bombay, William Aislabie, killing the chief of their Karwar factory, Thomas Chown, and making his wife a prisoner, not releasing the captured yacht and the lady until 13 February 1713 for a ransom of 30,000 Rupees.[18] The release was done along with the return of previously captured land, hoping that the East India Company will help him in his other wars, but later he made an alliance with Balaji Viswanath and continued fighting the company.[citation needed] He seized EastIndiamen, Somers and Grantham, near Goa as these vessels were on their voyage from England to Bombay.[18] In 1712, he disabled thirty-gun man-of-war which was conveying Portuguese "armado" and captured it.[18]

Angre eventually signed a treaty with the East India Company President Aislabie to stop harassing the Company's fleet. Aislabie would eventually return to England during October 1715.

After the arrival of Charles Boone as the new Governor of Bombay on 26 December 1715, Boone made several attempts to capture Angre. Instead of succeeding, in 1718 Angre captured three ships belonging to the British leaving them to claim that he is a pirate.

The British launched a fresh campaign in 1720, when shells from floating batteries burst in vain against the rocks of Vijaydurg fort. The attempt to land inside the fort ended in disaster, and the British squadron soon retired to Bombay.

On 29 November 1721 a joint attempt by the Portuguese (Viceroy Francisco José de Sampaio e Castro) and the British (General Robert Cowan) to humble Kanhoji also failed miserably. This fleet consisted of 6,000 soldiers in no less than four of the European's largest Man of war class ships led by Commander Thomas Mathews. Aided by Maratha warriors including Mendhaji Bhatkar and his navy, Angre continued to harass and plunder the European ships. Commander Matthews returned to Great Britain, but was accused and convicted of trading with the pirates in December 1723.[citation needed] Also, during 1723, Governor Boone returned to Great Britain. After Boone's departure, relative calm prevailed between the British and Angre, until Angre's death in 1729.


Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre, bust at Ratnadurg fort
  • 1702 - Seizes small vessel in Cochin with six Englishmen.
  • 1706 - Attacks and defeats the Siddi of Janjira.
  • 1710 - Captures the Kennery (now Khanderi) islands near Mumbai after fighting the British vessel Godolphin for two days.[10]
  • 1712 - Captured the yacht of the British President of Mumbai, Mr. Aislabie, releasing it only after obtaining a hefty ransom of Rs. 30,000.[19]
  • 1713 - Ten forts ceded to Angre by British.[11]
  • 1717 - Angre captures the British ship Success bombard Kennery island and Angre signs treaty with Company paying Rs. 60,000.
  • 1718 - Blockaded Mumbai port and extracted ransom. British storm Vijaydurg fort but lose the battle/ Governor Boom returns empty hand to Mumbai
  • 1720 - British attack Vijaydurg (Gheriah), unsuccessfully.
  • 1721 - British fllet reaches Mumbai. British and Portuguese jointly attack Alibag, but are defeated.
  • 1722 - Angre attacks 4 yachts and 20 ships of British near Chaul
  • 1723 - Angre attacks two British vessels, Eagle and Hunter.
  • 1724 - Maratha and Portugees pact.Dutch attack Vijaydurg but get defeated.
  • 1725 - Kanhoji Angre and Siddi sign a pact.
  • 1729 - Kanhoji Angre wins Palgad Fort.


A British-Portuguese-Indian naval force attacks the fort of Geriah, 1756

By the time of his death on 4 July 1729, Kanhoji Angre had emerged as a master of the Arabian Sea from Surat to south Konkan. He left behind two legitimate sons, Sekhoji and Sambhaji; four illegitimate sons, Tulaji, Manaji, Yesaji and Dhondji. Angre's Samadhi (tomb) is situated at Shivaji Chowk, Alibag, Maharashtra.[16]

After Kanhoji, his son Sekhoji continued Maratha exploits at sea till his death in 1733. After Sekhoji's death, Angre's holdings were split between two brothers, Sambhaji and Manaji, because of divisions in the family. With the Marathas neglecting naval concerns, the British soon found it easier to defeat the remnants of the kingdom. Angre and his sons' reign over the Western coast ended with the capture of Tulaji in a joint British / Peshwa attack on the fort of Gheriah (now Vijaydurg) in February 1756.

Seals of Kanhoji Angre[edit]

Three seals have been known to be used by Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre. One during the reign of Chhatrapati Rajaram, and two during the reign of Chhatrapati Shahu.

The three seals, along with their inscriptions and meaning are given below.

Reigning Chhatrapati Inscription Meaning
Seal of Kanhoji Angre during Chhatrapati Rajaram Era
Chhatrapati Rajaram[20] ।।श्री।।

राजाराम चरणी

सादर तुकोजी सुत

कान्होजी आंगरे



Kanhoji, son of Tukoji, Angre is forever present at the feet (service) of Rajaram.

Chhatrapati Shahu[21] ।।श्री।।

राजा शाहू चरणी तत्पर

तुकोजी सुत कान्होजी आंगरे

सरखेल निरंतर


Kanhoji Angre Sarkhel, son of Tukoji, is forever eager at the feet (service) of Shahu.

Seal of Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre
Chhatrapati Shahu[22] ।।श्री।।

श्री शाहू नृपती प्रि

त्या तुकोजी तनुजन्म

ना कान्होजी सरखे

लस्य मुद्रा जय

ति सर्वदा


King Shahu's favoured, Tukoji's son, Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre's seal is always victorious.


The Samadhi (mausoleum) of Kanhoji Angre at Alibag, Maharashtra.

Kanhoji Angre stands as one of the most notable admirals of the Maratha Navy who offered significant competition and damage to the prestige of the colonial powers. Kanhoji is credited with the foresight that a Blue Water Navy's ultimate and strategic role is to keep the enemy engaged far from the shores of the homeland. At one time, Kanhoji was so successful that he attracted enterprising Europeans in his fleet as mercenaries, including one Dutchman, whom he appointed to the rank of Commodore. At the height of his power, Kanhoji commanded hundreds of warships and thousands of sailors at a time when the Royal Navy had little in the way of naval resources in far-away India that could significantly offset the growing strength of the Maratha Navy.[23]

Kanhoji's harassment of British commercial interests (who hence called him a pirate) and the Battle of Swally led them to establish a small naval force that eventually became the modern Indian Navy. Today, a statue of Angre proudly stands in Indian Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. While the original fort built by Angre that overlooked the Naval Docks has vanished, its boundary wall is still intact and within it lays the Headquarters of Indian Western Naval Command and is called INS Angre (Indian Naval Station Angre).

The end of Angre family influences[edit]

The descendants of Angres continued to hold Kolaba till the 1840s and in 1843, it was annexed to British East India Company as per a despatch to Governor General of Bombay dated 30 December 1843.[24]

Publication of family history[edit]

Chandrojirao Angre, a descendant of Kanhoji Angre and a contemporary Jijabai of same family supported the publication of History of the Angres in 1939 at Alibag Mumbai.[24]


  • Angria Bank, a submerged atoll structure located on the continental shelf 105 km west of the coast of Vijaydurg, Maharashtra, was named after Kanhoji Angre.[25]
  • The Western Naval command of the Indian Navy was named INS Angre [26] on 15 September 1951 in honour of Kanhoji Angre. Other important naval offices are also located at INS Angre.[26] His statue is erected at the old Bombay Castle located within the enclave located at the Naval Dockyard, South Mumbai.
  • During April 1999, the Indian Postal Service released a Rupee 3 stamp showing a ghurab of Kanhoji Angre's fleet as depicted in a c. 1700 AD painting.
  • The old Kennery Lighthouse, on Khanderi Island which marks the southern boundary of the Mumbai Port, was renamed as Kanhoji Angre Light House.
  • The large residential colony of Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers at Alibaug is named as " Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre Nagar".
  • During the Malwani Jatrotsav festival in 1995 at Parel, Mumbai, a simulation of the naval battle between Angre and the British fleet led by Charles Boon was conducted using remote-control wooden boats in an open tank (70' x 30'). Radio Controlled boats carved out of Teak wood and powered by high torque motors were constructed by Vivek S. Kambli and Vishesh S. Kambli. A thrilling soundtrack complemented this Audio Visual 3 Dimensional depiction of an important chapter from Maratha Naval history. The show lasted 10 days and was witnessed by thousands of eager Mumbai citizens.
  • An all-weather port at Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, named as Angre port, was inaugurated on 24 April 2012 by 9th descendant of Kanhoji Angre.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rajaram Narayan Saletore (1978), p.109.
  2. ^ Manohar Malgonkar (1959). Kanhoji Angrey, Maratha Admiral: An Account of His Life and His Battles with the English. Asia Publishing House. p. 11.
  3. ^ "René Jan Barendse".
  4. ^ Rene Barendse (2009). Arabian Seas 1700 - 1763: The western Indian Ocean in the Eighteenth Century. Brill(Leiden, Netherlands). p. 409.
  5. ^ V. G. Dighe (1951). "Provincial Maratha Dynasties". In Ramesh Chandra Majumdar (ed.). The History and Culture of the Indian People: The Maratha supremacy. G. Allen & Unwin. p. 292, 307.
  6. ^ Shripad Rama Sharma (1964). The founding of Maratha freedom. Orient Longman. p. 327. For a short while, however, this sinister combination against the Marathas on the west coast was neutralised by the rise of a 'Shivaji of the Seas' — the Maratha Koli captain Kanhoji Angre
  7. ^ Virginia Fass (1986). The forts of India. Rupa. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-00-217590-6.
  8. ^ a b Kurup, K K N (1997). India's Naval Traditions: The Role of Kunhali Marakkars. New Delhi: Northern Book centre. pp. 72–75. ISBN 9788172110833. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  9. ^ Rajaram Narayan Salethore (1978) P.99.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Colonel John Biddulph (1907), p.37.
  11. ^ a b c Rajaram Narayan Saletore (1978), p.106.
  12. ^ Rajaram Narayan Saletore (1978), p.102.
  13. ^ Chinese and Indian Warfare – From the Classical Age to 1870. New York: Routledge. 2015. ISBN 9781315742762.
  14. ^ Rajaram Narayan Saletore (1978), p.105.
  15. ^ a b Madaan, Neha (3 April 2012). "ASI takes up renovation of Vijaydurg". The Times of India. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  16. ^ a b epaper (2012). "Alibag Popular Weekend Getaway". The Times of India (epaper). Archived from the original on 6 July 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  17. ^ a b c Madaan, Neha (29 January 2012). "Fort mapping to study Maratha architecture". The Times of India. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  18. ^ a b c Colonel John Biddulph (1907), p.38.
  19. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  20. ^ Sadashiv, Shivade (2006). दर्याराज कान्होजी आंग्रे. Deccan Gymkhana, Pune - 4: Utkarsh Publication. pp. 217, 220.CS1 maint: location (link)
  21. ^ Shivade, Sadashiv (2006). दर्याराज कान्होजी आंग्रे. Deccan Gymkhana, Pune - 4: Utkarsh Publication. p. 93.CS1 maint: location (link)
  22. ^ Shivade, Sadashiv (2006). दर्याराज कान्होजी आंग्रे. Deccan Gymkhana, Pune -4: Utkarsh Publication. pp. 218, 298, 314, 316 & 317.CS1 maint: location (link)
  23. ^ http://www.thepiratesrealm.com/Kanhoji%20Angria.html
  24. ^ a b Govt. of, Maharashtra. "British Period". Mumbai: The Gazetteers Dept. Govt. of Maharashtra. Archived from the original on 1 October 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  25. ^ Sailing Directions: West Coast of India, Sector 2: Diu Head to Cape Rama, page 40
  26. ^ a b "INS Angre". Global security.org. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  27. ^ "Angre port located in Ratnagiri inaugurated". The Times of India. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.


  • Colonel John, Biddulph (1907). The Pirates of Malibar and an Englishwoman in India (Reprinted 2005 ed.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. ISBN 9781846377280. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  • Rajaram Narayan, Saletore (1978). Indian Pirates: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  • Malgonkar, Manohar The Sea Hawk: Life and Battles of Kanhoji Angrey, Orient Paperbacks, c. 1984
  • Risso, Patricia. Cross-Cultural Perceptions of Piracy: Maritime Violence in the Western Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf Region during a Long Eighteenth Century, Journal of World History - Volume 12, Number 2, Fall 2001, University of Hawai'i Press
  • Ketkar, Dr. D.R. Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre... Maratha Armar, Mrunmayi Rugvedi Prakashan, 1997.