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Historical Battles in Ancient & Medieval Bharat

Airavat
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Postby Airavat » 13 Oct 2007 03:16

Battle of Haldighati (18th June 1576)

Image

Rana Pratap Singh Sesodia ascended the throne of Mewar in February 1572——the fertile eastern half of his kingdom, commanded by the ancient forts of Chittor and Ranthambhor, had been occupied by the Mughal Empire. The new Rana thus had very few resources to continue the resistance against the Mughals——fortunately that year the Mughal Emperor Akbar began his conquest of Gujarat, and this gave Pratap time to consolidate his rule.

After the conquest of Gujarat, the Mughals invaded the Rajput Kingdom of Dungarpur, south of Mewar and ruled by clan-brothers of the Sesodias. In June 1573, having received the submission of the Rawal of Dungarpur, Akbar's general Man Singh Kachwaha paid a visit to Rana Pratap. This embassy was a result of Akbar's belief that the new Rana, confined to a hilly corner of Rajasthan, was in no position to continue his father's resistance and would have to submit. The meeting between the two youthful warriors did not go well since Man Singh, overly proud of his conquests, expected to be treated as an equal by the Rana, even though he was then neither a king nor the head of his clan.

To placate the Rana a second mission was sent under Man Singh's father, Raja Bhagwant Das, in October. This time too Pratap refused to submit to Akbar on any terms but sent back Bhagwant Das with diplomatic replies——he utilized the time gained to build up his strength by collecting allies and raiding Mughal territory. The Mughal caravans making their way to and from the ports of newly-conquered Gujarat were a special target for his warriors.

After waiting a few years for the Rana's submission, Akbar sent Man Singh at the command of a 5000-strong army towards the Rana's new capital——to add more weight to this military pressure, Akbar himself moved to Ajmer in April 1576. The Mughals still believed that the inexperienced Pratap would not, and could not, fight them because of his absolute lack of men, resources, and allies.

But they forgot that the biggest resource for Pratap was the illustrious name of his ancestral kingdom, which since the days of Rana Kumbha, had grown to become the dominant power in North India. Under his grandson Rana Sanga, Mewar had commanded the vassalage of numerous Hindu and Muslim states——even now from the many states conquered by the Mughals, the dispossessed rulers and their clansmen, flocked to the side of Pratap, seeing in him their only hope of defeating the Mughals and recovering their states.

Among these were the Rathors of Merta, the Tanwars of Gwalior, and Hakim Khan Suri, a Pathan adventurer from the south. Other chiefs dependent on Mewar's resistance for their own independence, but not present at the battle, were the Rathors of Idar, the Deora Chauhans of Sirohi, and numerous other states bordering Mewar.

Image

So while the Mughals were marching leisurely up the course of the River Banas, Rana Pratap declared his intention of immediately attacking this force and driving Man Singh out of Mewar——his wise ministers restrained him from leaving his secure position in the hills. Man Singh entered the plain of Khamnor, usually dotted with cornfields, mango and babool trees——but this was the torrid month of June, the fields were bare and the spring emerging from the hills was reduced to a mere trickle. Still this was the ideal site for setting up a camp for those 5000 men and all their equipment and animals.

Getting news of this, Rana Pratap left his capital, and reached the rugged hills surrounding Khamnor on three sides. His camp was in the 3 km long and narrow Haldighati Pass, which was the only route to his capital Gogunda. On the morning of 18th June, 1576, the Mewar army issued from Haldighati and prepared to roll down upon the enemy in the distance.

Mughal defeat

On the plain of Khamnor, Man Singh marshaled his 5000 men in the conventional divisions. The center he commanded with his own clansmen, his brother Madho Singh stood at hailing distance with the advance reserve (iltimish), his uncle Jagannath was placed in the vanguard (harawal) with Asaf Khan, the left wing was under Rao Lunkaran and Ghazi Khan Badakshi, the right wing under the Sayyids of Barha, and the rear protected by Mehtar Khan.

The vanguard and some skirmishers were cautiously threading their way up towards the hills when the Mewar cavalry came galloping down, roaring their terrible battle-cry. The Mughal van was defeated and broken, many of their men fleeing away without standing to fight. The victorious Mewar army, in three parallel divisions, kept up the momentum of their charge and rammed into the main Mughal army. The enemy left wing crumpled under this furious assault——its shaken and confused mass of Uzbeks, Kazzaks, Rajputs and Badakshis, all fled for their lives.

The right wing was also dented by the heavy slaughter in their front ranks, but the Sayyids held their ground and were now bolstered by the advance reserve sent by their commander. Mounted on his elephant, and getting a panoramic view of these successive defeats, Man Singh moved forward with the center and commanded Mehtar Khan to bring up the rear-guard and guard his exposed flank.

The horse-archers of the Mughal army, or at least those that had not fled away, plied their arrows on the mass of the enemy now mingled with their own men. As per the bigoted Al-Badauni, present at the battle, he asked Asaf Khan how their archers would distinguish between friendly and enemy Rajputs——the Mughal commandant cynically replied, "On whichever side they may be killed, it will be a gain to Islam."

The Mewar army had by this time lost the momentum of their initial charge——those of their men that lost their horses wielded the double-edged khanda in a bloody hand-to-hand fight. The rest rallied back to their respective commanders and followed them in making repeated charges——but due to the short distance, and the litter of the dead on the ground, they could not gain enough momentum to pierce the Mughal line.

Rana Pratap commanded the center of his small army, his vanguard was led by Ramdas Rathor and Hakim Khan Sur, the right was under the Tanwar Rajputs, and the left under his vassal Man Singh Jhala. There was also a very small auxiliary force of Bhil archers perched on the hills, but these were too few and too distant to have an impact on the battle. All the artillery of Mewar had been lost at the sieges of Chittor and Ranthambhor, and there were only a few guns reserved for the defence of the distant fort of Kumbhalgarh.

Because of these small numbers (3000 cavalry as per the Mughal accounts but probably even less) there was no rear-guard and no reserve——Pratap staked everything on making one bold charge on all three fronts and was rewarded with initial success.

But now the battle had entered a stalemate as the Mughal center and rear-guard closed up to repair the damage, and the broken men returned behind them.

Clash of the elephants

The Mewar vanguard was shattered by this time——its leaders dead. The left wing faced off against the Mughal right, but the movements of his units by Man Singh had placed the advanced reserve (Madho Singh) against the Mewar center, commanded by Pratap. The Mughal center faced the Mewar right wing, which Mehtar Khan of the rear-guard was positioned to attack in the flanks. In other words after the initial defeat the Mughal line had now been stabilized.

The constant showers of arrows, and the occasional discharge of artillery, were boxing the Mewar army in. Despair arose among their ranks when the Mughals began appearing on three sides. But their resourceful commander never despaired——Rana Pratap ordered an attack by his two war-elephants, named Lona and Ram Prasad. These had been waiting for the Rajput cavalry to break through, after which they were to charge and complete the Mughal defeat into a rout, but now the Rana wanted to use the charging elephants to create gaps in the enemy line through which his cavalry could ride through and cut up the enemy force.

Neither arrows, nor bullets, nor even artillery shots, could stop the terrible advance of these armor-plated elephants. Wielding swords in their trunks, Lona and Ram Prasad cut down the enemy troopers, sweeping up horses with their tusks, and leaving behind them a trail of crushed soldiers. The panic-stricken Mughals brought forward their own elephants to stem this irrepressible advance.

Lona, coming from the Mewar center, was opposed by the Mughal elephant Gaj-mukta. The two beasts clashed head-on leaving the Mughal elephant wounded and dazed——just then a bullet shot down the driver (mahout) of Lona. Without a driver to goad it forward, Lona wandered off without completing his victory.

Ram Prasad, from the Mewar right wing, sent the Mughals flying and was followed closely by the exultant Mewar Rajputs. Two Mughal elephants, Gajraj and Ran-madar, came up to stop his bloody advance. Before the beasts could clash, an arrow hit the driver of Ram Prasad, who fell down to the ground. Then one of the drivers of the Mughal elephants jumped on the back of Ram Prasad and brought it under control.

Mewar army withdraws

The last gamble had failed. But neither Pratap, nor his men, thought of giving up as long as they could maintain cohesion in their ranks and had the strength to wield their swords and spears. The bloody contest continued till mid-day, despite the intense heat of summer. It was probably at this stage that Pratap attempted an attack on Man Singh himself——his horse Chetak is said to have jumped on the enemy commander's elephant, enabling the Rana to hurl his spear, which missed. This incident is not corroborated by the Mughal accounts who only state that the two commanders came within sight of each other, but there is no reason to doubt the story.

In making repeated charges, Rana Pratap had been wounded by the enemy arrows and spears, and some of his troops were fainting from the lack of water. The cohesion of his army was breaking down——the right wing had crumpled, its leaders were dead, and the men had crowded in on the center. The same happened to the left wing.

But the leader of this broken wing, Man Singh Jhala, saw the precarious situation of the army and realized that the battle was lost. However the war could still be won if their lion of a leader lived to fight another day. The Jhala chieftain snatched the silver umbrella (chhatra) of royalty from the Rana's back and placed it on his own. He then charged forward roaring at the Mughals to come up and fight him. The Mughal soldiers crowded around his glittering person, eager to win the honor of being the captor of their emperor's great enemy.

Man Singh Jhala met a warrior's death but the wounded Rana was taken away in safety——his army followed close behind. It was an orderly withdrawal since the bloody fighting and the intense heat had also taken their toll on the Mughal army, which was in no position to give chase. Man Singh also held his men back in fear that an ambush had been planted in the long and narrow Haldighati Pass by the Sesodia Rajputs and the Bhils. For these reasons the Mewar army also took away their camp and baggage from Haldighati and left nothing for the Mughals who followed behind the next day.

Image

Apart from losing the chance to loot the enemy camp, the Mughals failed to take a single prisoner. The only noted spoil gained by the Mughals in this hard-fought battle was the elephant Ram Prasad.

On the way back to the capital the Rana's faithful horse Chetak died from his multiple wounds——a memorial at the spot commemorates his role in the battle.

Notes:

Some versions of this battle give inflated figures for the two armies. Man Singh Kachwaha is said to have 22,000 soldiers and Rana Pratap Singh 8,000——some others multiply these further to 80,000 and 26,000 respectively!

The sober reality is that in the 17th century, during the Rajput war against Aurangzeb, the Kingdom of Mewar had fielded a 12,000 strong army, which is confirmed by all sources. Even in the age of Rana Sanga, Mewar had an army of 20-25,000, while the rest came from their vassals and allies.

More importantly, before Pratap became the Rana in 1572, the fort of Chittor had fallen to Akbar in 1568——its 8000 Rajput defenders, forming the core of the Mewar army, and their families had all died fighting.

As other small forts fell to the Mughals in eastern Mewar, the total armed strength would have suffered further losses. And in the process depriving the Ranas of a large recruiting ground for their army.

The allies who came to Rana Pratap (ex-rulers of Gwalior and Merta) did not have their kingdoms or armies but only a small following of their closest clansmen. They were given estates to sustain themselves by Pratap——taking all these realities into account his total armed strength would be under 4000. And taking away the garrisons at Kumbalgarh and a few other forts, the total fielded at Haldigahti would be under 3000.

Next: Why the Mughals failed to conquer Mewar
Last edited by Airavat on 26 Oct 2007 03:15, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby rocky » 14 Oct 2007 18:34

William Dalrymple comes swinging along about Akbar with his "A lesson in humility for the smug West"[quote]Many of the western values we think of as superior came from the East and our blind arrogance hurts our standing in the world

About 100 miles south of Delhi, where I live, lie the ruins of the Mughal capital, Fateh-pur Sikri. This was built by the Emperor Akbar at the end of the 16th century. Here Akbar would listen carefully as philosophers, mystics and holy men of different faiths debated the merits of their different beliefs in what is the earliest known experiment in formal inter-religious dialogue.

Representatives of Muslims (Sunni and Shi’ite as well as Sufi), Hindus (followers of Shiva and Vishnu as well as Hindu atheists), Christians, Jains, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians came together to discuss where they differed and how they could live together.

Muslim rulers are not usually thought of in the West as standard-bearers of freedom of thought; but Akbar was obsessed with exploring the issues of religious truth, and with as open a mind as possible, declaring: “No man should be interfered with on account of religion, and anyone is to be allowed to go over to any religion that pleases him.â€

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Postby ramana » 14 Oct 2007 20:07

I am slowly coming to the idea that the West learn't from accounts of Akbar's rule how a state should be run. I posted a German appraisal of Akbar written in 1900s in the Indian Interests-6 thread.
--------------------
German Biography of Emperor Akbar
This is pre-Hitler.
-------------------
Read last part....

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Postby svinayak » 14 Oct 2007 22:41

ramana wrote:I am slowly coming to the idea that the West learn't from accounts of Akbar's rule how a state should be run. I posted a German appraisal of Akbar written in 1900s in the Indian Interests-6 thread.
--------------------
German Biography of Emperor Akbar
This is pre-Hitler.




Read last part....


Germany should be proud that the personality of Akbar who according to
his own words "desired to live at peace with all humanity, with every
creature of God," has so inspired a noble German of princely blood in
the last century that he consecrated the work of his life to the
biography of Akbar. This man is the Prince Friedrich August of
Schleswig-Holstein, Count of Noer, who wandered through the whole of
Northern India on the track of Akbar's activities, and on the basis
of the most careful investigation of sources has given us in his large
two-volumed work the best and most extensive information which has
been written in Europe about the Emperor Akbar. How much his work has
been a labor of love can be recognized at every step in his book but
especially may be seen in a touching letter from Agra written on the
24th of April, 1868, in which he relates that he utilized the early
hours of this day for an excursion to lay a bunch of fresh roses on
Akbar's grave and that no visit to any other grave had ever moved him
so much as this.[47]


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Postby Airavat » 15 Oct 2007 03:47

The Battle of Haldighati upholds the Indian ideal of independence——no matter if a foreign ruler adopts the Indian religion and culture (Saka-Kushans), no matter if he treats his subjects well, he would still be regarded as a foreigner and the Indian people would continue to aspire to complete independence.

Rana Pratap was thus the ideal for Indian freedom fighters down the ages——it is recorded that in the early 20th century educated middle-class Indians from all over India began visiting the Haldighati Pass, at the height of the freedom movement against the British Empire, reverentially rubbing the turmeric-colored soil on their foreheads. Such visits continue to this day, even though the structure of the pass was completely altered by the building of a road through it by the Congress government.

Mughal-Mewar conflict

To the military historian, the result of the Battle of Haldighati was a foregone conclusion. It is true that smaller forces have sometimes won battles against bigger armies——but that happens when that smaller force has superior technology (horse-archery, artillery, flintlocks, etc.), or when the bigger force lacks internal cohesion (due to jealousies or treachery).

Rana Pratap not only had a smaller force, but was also without any artillery or muskets, due to the reasons explained above. The Bhil archers were too far away, and too few, to take part in the battle on the plain. So credit actually goes to the Rana and his Rajput cavalry that they gave up no prisoners, and brought away their army and camp to safety.

Because of their bold cavalry charge, the ferocious hand-to-hand fighting, and the judicious use of elephants, the Mewar army had created a deep impression on the enemy. The combined losses on the two sides were under 800, a large proportion of the fighting forces, and the injured were many more. Against such an opponent the Mughals would only advance with the greatest caution.

Campaign of 1576

Collecting his exhausted and battered army, Man Singh Kachwaha passed through the Haldighati defile on the 19th June. On the other side of the hills the path widened and undulated down to another broken stretch of plain where, after some distance, lay the Rana's capital Gogunda. The Mewar army had already evacuated this place, along with their families and goods, and only token defenders had volunteered to stay back and defend their temples and homes from the invaders.

Akbar sent instructions to Mughal units in Gujarat to subdue the chiefs of Jalor and Sirohi, allies of Pratap who could provide shelter and supplies to his army. From the side of Marwar another Mughal unit captured Nadol, blocking any attack by the Rana's men into the plains of West Rajasthan....but this was the limit of Mughal success.

Image the rugged hills around Kumbalgarh

The Mewar army had relocated to Kumbalgarh and the rugged hills and jungles around it. But these were only hills after all——not towering cliffs that could not be scaled! The real reason for the Mughal failure was the spirit of the Rajput ruler and his people.

From their base in this knot of hills, and with their families safely lodged in Kumbalgarh and other forts, the Sesodia Rajputs fought a guerrilla campaign by forming into numerous self-contained units, which attacked the Mughals at different places.

Rana Pratap had issued an order forbidding his subjects, on the pain of death, from raising crops or tending to their herds. Since without independence and self-respect, economic growth is meaningless. This dealt a double-blow to the invaders. First, instead of hunting down the Rana or robbing his subjects, they had to feed and sustain their own army. Second the supply trains bringing their sustenance were attacked and looted by the Rana's forces.

Man Singh's force sat down in Gogunda and quickly exhausted the few mango-trees and fodder available in that stony land. With their condition they could not hope to fight off the Rana's cavalry units, or advance to Kumbalgarh. So in September they abandoned their recent conquests——to the intense displeasure of Akbar. The emperor's anger was a little abated when they presented the elephant Ram Prasad to him as a trophy of their battle against Rana Pratap.

But as soon as they withdrew, Rana Pratap brought together his guerrilla units and recaptured his capital and other places. The Rao of Idar and other Rajput princes in the vicinity followed his example, threw off the Mughal yoke, and raided Mughal territory.

Akbar left Ajmer with a large army on 11th October 1576 and reached Gogunda. He sent Qutbuddin Khan, Bhagwant Das, and Man Singh against Rana Pratap, and himself occupied Gogunda. A detachment captured Udaipur, which in those days was only a small settlement, while the Bhil chieftain of Panwara also submitted to him. Another force was sent against the Rao of Idar and a line of military posts were established along the length of Western Mewar, to prevent any raid by the Sesodia Rajputs.

Image the hills of Idar in Gujarat

After these military preparations had been completed, the ladies of Akbar's family and other pilgrims, passed through Haldighati, Gogunda, Panwara, Idar, and Ahmedabad (Gujarat) on their way to Mecca. This showed to the world that Akbar had every intention of occupying a part of Mewar and leaving Pratap to rule only the hills.

Unfortunately at this time he was enraged to learn that his generals had once again left their posts due to a lack of supplies, without fighting a single battle against the enemy. Qutbuddin, Bhagwant Das, and Man Singh were refused audience.

On 27th November the disheartened Akbar left Mewar, and almost immediately Pratap defeated and drove out all of Akbar's elaborately posted military formations.

Campaign of 1577-78

In October 1577 Akbar again came to Ajmer. But just then a rebellion in Gujarat needed his attention——so he appointed his Mir Bakshi (paymaster general) Shahbaz Khan Kambu for the Mewar campaign. Raja Bhagwant Das and his son Man Singh, due to their knowledge of the country, were appointed to this force——but Shahbaz Khan refused to take them.

The hollow victory at Haldighati, where no prisoners were taken, and where the enemy was allowed to retreat without even the attempt of a chase, had led to a whispered campaign against the Kachwahas and other Rajputs in the imperial army that they had deliberately spared their efforts against Rana Pratap. This calumny had grown even louder when Bhagwant Das and Man Singh returned without fighting a single battle——even though they had been posted against the enemy forces for several weeks.

The bigoted faction of Muslims at the Battle of Haldighati, which had not cared to distinguish between their own Hindu soldiers and the Hindu enemies, became vociferous in its allegation of Man Singh and other Rajputs being in collusion with Rana Pratap. And so Shabaz Khan refused to take a single Rajput in his campaign.

This purely Muslim force engaged in bloody massacres of civilians in its march through western Mewar. After several months the town of Kelwara was captured (April 1578) and Shabaz Khan moved ten km north to Kumbalgarh Fort. Here luck ran his way——a large gun in the fort blew up and the munitions were destroyed. Disheartened by this loss the Rana and his men evacuated the fort at night. The empty fort was captured by Shahbaz Khan the next day.

Rana Pratap shifted to the hills of Banswara, a Rajput state ruled by his clan-brothers. Shahbaz Khan painfully toiled behind him in the summer heat but failed to fight a single pitched battle or take any prisoners——his bloody massacres, designed to instill terror in the Rana's subjects had the exact opposite effect. Everywhere the peasants and Bhil tribesmen rose behind his marching army, blocked his patrols, and looted his supply-trains, till at last he withdrew from Mewar.

Image Mahi River emerges from the hills of Banswara

For all his vain boasts at the Mughal court, Kambu had only captured empty forts and towns and brought back no prisoners. To add insult to injury, all his carefully planted Mughal garrisons were attacked and driven out by Rana Pratap——at Kumbalgarh in particular the Rajputs slaughtered the Mughal soldiers without any quarter being given, thus paying back Shabaz Khan in his own coin.

Akbar's failure

Akbar had tried his best generals in Mewar, had campaigned there himself, but all had failed against the intrepid Rana Pratap. No new campaign was launched against Mewar in the winter of 1578 or 1579. In 1580 began the Islamic rebellion against Akbar——the Yusufzai and Raushaniya outbreaks were facets of this rebellion and engaged the Mughal empire's resources till a very late period.

Then came Shahzada Jehangir's troubled relations with his father and his rebellion. From 1599 began the Mughal campaigns against the sultanates in Peninsular India, starting with Khandesh...and six years later Akbar died.

Akbar's one big failure was his inability to conquer or subdue Rana Pratap. The Rajput ruler consolidated his hold on western Mewar and raided Mughal territory in this period. His minister Bhama Shah helped finance his military expenditure, a new capital was built at Chavand, while Udaipur began to grow into a township.

Rana Pratap's successful resistance is important for Indian History and Haldighati will be remembered for all time....but the later campaigns are also important from the point of military history and the History of Mewar.

The fact that his descendants continued to rule their ancient kingdom down to the 20th century is due to Pratap's unbending resistance——the ferocity and valor of his men left a deep impact on the all-conquering Mughals and peace between the Kingdom of Mewar and the Mughal Empire was made on very beneficial terms to the former.

The Maharanas were recognized as independent sovereigns who did not attend the Mughal court or take part in the Mughal campaigns as generals, the eastern half of Mewar was returned to them along with their ancient capital of Chittor. Udaipur grew into a prosperous city and the increasing wealth of the kingdom enabled the later rulers to successfully resist the invasion of Aurangzeb. Would any of this have been possible if Rana Pratap had submitted to Akbar?

Note:

There is a story that Pratap, driven to extremes by the war, once agreed to submit to Akbar. Then his cousin Prithviraj (of Bikaner) wrote him an inspiring letter to keep up the fight for the sake of all Hindus. To this the Rana, his spirits restored, replied that he would never recognize Akbar as an emperor and would always call him a mere Turk.

This Prithviraj Rathore was a historical personality with the poet's nom de plume of Peethal. Many of his works like Beli Krishna Rukmini ri and Dasrath Rawat ra duha, are still preserved at Bikaner. However no evidence of any letter has been found. And the Mughal records, which would have given a prominent mention of any letter of submission by Rana Pratap, are blank, as are the records of the Hindu histories of that period and later times.

In fact the first notice of this incident was given in the confused ramblings of Colonel Tod in his Annals and Antiquities of Rajputana, which only displays the baneful impact of the colonial historians on the writing of Indian History.
Last edited by Airavat on 05 Jan 2008 06:59, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby ramana » 15 Oct 2007 21:20

Airavat,

Can we describe Shivaji's tactics as more like modern day special forces than plain old guerilla tactics? Its more like lightly armed agile troops against pitched forces.

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Postby Airavat » 16 Oct 2007 02:06

Yes Ramana,

Guerrilla tactics come into play when your land is occupied by invaders (as in the case of Rana Pratap) or when the ruler and his court have been destroyed by those invaders (as in the case of Shivaji's son Sambhaji vs Aurangzeb).

In these cases the defenders form into numerous self-contained units that strike the enemy at different places, ravage the land to deprive his army of any sustenance, and get intelligence on the enemy movements from the local inhabitants. This is guerrilla warfare.

So Shivajis tactics against invaders were strikes by a lightly armed compact force deep into enemy territory. He was only twice in a position when his own home was under threat of occupation by invaders....but those threats did not materialize (Shivaji killed Afzal Khan in self-defence and reached a strategic understanding with Jai Singh). So there was never any need for 'guerrilla warfare' by Shivaji.

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Postby rocky » 16 Oct 2007 06:16

I just got my hands on "Panipat 1761", the only Marathi-language book on the war, and probably the only one written for this war itself, and probably one of the last copies floating around anywhere. The details are chilling.

A second book I've just managed to lay my hands on is "The Battle of Panipat", written in Persian by Casa Raja Pandit, and translated into English by Lt. Col. James Brown in 1791. Casa Raja Pandit himself was part of the battle, on the side of Shuja-ud-Daula.

The more I read the "Panipat 1761", the more it looks like a ganging up of Jehadis against Hindus, with the obvious fence-sitters really tilting the balance in favor of the Jehadis.

Will post a review as soon as I get the time.

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Postby sanjaychoudhry » 16 Oct 2007 16:25

rocky wrote:I just got my hands on "Panipat 1761", the only Marathi-language book on the war, and probably the only one written for this war itself, and probably one of the last copies floating around anywhere. The details are chilling.

A second book I've just managed to lay my hands on is "The Battle of Panipat", written in Persian by Casa Raja Pandit, and translated into English by Lt. Col. James Brown in 1791. Casa Raja Pandit himself was part of the battle, on the side of Shuja-ud-Daula.

The more I read the "Panipat 1761", the more it looks like a ganging up of Jehadis against Hindus, with the obvious fence-sitters really tilting the balance in favor of the Jehadis.

Will post a review as soon as I get the time.


Where did you find these books? I want to order them too. Pls help.

hakenkeruz

Postby hakenkeruz » 16 Oct 2007 16:26

rocky wrote:I just got my hands on "Panipat 1761", the only Marathi-language book on the war, and probably the only one written for this war itself, and probably one of the last copies floating around anywhere. The details are chilling.

A second book I've just managed to lay my hands on is "The Battle of Panipat", written in Persian by Casa Raja Pandit, and translated into English by Lt. Col. James Brown in 1791. Casa Raja Pandit himself was part of the battle, on the side of Shuja-ud-Daula.

The more I read the "Panipat 1761", the more it looks like a ganging up of Jehadis against Hindus, with the obvious fence-sitters really tilting the balance in favor of the Jehadis.

Will post a review as soon as I get the time.


AoA birader,
like they say history repeats itself...
these mlecchas will never ever have their loyalties in the rite place.. period..

eagerly awaiting the arrival of kalki dev

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Postby Sanku » 16 Oct 2007 16:54

surinder wrote: But mostly it is Braj Bhasha. Guru Gobind Singh was born and brought up in Patna and I think he spoke Braj Bhasha most commonly and naturally. My dad's close friend was an Eastern UP Brahmin who spoke Braj Bhasha at home. He had the Dasam Granth at home and would exult when he read it. He was would tell us "it is our language, bhai sahib".

PS: Not so well known, but Guru ji wrote the Krishna Leela and Raam's life also. So it was another ramayana contained there.


What greater proof of national integration and the reasons there in?

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Postby ParGha » 16 Oct 2007 17:54

Airavat wrote:Yes Ramana,

Guerrilla tactics come into play when your land is occupied by invaders (as in the case of Rana Pratap) or when the ruler and his court have been destroyed by those invaders (as in the case of Shivaji's son Sambhaji vs Aurangzeb).

In these cases the defenders form into numerous self-contained units that strike the enemy at different places, ravage the land to deprive his army of any sustenance, and get intelligence on the enemy movements from the local inhabitants. This is guerrilla warfare.

So Shivajis tactics against invaders were strikes by a lightly armed compact force deep into enemy territory. He was only twice in a position when his own home was under threat of occupation by invaders....but those threats did not materialize (Shivaji killed Afzal Khan in self-defence and reached a strategic understanding with Jai Singh). So there was never any need for 'guerrilla warfare' by Shivaji.


The problem with this explanation is that Pratapji and Sambaji were sovereign from the moment their round of hostilities with Mughals began, but Shivaji became sovereign only at the later stages of his career*. To misappropriate a modern term for convenience, Shivaji spent much of his career - until his coronation - as an independent military contractor: He had much more in common with today's Executive Outcomes or Blackwater than guerrillas or special operations forces.

==========

The primary function of US Special Forces - particular unit, not the entire special operations community - is to either incite rebellious forces against established hostile governments (Unconventional Warfare UW), or to assist in putting down rebellions agaist friendly governments (Foreign Internal Security Assiatance FISA)+. In that sense many Maratha chiefs, including Shivaji, played the role assigned to US SF.

When some of the Maratha chiefs - Shivaji most prominent among them - rebeled and incited further rebellion against the Deccani Sultanate among their fellow Marathas resident in Sultanate territories, they were conducting Unconventional Warfare. In this they were blessed and supported by Shah Jahan's government. The Mughals further hoped to use these pliant chiefs in crushing the pockets of resistance in Deccani territories and police their own troublesome people - that is use them in FISA role. Initially Shivaji played along with the role, which was what saved him from immediate execution once he arrived in Agra (Aurangzeb couldn't give a flying feck to Jai Singh's word of honor).

NOTE:
* Sovereignty may have been in Shivaji's mind (more likely Jijabai's, if we know anthing about mothers :wink: ), but until the coronation occurs it is not a fact.
+ For this discussion I am most familiar with US terminology, so I use it. I still haven't understood what India is doing with its Para (SF) designation vs. the more appropriate (and cooler) "Cdo" designation.

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Postby Dharmavir » 16 Oct 2007 20:37

Sovereignty may have been in Shivaji's mind (more likely Jijabai's, if we know anthing about mothers ), but until the coronation occurs it is not a fact.

The idea of sovereign Hindu kingdom was in Shivajis mind much before the coronation, I am only quoting 2 letters that illustrate this:
A court historian sums up Shivaji's sentiments (Shivaji was not literate according to J.N Sarkar):

"Why should we remain content with what the Muslim rulers choose to give us? We are Hindus. The whole country is ours by right, and is yet occupied and held by foreigners. They desecrate our temples, break holy idols, plunder our wealth, convert us forcibly to their religion, carry away our women folk and children, slay the cows and inflict a thousand wrongs upon us. We will suffer this treatment no more. We possess strength in our arms. Let us draw the sword in defense of our sacred religion, liberate our country and acquire new lands and wealth by our own effort. Are we not as brave and capable as our ancestors of yore? Let us undertake this holy mission and God will surely help us. All human efforts are so helped. There is no such thing as good luck and ill luck. We are the captains of our fortunes and the makers of our freedom." (Pg 251 and 252 - The Moghul Empire edited by R.C Majumdar and J.C Chaudhuri. The citation give in this book for this quote is G.S Sardesai's "New history of the Marathas, 1957, Vol I, Pg 97, 1st edition).

[quote]The resulting mixed idiom, with an interesting infusion of Sanskrit tatsamas (loan words) is found, for example, in Sivaji's letter to Dadaji Naras Prabhu, deshpande of the Rohida valley, where the major appeal is to a territorial rootedness in the valley as well as putative wider subcontinental identity (again, Perso-Arabic is highlighted):

shahasi bemangiri tumhi va amhi karit nahi Srirohides-vara tumce khoriyatil adi kuladeva tumca dongarmatha patharavar sendrilagat svayambhu ahe tyani amhas yas dilhe va pudhe sarva manoratha Hindvi svarajya karun puravinar ahe tyas bavas haval hou naye khamakha sangava.33
[You and I are not being disloyal to the Shah. Sriro-hidesvara, the original presiding deity of your valley, exists in self-created form next to the sendri tree on the plateau at the crest of your mountain: he has given me success and will in future fulfill the desire of creating a Hindavi kingdom. So say to the Bava (ad-dressee's father): “Do not be unnecessarily down-cast.â€

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Postby ParGha » 16 Oct 2007 21:01

Dharmavir wrote:
Sovereignty may have been in Shivaji's mind (more likely Jijabai's, if we know anthing about mothers ), but until the coronation occurs it is not a fact.

The idea of sovereign Hindu kingdom was in Shivajis mind much before the coronation, I am only quoting 2 letters that illustrate this:


As I implied earlier, until he publically declared sovereignty his position was lot different from Prathapji or Sambaji. In his mind the position of swaraj may have been non-negotiable, but public events kept Mughals satisfied that he was a pliant military chief. It saved his life at Agra. Conversely Sambhaji was politically unpardonable for having been a sovereign - even though he was much less militarily threatening than Shivaji.

A court historian sums up Shivaji's sentiments (Shivaji was not literate according to J.N Sarkar):


Wonder how he came up with that conjecture? Shivaji was educated to become a clerk first and then a scholar; Shahji, his father, wanted to send a very particular message to his estranged wife via his son's education. It was the defining moment of Shivaji's life when he found out that his teacher - Dadaji Konde - taught not only scholarship but also statesmanship.

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Postby Dharmavir » 16 Oct 2007 21:19

As I implied earlier, until he publically declared sovereignty his position was lot different from Prathapji or Sambaji. In his mind the position of swaraj may have been non-negotiable, but public events kept Mughals satisfied that he was a pliant military chief. It saved his life at Agra. Conversely Sambhaji was politically unpardonable for having been a sovereign - even though he was much less militarily threatening than Shivaji.

I think I misunderstood you, yes publicly he may not have said so, publicly he even agreed to serve Aurangzeb when he was cornered.
Wonder how he came up with that conjecture?

I don't remember his reasons, don't have the book with me right now.

I think other historians countered this view of his, do remember GS Sardesai discussing it & concluding that this is just Sarkar's conjecnture & not a fact.

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Postby Airavat » 17 Oct 2007 04:36

ParGha wrote:The problem with this explanation is that Pratapji and Sambaji were sovereign from the moment their round of hostilities with Mughals began, but Shivaji became sovereign only at the later stages of his career.


Sovereign (the term I did not use) he may not have been at the start but he was still a ruler (the term I used). He had:

1. Territory that he administered.

2. Subjects whom he taxed and protected.

3. His father Shahaji was a vassal/general of the Bijapur Sultanate but Shivaji himself never visited the Bijapur court and never bowed before the Sultan like a vassal. Shivajis visit to Agra was a case of ambition and political compulsion...

He alone was responsible for the defence and integrity of his territory and so the explanation: lightly armed compact force striking deep into enemy territory is apt for his wars against Bijapur and the Mughal Empire.

Terms like "military contractor" do not describe these wars.

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Postby JCage » 17 Oct 2007 04:49

Airavat, if I havent said this before, let me say this now- thanks for your detailed research and the effort you put into each post. The pics of the battleground/s and other small details, especially.

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Postby ramana » 18 Oct 2007 23:21

X-posted from Islamism thread...
Anand K wrote:Bakthiyar Khilji was apparently a deformed man.... like Kaiser Wilhem II he tried to make up for his deficiencies by "energetic" policies and incessant warmongering. When he was serving under the Governor of Badaun and later under the Garrison Commander of (what later became) Awadh he has distinguished himself by capturing Bihar which was fragmented and ruled by bickering Gahadavalas (who had escaped the carnage of Battle for Kashi). This impressed Ghori far away in Ghur who sent him a Khilat (robe of distinction); an emboldened Khalji took a few horsemen and plundered Western Bengal and E.Bihar and Vikramshila. Vikramshila was rather well funded due to efforts of Mahipala, the last notable ruler of the Pala Dynasty and the booty so earned impressed Viceroy Aibek this time.
Khilji then had ambitions of sovereignty and went to attack Bengal now under an ailing Lakshmana Deva.... who used to be a capable warrior once. Minahj Siraj is the source who says that 18 horsemen captured Lakhnauti and the King fled from his dinner table and that he had been chickened out after the astrologers predicted terrible ordeals. What is now more or less accepted is that the ailing king had evacuated Nadia in a orderly fashion, a pilgrim town-University and not the Pala capital Lakhnauti(which explains why it fell to a small band of horsemen. It's no surprise that such few Cavalry can accomplish such feats.... J. Caesar destroyed whole villages and strongholds of British tribes with just 20 Gallic Cavalry who were the escort to an allied Gallic Prince, Commius).... and much later his capital Lakhnauti to entrench himself at Sonar Gaon in Gaur. Gaur was the territory from which Anga and later Bengal developed.... the "Urheimat" if you please. The Palas (and even a remnant of the old Senas) continued for another 50-60 years till Tughan Khan, Governor under Iltumish and the Yuzbek Khan and the rebellious Tughril under Balban conquered these areas (and Southern Bengal, i.e Radha(?) ) bit by bit.

Fact is, they didn't simply fold out.... it was a canard gleefully repeated by Muslim chroniclers and Brits eager to p1ss on the "secessionist" Bengali. In fact Rash Behari Bose was ousted from his class when he challenged a Prof who was lecturing how Bengal was easily defeated by mere 18 Horsemen. It's also true that the military situation was a wreck with nearly 300 years of war with the Pratiharas and Palas which ruined North India.... and the Chola invasion. The Rajputs with Talwars and Spears coming out their ears couldn't stem the Turk Tide.... what can a ruined, rump Pala Empire do?

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Postby Sanjay » 19 Oct 2007 04:26

Airavat, what can you tell us about the employment of firearms by the armies of Mewar and the Rajputs in Mughal service during these campaigns ?

Chittor was defended by an army that included at least 1000 musketeers (from Kalpi), but I don't recall reading anything about the presence of musketeers in any Mewar army in or around this period and I am uncertain of the extent of their employment during the uprising against Jehangir.

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Postby Airavat » 19 Oct 2007 05:12

Sanjay refer to page 3 of this thread.

Detailed information on firearms can be gleaned from offline books.

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Postby svinayak » 22 Oct 2007 23:48

Genealogy - Kings of Mysore

# Names Born in Ruled from Ruled to
1 Adi Yadurayaru 1371 AD 1399 AD 1423 AD
2 Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar I 1408 AD 1423 AD 1459 AD
3 Thima Raja Wadiyar I 1433 AD 1459 AD 1478 AD
4 Hiriya Chamarajarasa Wodiyar II 1463 AD 1478 AD 1513 AD
5 Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar II 1492 AD 1513 AD 1553 AD
6 Thima Raja Wadiyar II 1511 AD 1553 AD 1572 AD
7 Boala Chamaraja Wadiyar IV 1518 AD 1572 AD 1576 AD
8 Bettada Chamarajarasa Wadiyar V 1550 AD 1576 AD 1578 AD
9 Raja Wadiyar I 1552 AD 1578 AD 1617 AD
10 Chamarajarasa Wadiyar VI 1606 AD 1617 AD 1637 AD
11 Raja Wadiyar II 1617 AD 1637 AD 1638 AD
12 Ranadheera Kanteerava Narasaraja Wadiyar 1615 AD 1638 AD 1659 AD
13 Doddadevaraja Wadiyar 1627 AD 1659 AD 1673 AD
14 Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar 1645 AD 1673 AD 1704 AD
15 Kanteerava Maharaja Wadiyar 1673 AD 1704 AD 1714 AD
16 Dodda Krishnaraja Wadiyar 1702 AD 1714 AD 1732 AD
17 Chamaraja Wadiyar VII 1704 AD 1732 AD 1734 AD
18 Krishnaraja Wadiyar II 1728 AD 1734 AD 1766 AD
19 Nanja Raja Wadiyar 1748 AD 1766 AD 1770 AD
20 Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar VIII 1759 AD 1770 AD 1776 AD
21 Khasa Chamaraja Wadiyar IX 1774 AD 1776 AD 1796 AD
22 Krishnaraja Wadiyar III 1794 AD 1799 AD 1868 AD
23 Chamarajendra Wadiyar X 1863 AD 1868 AD 1894 AD
24 Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV 1884 AD 1895 AD 1940 AD
(3rd Aug)
25 Sri Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar XI 1919 AD 1940 AD 1947 AD

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Postby pradeepe » 23 Oct 2007 00:55

Is "Wadiyar" a title? If not thats one long family line.

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Postby ramana » 23 Oct 2007 01:10

Any accounts of Planati Yuddham from Andhra?

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Postby JwalaMukhi » 23 Oct 2007 01:21

pradeepe wrote:Is "Wadiyar" a title? If not thats one long family line.


Yes, it is a title. Wodeyar or Odeyar(in kannada) means lord/king. Interestingly, there was curse on the Wodeyar's by Alamelamma, that there will be no direct progeny to any of the kings of Mysore kingdom. For most part, most of the kings are either adopted or legal heirs.

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Postby ramana » 23 Oct 2007 02:10

Pradeepe, Please read this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wodeyar

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Postby svinayak » 23 Oct 2007 02:19

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q ... ages&gbv=2


Image


Srikantadutta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, the scion of the royal family, on the throne during Dasara celebrations.

http://www.flonnet.com/fl2221/stories/2 ... 611300.htm
http://bangalore.metblogs.com/

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Postby pradeepe » 23 Oct 2007 04:47

Thanks sirs.
So, interestingly the Mysore Kingom was part of the Vijayanagara empire till Talikota.

== added

Re. Palnati Uddam. Here's an interesting snippet for non-AP folks. Its fratricidal nature and similarities in the leadup to the war(losing a game and subsequent exile of one faction) led it to be called the Andhra Kurukhsetra. It resulted in the subsequent elevation of the Kakatiya dynasty.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palnadu

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Postby Airavat » 25 Oct 2007 05:18

At the time of the Mahabharat War, eastern India saw the emergence of the Kingdom of Magadha. While the kingdoms in North India began to decline after that epic period...the eastern kingdoms, armed with the new military machine of elephants, and wealthy from their agricultural and forest revenue, became the centers of the Vedic Civilization.

The east also sees the rise of dynasties, as opposed to clans, which had been the norm in the north. Magadha in particular experienced several changes in dynasties, without affecting the territorial integrity of the kingdom. Some of these changes/coups came at the hand of ministers, others by generals and still others by servants.

One of the earliest dynasty changes was by Bhattiya whose son Bimbisara increased the size of Magadha by conquests and through matrimonial alliances. Under him Magadha had 80,000 villages and towns, which also included the territory of semi-independent clans whose chiefs had the title of Rajakumara.

The Buddha, Mahavira, Gosala, and other sages lived and preached in his reign.

Bimbisara visits the Buddha

Ajatshatru (494-462 BCE)

Among Bimibisara's many sons, the most ambitious, Ajatashatru was so eager to ascend the throne of Magadha that he imprisoned his own father. Offended by this act, Bimbisara's brother-in-law, Prasenjit of Kosala attacked Magadha—the war was indecisive and peace was made between the two states. After the war Prasenjit married his daughter Vajira to Ajatshatru.

Some texts claim that Ajatshatru's own mother was also from Kosala, but other texts make his mother a princess from Videha—this is confirmed by an inscription describing Ajatshatru as Vaidehi-putto or son of the princess from Videha.

Map of Magadha

In Bimbisara's time the Lichchavis had fought a war against Magadha, which was settled through a matrimonial alliance—the fruit of this alliance, Ajatshatru's two step-brothers, escaped to their grandfather Chetaka, the Lichchavi ruler. The monarch of Magadha demanded the submission of the Lichchavis and by extension of the powerful Vrijjian confederacy. This confederacy of 36 clan-states included the nine Lichchavi states, nine Malla states (both to the north-east of Magadah), and 18 other clan-states in Kasi and Kosala (both to the west of Magadha). Even the Buddha supported the warrior clans against Ajatshatru.

The decisive war

According to the Jain texts, the war, or preparations for the war went on for 16 years. Ajatshatru fought off the western clan-armies from his old capital of Rajgriha—to tackle the Lichchavis and Mallas he built a new fortified capital called Patliputra.

Ruins of Rajgriha

Ruins of Patliputra

In the final battle outside the Lichchavi capital of Vaisali, Ajatshatru is said to have deployed catapults called Maha-sila-kantak (great stone thrower). The Jain texts also describe an interesting war-machine called Rath-musala, a horse-less chariot with attached rods that had a self-propelling mechanism, which enabled it to carry havoc deep into the enemy ranks.

Ajatshatru's victory doubled the size of the Kingdom of Magadha—it also provoked the ruler of Avanti, Chand Pradyota, to declare war on Ajatshatru. The forces of Avanti were repulsed but the conflict continued in the next two reigns.

Silver karshapana coin of Magadha (500-400 BCE)

The rise of Magadha to a position of dominance and wealth was reflected in the First General Council (Samgiti) being held in the flourishing capital Rajgriha. The conquests of Ajatshatru laid the foundation for the future expansion of Magadha under the Nandas and the Mauryas.
Last edited by Airavat on 26 Oct 2007 03:26, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Lkawamoto » 25 Oct 2007 08:30

it is a shame that bihar which gave so much to the world is now labeled as "the most lawless state", there are so many historical battlegrounds, so many yet to be discovered truths, it can easily keep an army of
archeologists busy for many years

the hindu cremation of course removes a key piece of the evidence (unlike graves at other sites that can give clues to clothing, food, and other artifacts from daily life in ancient times)

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Postby gashish » 26 Oct 2007 00:42

The interesting thing that strikes me about Mysore kingdom is its two muslim de-facto rulers Haider Ali and his son Tippu Sultan.

Haider Ali had very humble origins and didn't belong to muslim ruling class....his meteoric rise within the military ranks of a pre-dominantly hindu kingdom,Mysore, is impressive and probably has no parallels elsewhere in India.

Tippu seems far more controversial character,,,the TV serial portrayed him as a very secular ruler...but there are some accounts whichportray him as tyrant and religous bigot...how much of this is true and how much of it was "concoted" by British?

Airavat/AnandK and other history buffs..any tippani on tippu? Thx

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Postby JwalaMukhi » 26 Oct 2007 01:08

gashish wrote:Tippu seems far more controversial character,,,the TV serial portrayed him as a very secular ruler...but there are some accounts whichportray him as tyrant and religous bigot...how much of this is true and how much of it was "concoted" by British?

Airavat/AnandK and other history buffs..any tippani on tippu? Thx


Here is a book that's worthwhile..
http://www.bharatvani.org/books/tipu/index.htm

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Postby svinayak » 26 Oct 2007 01:12

gashish wrote:
Haider Ali had very humble origins and didn't belong to muslim ruling class....his meteoric rise within the military ranks of a pre-dominantly hindu kingdom,Mysore, is impressive and probably has no parallels elsewhere in India.



HYDER ALI KHAN

After the decline and disintegration of the Vijayanagaram Empire, Raja Wodeyar enlarged his small principality into a mighty kingdom and established the Wodeyar Dynasty with Srirangapatanam as its capital (1578-1761). Lord Shree Ranganatha Swamy was the family deity of the Wodeyar family and, therefore, a magnificent temple dedicated to this God was constructed there. Since then, the capital city came to be known by the name of the presiding deity of the place. The last king of the Wodeyar Dynasty was Krishna Raya who was overthrown by Hyder Ali Khan, his army chief stationed in Dindigal, with the help of the wily Purnaiyya. Hyder Ali imprisoned all the royal family members in Srirangapatanam. Later on, he declared himself the Sultan of Mysore with Srirangapatanam as capital in 1761 (p. 456 of Malabar Manual). It may be noted here that Hyder Ali Khan's father was a Punjabi Muslim settled in Mysore and serving as a soldier with the rank of 'naik' in the army.

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Postby shaardula » 26 Oct 2007 02:03

hyder ali was quite unlike his son tippu. hyder was illiterate and was "secular" tippu on the other hand was educated in the "islamic schools" so was quite enamored to ummah/kafir type of ideas. tippu had two phases of life. one in which he was a tyrant under the influence of his education stuff he did in mangalore madikeri and malabar and even mysore and two where he mellowed down under experience - during this phase he started dreaming hindu gods, started consulting astrologers, and giving deNige (grants) to sringeri mathas (according to sringeri matha records) an dother mathas and temples. i have to mention the matha records because was surrounded by sycophants and a lot of things started getting attributed to him to reinforce his image as the tiger of mysore, including some of the things his father did.

acharya... hyder ali has some roots in gulbarga not so sure about punjab.

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General Zorawar Singh

Postby ssmitra » 29 Oct 2007 22:07

I found this while reading about the Martial tradition of the Dogra's and came up on this guy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Zorawar_Singh
What I found more interesting is the mountain warfare description and the tactics used. The Old CBSE syllabus never covered anything from this area.

The Ladakh campaigns
Zorawar fort in Ladakh
Zorawar fort in Ladakh

To the east of Kishtwar and Kashmir are the snow-clad mountains of the upper Himalayas — the rivers of Zanskar Gorge, Suru River, and Drass rise from these snows, and flow across the plateau of Ladakh into the Indus River. Several petty principalities in this region were tributary to the Gyalpo (King) of Ladakh. In 1834 one of these, the Raja of Timbus, sought Zorawar’s help against the Gyalpo. Meanwhile the Rajput general had been burning to distinguish himself by expanding the kingdom of Raja Gulab Singh — also at that time, according to the Gulabnama, Kishtwar went through a drought that caused a loss of revenue and forced Zorawar to extract money through war.

The Rajputs of Jammu and Himachal have traditionally excelled in mountain fighting; therefore Zorawar had no trouble in crossing the mountain ranges and entering Ladakh through the source of the Suru River where his 5000 men defeated an army of local Botis. After moving to Kargil and subduing the landlords along the way Zorawar received the submission of the Ladakhis — however Tsepal Namgyal, the Gyalpo (ruler), sent his general Banko Kahlon by a roundabout route to cut off Zorawar’s communications. The astute general doubled back to Kartse where he sheltered his troops through the winter. In the spring of 1835 he defeated the large Ladakhi army of Banko Kahlon and marched his victorious troops towards Leh. The Gyalpo now agreed to pay 50,000 rupees as war-indemnity and 20,000 rupees as an annual tribute.

Alarmed at the gains of the Dogras the Punjabi governor of Kashmir, Mehan Singh, incited the Ladakhi chieftains to rebel but Zorawar quickly marched back to the Himalayan valleys and subdued the rebels, now forcing the Raja of Zanskar to also pay a separate tribute to Jammu. But in 1836 Mehan Singh, who was in correspondence with the Lahore durbar, this time instigated the Gyalpo to revolt — Zorawar force-marched his army in ten days to surprise the Ladakhis and forced them to submit. He now built a fort outside Leh and placed there a garrison of 300 men under Dalel Singh — the Gyalpo was deposed to an estate and a Ladakhi general, Ngorub Stanzin, was made King. But the latter did not prove to be loyal hence the Gyalpo was restored to his throne in 1838.

[edit] Baltistan campaign

To the north-west of Ladakh, and to the north of Kashmir, lies the region of Baltistan. Muhammad Shah, the son of the ruler of Skardu, Raja Ahmad Shah, fled to Leh and sought the aid of the Gyalpo and Zorawar against his father. But some of the Ladakhi nobles allowed Ahmad Shah to imprison his son and sought his aid in a general rebellion against the Dogras. After defeating the Ladakhi rebels Zorawar invaded Baltistan in the winter of 1841, adding a large contingent of Ladakhis to his army.

The advance brigade of 5000 under Nidhan Singh lost its way in the cold and snow and was surrounded by the enemy; many soldiers perished from the cold. Then Mehta Basti Ram, a prominent Rajput from Kishtwar, established contact with the main force. On their arrival the Botis of Skardu were defeated and forced to flee. They were chased to the fort of Skardu which was invested by Zorawar for a few days. One night the Dogras scaled the steep mountain behind the fort and after some fighting captured the small fort on its crest. From this position the next day they began firing down at the main fort and forced the Raja to surrender. Zorawar built a fort on the banks of the Indus where he placed a contingent of his soldiers.

After placing Muhammad Shah on the throne for an annual tribute of 7000 rupees, a Dogra contingent under Wazir Lakhpat advanced westwards, conquered the fort of Astor and took its Darad Raja prisoner. However this Raja was tributary to Mehan Singh, the Punjabi Sikh governor of Kashmir, who was alarmed at the Dogra conquests since they only expanded the kingdom of Gulab Singh while not bringing any benefit to the Lahore durbar. His complaint at Lahore was forwarded to Raja Gulab Singh at Jammu and he ordered the Darad Raja to be released.

[edit] Tibet expedition

With the Dogra ambitions clashing with the Punjabi empire in the west, Zorawar Singh turned his energies eastward, towards Tibet. As he had done in Ladakh, so too in the newly-conquered Baltistan, Zorawar recruited the Baltis in his army, which now had men from the Jammu hills, Kishtwar, and Ladakh. This five or six thousand strong army was divided into three columns that marched parallel into the unknown land of Tibet in May, 1841.

One column under the Ladakhi prince, Nono Sungnam, followed the course of the Indus River to its source. Another column of 300 men, under Ghulam Khan, marched along the mountains leading up to the Kailas Range and thus south of the Indus. Zorawar himself led 3000 men along the plateau region where the vast and picturesque Pangong Lake is located. Sweeping all resistance before them, the three columns passed the Mansarovar Lake and converged at Gartok, defeating the small Tibetan force stationed there. The enemy commander fled to Taklakot but Zorawar stormed that fort on 6th September 1841. Envoys from Tibet now came to him as did agents of the Maharaja of Nepal, whose kingdom was only fifteen miles from Taklakot.

The fall of Taklakot finds mention in the report of the Chinese Imperial Resident, Meng Pao, at Lhasa:

On my arrival at Taklakot a force of only about 1000 local troops could be mustered, which was divided and stationed as guards at different posts. A guard post was quickly established at a strategic pass near Taklakot to stop the invaders, but these local troops were not brave enough to fight off the Shen-Pa (Dogras) and fled at the approach of the invaders. The distance between Central Tibet and Taklakot is several thousand li…because of the cowardice of the local troops; our forces had to withdraw to the foot of the Tsa Mountain near the Mayum Pass. Reinforcements are essential in order to withstand these violent and unruly invaders.

Zorawar and his men now went on pilgrimage to Mansarovar and Mount Kailash. He had extended his communication and supply line over 450 miles of inhospitable terrain by building small forts and pickets along the way. The fort Chi-T’ang was built near Taklakot, where Mehta Basti Ram was put in command of 500 men, with 8 or 9 cannon. With the onset of winter all the passes were blocked and roads snowed in. The supplies for the Dogra army over such a long distance failed despite Zorawar’s meticulous preparations.

As the intense cold, coupled with the rain, snow and lightning continued for weeks upon weeks, many of the soldiers lost their fingers and toes to frostbite. Others starved to death, while some burnt the wooden stock of their muskets to warm themselves. The Tibetans and their Chinese allies regrouped and advanced to give battle, bypassing the Dogra fort of Chi-T’ang. Zorawar and his men met them at the Battle of To-yo on 12th December 1841—-in the early exchange of fire the Rajput general was wounded in his right shoulder but he grabbed a sword in his left hand. The Tibetan horsemen then charged the Dogra position and one of them thrust his lance in Zorawar Singh’s chest.

The Sino-Tibetan force then mopped up the other garrisons of the Dogras and advanced on Ladakh, now determined to conquer it and add it to the Imperial Chinese dominions. However the force under Mehta Basti Ram stood a siege for several weeks at Chi-T’ang before escaping with 240 men across the Himalayas to the British post of Almora. Within Ladakh the Sino-Tibetan army laid siege to Leh, when reinforcements under Diwan Hari Chand and Wazir Ratnu came from Jammu and repulsed them. The Tibetan fortifications at Drangtse were flooded when the Dogras dammed up the river. On open ground, the Chinese and Tibetans were chased to Chushul. The climacic Battle of Chushul (August, 1842) was fought and won by the Dogras who executed the enemy general to avenge the death of Zorawar Singh.

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Postby Airavat » 31 Oct 2007 02:40

After his escape from Agra Shivaji needed time and breathing space to repair his forts and consolidate his army and administration. In April 1667 he sent a letter to Aurangzeb offering submission but the Mughal Emperor ignored this as a ruse and ordered a fresh campaign against the Maratha ruler. Shivaji then approached Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur and through his influence Aurangzeb recognized Shivaji's title of Raja (March 1688) and returned his fort of Chakan—out of the 23 annexed under the Treaty of Purandar.

ImageTerrain near Aurangabad

For the next two years Shivaji lived at peace with the Mughals—his son Sambhaji was posted to the Mughal viceroy's capital in the Deccan, Aurangabad, as a commander of 5000 cavalry. A jagir in Berar was assigned to him for the expenses of this force. The inevitable rupture between the two sides took place in January 1670—Shivaji's men deserted the Mughal service and he began recovering his forts. First Kondana, then Purandar, Kalian-Bhimri, and finally Mahuli by the end of that year.

At this time the Mughal administration in the Deccan was paralysed by tensions between the viceroy Shahzada Muazzam and his general Dilir Khan. The latter accused the prince and Jaswant Singh of being secretly allied with Shivaji and aiding his recent successes in order to wrest the throne from his father Aurangzeb. Dilir Khan escaped to North India with his force, chased by the other two—Aurangzeb then sent Mahabat Khan to take command of operations and keep Jaswant away from Muazzam.

Shivaji's lightning strikes 1670-72

Shivaji utilized the Mughal infighting to sack the rich port of Surat in September 1670—he is estimated to have carried off Rs. 66 lakh worth of booty. In later years he demanded the annual payment of chauth (quarter of Surat's revenue) explaining, "As your emperor has forced me to keep an army for the defence of my people and country, that army must be paid for by his subjects. If you do not send me that money speedily, then make ready a large house for me, for I shall sit down and receive the revenue and custom duties, as there is none to stop my passage."

While Shivaji had been attacking Surat, he had at the same time sent a force under Moro Trimbak Pingle to Khandesh and Baglana. Here too the Mughals were prevented from resisting this invasion by Maharaja Jaswant Singh who had beseiged the Mughal governor of Khandesh in Burhanpur fort, and had demanded the payment of 5 lakh rupees in the name of Shahzada Muazzam! Another Maratha force under Pratap Rao was sent into Berar, which sacked the rich town of Karinja.

These two Maratha armies then united (25,000 strong) and besieged the fort of Salhir—on 5th January 1671 they scaled the walls with rope-ladders and slew the qiladar Fathullah Khan.

By this time Mahabat Khan had reached Burhanpur, where he took away Jaswant Singh, and marched to the Chandor Range. Here a force under Daud Khan had besieged Ahivant—the Mughals captured this fort in February. Mahabat then spent several months in suspicious inactivity—Aurangzeb in anger recalled him to court and sent Bahadur Khan in his place. Dilir Khan was also sent back to the Deccan to support this new commander.

In December 1671 these two generals invaded Shivaji's kingdom—Dilir Khan captured Puna and engaged in a bloody massacre of its mostly civilian inhabitants over the age of 9. Another army under Ikhlas Khan had advanced to Salhir where Shivaji himself fought in a tough battle—it ended with the destruction of the Mughal army and the captivity of its generals. Shivaji's boyhood friend, Surya Rao Kakre, was the only chief killed on the Maratha side. This triumph freed up the Maratha army and forced Bahadur and Dilir to withdraw from Puna.

Elevated by this succession of triumphs the Marathas continued the war even in the summer. They conquered Jawhar from its Koli Raja in June and another Koli state Ramnagar in July. Jadun Rao, a Maratha officer in Mughal service, was defeated at Nasik that same month. But the Maratha raid into Berar and Khandesh (Oct-Dec) was defeated by the Mughals.

That same year Bajaji Nayak Nimbalkar, whose son Mahadji was married to Shivaji's daughter, was won over by the Mughals and joined their service with his family.

Path to Sovereignity (1673-74)

Ali Adil Shah II died in November 1672 and his Sultanate of Bijapur collapsed into disorder with infighting among the factions of the nobility. Shivaji sent Pratap Rao into Bijapur to loot Hubli and other towns (June 1673). In October Shivaji himself, at the command of a 25,000 strong force, entered Bijapur and sacked many towns till December. In Maharashtra he gained the forts of Panhala and Satara by bribing their Mughal commandants—however the same attempt on Shivner, his birthplace, ended in failure.

Image Panhala Fort

The Bijapur forces retaliated on the Maratha ruler by attacking Panhala—at the same time (Jan 1674) Dilir Khan attempted to invade the fertile Konkan belt. But Shivaji, fighting a defensive campaign, broke all the roads and hill paths and blocked every mountain pass with stones—in attempting to storm one such pass Dilir Khan was defeated with the loss of 1000 of his Pathans.

By April 1674 the rising of the frontier Pathans had become so serious that Aurangzeb had to leave Delhi and take command of the operations. The best generals and men were called up for the emperor's support, including Jaswant Singh and Mahabat Khan. Dilir Khan too was called to northwest India with his force—leaving only Bahadur Khan in the Deccan.

Shivaji utilized the lull in fighting to crown himslef at Raigarh on 6 June 1674 with the title of Chhatrapati, or sovereign ruler.

next: southern campaign
Last edited by Airavat on 31 Oct 2007 04:42, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby surinder » 31 Oct 2007 10:13

This is the Historical Battles thread...for discussions on history please go to India Forum.

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Postby Airavat » 01 Nov 2007 04:16

Political geography of Peninsular India

Throughout the 17th century the central theme in the history of Peninsular India was the invasion, and rapid expansion, of the northern Mughal Empire. Deccan Sultanates like Khandesh and Ahmadnagar had been consumed in this advance—now only the Sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda remained—both ruled by Shias.

The Mughal territory in the peninsula covered the modern Indian states of Maharashtra, parts of Karnataka, and parts of Andhra Pradesh. Golconda territory was in the eastern parts of Andhra Pradesh while Bijapur lands covered Karnataka and portions of Maharashtra—into this equation came Shivaji. While these big powers clashed, he quietly built up his state along the western parts of Maharashtra, covering the Konkan coast, the Sahyadri range, and parts of the plateau land bordering the hills (called Desh in Marathi). This early expansion had come at the expense of the Sultan of Bijapur, overlord of Shivaji's father. Other minor powers with whom Shivaji came in conflict were the local Maratha, Koli, and Bhil states in the Sahyadri Hills, the Siddis of Janjira, and the Portuguese in Goa.

Map of the Deccan

Their ambitions curbed in the north by the Mughals, Bijapur and Golconda turned their energies south. This fertile land forming the modern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and southern Karnataka, was covered by the numerous fragments of the ancient Kingdom of Vijaynagar, ruled by petty Rajas, Polygars, and Nayaks. The Sultans themselves could not lead this war of expansion, because of their moral decay and the ever-present threat of a Mughal attack. Instead the south was invaded by officers of the two sultanates, one of these being Shahaji the father of Shivaji.

Maratha gains (1674-76)

The lavish coronation ceremony exhausted Shivaji's treasury and he needed money to pay his troops. At the height of the monsoon season in July 1674, when the Deccan armies usually went into cantonments, a force of 2000 Maratha cavalry attacked Bahadur Khan at his base in Pedgaon. The Mughal viceroy came out with his army and chased the wily Marathas—unknown to him Shivaji with the main force of 7000 horsemen swooped down on Pedgaon from another direction and thoroughly looted the Mughal army's camp. On this occasion Shivaji is said to have taken away almost a crore in booty and 200 fine horses meant for the emperor.

In October 1674 Maratha bands attempted to make another attack on Surat but their passage was blocked in the jungles and hills of Ramnagar by 3000 Bhils—the latter even spurned a bribe of 1 lakh rupees for giving safe passage to the Marathas.

That same month Shivaji roved through Baglana and Khandesh, defeating Qutbuddin Khan Kheshgi with the loss of 300 men. In February 1675 a Mughal force entered the Sahyadri Range and sacked the town of Kalyan, where they set fire to the houses, including those of the Ismaili Khoja traders.

Later that year Shivaji's men besieged the fort of Ponda—to gain time for this siege to be completed Shivaji opened negotiations with Bahadur Khan. The viceroy, tired of a relentless war with no hope of reinforcements, eagerly forwarded the terms of Shivaji's "submission" to Aurangzeb far in the northwest. The latter sent back a farman accepting these terms—but by that time (July) Ponda had been captured and Shivaji scornfully addressed the Mughal envoys holding out the farman, "What pressure have you succeeded in putting on me that I should seek peace with you? Go away quickly, or you will be disgraced!"

After the rains, Bahadur Khan, pressed by the infuriated Aurangzeb, again attacked Kalyan. In January 1676 a Maratha band created a diversion into Aurangabad but Bahadur chased them down with a light force—around this time Shivaji was struck by illness for three months. In May Moro Trimbak Pingle defeated the Raja of Ramnagar and captured Pindval and Panva.

Lure of the south (1676-78)

The eruption of a bloody faction fight at Bijapur created a new opportunity for Bahadur Khan—like all Mughal viceroys in the Deccan he relished the money that could be made in looting the settled lands of Bijapur than in trudging through the fortified hills of Shivaji's poorer realm.

Knowing this Shivaji made an agreement with Bahadur Khan—his envoy Niraji Ravji paid a large bribe (in secret) to the Mughal viceroy with another sum as tribute to Aurangzeb. Shivaji promised not to intervene in or take advantage of the projected Mughal invasion of Bijapur—on his part Shivaji asked Bahadur Khan for neutrality during his own campaign..... in the south!

With the main Mughal forces still engaged in the northwest, Bijapur in shambles, and Bahadur Khan preparing to loot that state, Shivaji had a golden opportunity of bypassing these powers and enriching himself in the chequered lands in the south. For this purpose, and unknown to Bahadur Khan, Shivaji also formed an understanding with the Golconda Sultan.

Even more than Bijapur, it was the weaker Sultanate of Golconda that feared annexation by the Mughals. Their Brahmin minister Madanna had already formed a subsidiary alliance with Shivaji for protecting Golconda from a Mughal invasion. Now Shivaji sought their cooperation in his project, promising them a portion of the loot gained. The Sultan Abul Hassan Qutb Shah agreed to pay Shivaji 4.5 lakh rupees a month, send a 5000 strong army under his sar-i-lashkar Mirza Muhammad Amin, and provide Shivaji with much needed artillery and munitions.

Shivaji set out from Raigarh in January 1677 and reached Hyderabad in February at the head of a 60,000 strong army (mostly cavalry). With his Golconda allies Shivaji entered the fertile plains of Tamil Nadu and in two months captured several big and small forts, including the famous Gingee and Vellore—this Gingee later became famous as the capital of the Maratha resistance to the Mughals. Shivaji also arranged for the erection of more forts in this region.

Image Gingee Fort

The financial results of this venture were considerable and are reported in the official exchanges of the English East India Company as follows, "With a success as happy as Caeser's in Spain, he came, saw and overcame, and reported so vast a treasure in gold, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and wrought coral that have strengthened his arms with very able sinews to prosecute his further designs."

Shivaji next entered the Mysore plateau in November 1677 where he conquered Sera, Kopal, Gadag, and Lakshmishwar. In January 1678 he had marched north into the Belgaum region....by this time the war against the frontier Pathans was over and Mughal forces were once again pouring into the Deccan.

next: the changing alliances

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Postby Airavat » 03 Nov 2007 04:06

Changing alliances (1676-77)

The nobility and army of Bijapur was divided into numerous factions—Afghans, Ethiopians, and Deccani Muslims at the capital—apart from the indigenous vassals like the Marathas and Berads in the coutryside. Of these the Afghans had grown to form almost half the Bijapur army—from constant migrations and desertion from Mughal service. The others naturally grouped together to fight these Afghans but were defeated in 1676—many of them took refuge with the Mughal viceroy Bahadur Khan.

Eager to win loot in the disturbed state, Bahadur crossed the River Bhima to attack the capital city in mid-1676 but did not gain much success. He was later bolstered by the forces of the Deccani Muslims—and it was at this time that he reached the understanding with Shivaji described above. With his base now secure Bahadur renewed his attack and captured Naldurg and Gulbarga by bribery.

Unfortunately the rapid approach of the main Mughal forces freed up from the campaign in northwestern India, particularly the mercurial Dilir Khan, spoiled all the viceroy's plans of enriching himself. As an Afghan himself, Dilir fraternized with Bahlol Khan, the leader of the Bijapur Afghans—these two proposed to Aurangzeb that with their united armies they would conquer Golconda and even crush Shivaji. Aurangzeb therefore recalled Bahadur Khan Kokaltash (Sept 1677)—the ex-viceroy's only lasting achievement was the re-naming of Pedgaon as Bahadurgarh after himself!

Dilir and Bahlol first tried to threaten Golconda—demanding the fantastic sum of 1 crore rupees and 10,000 horses from the Sultan as a fine for assisting Shivaji! The Afghan army entered Golconda in August 1677, fighting many inconclusive battles, and eventually being driven out from the sultanate. The severely ill Bahlol Khan died and his men broke out in mutiny for their pay.

Shivaji was then in the midst of his southern campaign. He had left behind armies under Moro Trimbak (in Desh) and Annaji Datto (in Konkan)—taking advantage of Dilir's disastrous retreat from Golconda, they raided Hubli in Sept 1677 and Nasik the following January.

Shivaji's return (1678-80)

Sultan Abul Hassan was quite dejected by the results of the joint Maratha-Golconda enterprise in the south. All the gains had been appropriated by Shivaji and not one of the captured forts was delivered to Golconda officers—so after repelling Dilir's Afghan invasion the Golconda Sultan arranged a peace between the Bijapuri factions. The Ethiopian Siddi Masaud would be the new regent, and he would pay off Bahlol's mutinous Afghan followers who would then be disbanded.

The Mughals too agreed to this change and signed a treaty with Masaud, making him promise that he would never make an alliance with Shivaji. A Golconda army then escorted the new regent to his capital (Feb 1678)—at this time Shivaji was passing through the western portions of Bijapur. Seeing his enemies bogged down, Shivaji prepared for one more assault on Shivneri in April 1678—here the Marathas attempted their favourite tactic of making a night attack and scaling the hill-side and the fort walls with rope ladders. But the Mughal fort commander, Abdul Aziz Khan, was vigilant and slew those soldiers who reached the top—the next morning he hunted out the remaining Marathas from the hill-sides and sent them back to Shivaji. Failure to liberate his birthplace was one of the great disappointments of Shivaji's life.

Image Shivneri Fort

By this time the political situation at Bijapur went through another twist—Dilir Khan accused Masaud of being secretly allied to Shivaji. He recruited the disbanded Afghan soldiers of the dead Bahlol and invaded Bijapur (Oct 1678).

But just then Shivaji suffered the second great disappointment of his life—from within his own family. His erratic and tempremental son Sambhaji had been confined to Panhala Fort for some offences. In Nov 1678 he escaped and joined the Mughal general Dilir Khan, who was then approaching Bijapur. Dilir Khan was ecstatic at gaining this important ally—in the words of a contemporary historian, "He felt as happy as if he conquered the whole Deccan! He beat his drums in joy and sent a report to the emperor."

By a royal farman Sambhaji was given the highest rank of commander of 7000, an elephant for his personal use, and the title of Raja like his father! Dilir then made peace with Bijapur and instead attacked and captured Shivaji's fort of Bhupalgarh in April 1679. In August he again attacked Bijapur—the Ethiopian regent Masaud sent an appeal to Shivaji, "The condition of this royalty is not hidden from you. There is no army, money, or ally for defending the capital and no provision at all. The enemy is strong and ever bent on war....we cannot defend the kingdom and its forts without your aid. Be true to your salt, turn towards us. Command what you consider proper, and it shall be done by us."

Image modern Bijapur

Shivaji responded to this appeal sending 10,000 Maratha cavalry (commanded by Anand Rao) and 2000 ox-loads of provisions to Bijapur—himself reaching Bijapur with another force (8,500 cavalry). These two divisions then attacked Mughal territory from diferent directions, plundering the estates of the Mughal officers, and raiding across a vast swathe of land.

Dilir retaliated by an attack on Maratha lands in the Miraj-Panhala belt, where Sambhaji promised that many local officers and men would join him. But Sambhaji wasn't aware of Dilir's fondness for ill-treating civilians—the village of Tikota was sacked and its inhabitants were enslaved. Again at Athni Dilir proposed to sell off the captured civilians into slavery—Sambhaji raised objections to this vile act but was over-ruled. Disgusted by the Mughal attitude the Maratha prince escaped to Bijapur on 21 November 1679 and was escorted by his father's men back to Panhala.

Ultimately Dilir's invasion of Bijapur failed and he took revenge on the vassal-states of Bijapur, slaying people indiscriminately, till he was defeated by the Berads of Sagar (1680).

Shivaji's men too, after initial successes, suffered defeats at the hands of the Mughals and were forced to retire to their forts—but now events in North India overshadowed the affairs of the Deccan.

Shivaji's last days

Aurangzeb's attempts to annex Jodhpur, the largest Hindu Kingdom in North India, and impose the jaziya tax on the Hindu population (April 1679), had caused the outbreak of a wider war against the Rajputs. Shivaji had been moved to send a letter to Aurangzeb protesting against the imposition of this bigoted tax.

But the war did not go well for Aurangzeb and he was forced to call on all the resources of the Mughal Empire—including the generals in the Deccan to his aid in Rajputana. By early 1680 the Mughal Deccan was empty of troops.

Shivaji used this lull in fighting to reason with his wayward son. He showed Sambhaji the list of all his forts, the numerous armies, and the rich treasury, all of which were a splendid base for a new Hindu Kingdom in the south after the break-up of Vijaynagar less than a century ago.

But there was also a conflict between his wives for the succession to the throne. With these domestic tensions plaguing him, Shivaji passed away on the 24th March, 1680.

Image

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Postby Airavat » 07 Nov 2007 03:29

The Battles for Kangra (1615-20)

A European traveler, William Finch, described the Kingdom of Kangra (Himachal Pradesh) in 1611—"Another great Raja, Tulluck Chand (Triloka Chand), whose chief city is Nagarkot....in which is a famous Pagoda (temple) called Je or Durga (Vajreshwari Devi) unto which worlds of people resort out of all parts of India.......This Raja is powerful, by his mountains situation secure, not once vouchsafing to visit She Selim (Mughal Emperor Jehangir)."

GC Barnes described the geography of Kangra, "In other parts of the Himalaya the effect of the snowy mountains is softened by intermediate ranges.......But in Kangra the lower hills appear like ripples on the surface of the sea, and the eye rests uninterrupted on the chain of mountains."

Image Kangra valley viewed from the Shivalik Hills

Image Kangra valley as viewed from the Dhaula Dhar

This is because of Kangra is a valley enclosed by the mighty Dhaula Dhar mountains on the northeast and the Shivalik Hills in the west. And it is the largest stretch of arable land in that rugged terrain——the other hill states command narrower valleys and thus have fewer agricultural resources. Kangra was then the leading state in the lower hills and faced the brunt of foreign invasions. The Hindu states further up in the mountains, and those across the Himalayas, were never even visited by any Mughal force.

Image View of the fertile Kangra valley

The formation of the Mughal Empire was an opportunity for these states to increase their power and wealth through the mansabdari system——with minimal resources and a low population base they were not a major threat to Mughal rule, their forces were weak in cavalry and artillery, but the tough terrain enabled them to resist the superior armies from the plains. Theoretically these were supposed to be "loyal vassals" but in relation between powers there is no permanent loyalty or vassalage——especially when the dominant power is foreign to the land and follows a bigoted creed.

The hill-states administered their states as per their ancient Hindu traditions, they built forts without seeking permission of their overlord, and freely fought wars against each other. Some of them even struck coins as a sign of independence—particularly Kangra.

Tribute was paid only under military pressure—the states were almost in a continual state of revolt against the Mughals. And when Mughal armies were engaged in some great campaign—say in the Deccan, Rajputana, or Afghanistan—the Rajas would collect their armies and descend on the Mughal Punjab, fighting the local garrisons, plundering the countryside, and sacking towns within their reach.

The Mughals too were not satisfied with the token submission of these states. Local Mughal officers from the Punjab would raid their territories for plunder, the Mughal emperors would intervene in disputes over the succession in one state, or in quarrels between two states, and make gains at their expense. Such to and fro battles continued throughout the period.

Campaign of Murtaza Khan (1615-17)

Jehangir ascended the Mughal throne in 1605 and spent the first part of his reign in continuing the war against the Rana of Mewar. As with sons who grow up in the shadow of highly successful fathers, Jehangir suffered from an inferiority complex. The fact that his father had failed to win the submission of Rana Pratap prompted Jehangir to go to extremes in gaining a token submission from his successor—apart from generous terms he even returned Chittor and other forts to the Rana, which had been won by his father after so many sacrifices of men and money.

After signing the peace treaty with Mewar (1615) Jehangir turned to the other place where Akbar's armies had failed—the fort of Kangra. The governor of Lahore province, Shaikh Farid, was honoured with the title of 'Murtaza Khan', given an elephant from the royal stables, and was commanded to besiege Kangra. Other officers were sent to accompany him, including Raja Suraj Mal Pathania, the ruler of a neighboring state in the hills.

Image Kangra Fort

The total strength of this army would have been 12,000 with adequate artillery and munitions. They were able to enforce a complete blockade of Kangra Fort—Triloka Chand had died in 1612 and his 4-yr old son Hari Chand had become the head of the Katoch Rajput clan and ruler of Kangra in those turbulent times. The infant's mother belonged to the neighboring state of Chamba and naturally men and material from that state aided the Katoch clan in resisting the invaders. Fortunately for the defenders Suraj Mal began hindering the besiegers by constantly making negative remarks about the impossibility of taking the fort, and demoralizing the soldiers with stories of diseases being prevalent in the region.

Murtaza Khan complained to the emperor and Suraj Mal Pathania was appointed to the Deccan campaign (1616). But that same year Murtaza Khan died without being able to complete his assignment—and on his death, Raja Sangram Dev of Jammu, descended on the undefended Punjab and looted the province. Murtaza's deputy marched against Sangram Dev who lured the enemy into his hills. The overconfident commander advanced recklessly but was cut off in a valley from the main Mughal army—Sangram Dev killed the commander with a well-aimed bullet, his force was slaughtered, and the rest of the Mughal army fled away like a leaderless flock of sheep.

When news of this disaster spread, the defenders of Kangra came out of the fort, scattered the remaining Mughal detachments, and destroyed their elaborate trenches and other siege works.

Campaign of Suraj Mal Pathania (1617-19)

In the Mughal records Suraj Mal is called the ruler of Mau and Paithan—evidently the Rajput clan-name Pathania is derived from this Paithan (modern Pathankot) on the plains. The fort of Mau was up in the hills—another fort named Nurpur in honor of Jehangir (whose first name was Nur-ud-din) later became the Pathania capital and gave its name to the entire state.

Image ruins of Nurpur

Suraj Mal Pathania had his conflicts with his neighbour Kangra, but he knew that the Mughal occupation of Kangra and the permanent posting of a Mughal army at that fort, would be detrimental to the independence of all the hill-states. It would lead to the eventual colonization of this Hindu territory by Muslims just as in the neighboring Punjab. Moreover how would the Rajas invade and sack the Mughal Punjab? How would they withold tribute with impunity?

For these reasons he had blocked the Mughal plans in the first campaign, and seeing Jehangir so hell-bent on conquering Kangra, cleverly offered to lead the campaign. The ruler of Chamba had died and no help would be forthcoming to Kangra from that side......Suraj Mal then promised to capture the fort in one year. Mohammad Taqi was created a co-commander of this new force and other Mughal contingents were added to Suraj Mal's charge (Sept 1617).

The lands beneath the fort where the Mughal army camped were given as jagir to Jehangir's Persian father-in-law. But once the camp was established, batteries raised, and trenches dug, Suraj Mal began quarreling with Taqi——he sent back a message complaining of Taqi's incompetence and requested another man to be sent in his place.

As soon as Taqi was recalled (1618) and the Pathania chief was in sole command, he proposed to move to his own kingdom for the coming monsoon, and gave orders for the Mughal contingents to retire to their estates and re-equip their armies. Suraj Mal's plan was to weaken the Mughal camp, plunder it and sack the lands assigned to Nurjehan's father, and take the loot to his own state. With these resources he would be able to resist any Mughal army sent against him.

This fine plan was upset by some of the Mughal officers besieging Kangra, led by Sayyid Safi of Barha, who became suspicious of the Raja and delayed carrying out his order. Suraj Mal then attacked the Mughal camp, killing the Sayyid and other commanders, their men fleeing for their lives. The Rajput chief thoroughly sacked the camp and the Mughal jagirs, carrying off all cash and booty to his own state.

The fighting alerted the Mughals much earlier than Suraj Mal had planned—Jehangir, then in Gujarat, appointed Rai-Raiyan Sunder Dass against Suraj Mal (Sept 1618). The Mughal armies entered Mau-Paithan state when the forts had not been readied for defence. It still took them several months to drive Suraj Mal and mis men from each of these strongholds. Suraj Mal escaped across the Dhaula Dhar mountains into Chamba state where he died sometime later (July 1619).

Campaign of Sunder Dass (1619-20)

As the title of Rai-Raiyan shows, Sunder Dass was not a Rajput. He had risen from a clerical position to the rank of military commander while serving Jehangir's son Khurram—even though he did not have the armed support of a warrior clan and his own soldiers were mostly Muslims from Khurram's army. The Mughal chronicler states, "Although his ancestor did not possess the title of Raja, and hereditary honours did not inspire confidence in his character, yet by his own meritorious service he obtained the title of Bikramjit and a mansab of 5000."

The Rai-Raiyan began his campaign against Kangra in Sept 1619. once again batteries were raised, guns planted and the fort bombarded. The process of digging covered trenches was begun anew—the trenches reached the fort walls where the mines were laid and fired. But each time the Rajput garrison repulsed the Mughals, repaired the breaches, and flooded the trenches. Artillery exchanges continued till the garrison ran out of munition supplies—but they still refused to surrender.

Sunder Dass had drawn a tight ring around Kangra—Suraj Mal's brother Jagat Singh was made the Raja of Mau-Paithan but only on condition of aiding the siege. The Raja of Guler was also persuaded into pitching his forces against his rival Kangra.....the siege now became a blockade. Deprived of all outside support the garrison ran out of the most important provision—food and fodder. But through the monsoon they survived by eating boiled grass! And when the grass ran out they stripped the bark from trees and ate that—but at long last they were faced with a choice of dying of starvation or embracing a warrior's death by charging straight into the enemy lines.

Sunder Dass was aware of this situation and wanted to avoid any needless casualties, so he opened peace talks. The suspicious Rajputs asked for terms. The young Raja Hari Chand was promised a portion of his kingdom along with land grants for the other Katoch chiefs, in return for the Mughal annexation of Kangra Fort and Town.

Image bird's eye-view

On 16 Novemeber 1620 the fort was evacuated by its defenders. Sunder Dass was given the honorific of 'Bikramjit' and the personal title of Raja for this achievement.

next: Mughal colonization of the Kangra valley fails.
Last edited by Airavat on 08 Nov 2007 01:56, edited 1 time in total.

Hari Sud
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Postby Hari Sud » 07 Nov 2007 04:08

Thanks Airavat

I am from Kangra. I like the history you presented.

Any word on the dissolution of Jaswan state by the British in 1850s. That is my Tehsil.

Thanks again.

Hari Sud


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