Tanaji Malusare is known for his role in the Battle of Sinhagad (1670), which he fought under the Maratha flag against the Mughals, losing his life in the campaign.
What was the Battle of Sinhagad, and why is Tanaji Malusare remembered?
- In 1665, as Mughal forces led by the Rajput commander Jai Sinh-I besieged Shivaji at the Purandar fort in Deccan, the latter was forced to sign the Treaty of Purandar.
- Under the agreement, Shivaji had to hand over important forts to the Mughals, including Purandar, Lohagad, Tung, Tikona, and Sinhagad (then called Kondhana- Known for Critically endangered Mammal Konadana Rat).
- As part of the treaty, Shivaji had agreed to visit Agra to meet the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, which he did in 1666.
- Here, Shivaji was placed under house arrest, but was able to make a daring escape back to Maharashtra. Upon his return, Shivaji began to recapture the forts ceded to the Mughals under the treaty.
- To retake Kondhana (Sinhagad), the Marathas deputed Tanaji Malusare, a trusted general of Shivaji, and his brother Suryaji. The fort at the time was held by the Mughal commander Uday Bhan Rathod.
- In the early hours of February 4, 1670, Tanaji with around 300 soldiers successfully captured the fort, but lost his own life.
- It is said “A large number headed by Suryaji remained concealed near the main gate and Tanaji himself with his selected followers scaled the walls by means of an iguana and opened the gates by putting to the sword the few sentries that came out to oppose him… “
- A sanguinary action ensued in which both sides lost heavily including their leaders Tanaji and Uday Bhan.
- The fort was captured and a huge bonfire announced the result to Shivaji at Rajgad.
- Shivaji, who is known to have grieved Tanaji’s loss heavily, had the fort Kondhana renamed ‘Sinhagad’ in the general’s honour (‘Sinh’ meaning ‘lion’).
- A bard named Tulsidas was commissioned to write a ‘powada’ (ballad) for Tanaji, and this literary work continues to be popular in Maharashtra.