The recapture of Kondhana by Tanaji Malusare is a tale of bravery that testifies as to why and how Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj succeeded in his mission of ‘Hindavi Swaraj’. His able leadership received the valorous backing of some of the best Maratha generals in his camp, who were ready to sacrifice their lives if need be, due to which even the most difficult mission appeared easy. The fort of Kondhana was renamed Sinhagad to honour the sacrifice of Tanaji Malusare.
Shivaji Maharaj was aware of the strategic importance of forts which were central to his war strategies against the Mughals. Hence, he brought many forts under his control and repaired and maintained them with utmost care. He had to surrender some of the strategically important forts under the ‘Treaty of Purandar’ to Mirza Raja Jai Singh in June 1665.
One among the several he surrendered under the treaty was the fort of Kondhana near Pune, later known as Sinhagad. It was also a fort of great significance due to its ideal location; at the centre of a series of other forts such as Torna, Purandar and Rajgad among others.
Of the several battles fought here, Sinhagad is remembered for the epic battle of March 1670 which was launched by the Marathas, under the command of Tanaji Malusare, to recapture the fort from Mirza Raja Jaisingh’s fort-keeper Udhaybhan Rathod. Udhaybhan was Jaisingh’s brother and a true Rajput. Hence, launching an offensive against him was no easy feat.
The Marathas were alive to the fact that they would have to give their all if they had to recapture the fort. Tanaji surveyed the area for several days before planning and making his moves. The Sinhagad campaign was the first offensive launched by Shivaji Maharaj to regain his territories surrendered to the Mughals under the ‘Treaty of Purandar’ and in a way, it set the ball rolling for the Maratha offensive.
The battle itself seems to be a scene straight out of movies, only that it was much better than the ones we see in movies and real-life daredevilry. Udhaybhan had 5000 soldiers under his command and only the steepest part of the fort was left unguarded because they thought no one would risk climbing the steep cliff.
Tanaji, of course, had other plans and unique ones at that. His recce of the area had revealed that the Southside, although the steepest, was his safest bet to get into the fort. He not just made a strategy to climb the steep cliff but decided to do that in the dead of a moonless night. If climbing the cliff in itself was not risky Tanaji’s plan of doing so at night would double the risk for his contingent of 1000 Mavals. But Marathas loved challenges and at succeeding in them too!
He tied a rope around the waist of the pet monitor lizard Yashwanti and used it as leverage to climb the steep vertical cliff. However, before all the soldiers could climb up, the rope gave way. Ultimately Tanaji had only 342 soldiers with him. He lodged the attack in the dead of the night and took the enemy by surprise.
After a fierce battle, in which both Tanaji and Udhaybhan were killed, the Marathas were able to take control of the fort. Tanaji’s sacrifice prompted Shivaji Maharaj to remark ‘Gad aala pan sinh gela’ (we got the fort but lost the lion). A bust of Tanaji Malusare has been erected at Sinhagad to honour his bravery.
Chhatrapati was one of the most valorous kings in the history of Bharat who kept the Mughals at bay and gave sleepless nights to Aurangzeb with the help of his generals who were equally valorous and committed to the cause. Hence, no obstacle or mission, however dangerous, could stop them. Tanaji’s Sinhagad battle is one such mission that shows no obstacle is insurmountable to the determined.
(Featured Image Source: Jagran Josh)