Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Vinchurkars of Nasik

The Vinchurkar family was founded by  a Deshastra Brahman named Vithal Shivdev .They were originally Danis of Saswada doing duty as recorders of grain and accepting a portion of the same as their Vatan.  Vinchur became their city of  residence and later  a princely state with more than 48 villages in Nashik,few in Pune in its Jagir. The annual revenue in 1750s  was more than 48 lacks.

 Vithal Shivdev was born in the year 1695 to Shivajipant . Shivajipant had three sons Aburao, Trinibakrao, and Vithal Shivdev, among these three Vithal Shivdev was the youngest . Vithal Shivdev had five sons , 4 from his first wife Rakhamabai, daughter of the Kulkarni of Kenjal and the 5th from his second wife, Yamanabai of Kalpi. The names of the five respectively were Shivaji Vithal, Narsinghrao Vithal, Malharrao Vithal , Bajirao Vithal and Khanderao Vithal.

Shivaji Vithal was the most beloved son of his father. According to the father's fond belief, Shivaji had brought good luck to him ever since his birth. He was short in stature and dark in complexion; but he had a generous, forgiving, and kindly nature. Even during his father's lifetime, he had wrested from the Nizam's possession Ankai, Rajdar and other forts. Shivaji Vithal succeeded his father . He accompanied Biniwale, Sindhia and Tukoji Holkar in the campaign to North India in 1769  . On his return, his health sank completely and he died in 1794.

Thus the ancestral estates and the title-deeds of the household passed on to Khanderao Vithal. Khanderao Vithal was invested with the Sardar's dignity of the Vinhoorkar family. Khanderao Vithal was a of tall stature, his complexion was fair to look upon and he looked a beautiful person. He did not lived long and died soon after he  assumed the dignity of the household.Narsingh Khanderao  son of  Khanderao Vithal succeeded his father at the tender age of 12.

It was during the minority of  Narsingh  Khanderao that young Sawai Madhavarao met his woeful end   in 1795 , he died without an heir. A power struggle ensued among the Maratha nobles for control of the Confederacy. The powerful general Daulat Rao Scindia and minister Nana Phadnavis   installed Baji Rao II as a Peshwa.After the death of Phadnavis  in 1800, Daulat Rao Scindia took complete control over the Peshwa's government. As Scindia started eliminating his rivals within the government, Peshwa Baji Rao II became concerned about his own safety. He turned to British resident Colonel William Palmer for help. Baji Rao II concluded the Treaty of Bassein in December 1802, in which the British agreed to reinstate Baji Rao II as Peshwa, in return for allowing in Maratha territory- a force of 6000 infantry troops complete with guns and officered by British, paying for its maintenance and accepting the stationing of a permanent British political agent (Resident) at Pune. Holkar and Sindhia resisted the British intrusion in Maratha affairs, which resulted in the Second Anglo-Maratha War of 1803-1805.

Narsingh Khanderao died without leaving an heir behind him. So the well-wishers and the old servants of the House found themselves face to face with adoption, the only expedient which would keep the family name and estates in tact.
The choice fell upon the son of Gopal Parshuram aged 10. Bajirao II examined the boy personally and being satisfied with him ordered the adoption to take place. To her adopted son, Keshavrao, his mother Ramabai gave a different name. She called him after the founder of the family, Vithal Shivdev. So he  became  famous in history as Vithal Narsinh.( Lord Narsinh being the family deity of Vinchurkar family .His name was used by many many member of this family)

Vithal Narsinh was asked to put down the rebellion of Trimbakji Dengale. This Dengale too was one of the unworthy favourites of Bajirao II ; but he had offended the English who had him placed under restraint. He managed, however, to make his escape and gathered about him a following of

Bhils, Arabs and Rohillas. It did not take Vithal Narsinh long to destroy the following of Dengale; but the man himself escaped. His residence, however, and property at Nimbgaon in Ahmednagar District was taken away.Vinchurkars  fought on the side of Peshwa  Bajirao II in  Third Anglo-Maratha War

Vithal Narsingh  had to put down another impudent robber by name Shurpakarna. He was a Bania by caste, but his venturesome deeds had become the talk of the country. Vithal Narsingh  destroyed his following and cut him down in person.

Vithal Narsingh    made some valuable additions to the ancient temple at Narsingpore built by his noble ancestor. Also he tried to remove the inconvenience of water from which the city suffered. He had water-works built at considerable cost to the west of the city ; but he did not survive to see them completed  . He died in 1836 at the age of 41, leaving behind him 3 sons Raghunathrao , Krishnarao and Madhavrao  and 3 daughters.

Raghunathrao  the eldest son of Vithal Narsingh was born in 1824 . At the age of three his mother died and a year after his marriage in 1835, his father died. In 1838 he had his brother Krishnarao married.Raghunathrao  was given the power to decide civil suits from, which there could be no appeal. He was allowed to have stamp-paper of his own signature and was further allowed to add the income of the same to his own treasury. After a time he was also given the authority to decide criminal suits. Subsequently he transferred all his power to his brother Krishnarao.
In 1858 Raghunathrao helped the British  Government in its attempt to introduce education into the country. He himself founded many schools in the villages included in his estate. Also at the same time he sanctioned the re-building of many a decaying and temple Chauki and gave orders for the construction of irrigation-works in districts, where the water supply was.found to be deficient. When the Duke of Edinburgh, second son to the Queen, visited India. In memory of his visit Raghunathrao built a tower at Poona and fixed on it a clock for public use.

 In 1854 Madhavrao  youngest  brother of Raghunathrao was invested with the dignity and authority of the Judge of the Vinchurkar State and it fell to him to decide all the civil and criminal suits of the state. He discharged all these duties satisfactorily ; the Officers of the British Government, who paid casual visits to Vinchur, commended highly the management of the Judicial Department of the Vinchurkor State.
In 1863 Madhawrao gave his daughter in marriage to the eldest son of the Chief of Bhor. The event was celebrated with great eclat; but it had an untoward result. For,
the bride died of cholera only a month after her marriage. The Chief of Bhor, however, after the lapse of 3 years married his son a second time to the daughter of Krishnarao ( elder brother of Madhavrao) .In the April of 1865  the British Government enrolled Madhawrao as a First-Class Sardar in recognition of his services during the period when he was a member of the Vatan-Commission.
In the year 1866 Madhawrao was appointed Regent of the Akkalkot State,. as the Chief of that State was found incompetent to carry on the Government. Accordingly he made over his magisterial power at Yeola to this brother Krisnarao and went off to take charge of his new appointment.

 On the occasion in the name of the Queen the Governor conferred on the Vinchurkar chief the title of Companion  of the most exalted order of the Star of India." In 1872 Lord Northbrook came over to Bombay, when the honour of being a Star of the Empire was coferred upon Raghunathrao. The Chief of Vinchur in his turn made him a present of 10,000 Mohurs, and on his way back to Calcutta received him with great honour at Manmad (the Railway Station). Raghunathrao 's younger brother Krishnarao died in September 1879. Next year  Raghunathrao's  wife breathed her  last breath . This was a severe blow to him as all hopes of issue, that Raghunathrao might have had, disappeared on the death of his wife
After the death of Raghunathrao, according to the orders of the Court of Directors passed in 1852 and 1856, half the Saranjam was resumed by Government and the other half was divided between the descendants of his two younger brothers (Krishnarao and Madhavrao) .

 Krishnarao's  first wife  gave him three sons : Bhagwantrao ,Narsingrao and Vithalrao. The eldest Bhagwantrao died in 1867. The second Narsingrao was a big- salaried officer in the Nizam. He died in 1888. The third Vithalrao.  continued throughout his life a victim of perverse fate. He died in 1904.Of his second wife, Krishnarao had one son, Ramrao alias Balasaheb Vinchurkar.

 Narsingrao, the eldest surviving  son of Krishnarao, got half the portion of the hereditary Saranjam and the other half was claimed by Ganpatrao, the eldest son of Madhavrao. He was  working as a First-Class. Magistrate at Vinchur and was nominated as an additional  Member of the Legislative Council by the Government of Bombay, when the Laud- Revenue Amendment Bill was passed in 1901. Ganpatrao attended the Coronation ceremony of his Majesty King Edward VII, on which occasion he was presented with a silver medal. Lakshmanrao, his younger brother, died in 1904. Lakshmanrao  left no issue behind him. Ganpatrao had a son named Narayanrao  Vinchurkar .

Narsingrao died in 1890 and the Saranjam  was transferred to his  only son Bhagwantrao . Bhagwantrao   died in 1895 and subsequently the Saranjam   passed to his uncle Vithalrao .Vithalrao  too died in 1905 and the  Saranjam descended to Vithalrao's half brother  Ramrao .Ramarao had two sons the eldest son Bhaskarrao   was given in adoption to Raghunathrao and the name was changed to Shivdevrao  and the younger ones name was  Chandrashekhar .Ramarao  also had  and a daughter who  was  given in marriage to the son of the Pant Sachiwa of Bhor .

 Vinchurkars were deeply religious people constructed many temples and renovated some of them all over Maharashtra. Their contributions to the Temples of Maharashtra deserves a mention here .Vitthal  Shivdev  renovated  The Laxmi Narsimha Temple  temple on  the  insistence  of  his  Guru  Amrutswami. located at the confluence of Bhima river and Nira river, at the south eastern tip of Pune district, in Indapur taluka.Shri Narsimha of Nira Narsingpur is the family deity of many people from Maharashtra and Karnataka, the prominent ones being the families of the current Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis and Maratha Sardar Vinchurkar. Vitthal Shivdev had provided ten thousand rupees for maintenance of the temple .

The Hall of mirrors ,Golden kalash of the Triymbakeshwar temple were built by  Vinchurkars .The Madhav Kund behind the mandir was built by the  Vinhoorkar  family.The main chariot/Rath was gifted by the Raghunathrao to the temple  in the year 1865 . Hundreds of acres of lands in Vinchur and  Trymbakeshwar were donated to Triymbakeshwar  Temple.The honor of first pooja of the Rath during the Rath Yatra on Tripur Poornima is with the descendants of Vinhoorkar family .

The original sabaaha mandap of Sapashrungi Devi Wani was also  built by Vinchurkars.Priceless jewellery including the Devis nose ring-Nath was gifted by the Vinchurkars.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Brief History of Pune

The original nucleus of Pune was located in the immediate vicinity of the confluence of the Mula and Mutha. River confluences have traditionally been considered sacred by the Hindus and to this fact, is attributed the original name of Poona: Sanskrit "Punyapur" (Cleanser), which changed into Marathi "Pune" and the British "Poona". ( Gadgil, 1952). Pune that has a long history can be traced from the copper plate inscriptions of the Rastrakuta kings in the 8th and 10th century. After the Rastrakutas, Pune came under the Yadav Kings of Daulatabad. During the period from sixth to thirteenth century, Pune served as head quarters for Hindu dynasties that controlled the West Deccan Region. Later in 1294 AD it came under Mohammedan rule with Muslim invasion of the Deccan. In the early thirteenth century it was said to be only a small village containing fifteen huts around the traditional temples. At the end of the thirteenth century the first traces of a market town called, 'Kasbe Pune' was developed by an Arab military governor (Burha Arab )whom  Allauddin Khilji had appointed .It was created by combining the villages of Kasarli and Kumbarli to its east Pune remained largely a Muslim garrison town for over three centuries .Kasba Peth was the first Peth to be established . He is also said to have built a fort along the Mutha river as his residential quarters. The fort was known as Kille Hissar .

In 1629, Siddhi Yakub and Ranjitrai were appointed in charge of the fort by Nizamshah. Kille  Hissar  fort  was  reserved  for  the  garrison  and  the  town's  Muslim  inhabitants.  Beyond  the  inner  wall,  an  outer  wall  surrounded  the   civilian   Hindu   population   consisting   of   artisans,   farmers   and   traders.   In   the   early l630s,  Pune  came  into  Shahaji's  (Shivaji's  father)  possession  ranted by the Muslim King of Ahmednagar. Soon  after,   his  enemies  attacked  it  and  Pune  was  burnt  and  razed  to  the  ground.  However,   Shahaji  made  Pune  as  seat  in  1636,  and  the  town  was  reconstructed  .   Small   suburban   settlements   emerged   outside  the   Kasba,   and   Pune   enjoyed  a  brief  period  of  peace  and  prosperity.  ( Joshi, 1971).
  The  kasba  was  surrounded  by  fringe  of  semi  rural  suburbs.  To  the  east  of  Kasba,  was  the  oldest  suburb  called  Shahapur  contained  cultivators,  gardeners,  artisans  and  petty  traders.  To  the  north  of  the  Shahapur  was  Astapur  containing outcaste  communities. The  southern  suburb  of Malkapur  was a settlement  of traders, the  eastern  riverbank  suburb  of  Murtazabad  was  predominated  by  Brahmins  and  to  the  south  east  of  Kasba  was  Mohiyabad,  added  to  it  during  the  visit  of  Moghul  Emperor  Aurangzeb to Pune about  1700 (Gadgil,  1952).

In 1708, the Moghul Emperor declared Shivaji's grandson Shahu as Maratha king at Satara.
Several districts including Pune were granted to Shahu by the Moghul Emperor as his autonomous territory. Shahu appointed a Brahmin as his Prime Minister or 'Peshwa" (a Persian title used by the Muslim kings of the Deccan; Poona Gaz, 11) to look after the administration at Pune. Later 'Peshwa" became hereditary and the second peshwas BajiRao I made Pune as his residence in 1720. In 1726, Shahu granted him the town as a part of his 'Jagir" and thereafter, Pune became the permanent official seat of the peshwas for nearly a century.

The  real  growth  of  Pune  dates  from  the  time  of  Peshwa  Bajirao  I,  when  a  systematic  expansion  of  the  town  was  under  taken.  In 1728, Bajirao Peshwa asked his sardars, Mahadjipant Purandare, Dadaji Nilkantha Prabhu, Sakharampant Bokil and Babuji Naik, to demolish the fort and construct houses for themselves.  Once  the  official  status  of  Pune  as  a  capital  city  was confirmed  by  the  Peshwas  and  his  nobles,  the  town  started  to  grow  organically  by accretion. The  growth  of  Kasba  took  place  through  the  addition  of  new  localities,  which  were  known  as  'Pur'  or  'Pura'  in the  early  stages  and  later  raised,  to  the  status  of  a  'Peth'  (i.e.  a  large  division  of  town).   Gradually  the  peths  grew  to  be  a  fairly  self-sufficient.   Often  a  peth  was  a  small  town,  centering  on  the  founder's  mansion  and  containing  one  predominant  temple,  in  addition  to  several  others. (Gadgil,  1952). The  old  suburbs  were  annexed  to the  Kasba  as its  new peths.
The  old  Muslim  names  of  the  peths  were  gradually  changed  to  the  Hindu  names  following the  days  of  the  week.  (Local  traditions  trace  the  origin  of  these  names  to  the customs  of  holding  weekly markets  in each  peth on a specific  day of the week.)

Former  Shahapur,  Astapur,  Mohiyabad,  Murtazabad  and  Malkapur  were  renamed  Somwar   (Monday),   Mangalwar    (Tuesday),   Budhwar    (Wednesday),   Shaniwar   (Saturday),  and Raviwar  or  Adiwar  (Sunday)  peths,  respectively.  A  new  peth  called  Shukrawar  (Friday)  was  eatablished  in   1734.  (Gadgil,  1952).  In  1739,  Pune  was  described  as  a prosperous,  crowded  and  well  built  town,  with  handsome  houses  and  an impressive  gun  factory.  (Poona gaz.,  HI: 405).  The Town  was further  extended  in  the  1750's  with  the  addition  of  five  new  Peths:  Guruwar  (Thursday)  or  Vetal  peth,  Ganesh  peth,  Ganj  peth,  Musafarjung  peth  and  Nihal  or  Nagesh  peth.   The  early  growth  of  Pune  was  southward,  bounded  as  it  was  by  the  river  on  the  north,  by  the  streams  Nagasari  and  Manik  nala  in  the  east  and  by  another  parallel  stream  in  the  west,  which  was  later,  diverted  and  has  disappeared  completely.  This  was  the  main  reason  for  the north-south  direction  of lines of communication  in the city.

The  physical  expansion  of  Pune,  which  had  so  far  been  largely  southward,  assumed  an  east-west  direction  in  the  late  1760's.  In  the  east,  the  space  between Nagzari  and  Manik  nala  was  being  brought  under  settlement.  Bhawani  peth  was  located  in  this  area  en  route  to  Sholapur,  in 1767.
  In  addition  to  the  Kasba and  the eleven  peths,  two  small  localities  called   Karanpura  and  the  Hashampura,  both  absorbed  into the  Sadashiv  peth  in  1769 came up. (Gadgil,  1952). Narayan  peth  was  also established  about  the  same  time  on a strip  of  land  along  the river,  to the west of
Shaniwar peth. (Poona Gaz.III: 280).
The  last  phase  in  the  extension  of  Pune,  which  transformed   it  into  a  city, began  in the  1780's  and  seems to have resulted  from  its growing  importance  and the concomitant  increase  in  trade  due  to  royal  patronage.  In  1781, Ghorpade  peth  was  founded   and  formed   the  southernmost  extension   of  the  city.    To  the  north  of  Bhavani   peth,  Raste   and   Nana  peths  were  established   during   1785  and   1790  respectively.  The  Kasba  and  its  seventeen  peths,  which  constituted  the  indigenous  city, almost  until  the end  of the 19th  century, were  in place  by  1790.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Grave of Mastani in Pabal

Located around 60 km from Pune, Mastani's 275-year-old tomb is housed in the middle of a courtyard, surrounded by a boundary wall and three doors. One end of the courtyard has an elevated platform, which was used for namaz. One of the walls has Mastani's painting, too. According to local villagers, Muslims call the place 'Mastani chi Masjid' and Hindus 'Mastani's Samadhi'.Mohammad Inamdar's family has been looking after the tomb for generations. They are said to have  accompanied Mastani to Deccan from Bundelkhand .In the middle of the courtyard is a stone tomb, where Mastani was buried over two centuries ago. Next to the tomb stands a diya kund (lamp), which Inamdar lights every day.Though initially she stayed at Mastani Mahal in Shaniwarwada, owing to the rift  in the family, Bajirao shifted her to a palace in Kothrud. Later, when conflicts failed to end, he shifted her to a palace specially made for her in Pabal. Today, there’s no sign of the said palace in the village. The money collected as tax from three villages – Pabal, Tendur and Loni – was used by Bajirao for maintenance of Mastani .

 Shamsher Ali Bahadur , son of  Bajirao I and Mastani moved to Banda and his descendants became the Nawabs of Banda , but lost their estate  when Nawab Ali Bahadur II, a descendent of Shamser, responded to a rakhi sent by Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi and fought against the British alongside her in 1858. Ali Bahadur II  was exiled to Indore after 1858. His grandson Nawab Saif Ali Bahadur had three wives and 13 sons and seven daughters . In 1947, Saif moved his large family to Sehore for financial prudence. The family home there is called Nawab Banda compound. Afaque Ali Bahadur is the eleventh son of  Saif Ali Bahadur .Afaque Ali Bahadur’s son, Umar Ali Bahadur, a 29-year-old sales professional in Bhopal, studied Sanskrit in school and can rattle off mantras with perfection.  As a devotional exercise as a child, he once filled up a book with repetitions of the Gayatri mantra in writing. He is the most enthusiastic of the young brigade about preserving family history.


While the grave was in complete ruins, the state archaeology department started restoration work after miscreants dug it up in 2009. Locals said the tomb was dug up when people tried to find a diamond that Mastani swallowed to commit suicide. Umar studied in Pune and spearheaded the restoration of  Mastani’s grave at Pabal. “When I was going to study in Pune University,” says Umar, “my uncle Jamshed told me to pay respects at our ancestor’s grave. I found that it had been vandalized.”  After completing his post-graduate diploma in marketing management, he joined a private company in Pune to pursue the restoration and beautification work of the grave. With the help of history researcher Pandurang Balkavde and office bearers of Srimant Bajirao Mastani Sanskrutik Pratishthan (SBMSP), a trust founded by villagers of the district in memory of Bajirao and Mastani, Umar carried out this project.He  along with an SBMSP delegation had presented a memorandum in this regard to district collector Vikas Desmukh and also had met Baramati MP Supriya Sule. On 18th  August 2016 , Umar Ali Bahadur with his younger brother  on birth anniversary celebration of Peshwa Bajirao I  inaugurated the grave and Bajirao Road in Pabal .“The day when the grave was restored, while the rituals were performed as per the Muslim tradition, the Hindus too joined in with garlands to place it on the grave,” says Baba Inamdar, nephew of the caretaker, who is also the vice-president of All India Muslim and OBC Organisation.

Irrespective of their beliefs, people from both the community visit Mastani’s grave with equal devotion. “Because Mastani was Maharaja Chhatrasal’s daughter, the Hindus of Pabal consider her as a Hindu. The Muslims think she was a Muslim as her mother, Ruhaani Bai, was a Persian-Muslim. Despite their respective faiths, there’s never been a dispute in the village on this matter,” says Sanjay Ghodekar, the principal of a Padmani Jain Mahavidyalaya in Pabal, who has done M.Phil on Mastani as a subject in 1997 based on his six-year long extensive research.

A few decades ago, a sword was found in the village. Assuming that it may have once belonged to Mastani’s security guards, it was kept safely in the office of gram panchayat .The village remembers the beautiful queen in many other ways. Padmani Jain Mahavidyalaya takes out an annual magazine as a tribute to Mastani. Besides, the college also organises a state-level debate completion named Bajirao Mastani Debate Competition which sees participation of students from across the state.

Saturday, 9 June 2018


A zamburak (Persian: زمبورک‎) was a specialized form of self-propelled artillery from the early modern period. The operator of a zamburak is known as a zamburakchi. The weapon was used by the Gunpowder Empires, especially the Iranian empires of the Safavid dynasty and Afsharid dynasty, due to the ruggedness of the Iranian Plateau, which made typical transportation of heavy cannons problematic. A zamburak consisted of a soldier on a camel with a mounted swivel gun (a small falconet), which was hinged on a metal fork-rest protruding from the saddle of the animal. In order to fire the cannon, the camel would be put on its knees. The name may be derived from Arabic zanbūr "hornet", possibly in reference to the sound earlier camel-mounted crossbows made. The mobility of the camel combined with the flexibility and heavy firepower of the swivel gun made for an intimidating military unit, although the accuracy and range of the cannon was rather low. The light cannon was also not particularly useful against heavy fortifications.They were usually never fired while the camel was standing or in motion; doing so would minimize accuracy and could injure the camel.  Rather the camel would kneel when firing.  Due to their small cannon size they were limited in range, accuracy, and destructiveness, however mounted to a mobile platform, they were excellent skirmishing weapons. 

The zamburak became a deadly weapon in the eighteenth century. The Pashtuns used it to deadly effect in the Battle of Gulnabad, routing a numerically superior imperial Safavid army. The zamburak was also used successfully in Nader's Campaigns, when the Shah and military genius Nader Shah utilized a zamburak corps in conjunction with a regular artillery corps of conventional cannon to devastating effect in numerous battles such as at the Battle of Damghan (1729), the Battle of Yeghevārd, and the Battle of Karnal.

In Third Battle of Panipat Sadashiv Rao Bhau had the best artillery in the country ( 200 heavy guns ) along with the English, and had French-trained gunners and musketeers who could fight in European fashion. On the other hand, the Afghans under Ahmed Shah Abdali didn’t have an impressive field artillery; but they had a brutally effective mobile artillery mounted on camels. The zamburak cannon were deployed in large numbers to fire at the enemy and change position, thereby harassing him more . the Afghans deployed 3,000 camels equipped with jamburaks. On Abdali’s side, the center was commanded by Shah Wali Khan, his Wazir, with the royal cavalry. With him were 2000 Zamburaks, which were small cannons placed on camels, and were light and more mobile than the static maratha cannons.

Muhammad Jafar Shamlu, a camp follower of Shah Pasand Khan said Vishwas Rao was hit by a jamburak (swivel gun) shot on the head and died

Friday, 8 June 2018

Vithal Shivdev Vinchurkar

Vithal Shivdev was a Deshastra Brahman belonging to Vinchurkar family . They were originally Danis of Saswada doing duty as recorders of grain and accepting a portion of the same as their Vatan. Vithal Shivdev was born in the year 1695 to Shivajipant . Shivajipant had three sons Aburao, Trinibakrao, and Vithal Shivdev, among these three Vithal Shivdev was the youngest . At a young age Vithal Shivdev was thrown out of his family , he then fixed his residence at Madhe, situated three miles from Satara. There he devoted himself to a saint by name Amritswami and upon the retirement of Amritswami he offered his single-minded devotion to his successor, Pawanbawa. This latter recommended Vithal Shivdev to one Bakshi, a respectable servant of Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj. Bakshi employed him in his household to superintend management of his horse. The bravery shown by this young boy on one hunting expedition of Sahuji Maharaj compelled the chatrapati to take him into his services where he continued to stow himself deserving of the favour and rose to be the commandant of ten horsemen
At the age of 21 he married the daughter of the Kulkarni of Kenjalgaon. In 1720 Chimnaji Appa was despatched to put down the rebellious Nabab Siddi-Sada of Janjira . Vithal Shivdev accompanied Chimnaji Appa in this expedition. Greatly he distinguished himself in the fight and cut down the Nawab himself. As a result he was raised -to the command of the horse he brought over from the enemy. On personally hearing the tale of the exploit from Chimnaji Appa, Shahu had his services transferred for the Peshwa’s benefit. In 1730 Vithal Shivdev assisted Chimnaji Appa in the campaign in Malwa against Dayabahadur, the new Subhedar of Malwa. In 1731 Sayaji Gujjar commanded the expedition against Gadhemandala. Vithal Shivdev was ordered to go out in his aid. Faithfully be performed the task and captured the fort. As a reward he was raised to the command of an independent battalion. Also it was ordered henceforward that the expenses of Vithal Shivdev, private and those incurred for the maintenance of the force under should be met from the Peshwa treasury. In 1739 Vithal Shivdev formed one of the band of valorous Lieutenants, who helped the Chmnaji Appa to capture the fort of Bassein .
In the Gujrat campaign of Raghunathrao of 1753 Vithal Shivdev accompanied him and thence to North India but in the course of time his first wife died and he married a second time at Kalpi .Towards the end of 1754 Peshwa Balajirao ordered Raghunathrao to capture Gwaliour which was then under the rule of the Jat king of Gohad . Raghunathrao entrusted this job to Vithal Shivdev . In January 1755 Vithal Shivdev attacked Gohad , Raja Bhimsingh Jat , the king of Gohad left Gohad and took shelter in the fort of Gwaliour which was besieged by Vithal Shivdev . Army and guns were requisitioned from Delhi . Bhimsingh Jat was defeated and beheaded and the fort was conquered . Bhimsingh’s son Balram , succeeded to the throne of Gohad . Rupram Kataria effected an agreement between the new Jat King and Raghunathrao on 7th June 1755 . According to the agreement the fort of Gwalior came into Maratha possession along with 19 cannons. The territories annexed by Vithal Shivdev were to be returned to Jat King Balram except Gwaliour . Gopalrao Barwe was appointed as the incharge of this fort who took the charge on 22nd June .
When Raghunathrao went to north India in 1757 Vithal Shivdev led his troops of 4,000 horsemen . He was among the best general of Peshwa Balajirao and a close man of Raghunathrao. Though not on good terms with Bhausaheb . About the middle of May Vithal Shivdev along with Sakharam Bapu, Gangadhar Chandrachud (Holkar’s diwan), Antaji Manakeshwar and 20,000 troops were sent to recover Maratha possessions in north India .They first came across Agra which was a Maratha possession. The subahdari of Agra was given by the Peshwa to Malharrao Holkar who nominated his close friend Vital Shivdev as his deputy there (27 May ). Suraj Mal who had usurped the Maratha lands in these regions agreed to pay the outstanding balance of the indemnity of 1754 if allowed to hold these tracts When the Marathas reached Delhi , Vithal Shivdev aggressively attacked Delhi and it was he who arrested Najib Khan . For this achievement was rewarded by the Emperor with dresses and ornaments and given the title of Umdat-ul-mulk and a jagir near Nasik. On 10th May 1758 Vital Shivdev was appointed as the faujdar of Saharanpur replacing Najib Khan by Wazir Imad-ul-Mulkh.
Below one can find these Royal farmans .

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Kailash Mehendale : A desendent of Balwantrao Mehendale

Kailash Mehendale a man in his fifties living in Pune is the 10th generation descendant of Balwantrao Mehendale . I met him on my personal visit to Pune . Kailashji took me to his ancestral house (Wada) at Appa Balwant Chowk . Appa Balwant Chowk (also known as A.B.C.) is a popular crossroads in the Shaniwar Peth neighborhood of Pune, India that is particularly noted for the concentration of bookshops in the area.On August 9, 1942, two people were shot and killed by police at A.B.C. after a teenager raised the Indian flag in defiance of the British rule. That triggered anti-colonialist violence including a theatre bombing the 75th anniversary of which was marked in January 2018.

Mehendale family lost a major portion of his house in the name of road widening . Earlier his house used be till half of the present road and there was an underground tunnel from Shaniwarwada to his Wada in Peshwa's times . While doing the construction activities in his ancestral house many swords , muskets and armors were found .

Balwantrao's rusted armor was about seven feet long . He also said that the Barah bhai meeting took place in his wada only .

 Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal, popularly known as Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal or just ‘Mandal’, is an Indian institute providing resources and training for historical researchers.The institute was founded in 1910 by the veteran Indian historian Vishwanath Kashinath Rajwade and Sardar K. C. Mehendale. The Mandal was founded on 7 July 1910 by the veteran Indian historian Vishwanath Kashinath Rajwade and Sardar Khanderao Chintaman Mehendale at Sardar Mehendale’s palace at Appa Balwant Chowk in Pune.To commence the activity Rajwade read an essay in the presence of the only listener Sardar Mehendale. Later on, the Mandal moved to its present building located in Sadashiv Peth area in the heart of the city.

When Peshwa Madhavrao was returning from Parvati Hills to Shaniwarwada seated on  an elephant . Peshwa fell asleep and was about to fall from his ambari  on the way just then Appa Balwant son of Balwantrao saw this and pulled him by his armor and thus saved his life . Peshwa in reward of this act named that chowk as Appa Balwant Chowk.

Kailashji then took me to Shaniwarwada  . The Shaniwar Wada was originally the seven-storied capital building of the Peshwas of the Maratha Empire.Shaniwarwada was completed in 1732, at a total cost of Rs. 16,110, a very large sum at the time. When attacked by the British Artillery 90 years later, all the top six stories collapsed leaving only the stone base . Balaji Pant Natu who belonged to the Chitpavan Brahmin community of Maharashtra coming from the powerful Natu family in Pune got the doors of Shaniwar Wada opened in absense of Peshwa .When the British forces entered Shanivar Wada on November 17, 1817, Natu unfurled the Union Jack over the building.On February 27, 1828, a great fire started inside the palace complex. The conflagration raged for seven days. Only the heavy granite ramparts, strong teak gateways and deep foundations and ruins of the buildings within the fort survived.

Shaniwarwada has five gates:

    Dilli Darwaza

    The Dilli Darwaza is the main gate of the complex, and faces north towards Delhi. Chhatrapati Shahu is said to have considered the north-facing fort a sign of Baji Rao's ambitions against the Mughal empire, and suggested that the main gate should be made chhaatiiche, maatiche naahi! (Marathi for of the chests of brave soldiers, not made of mud).

    The strongly built Dilli Darwaza gatehouse has massive doors, large enough to admit elephants outfitted with howdahs (seating canopies). To discourage elephants charging the gates, each pane of the gate has seventy-two sharp twelve-inch steel spikes arranged in a nine by eight grid, at approximately the height of the forehead of a battle-elephant. Each pane was also fortified with steel cross members, and borders were bolted with steel bolts having sharpened cone heads. The bastions flanking the gatehouse has arrow-loops and machicolation chutes through which boiling oil could be poured onto offending raiders. The right pane has a small man-sized door for usual entries and exits, too small to allow an army to enter rapidly. Shaniwar Wada was built by contractor from Rajasthan known as 'Kumawat Kshatriya' belongs to Kumhar Sub-caste, after completing construction they were given the name 'Naik' by the Peshwa.

    Even if the main gates were to be forced open, a charging army would need to turn sharply right, then sharply left, to pass through the gateway and into the central complex. This would provide a defending army with another chance to attack the incoming army, and to launch a counterattack to recapture the gateway.

    As the ceremonial gate of the fort, military campaigns would set out from and be received back here, with appropriate religious ceremonies.

    Mastani Darwaja (Mastani's Gate) or Aliibahadur Darwaja, facing north

    This gate was used by Bajirao I's wife Mastani while travelling out of the palace's perimeter wall.

    Khidki Darwaja (Window Gate), facing east

    The Khidki Darwaja is named for an armoured window it contains.

    Ganesh Darwaja (Ganesh Gate), facing south-east

    Named for the Ganesh Rang Mahal, which used to stand near this door. It could be used by ladies at the fort to visit the nearby Kasba Ganapati temple.

    Jambhul Darwaja or Narayan Darwaja (Narayan's Gate), facing south

    This gate was used by concubines to enter and leave the fort. It obtained its second name after Narayanrao Peshwa's corpse was removed from the fort for cremation through this gate.

I find it hard that a person with such a glorious history is living such a simple life in Pune.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Shivaji’s Letter to Jai Singh

Shivaji’s Letter to Jai Singh

Shivaji’s letter to Jaisingh.
1.    O Sardar of Sardars, King of Kings, Manager of the mango-trees of the garden of Bharat.

2.    0 piece of the heart and consciousness of Ramchandra, the Rajputs hold up their heads owing to thee.

3.    The grandeur of the Empire of Babar’s dynasty is rendered all the more powerful owing to thee and it is its good fortune to receive thy help.

4.    0 Jay Shah, whose fortune is ever young and whose intellect ever old, be pleased to accept the salutations and blessings of Shiva.

5.    May the Creator of the world protect thee. May He show thee the path of Religion which is Justice.

8. I have heard that thou hast come to make battle upon me and to subjugate the Deccan.

7.    Thou desirest in this world to make thy face glow with blood drawn from the hearts and the eyes of the Hindus.

8.    But thou knowest not that thy face is painted in black, because owing to it, this country and religion are in danger.

9. If thou oonsiderest for a moment or givest thought to thy hands and thy strength,

10.    Then thou wilst discover whose blood lends the glow and what will be the colour of the glow in this world and the next.

11.    Further, if thou hadst come of thy own accord to conquer the Deccan, my eyes and my head could have been laid on earth for thee to tread upon.

12.    I would have marched with my whole force at the stirrup of thy horse and would have yielded up to thee the country from one end to the other.

13.    But thou hast in fact come to conquer at the instance of Aurangzeb and under the instigation of those who desire to destroy the Hindus.

14.    I do not know how I shall deal with thee. If I join thee, there is no manliness in it.

15.    For, brave men are not time servers. The lion pursues not the policy of the fox.

10. Or, if I lift up the sword and the axe, then the Hindus on both sides will suffer.

17.    The greater sorrow is that my sword, which thirsts’for the blood of the Mussalmans, should be drawn from the scabbard for some other purpose.

18.    E the Turks had come to fight this battle, then indeed the prey would have come to the lion in its lair,

19.    For, they are Rakshasas in the guise of men devoid of justice ang religion, and sinful

20.    When supremacy could not be secured hy Afzul Khan, and Shaista Khan proved no better,.

21.    Thou art engaged to fight me because he (Aurangzeb) himself is not fit to bear battle with me.

22.    He desires that no strong persons should be left surviving among the Hindus in this world,

23.    That lions may fight among themselves and disabled, so that the fox may rule the forest.

24.    How is it that his secret policy is not transparent to thy brain? It is clear that thou art under the influence of his magic spell.

25.    Thou hast seen much good and evil in this world; thou hast reaped both flowers and thorns in the garden of life.

23. Is it not meet that thou shouldst fight us-people and bring the heads of Hindus to death?

27.    After having attained ripe wisdom in action, do not then exhibit (the folly of) youth, but remember the saying of Saadi:

28.    “The horse cannot be ridden on all the roads; sometimes discretion is the better part of valour”. (Lit. sometimes it is more fitting to throw down the shield and fly).

29.    Tigers attack the deer and other animals They do not indulge in a fratricidal war with lions.

30.    Or, if thy cutting sword has true water, if thy prancing horse has true spirit,

31.    Then do thou attack those who are the enemies of religion and abolish Islam root and branch.

32.    Had Dara Shekoh been King of the country, he would have treated his people with kindness and favours.

33.    But thou deceivedst Jaswantsing; thou didst not first consider the high and the low in thy heart.

34.    Thou art not satisfied with having played the fox and hast come to fight the battle with the lions.

35.    What dost thou get from this running about and labouring under the Sun? Thy desires head thee to a mirage.

30. Thou art even as a mean creature who exerts his utmost and captures a beautiful damsel,

37.    But, instead of tasting the fruit of that garden of beauty himself, delivers it into the hands of his rival.

38.    How canst thou feel proud at the mercy of that mean man ? Dost thou know how the services of Joharsing were rewarded ?

39.    Dost thou know by what means he desired to bring calamities to Prince Chhatra Sal ?

40.    Dost thou know what calamities that sinful man has left inflicted on other Hindus also ?

41.    I believe that thou hast attached thyself to him and hast laid down for him the self-respect of thy family.

42.    But what is the value of this net in which thou art caught for the sake of the Rakshasa? This bond that binds thee is not stronger than the cord of the paijama that you wear.

48. In order to attain his ends, be hesitates not to shed the blood of his brother, or to take the life of his father.

44.    Or, if thou appealest to loyalty, remember thou also thy conduct in reference to Shah Jahan.

45.    L’ fate has endowed thee with any intellect or if thou seekest to pride thyself on thy manhood or manliness,

46.    Then dot hou heat thy sword at the fire of distress of th.9 land thou wast born in, and wipe off the tears of the unhappy ones who suffer from tyranny.

47.    Tbis is not the time for fighting between ourselves since a grave danger faces the Hindus.

48.    O1 ir children, our country, our wealth, our God, our temples and our holy worshippers,

49.    Are all in danger of existence owing to his mact inations and the utmost limit of suffering, that can be borne, has been reached.

50. If the work goes on like this for some time, there will not remain a vestige of ourselves on the earth.

51. It is a matter of supreme wonder that a handful of Mussalmans should establish supremacy over this vast country.

52- This supremacy is not due to any valour on their part. See, if thou hast eyes to see.

53.    See, what policy of duplicity he plays with us, how differently he colours his face from time-to time.

54.    He claps our own chains to our feet; h& cuts our heads with our own swords.

55.    The most strenuous efforts should be made at this time to protect Hindus, Hindusthan find the Hindu Religion.

56.    I desire to make an effort and bring about stability and strive my utmost for the sake of the country.

57.    Polish thy sword and thy intellect and prove thyself a Turk to the Turks.

58.    If thou joinest hands with Jaswantsing and divestest thy heart of the layers of trickery,

59.    And if thou bringest about’ unity with the Raj Rana (of Mewar), then indeed there is hope for great things.

60.    Do you all rush and fight from all sides; tramp down that serpent under the rock;

61.    So that he may for some time l occupy himself with ruminating on the consequences of bis own actions; and may not further entangle the Deccan in his meshes;

82. And I may in the meantime with the aid of these and other lanoe bearing heroes make away with the other two Sultans (of Bijapur and Golkonda);

03. So that I may rain the shower of swords from the thundering clouds of my army on the Mussalmans;

64. So that, from one end of the Deccan to the other, I may wipe out the name and very vestige of Mahomedanism;

65/66. Thereafter, with the assistance of wise statesmen and the army, like the river swirling and foaming as it emerges from the mountains of the Deccan, I may come out into the plains;

67.    And forthwith present myself for service with you, and then after that hear you render your accounts.

68.    And then we – four – may again inaugurate a grim war and devote the battlefield to it;

69.    And then the tide of our armies may be made to reach the crumbling walls of Delhi,

70.    So that nothing may be left of the Aurang (throne) or the Zeb (lust), so that nothing may remain of the sword of his tyranny or the net of his policy of duplicity or dissimulation;

71.    So that we may flow a river full of pure blood, and with that we may satisfy the souls of our ancestors; and

72. With the grace of God, the Just and the Giver of life, we shall entomb him (Aurangzeb) in the bowels of the earth.

78. If two hearts combine, they can burst a mountain, they can dispel and scatter the whole armies.

74.    This is not a very difficult task, we only want good hearts, good eyes, and good hands. These are the really necessary things.

75.    I have much to tell thee in regard to this matter which cannot in sooth be put on paper.

78. I am desirous of having a talk with thee so that no unnecessary pain or labour may be involved.

77.    If such is thy desire, I shall come to thee and hear what thou hast to say.

78.    Thy maiden of speech may open her mouth in privacy, and I may take guard against the words being divulged;

79.    So that we put our hands to the plough of effort and practise some incantation on that mad Bakshasa.

80.    I swear by my sword, by my horse, by my country, and by my religion, that no harm shall befall thee in this.

81.    Or, we may find out some other way to attain our object and make our names in this world and the next.

82.    Be not suspicious owing to the incident of Afzul Khan—the report spoke not truly.

83.    He had secretly kept twelve hundred warlike Habsee cavalry to accomplish my death.

84.    Had I not raised my arm against him first, who would have written this letter to you ?

85.    But I do not believe any such thing of you; there is no inherent enmity between us.

88. Or, if I receive the desired reply from thee, I shall present myself before thee alone at night,

87.    And I will show thee the secret letters which I cleverly extracted from Shaista Khan,

88.    So that I may remove all doubts from thy mind and rouse thee from thy sweet sleep;

89.    I may show thee the true result of thy dreams and then receive any answer;

90.    Or, if this letter does not appeal to thee, then indeed I am ready with my sword to deal with thy army.

91.    To-morrow, the moment the sun shall conceal his face behind the evening cloud, the orescent moon of my sword shall flash forth. That is all. God be with thee.

Reproduced from the Shivaji Souvenir 3-5-1927. pages 172 to 178, with the permission of Mr- G. S. Sardesai the reputed author of the Riyasats and Editor of the Shivaji Souvenir.