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The Last campaign of Aurangzeb and His Ultimate Defeat

So, this point of time Aurangazeb decided, I’m going to embark on the last campaign, going to take all the Forts and established Mughal rule in Western Maharashtra. And as a result, in 1700, at the age of 85, Aurangazeb embarked on his last campaign of his life. It was supposed to be an easy campaign for the Mughals, where they were going to capture all the forts and since there was a 25-year-old woman at the helm, nothing going to come from the Marathas. He couldn’t have been more wrong because he (fought), he used to go to one fort fight fightfight, but Maharani Tarabai was herself leading the forces. Many letters sent to these Killdeers who were fighting, that they were doing a very good job of fighting off the Mughals. These were, these places were fought for a year or so, eventually like they followed the policy earlier on, they would sell that Fort, to the Mughals for very, very high prices because Aurangazeb was on hell bent on of taking the Forts by anyhow you got them, whether you got them, by paying money. So, this actually is Aurangzeb’s last shopping list.

He gave to 2 lakh rupees at Vishalgad, he gave 50,000 for Sinhagad, he gives 70,000 for other Forts, at a point of time were, three or four rupees was the monthly salary for average soldier. 50,000 was a huge amount, for which they could easily raise an army to capture the fort again, which they did. In fact, at Rajgad, Mughals have managed to capture the outer boundaries of the place but the Bālēkillā, the citadel, which is the main part of the fort continued to fight 15 days after that. And slowly and surely by giving huge amounts of money, he was able to take all these forts, with the exception of Torna. Torna is the only place where, Maratha Saradars in Aurangzeb’s army, managed to put rope ladders, managed to climb up the fort, the way ChhatrapatiShivaji’s soldiers did and captured that Fort. All other places were purchased, by paying huge amounts of money and so this time period was laying siege to (all the) various places and taking them.

Marathas for that part were leading campaigns in North India.Nemaji Shinde, in this point of time in 1703 led a campaign to North of Bhopal, to a place called Sironj, it was the northernmost expansion of the Marathas, at that point of time. It was completely impossible to think that, when whole of the Mughal Army 5 lakh of them had come to Aurangabad, that 25 years later, there would be a Maratha Sardar galloping and capturing Mughal soldiers at Sironj, which is near Bhopal. Dhanaji Jadhav, in 1703 when Aurangazeb was busy capturing these Forts had went North up to Gujarat, to a place called Ratanpur, where a large Mughal Army faced him, but he managed to inflict a very crashing debacle on them. This defeat of the Mughal Army in Gujarat basically wiped out Mughal forces from Gujarat for good because after this KhanderaoDabhadefully established himself. This defeat of the Mughals in Gujarat was so severe, that it inspired people in Rajputana and Malwa, to start rebelling against the Mughal Empire. Finally, Aurangazeb retreated from Western Maharashtra and went to a place calledWakinkhera, which is in Northern Karnataka, which is about, around this place.

So, this place, where the person was, Pidiya Naik. Pidiya Naik was a local ruler Wakinkhera, and under him were a caste or people named the Berads, various places referred to as Berads, various places referred to as Bidars. They were as against the Mughals as was SantajiGhorpade, Chhatrapati Rajaram all these people and he appealed for help. There are few cases where, the Hindu Kings of Karnataka of South India, helped the Marathas and the Marathas helped them to stave off Mughal onslaughts. In fact, there was a general order, general request given out by Chhatrapati Rajaram when he was in Gingee, that all these Hindu King who had become free from Adil Shahi and Qutb Shahi, should come together and fight off this Mughal threat. It was not very effective, but few numbers of them such as the Pidiya Naik of Wakinkhera or the Poligar who was at Dodderi and a few other places, they majorly helped the Marathas. Some of them decided to join the Mughals and some of them remained neutral, but certainly there were a few cases where the Marathas and the Kannadiga Kings combined together, to fight of the Mughal Empire and Wakenkherawas one such place.

So, the Beradswere essentially marksmen or riflemen, they were joined by Dhanaji Jadhav and the siege was broken, by the time the siege was going on, broken by the Marathas, all these Forts, which had been taken, all these forts which had been taken by Aurangazeb were again re- taken by the Marathas under the leadership of Maharani Tarabai. So, by 1705, Aurangazeb was in a position where he had lost almost everything, including what he had won, during his last campaign. He retreated to Ahmednagar, at Ahmednagar he had retreated, he had lost everything that he had won so far in the Deccan.

There were rebellions happening in North India, there was no Rajputana with the Mughals anymore. All the Mughal Sardars, which had been second and third rank Sardars had now become very powerful, because they had nothing to do except govern their own province for very long length of time and Aurangazeb did not have the military power or the wealth left anymore to fight them. What Aurangazeb did was, when he had captured all these places, first thing he did was to rename them, as you can see he has put all kind of Persian and Arabic names meaning various things, such as Brahmapuri. Brahmapuri was Aurangzeb’s camp for about 4 years, which he had dutifully renamed Islampuri. During these four years he also managed to, his own army is falling apart, his wealth is getting depleted, all his Sardars getting defeated, he still found the time to attack the Khandobatemple at Jejuri, in 1702 and imposed Jaziya tax on whatever controlled territories in South India.

So, all these places, if he had been in charge of them for any extended length of time, they would have been renamed as in Azim Tara, Islampuri and Rahman Baksh and all this. For example, Sinhagad was Bakshindabaksh, it was named as Gift from God, that is Bakshindabaksh, but almost immediately after the Marathas had retaken all these forts, they were renamed to what their original name was. So, the Mughal Empire was crumbling and in Ahmednagar, his camp was established.

At this point an interesting event took place, this is Aurangazeb who had been leading large Mughal Army 5 lakh strong about 20 years ago. He found out thatDhanaji Jadhav and Nemaji Shinde and few others were coming to attack his camp at Ahmednagar and what he did was, he took his Taweez, he recited Quranic verses and gave it to his commander, you take this, this will help you fight the Marathas. That is all the Mughal Emperor could do. in 1706 his camp was attacked, butDhanaji Jadhav and Nemaji Shinde spared the Mughal Empire, I mean Emperor. Why? Because at this point of time, they had become so powerful, they were easily able to reach up to Northern Gujarat, up to Malwa, to Bhopal. That it was more profitable to wait there, wait for treasures and money going from Delhi towards Maharashtra, capture it midway and use it for your own armies, instead of killing that person and getting the whole problem started again, for it had come to a stage where it was more profitable to keep Aurangazeb alive than to see him dead.

In 1707, this is Maharani Tarabai’s statue in Kolhapur, 1707, Aurangazeb died, nobody was interested in fighting his war in any case. He had four sons, all of them were retreated to Delhi. They had been fighting in the various capacities in the war, all of them retreated to Delhi.

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