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Early Mahratta History

India History Map - 1704Maharashtra, the country of the Mahrattas, is bounded on the north by the Satpura mountains, and extends from Nandod on the west along those mountains to the Wainganga, east of Nagpur. The boundary follows the western bank of that river up to its confluence with the Wardha, whence it may be traced up the east bank of the Wardha to Manikgarh and then westward to Mahore. From this last place it passes in an irregular line to Goa. On the west the country is bounded by the ocean. The space about Surat, Broach, and Eajpipla, where Gujerati is spoken, may be excluded by drawing an imaginary line from Daman to the middle of Nandod district. The people of this country first rose into notice in the 17th century under Sivaji and became very powerful in the 18th century under the Peshwas.

The enama of the Bhonsle family (from which Sivaji sprang) was at Verole near Ellora caves. Shaji Bhonsle first commanded a party of horse in the service of Mortiza Nizam Shah, sultan of Ahmadnagar, then entered the service of the emperor Shah Jehan, and eventually, in 1637, that of the Bijapur king, by whom he was confirmed in the possession of his family jaghir which consisted chiefly of Puna and Sopa. Jaghirs are lands or assignments of revenue. There are two kinds. The one is military, the other personal; the former is for the purpose of maintaining a body of troops for the service of the state, the latter is for the support of an individual or family. A jaghir is never, like an enam, entirely freehold; some service can by the original tenure be required.

For eminent service rendered by him in the Carnatic, the districts of Indapur, Baramati, and several of the Mawals, i.e., mountain-valleys near Puna, were added to his jaghir in the Dekkan. In the Carnatic Shahji acquired in jaghir Kolar, Bangalore, Uscota, Balapur and Sira, and held likewise, in jaghir or otherwise, Ami, Porto Novo, and Tanjore. Shahji died in 1664.

Shahji's son Sivaji, born in 1627, was brought up at Puna. Wishing to become independent, he led forth his hardy Mawalis and occupied the fort of Torna in 1646, built Eajgarh in 1647, obtained Kondaneh (to which he gave the name Singarh) in the same year, and in 1648 took ten other forts, among which were Lohgarh and Eajmach. As the Bijapur government now made Shahji responsible for the conduct of his son and kept him for years a prisoner at large at Bijapur, Sivaji abstained for a time from further aggressions. But on his father's release in 1655 he began again to capture existing hill forts and to erect new ones.

When Aurangzib made war on Bijapur in 1657, he accepted Sivaji's services, allowed him to keep what he already possessed of Bijapur territory and at the end of the campaign even agreed to the Konkan being transferred to his management. In 1659 Panalla surrendered and Vishalgarh was taken by assault. In 1660 Sivaji took Dabul and its dependencies, and in 1662 occupied the territory of the deshmukhs of Wari.

In 1662 Sivaji held sway over the Konkan from Kalyan to Goa, and the Ghauts (or Konkan-GhautMahta) from the Bhima to tho Warna. On the death of his father in 1664 Sivaji assumed the title of raja and struck coins in his own name. He also possessed a fleet at that time.

In 1665, as a result of an unsuccessful war with Aurangzib's generals, Sivaji relinquished whatever forts or territory he had taken from the Moghuls, and of the thirty-two forts taken or built by him on Bijapur territory he was only allowed to keep twelve, with the rest of his possessions as jaghir under the Emperor. He obtained, however, permission from Aurangzib to collect the fourth and the tenth of the revenue in certain districts of Bijapur.

Sivaji soon recovered his lost possessions: Puna, Chakun, and Sopa in 1667,3 Singarh, Purandhar, Lohgarh, Karnala, Maholi, and Kalyan district in 1670. In 1668 Golconda, and in 1670 Khandesh, agreed to pay chauth to the Mahrattas. In 1670 the forts Aundha, Pattah, Salher were taken, and a Moghul force defeated near the latter place. In 1672 many polygars in the northern Konkan were forced to join Sivaji. In the same year Sivaji retook Panalla, Satara, Parli, and other forts, and sent his fleet to reduce Karwar, Ankola and other places. In 1674 he defeated the Bijapur army, assumed the insignia of royalty, and was enthroned at Eaigarh. In 1676 he again took possession of the open country between Panalla and Tattora, and protected it by a series of forts (Vardangarh, Sadashivgarh and others).

In 1677 Sivaji invaded the Carnatic, took Vellore, and recovered all his father's jaghirs (Kolar, Bangalore, Uscota, Balapur, Sira), but in 1678 restored them all to his brother Venkaji on condition of receiving a share of the revenue. In 1679 a Moghul army invaded Bijapur, but being hard pressed by Sivaji was forced to retreat. For this timely service Sivaji was given the country round Kopal and Bellari and the sovereignty over Tanjore, his father's jaghir, and all the conquered districts in the south.

On the 5th April, 1680, Sivaji died. Sivaji, at the time of his death, was in possession of the whole part of the Konkan extending from Gandavi to Ponda; with the exception of Goa, lower Chaul, Salsette, and Bassein, belonging to the Portuguese ; Janjira in possession of the Abyssinians; and the English settlement on the island of Bombay. He had thannas [military posts at which the inferior revenue officers are stationed to protect the country, aid the police, and collect the revenue] in Karwar, Ankola, and several places on the coast, where he shared the districts with the deshmukhs.

The chief of Sonda acknowledged his authority, and the rana of Bednor paid him an annual tribute. Exclusive of his possessions around Bellari and Kopal, his conquest in Drawed (i.e., south of India), his supremacy as well as share in Tanjore, and the jaghir districts of his father in the Carnatic, Sivaji occupied that tract of Maharashtra from the Hiranyakeshi river oh the south, to the Indrayani river on the north, between Puna and Junir.

The districts of Sopa, Baramati, and Indapur were occasionally held, and always claimed by him as his paternal jaghir; and the line of forts, built from- Tattora to Panalla, distinctly mark the boundary of his consolidated territory to the eastward. He, however, had a number of detached places. Singnapur, at the temple of Mahdeo, was his hereditary enam village; the fort of Parneira, near Daman, was rebuilt by Moro Trimmul; and his garrisons and thannas occupied a great part of Buglana, and several strong places in Khandesh and Sangamnere.

Mahratta States - 1785-1795

India History Map - 1785The Peshwa then administered not only most of that part of the present Bombay Presidency which lies south of Gujerat and the Satpura Eange, but also the lands comprised in the present districts of Sagar, Damoh, Jabalpur, and Mandla in the Central Provinces and large tracts in Bundelkhand. He claimed tribute from the princes of Bundelkhand (excepting Orchha) and Baghelkhand, and shared with the Gaekwar the tribute which the chiefs of Kathiawar were forced to pay.

Sindia's possessions in 1795, besides the territories which he now has, extended over the country between the Jumna and the Ganges (Upper Doab) and north of Jodhpur and Jaipur. Broach had been granted him by the English in 1782, and Ahmadnagar fell into his hands in 1795 after Madhu Eao's death. South of the Narbada he possessed the western portion of the present district of Hoshangabad, the district of Nimar with Asirgarh and Burhanpur, and the eastern portion of Khandesh. Dholpur, Bari, and Eajakhera in Eajputana were enam-lands of his. In Gujerat he owned the Panch Mahals and in Eajputana, Ajmere. He exacted tribute from Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Kotah in Eajputana and from Rajgarh, Eatlam, Kilchipur, and Sitamau in Malwa. Of these only the two latter are still tributary to his successor.

India History Map - 1795Holkar owned, in addition to the territories he now possesses, the lands now forming the principality of Tonk, part of the present state of Kotah, and places north of the Bundi hills. He levied chauth from Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kotah, Bundi, and Karauli in Eajputana and from Narsinghgarh and Jhabua in Malwa.

Bersia, the northern district of Bhopal, then belonged to the Puars of Dhar, to whom the following principalities paid tribute:Banswara and Dungarpur in Eajputana, and Ali Mohun (the present Ali Bajpur).

Bhonsle's territories extended over the greater part of the present Central Provinces, except such portions over which the Peshwa held sway, Berar, Cuttack, and Balasor. The chiefs of the Orissa hill tribes, of the Sarguja group of states, of Bastar, Nandgaon, Khairagarh, and Kawardha paid him tribute.

The Gaekwar's possessions were composed not only of his present dominions but also of the lands round Ahmadabad and the Gulf of Cambay, which were ceded to the English in 1805. The chiefs of Palanpur and Kankrej, of Mahi Kanta and Eewa Eanta, almost the whole of Gujerat, were tributary to him. He had a share in the Kathiawar tribute and farmed the Peshwa's share of tribute in Kathiawar and Ahmadabad.



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