Directory of Villages & Towns
After the peace of 1636 Shah Jahan endeavoured to improve the conquered territory. The two governments of Ahmadnagar and Khandesh were united, and prince Aurangzeb, who remained for only a short time, was appointed viceroy. The chief change which followed Shah Jahan's conquest of Ahmadnagar was the introduction of the revenue system of Akbar's great financier Todar Mal. Under Todar Mal's settlement the lands were first assessed with reference to their fertility, in a proportion varying from one-half to one-seventh of the gross produce, according to the cost of tillage and the kind of crop grown. The government share was then commuted for a money payment, and in time when the land was measured, classed, and registered the assessment was fixed at a fourth of the yearly produce of each field. This system was introduced in the districts north of the Bhima under the superintendence of Murshid Kuli Khan, an able officer who for nearly twenty years was engaged on the settlement. Murshid's system differed from Malik Ambar's chiefly in being a permanent settlement, while Malik Ambar's varied from year to year [Grant Duff's Marathas, 56-57.]. The Moghal system is known as the Tankha settlement, a name taken from the silver coin which took the place of the old copper Takka. Another Moghal change was the introduction of the Fasli or harvest year into the Deccan. The Fasli or harvest year, which was started by Akbar (1556-1605), was a solar year and began from the mrig or opening of the south-west monsoon early in June. As no attempt was made to reconcile the Fasli or solar Musalman year with their lunar year, the Fasli differed from the regular lunar Musalman year more than three years every century. The measuring of their lands and the fixing of their rents proved very distasteful to the Kolis of West Ahmadnagar. Their head chief or sarnaik, Kheni, persuaded the chiefs to promise on the first chance to rise and free themselves from Moghal rule. The successes of the young Shivaji (1627-1680), son of Shahaji Bhosle and the founder of the Maratha empire, seemed to the Kolis the chance they were waiting for. The whole country rose and the rising was not put down without extreme severities, among which the destruction of the whole of the Koli sarnaik's family and the pyramid of Koli heads at the Black Platform or kala chabutra in Junnar were still remembered by the Ahmadnagar Kolis in 1830. [Captain Mackintosh in Trans. Bom. Geog. Soc. I, 241-242.] The years that followed saw the southward, westward and eastward expansion of Bijapur in which Shahaji played a dominant role. At this time Shivaji, the third son of Shahaji and the future founder of the Maratha empire, lived in Maharashtra building up his revolutionary character in the independent surroundings of the western hilly region. Shivaji's precocious and wild enterprise reached Shahaji's ears and he thought of restraining his son perhaps under the pressure of the Adil Shahi court. How far he succeeded is difficult to say but he soon became a suspect in the eyes of Adil Shah when Shivaji captured Kondana (Sinhgad) and practically asserted his independence in the district of Pune and Shahaji's other son Sambhaji made himself master at Bangalore. Shahaji under the circumstances came under the disfavour of Adil Shah which led to his arrest on 25th July 1648. He was brought to Bijapur. When Shivaji learnt of his father's arrest he applied to Murad Bakhsh, the emperor's representative in the Deccan, but Murad Bakhsh wrote to Shivaji that he was returning to Delhi and would send the emperor's orders as soon as he reached that place. Shahaji's release was however secured on his writing to his two sons Shivaji and Sambhaji to give up Kondana and Bangalore.
In 1650, Shivaji preferred a claim on the part of his father or of himself to the deshmukh's dues in the Ahmadnagar district to which he alleged they had an hereditary right. As was probably foreseen Shivaji's agent at Agra did not succeed in obtaining a promise of the deshmukh's share, but he brought back a letter from Shah Jahan, promising that the claim should be taken into consideration if Shivaji came to court. In the year 1653 prince Aurangzeb was appointed viceroy of the Deccan for the second time. For several years he devoted his talents to perfecting the revenue settlement and protecting and
encouraging travellers and merchants. He established his seat of government at Malik Ambar's town of Khadki, which, after his own name, he called Aurangabad.
In 1657 Shivaji, who since 1650 had greatly increased his power after subjugating the Morays of Javli, marched by unfrequented roads to Ahmadnagar in the hope of surprising the town. His attempt was partially successful. But while his men were plundering, he was attacked and several of his party were killed by a detachment from the fort. Fortunately for Shivaji, Aurangzeb at this moment became extremely uneasy due to the news he had received of his father's illness. He made preparations to go to the north, left Aurangabad on 25th January 1658 and crowned himself emperor in the following July after imprisoning his father Shah Jahan. In the following years Shivaji was engrossed in conflict with the Bijapuris. He had consolidated his hold over north and south Konkan and the Bijapur Government became apprehensive of Shivaji's real intentions. But the affairs at the court of Bijapur were in a sorry plight and none of the nobles of Bijapur except Afzalkhan would undertake the chastisement of Shivaji. It is not necessary here to recount the fateful days of the encounter between Shivaji and Afzalkhan. Suffice it to say that Shivaji succeeded in vanquishing his formidable foe.
Similarly under Moropant his minister or Peshwa Shivaji's infantry gained several strongholds north of Junnar, and as soon as the country was dry enough, his horse headed by Netaji Palkar ravaged the Moghal districts without mercy. Netaji was ordered to plunder the villages and levy contributions from the towns. Exceeding these orders he swept the country close to Aurangabad, moved rapidly from place to place, and spread terror in all directions. The success of Shivaji against Bijapur and his constant attacks against the Moghal territory roused Aurangzeb to the real threat that Shivaji posed to the empire. He therefore appointed Shaista Khan, with the title of Amir-ul-Umrah, to succeed prince Muazzam as viceroy of the Deccan and ordered him to punish this daring raider. He marched from Aurangabad with a great force at the end of January 1660 and took the route by Ahmadnagar and Pedgaon to Pune. He established his hold on Pune. and practically overran the Swarajya territory. For three long years Shivaji struggled and chafed. In 1663 while Shaista Khan was in Pune, Netaji Palkar again appeared burning and plundering near Ahmadnagar. A party sent to cut him off succeeded in surprising and killing several of his men. The pursuit was hot and Netaji who was wounded would apparently have been taken, had not Rustum Zaman, the Bijapur general, favoured his escape. Shivaji now decided that if the menace of Shaista Khan was to be overcome it would be necessary to undertake some act of stern retribution to the Khan personally if an open
fight was out of the question. Shivaji did this by carrying out a daring attack on Shaista Khan's residence at Pune wounding Shaista Khan in the scuffle and making a safe escape to Sinhgad. Shaista Khan now considered Pune unsafe for his residence and retired to Aurangabad. He was subsequently recalled by Aurangzeb who again appointed his son Muazzam as governor of the Deccan with Jaswantsingh as his lieutenant. They were both lukewarm in taking any strong measures against Shivaji who however allowed himself not a moment's rest. He and Netaji Palkar fell like vultures upon the Moghal territories between Ahmadnagar and Aurangabad. These raids were often repealed. From the beginning of the rains of 1664 and again of 1665 Netaji was most successful in plundering the country. In the same year, Shivaji surprised and plundered the town of Ahmadnagar and raided near Aurangabad. Shivaji now invited upon himself the full wrath of the emperor Aurangzeb who recalled Muazzam and Jaswantsingh and dispatched a fresh expedition under Mirza Raja Jaysingh with Diler Khan to assist him. Never had such a select force crossed into the Deccan before. Jaysingh arrived at Aurangabad on 10th February 1665 and traversing through the district of Ahmadnagar reached Pune on 3rd March. He opened an all-out offensive against the Swarajya territory. Shivaji at once realised the dangerous situation that faced him and decided to submit. The treaty of Purandar was signed on 14th June 1665 under which Shivaji ceded a number of forts and agreed to serve under the Moghals in their campaign against Bijapur. Under the treaty of Purandar Shivaji had agreed to pay visit to Agra. After considerable deliberation he decided to visit Agra and left Rajgad on 5th March 1666. Traversing through the Ahmadnagar district he reached Aurangabad which he left in the middle of March. He reached Agra in the month of May after a journey of nearly two months. Shivaji's stay in Agra, his miraculous escape from his treacherous imprisonment by Aurangzeb and his safe return to Rajgad need no recounting here. Shivaji's escape at once nullified all the work of conquest that Jaysingh had effected in the Deccan. Shivaji was not however inclined to undertake any warfare against the Moghals for the time being. On the contrary he offered to serve under the emperor. Prince Muazzam gladly accepted the offer and obtained from the emperor the title of Raja for Shivaji.
At this time Aurangzeb launched his cherished policy of persecuting his Hindu subjects and issued orders to demolish all the schools and temples of the infidels. The temple of Vishweshwar at Kashi was demolished on September 4, 1669 and caused extreme consternation throughout the country. Shivaji at once set about measures to avenge the wrong and in the beginning of 1670 recommenced his aggression upon the Moghal territories in all directions paralysing the Moghal
Government throughout the Deccan. Surat was sacked for the second time and Berar was ravaged. At the head of Shivaji's infantry, the Peshwa Moropant took several forts, among them were Aundha and Patta in Akola. The emperor now sent Mahabat Khan to the Deccan and ordered Bahadur Khan to proceed there as an additional support, thus raising the strength of Moghal forces to 40,000 men. Mahabat Khan began operations against Shivaji by endeavouring to reduce his forts. He took Aundha and Patta at the setting in of the rains and withdrew to cantonment. In January 1671 Mahabat Khan, Jaswantsingh and Daud Khan assembled at Aurangabad. During the monsoon months of 1671 the Moghals encamped at Parner where the various commanders held daily entertainments such as music and dancing, where they all attended and made themselves merry when their soldiers were dying in numbers through pestilence in the camp. Four hundred dancing girls from the Punjab and Afghanistan lived in the Moghal camp and were patronised by the officers. [Sarkar's Shivaji.] Aurangzeb recalled Mahabat Khan suspecting him of complicity with Shivaji and appointed Bahadur Khan, Khan Jahan and Diler Khan to the government of the Deccan. Diler Khan came upon Pune in December 1671 and massacred a large number of innocent inhabitants of the place. But Shivaji was equal to the occasion. His generals played havoc in Khandesh forcing Diler Khan to retreat. In the following year Khan Jahan occupied the Sahyadri passes and several parties of Maratha horses appeared near Aurangabad and Ahmadnagar. Khan Jahan went in pursuit of them but without success and at last cantoned for the rains at Pedgaon on the Bhima where he built a fort and gave it the name of Bahadurgad. The shifting of the camp from Aurangabad to Pedgaon was done with a view to put greater check upon Shivaji.
In February 1672 was fought the battle of Salher in which the Moghals were completely routed. It was an open action by Shivaji's men opposing the best-equipped and most ably led Moghal armies. The war with the Moghals continued but at the same time Shivaji continued nibbling at the possessions of Bijapur also. Panhala was taken and Bahlol Khan, the Bijapuri general, was routed at Umbrani on April 15, 1673. On March 23, 1674, Sampgaon was plundered. Shivaji had by now acquired sufficient territory which could well be termed as a kingdom and had collected a band of devoted followers who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the new nationhood they had so faithfully nurtured. He had humbled the might of the Moghal empire and when the Sultans of Bijapur and Golkonda were kneeling before the emperor Shivaji had held aloft the prestige of his new-found kingdom. It was but natural that he should now formally proclaim him
king by performing the ritualistic rite of coronation. The ceremony was magnificently performed on June 6, 1674 at Rayagad when Shivaji ascended the throne and assumed the title of Chhatrapati. Bahadur Khan now assured the emperor that he would do his best to bring the Maratha ruler down to his knees and neutralise the effect of his coronation ceremony. Shivaji decided to strike the first blow when some Moghal aggression under Diler Khan gave Shivaji an excuse for breaking the terms of the Purandar convention. In the monsoon of 1674 he sent his ambassador with proposals of peace to Bahadur Khan to divert his attention and in the meantime carried out a sudden raid upon the principal Moghal camp at Pedgaon in July. He divided his forces into two parties, the smaller one of which sought an open encounter with the Khan who had advanced about 50 miles to face the Marathas. When the Khan had thus been lured away from his base, the other and the main division of the Marathas more than 7,000 strong suddenly fell upon the Moghal camp, set fire to all their tents and material and carried away more than a crore in plunder including 200 select horses, which had been intended as a present for the emperor. Moropant, who was ordered to act against the Moghals, attacked and retook Aundha and Patta, and Hambirrav, the Maratha commander-in-chief, plundered the country up to Burhanpur. On his return after crossing the Godavari, Hambirrav was hotly pursued by Diler Khan and with difficulty brought off the valuable booty he had taken. At the opening of the season of 1675, Hambirrav again passed into the Moghal territory and did great damage. In the same year Shivaji entered into an agreement with Khan Jahan, the Moghal general, and for some time Ahmadnagar was free from Maratha inroads. The next few years saw the expansion of the Maratha power in the south. In January 1677 Shivaji's army moved against Koppal. In May of the same year Jinji was captured. In July 1678 Vellore was captured by Shivaji's troops. When these events were taking place, the affairs at Bijapur court had worsened. The kingdom was managed by Bahlol Khan who was on friendly terms with Diler Khan, the Moghal general. Both now conspired to subjugate Shivaji and Kutb Shah who had considerably helped Shivaji in his southern conquest. In December 1677 Bahlol Khan died and Siddi Masud took up the control of Bijapur. Diler Khan who had lost his friend in the death of Bahlol Khan now changed his manoeuvres and directed his attack against Bijapur. In this situation Masud applied to Shivaji for help. Shivaji agreed to aid Shikandar Adil Shah (1672-1686) against Diler Khan who was then besieging Bijapur. It may be noted here that after his return from the Karnatak expedition in 1678 Shivaji had kept his son Sambhaji in practical confinement at Panhala. Sambhaji in desperation made good his escape from Panhala and on the night of December 13,1678 proceeded towards the Moghal camp with his wife Yesubai at Bahadurgad to meet Diler Khan to whom he had already communicated his intention. The Khan felt immensely elated and welcomed Sambhaji on the way at Karkam. The Khan immediately reported the affair to the emperor and requested orders for entertaining Sambhaji. The emperor, though he felt happy at the turn the events had taken, conveyed to the Khan his own grave suspicion that this might be a ruse on Shivaji's part for doing some mischief and warned him to be on guard. Sambhaji had accompanied Diler Khan in his attack on Bijapur. However Shivaji from outside severely handled the besiegers and supplied the defenders with necessaries and materials with the result that Diler Khan had to raise the siege and make a precipitate retreat on 17th November 1679. Shivaji now devised an ingenious plan to create a diversion in the Khan's rear. He turned to the north, rapidly crossed the Bhima, and attacked the Moghal possessions with fire and sword leaving the people houseless and the villages in ashes. He continued his depredations from the Bhima to the Godavari. As it was almost certain that Shivaji would attempt to carry his plunder to Rayagad, a force of 10,000 men was collected under Ranmast Khan, who pursued, overtook and attacked Shivaji near Sangamner on his way to Patta. Sidhoji Nimbalkar and Santaji Ghorpade faced the Moghals. Part of his troops were thrown into confusion, and Sidhoji Nimbalkar, one of his best officers, was killed. Shivaji seeing that it was a time for wreckless daring, led a desperate charge and by great personal exertions retrieved the day. The Moghal troops were broken, and Shivaji continued his march. He had not gone far when he was again attacked by Moghals who had been joined by a large force under Kishensing which cut him off from the pass to which he was marching. Shivaji's army was saved by his guide who led them by a short cut unknown to the Moghals, thus gaining several hours and enabling them to reach Patta to which Shivaji in thankfulness gave the name of Vishramgad or the Castle of Rest. The Moghal troops returned to Aurangabad and Shivaji judged the opportunity favourable for possessing himself of the twenty-seven forts near Patta. He ordered a body of infantry to join Moropant from the Konkan to reduce as many of them as possible and also placed a large detachment of cavalry at the Peshwa's disposal. Shivaji remained at Patta until he received an express from Masaud Khan of Bijapur to return south and make an effort to retrieve Bijapur. In the meanwhile Shivaji had received news of the return of Sambhaji who had been dis-illusioned in the wake of fearful atrocities Diler Khan committed upon the innocent populace of the various places on the way. He along with his wife Yesubai escaped secretly from Diler's camp at Athni on November 20, 1679 to Bijapur and from thence on 30th November
joined a band of troopers whom Shivaji had specially stationed to watch his movements reaching Panhala on December 4, 1679. The episode of Sambhaji had played heavily upon Shivaji's mind. The continuous warfare since his coronation had also sapped his physical energies and it appeared that the end of a glorious reign was in sight and the moon was going to set. Shivaji died on April 3, 1680. Shivaji was succeeded to the throne by his son Sambhaji who was crowned on January 6, 1681. Just about the same time Akbar, Aurangzeb's son, openly revolted against his father and proclaimed himself emperor but had to flee and seek refuge with Sambhaji. Aurangzeb who realised the gravity of the situation immediately dispatched his second son Azam in Akbar's pursuit and himself followed him. He reached Aurangabad on March 22, 1682 where he took up his residence. Sambhaji, on the other hand, responded magnificently to Akbar's appeal for help and envisaged a grand project of dethroning the emperor in co-operation with Akbar and Durgadas, his trusted lieutenant. It, however, required a genius like that of Shivaji to execute it. The first two years of the emperor's campaign in the Deccan were precarious and the Moghal forces suffered reverses at the hand of Marathas. He therefore called out all his army commanders for consultation at his side and assigned definite duties to each general. Shah Alam was assigned to the task of containing Sambhaji and the Portuguese who were suspected of harbouring Akbar. Shah Alam suffered such dreadful privations in the expedition that the emperor for the time being gave up his attempt against Sambhaji and Akbar and devoted his attention to the subjugation of Bijapur and Golkonda. It may be noted that in 1684 Aurangzeb issued orders that the Jizia or tax of Rs. 13 on every Rs. 2,000 of property held by all except Muslims should be exacted as strictly in the Deccan as in north India. At the opening of the fair season (1684) Aurangzeb moved from Aurangabad with more than ordinary magnificence towards Ahmadnagar. His cavalry, collected chiefly from Kabul, Multan, Lahor and Rajputana, presented an array of mighty men and horses completely armed and accoutred. His numerous infantry included well-equipped musketeers, matchlock-men, and archers, besides bodies of hardy Bundelas and Mevatis, accustomed to hill-fighting and robbery, and well able to cope with the Maratha Mavlis. To these were afterwards added many thousand infantry raised in the Karnatak. Besides a number of field-pieces which accompanied the royal tents, several hundred pieces of cannon were manned by natives of northern India and directed by European gunners, and a great number of miners were attached to the artillery, with craftsmen of every description. A long train of war elephants was followed by a number of the emperor's private elephants carrying the ladies of his palace or such of
his tents as were too large for camels. Numerous
magnificently harnessed horses were set apart for the emperor's riding. A menagerie accompanied the camp, from which the rarest animals in the world were frequently shown by their keepers before the emperor and his court. Hawks, hounds, hunting leopards, trained elephants, and every requirement for field sport swelled the pomp of his prodigious retinue. The canvas walls which encompassed the royal tents formed a circumference of 1,200 yards and contained every description of apartment to be found in the most specious palace. Halls of audience for public assemblies and privy councils, with all courts and cabinets attached to them, each hall magnificently adorned and having within it a raised seat or throne for the emperor, surrounded by gilded pillars with canopies of velvet, richly fringed and superbly embroidered, separate tents as mosques and oratories, baths and galleries for archery and gymnastic exercises; a seraglio as remarkable for luxury and privacy as that of Delhi; Persian carpets, damasks and tapestries, European velvets, satins and broad-cloths, Chinese silks of every description, and Indian muslins and cloth of gold were employed in all the tents with the utmost profusion and the most brilliant effect. Gilded balls and cupolas surmounted the tops of the royal tents, the outside of which, and the canvas walls, were of a variety of lively colours, disposed in a manner which heightened the general splendour. The entrance into the royal enclosure was through a spacious portal, flanked by two elegant pavilions, from which extended on each side rows of cannon forming an avenue at the extremity of which was an immense tent containing the great state drums and imperial band. A little further in front was the post of the grand guard on duty commanded by a nobleman, who mounted with it daily. On the other sides, surrounding the great enclosures, were separate tents for the emperor's armoury and harness; a tent for water kept cool with saltpetre, another for fruit, a third for sweetmeats, a fourth for betel and so on, with numerous kitchens and stables. Besides every tent had its exact duplicate sent on in advance to be prepared against the emperor's arrival. His march was a procession and his entrance into his pavilion was announced by a salvo from fifty or sixty pieces of ordnance. The emperor assumed and maintained every form and ceremony observed at the established residences of the imperial court. The magnificence of these surroundings was in remarkable contrast to the austere plainness of the emperor's habits. The magnificence was intended to strengthen his power by the awe with which it impressed his subjects. As the emperor's state was imitated by his nobles, the grandeur proved a serious encumbrance to the movements of his army, while the devouring expense of such establishments pressed hard on his finances and soon crippled even the most necessary of his military and political arrangements.
Early in 1685 Aurangzeb moved his armies to the south and invested Bijapur on 27th March. Bijapur capitulated on 12th September 1686. Golkonda was then invaded on 28th January 1687 and was captured on 1st October 1687. During the course of these invasions, the main attention of the emperor had been withdrawn from the Maratha country. Prince Akbar again and again urged Sambhaji to make a sudden sweep upon the emperor's central camp and effecting a complete rout of his powerful armies. But either Sambhaji was halfhearted in his promises to Akbar or he did not feel himself equal to that task so that a magnificent opportunity was lost. Akbar therefore in sheer desperation gave up his attempts to secure the throne and escaped to Iran where he reached in January 1688. During Aurangzeb's campaign against Bijapur and Golkonda Sambhaji kept his residence at Panhala and shortly before in the beginning of 1685 his troops passing through Ahmadnagar district devastated the Moghal territory from Aurangabad to Burhanpur carrying away enormous booty. But now Aurangzeb was free to devote his entire resources against Sambhaji and one of the Moghal Generals Sharza Khan invaded Satara district. A kind of encircling movement began against Sambhaji and on 1st February 1689 Sambhaji was trapped at Sangameshwar. The news was received by the emperor at Akluj. He at once left Akluj and proceeded to Bahadurgad where the captives were brought under the guard of Hamiduddin Khan. Under emperor's order Sambhaji was made a mark of public ridicule. Four miles away from the camp Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash were dressed as buffoons in long fool's caps with bells fixed on them. They were then mounted on camels and brought to Bahadurgad where they were slowly paraded through the entire camp and brought before the emperor after which they were removed to their cell. Next day Aurangzeb sent Ruhulla Khan to Sambhaji making him an offer of
his life on condition that (1) he surrendered all his forts, (2) disclosed all his hidden treasures and (3) declared the names of those Moghal officers who were in league with him. Sambhaji whose heart was swelling under the insults heaped upon him spurned the offer and loosened his tongue in abuse of the emperor and his prophet. The consequences were obvious. The helpless prisoners were cruelly tortured and then removed from Bahadurgad to Koregaon where they were executed on 11th March 1689.
During the years that followed, the Marathas continued at intervals to plunder Ahmadnagar territories. If it was the emperor's idea that Maratha resistance could be stifled after the death of Sambhaji, he was entirely wrong. Under the leadership of Rajaram who was proclaimed king, Ramchandrapant Amatya, Pralhad Niraji, Santaji Ghorpade, Dhanaji Jadhav and other Maratha noblemen carried on the struggle
against the Moghal invaders inspite of the fall of Rayagad and capture of Yesubai and Shahu, the son of Sambhaji. The Marathas carried the war into the very heart of Moghal territory, the theatre of war stretching from Burhanpur in the north to Jinji in the south which Rajaram had put up as his headquarters. The Maratha commanders destroyed the Moghal field armies and crippled the material resources of the Moghal generals. It was difficult for the emperor to cope with the Maratha system of warfare. In 1699 under Rajaram the combined Maratha troops entered Gangthadi claiming the chauth or one-fourth and the sardeshmukhi or extra tenth as their established right. All who submitted to these demands were protected, such of the Moghal garrisons who remained passive were not molested, and those who opposed were put to the sword. On this occasion the Maratha exactions were unusually systematic. Where they could not secure ready money they took promissory notes from the heads of villages according to the practice introduced by Shivaji. When he had nearly completed his tour Rajaram left Haibatrav Nimbalkar in Gangthadi to collect what they termed the outstanding balances. Haibatrav, when appointed to this duty, was styled Sar Lashkar, and received the Jari Patka or golden streamer. At this moment of triumph, the Maratha nation suffered a tragic loss in the death of Rajaram who found the strain of camp-life unbearable. He died at Sinhgad on 2nd March 1700. After the death of Rajaram, Dhanaji Jadhav spread his horse in every quarter and performed many signal exploits. In 1700 large bodies of Marathas levied tribute under the various heads of chauth, sardeshmukhi and ghas-dana. Besides the organized bands of Marathas, and still more destructive to the country, were the irregular assemblies of several thousand horsemen who having agreed to meet in some lonely part of the country, set off with little provision, no baggage except the blanket on their saddles, and no animals but led horses with empty bags for plunder. If they halted during the night they slept with their bridles in their hands; if by day while the horses were fed and refreshed the men slept with little or no shelter from the scorching heat except a bush or a tree. As they lay their swords were by their sides and their spears were generally at their horses' heads stuck in the ground. When halted on a plain groups of four or five might be seen stretched on the bare earth sound asleep, their bodies exposed to the sun, and their heads in a cluster, under the doubtful shade of a blanket or tattered horse cloth stretched on spear-points. The great object of this class of horsemen was plunder. They generally rendered a partial account to the head of the state but dissipated or embezzled the greater part of their gains. The Ghorpades at this time committed great devastations along the eastern borders south of the Godavari. The emperor had now lost faith in his commander's abilities to
contain the Marathas and decided to personally lead the campaign against the Maratha forts. The campaign lasted for 6 years during which he could capture only 4 major forts with a few minor forts of insignificance. He then moved to Wakinkheda, the stronghold of Berads, which was perhaps the last campaign of his life. With the conclusion of that campaign he returned in 1706 to Ahmadnagar where he cantoned for his last days.
In 1706, the grand Moghal army under Zulfikar Khan, on its way from Sinhgad ten miles south of Pune towards Ahmadnagar was attacked by the Marathas. Inspite of a gallant charge led by Khan Alam a great part of the Moghal army was defeated. On pitching his camp in Ahmadnagar, on the same spot which it had occupied in such splendour twenty-one years before, Aurangzeb said: " I have ended my campaigning, my last earthly journey is over." He died at Ahmadnagar on the 20th of February 1707 in the eighty-ninth year of his age.
On hearing of the death of his father Aurangzeb's second surviving son Azam hastily returned to Ahmadnagar and performed the funeral rites. He then moved northwards, taking Shahu, the son of Sambhaji, with him. Since his father Sambhaji's execution on 11th March 1689, when he was a boy of seven years, Shahu had been brought up by Aurangzeb with care and kindness. In the hope that his influence might make the Marathas less hostile, Aurangzeb before his death intending to set Shahu free, had presented him with Shivaji's sword Bhavani and also the sword of the Bijapur general Afzal Khan and given him the district of Nevasa as a marriage gift. Accordingly Shahu, on being released by Aurangzeb's son Prince Azam, marched south from the Narmada. At the Godavari he halted to dispel any suspicion that he was an impostor. His army increased to 15,000 men, and, by the advice of Parsoji Bhosle, the head of the Maratha army in Khandesh and Berar, he moved south without further delay. He proceeded to Ahmadnagar early in August 1707 with high hope of a smooth passage to the capital of Satara but he was soon disillusioned. Dhanaji Jadhav and the Pratinidhi, in the interests of Tarabai, the widow of Rajaram, Shahu's uncle, advanced to oppose him. He therefore halted at Ahmadnagar for three long months preparing for a contest with his aunt Tarabai and organising his forces. During his stay at Ahmadnagar he visited the dead emperor's tomb at Khuldabad. While he was away from Ahmadnagar he had an accidental skirmish with the villagers of Parad who fired on Shahu's troops. As several of his men were killed Shahu assaulted the place and made a severe example of the offenders. During the attack a woman, bearing a boy in her arms, rushed towards Shahu, and threw down the child, calling out that she devoted him to the Raja's service. Shahu took charge of the child, and in commemoration of his first success, called him Fattehsing.
He afterwards added his own surname of Bhosle and always treated the child like his own son. This Fattehsing was the founder of the Akalkot family. Shahu did not leave Ahmadnagar until circumstances forced him and would even have preferred to rule from that town itself if it were possible. He had to give up this thought as Ahmadnagar which had figured for centuries as a Muslim possession and more recently as the seat of Aurangzeb's government was not suited to the requirements of a Maratha king. He therefore moved from Ahmadnagar southwards towards Pune and halted at Khed where in the battle fought on October 12, 1707 with Tarabai's forces, Shahu emerged victorious. From there he marched to Satara where he was crowned king on January 12, 1708. He appointed Balaji Vishwanath to the post of Sena Karte (organiser of forces) and later due to his acumen in winning over friends and destroying the enemies of the kingdom he appointed him to the Peshwaship of the Maratha State.
While these events were taking place in the Deccan, in the north the war of succession between Muazzam and Azam ended in victory for the former and Muazzam assumed the title of Bahadurshah. His first concern was the recovery of the southern Moghal dominion which his brother Kambaksh had seized. He started from Agra and reached Godavari in June 1708. A battle was subsequently fought on 3rd January 1709 between Bahadurshah and Kambaksh in which Kambaksh was killed. Bahadurshah then started for the north, arriving at Ahmadnagar in May. Here both Shahu's and Tarabai's representatives requested for sanads or undertakings confirming the grants of chauth and sardeshmukhi, to have their respective positions legalised. Bahadurshah, on the advice of his prime minister Munim Khan, went through the details of representations and ordered that Shahu and Tarabai should settle the dispute by fighting it out and then the sanads would be issued to the party that would win. On 17th February 1712 Bahadurshah died and was followed by Farrukhsiyar as emperor (17th January 1713) after a short reign by Jahandarshah. The real power in Delhi, however, vested in the Sayyad brothers. From 1713 to 1715 Nizam-ul-Mulk was the viceroy of the Deccan. In 1715 he was recalled to Delhi much against his will and Sayyad Husain Ali, one of the Sayyad brothers, came to the Deccan as viceroy. Farrukhsiyar who was much vexed by the intrigues and duplicity of the Sayyad brothers called upon Daud Khan Panni, the Subhedar of Gujarat, to oppose and destroy Sayyad Husain Alikhan. In a deadly encounter near Burhanpur on 26th August 1715, Daud Khan was killed.
Husain Ali then sent troops to open communications between Burhanpur and Surat which were stopped by Khanderav Dabhade, the commander-in-chief of the Marathas, and the Moghal force was surrounded and cut to pieces. A larger force was sent and a battle
was fought near Ahmadnagar; the result was not decisive but the advantage remained with the Marathas. For two years Sayyad Husain Ali struggled hard to put down the Marathas but success eluded him. The position of his brother Sayyad Abdulla was also getting precarious at Delhi. Sayyad Abdulla, therefore, recalled his brother from the Deccan. Husain Ali now came to the conclusion that his only chance of success lay in securing the goodwill and co-operation of the Marathas, particularly of Shahu. A compromise was therefore arrived at between Shahu and the Sayyad brothers representing the Moghal emperor, through the mediation of Shankaraji Malhar. Under the terms of the agreement the Marathas obtained the grants of the chauth and sardeshmukhi of the Deccan including Ahmadnagar. These terms were formally ratified by the emperor Muhammad Shah who succeeded Farrukhsiyar who was deposed by the Sayyad brothers. Shortly after, Balaji Vishwanath died and was succeeded by his son Bajirao as Peshwa. When these events were taking place in the Maratha State Delhi witnessed the fall of the Sayyad brothers. In the Deccan, Nizam-ul-Mulk also revolted declaring his independence but formally recognising allegiance to the Moghal emperor at Delhi. Thus the eclipse of Moghal power in the Deccan was complete. The district of Ahmadnagar was one of the parts of the Deccan which became subject to the Nizam. It was very difficult for the Nizam to accept the Maratha claims for chauth and sardeshmukhi for the six subhas of the Deccan and the following years saw the Marathas and the Nizam confronting each other for supremacy in the Deccan. In most of the wars fought between the Marathas and the Nizam, the district of Ahmadnagar was traversed by the opposing armies and suffered like all the other districts of Maharashtra from the ravages of war. The district remained with the Nizam, Nizam-ul-Mulk, Asaf Jah till his death in 1748. His death was shortly followed in 1749 by that of Shahu Chhatrapati, the Maratha King.
The death of Nizam was followed by two quick successions, viz., Nasir Jang and Muzaffar Jang who were murdered. On January 31, 1751 Salabat Jang was proclaimed Nizam by Bussy, the French general. These events naturally attracted the attention of the Peshwa who took advantage of the disturbances which followed the Nizam's death to attack his successor Salabat Jang. The Peshwa had miscalculated his power as Salabat Jang had the valuable help of his French general Bussy. He therefore managed to effect a peaceful understanding with Salabat Jang. The understanding was, however, short-lived as the Peshwa tried to seize as many forts in the Nasik district belonging to the Nizam and persuaded Gaziuddin, the oldest son of Asaf Jah, to come to the Deccan and assert his claim to his father's dominions. The expected war with the Marathas broke out in November 1751. The Peshwa who had already left Pune marched towards Ahmadnagar. On 15th November Bussy left Aurangabad and after crossing Godavari started ravaging the Maratha territories. On 20th November a fairly stiff action was fought near Parner in which one of the Peshwa's valiant officers, Chimanaji Bapuji, was killed and Shamsher Bahadur's mare was wounded with a spear. The next evening while the Peshwa Balajirao was engaged in his religious performances, due to a lunar eclipse on the river Kukadi, the Nizam's artillery opened fire and created consternation in the Peshwa's camp. The Peshwa ran away to save his life and his materials of worships were seized by the enemy. The Nizam's army plundered Ranjangaon in Parner and destroyed Talegaon Dhamdhere in Pune district. The Marathas, however, retaliated on 27th November when in a bloody action that took place near Koregaon they inflicted a severe defeat on Sayyad Lashkar Khan who lost a great deal in plunder. This battle is called the battle of the Ghod river. At this time Raghuji Bhosle joined the Peshwa after capturing many important places between Aurangabad and the Godavari. The Nizam's army then retreated towards Pedgaon or Bahadurgad, being hotly pursued by the Marathas during the march.
The desultory warfare continued for two months and Bussy who thought that the Nizam's army was no match for the guerilla tactics of the Marathas suggested a patching up of a peace. Accordingly, a peace was arrived at on 6th January 1752 after the envoys of both negotiated at Singwa near Pargaon, under which jagir worth four lakhs was ceded to the Peshwa.
The settlement was, however, short-lived. The Peshwa who was irritated due to the open support of Bussy to the Nizam, invited Gaziuddin, the elder brother of the Nizam Salabat Jang, to the Deccan and himself proceeded to meet him near the vicinity of Aurangabad. Salabat Jang filled with consternation left Aurangabad and moved towards Hyderabad. In the meanwhile the Peshwa met Gaziuddin and exacted certain concessions from him by giving promise of supporting him in his confrontation with his brother. But before the terms could be implemented, Gaziuddin met with his death suddenly by poison at a dinner to which he was invited by Nizam Ali's brother. The Marathas who had assembled in large numbers pursued the Nizam Salabat Jang and surrounded him near Bhalki. Faced with the prospects of defeat and starvation, Salabat Jang submitted and conceded to the Marathas what Gaziuddin had promised them. Accordingly the Nizam ceded the whole of Berar between the rivers Godavari and the Tapi which also included Gangthadi in Ahmadnagar besides Nasik and Khandesh. It is not necessary here to follow the Maratha-Nizam conflict during the period of 7 years from 1752 when the convention of Bhalki was signed as also the other events in the Deccan as they
hardly relate to the history of Ahmadnagar. In October 1759, Salabat Jang, the Nizam, obtained the dismissal of Ibrahim Khan Gardi, the chief of artillery of the forces of Nizam Ali, his younger brother, being afraid of his own life being attempted by Nizam Ali's Gardis, headed by Ibrahim Khan. He then entrusted Nizam Ali with all the powers of administration of the State of Hyderabad. Ibrahim Khan was immediately engaged by the Peshwa who now armed with efficient artillery commenced aggression against the Nizam and seized Ahmadnagar, Daulatabad, Burhanpur and Bijapur. On 9th November,
1759 Kavi Jang, the Nizam's commandant of the fort of Ahmadnagar, surrendered the place to the Peshwa on receiving a handsome reward in money and jahagir. [The descendants of Kavi Jang till recently held inam villages in the Karjat subdivision.] War followed between the Peshwa and the Nizam. The Marathas began by taking the fort of Pedgaon on the Bhima; they then attacked the Nizam at Udgir about 160 miles southeast of Ahmadnagar and forced him to come to terms (1760). Besides other concessions, the Nizam confirmed the grant of Ahmadnagar and Daulatabad and also gave up the greater part of the province of Ahmadnagar. By this treaty which was concluded on 11th February,
1760 the whole of the present district of Ahmadnagar was gained by the Marathas. In 1761 after the great Marathas' disaster at Panipat, Nizam Ali who still suffered from the ignominy of the defeat at Udgir marched directly upon Pune at the head of the powerful army of 60,000 men. He carried fire and desolation throughout his march and destroyed Toka and Pravara-Sangam, the two great centres of Hindu religious sanctity. He also dug up Shinde's palace at Shrigonda for obtaining hidden treasure. At this trying moment, Madhavrao who had succeeded to the Peshwaship after his father's death in June 1761, mustered a force of 70,000 and moved to oppose the enemy. Avoiding a general action the Marathas harassed the enemy at every turn and wore down his spirit in several engagements which took place at Ahmadnagar, Shrigonda, Hivre and Bhuleshwar on the enemy's route towards Pune. The advance of Nizam Ali came to a halt at Uruli where he found himself practically surrounded. Nizam Ali was, however, allowed easy terms by Raghunathrao, the Peshwa's uncle by his pussillanimity who closed with Nizam Ali's offer to surrender territory worth forty lacs. The Maratha nobleman in the camp accused Raghunathrao of harbouring ill-will towards the Peshwa and of securing the good-will of Nizam Ali as a potential ally in a future contest for the Peshwaship which Raghunathrao was then secretly planning.