Sunday 23 June 2013

Shahaji and all his sons

Scores of people, including historians and heritage buffs of Bangalore, are aware of the Bangalore’s rather close association with Chatrapathi Shivaji (1627-1680) and his father, Shahaji Bhonsale (1602-1664).
There are Maratha, Adil Shah, English, Dutch and even Mughal  records that speak about the Marathas in the Deccan, including Bangalore, and their wars. We have in earlier posts such as “The little known brother of Shivaji”, “When a language was born in Bangalore”,  “The palace of Shahaji”, “When Marathi displaced Kannada as the language”,  taken you to the history of Bangalore and the domination of the Marathas in and around Bangalore for almost half a century.
But what many do not know is that the Maratha association of Bangalore is not limited to Shahaji and his son Shivaji.
Infact, Bangalore perhaps could be among the handful of cities and provinces that saw all the sons of Shahaji-Sambhaji, Shivaji, Ekoji or Venkoji, Koyaji and Santaji or Santoji- either staying or ruling over Bangalore. Apart from Shahaji and his family, there are other Maratha heroes who bonded with Bangalore and this post is about them.
Shahaji and his two wives, the legendary Jijabai-the first wife and Tukabai, the second wife, lived in Shahaji’s palace in Chickpet for several years. It is in Bangalore that Shahaji ensured that the ten-year-old Shivaji was trained in warfare and statecraft along with his elder brother Sambhaji and younger half-brother Ekoji or Venkoji.
Shahaji was perhaps the first Maratha and definitely among the first in the period to realise the effectiveness of guerilla warfare. He imparted this training to all his sons, including Shivaji who seemed to be fascinated by the magnificent horses that his father reared.
Shivaji saw from close quarters the life and style of  the Bangalore court and came into contact with the people, who told him stories about the Vijayanagar empire which existed a little less than six decades before his birth.    
Shivaji was also married a second time in Bangalore. He took Soyarbai Mohite as his wife on the insistence of his father. Contemporary Maratha records speak of Bangalore being dressed up for the wedding and the couple being taken in a procession on a caparisoned elephant.
It was in Bangalore that Shahaji decided on bifurcating his jagir. He decided to let Sambhaji retain Kolar, he kept Bangalore for himself and allowed Shivaji and Jijabai to return to Pune and govern the Maratha territories from there.         
It should be remembered that the Marathas first made their first foray into Bangalore sometime in 1638 when Shahaji Bhonsale and Ranadullah Khan, both frontline commanders of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur, laid siege to Bangalore. Shahaji married Tukabai in Bangalore sometime in the 1630s.  
The then Adil Shahi Sultan, Muhammad Adil Shah, who succeeded Ibrahim Adil Shah, was not particularly happy about the prospect of another Hindu Kingdom replacing Vijayanagar which had been decimated by a confederation of Muslim states in the war of Talikota or Rakasa Tangadi in 1565.
Kempe Gowda was the ruler of Bangalore and the Bangalore province was attracting attention for its wealth and prosperity. Another province, Sira or Shira near Bangalore and now in Tumkur district was also emerging as a powerful entity. The Wodeyars of Srirangapatna and the Palegars of Chitradurga and Bedanur were also asserting their independence.
The Adil Shah was naturally concerned about these political developments. After the fall of Vijayanagar, his kingdom had extended upto the borders of the once invincible city of Hampi and now his southern most province was being threatened. It was then that Muhammad Adil Shah decided to reign in the Hindu states.
The Adil Shah had a galaxy of outstanding commanders in his service and the best among them were Ranadullah Khan and his protégé Afzal Khan and Shahaji.
All the three marched towards Bangalore. Ranadullah Khan permitted Shahaji to take the honors of subduing Bangalore, while he asked Afzal Khan to subdue Sira. While Shahaji gave an honorable exit to Kempe Gowda, the third, and also allowed him to retain Magadi and Savandurga, Kasturi Rangan, the palegar of Sira was not so lucky. He was lured to the negotiating table under false pretences and killed in cold blood by Afzal Khan.
The Bijapur Sultan gifted Bangalore as a Jagir to Shahaji who in turn began governing the new province which comprised the regions of Doddaballapur, Kolar, Sira, Kanakagiri, Hoskote and surrounding regions.
Shahaji asked his son Sambhaji, the elder brother of Shivaji, to govern Kolar. Unfortunately, Shahaji had little time for Bangalore since he was busy with the frequent military expeditions.
In 1648, Shahaji was called back to Bijapur and imprisoned for a short while. He was released and the jagir of Bangalore restored to him. The Adil Shah forces then attacked Bangalore which was under the command of Shivaji’s elder brother, Sanbhaji (not the Sambhaji who is Shivaji’s son). Sambhaji valiantly defeated the Bijapur contingent.  
However, Shahaji lost interest in Bangalore soon after his release and pitched camp at Kanakagiri. By then, Sambhaji had been slain in the battle to regain Kanakagiri which had revolted against the Adil Shah. After Shahaji's death in 1664, his second wife's son, Venkoji or Ekoji (1626-1687), became the Jagirdar of Bangalore.
Contemporary Maratha accounts portray Ekoji as weak, selfish, and extravagant and one who failed to understand the local conditions. Alarmed over repeated raids of Mughals and wary about Shivaji, his half brother, Ekoji decided to sell off Bangalore and settle down permanently at Tanjavur. This was sometime in 1675.
Shivaji came to know of the step motherly treatment that Ekoji had meted to his beloved Bangalore where he had stayed for two years (1640-1642) and where he had married. He marched against Ekoji and occupied his father’s jagir in 1677 comprising Bangalore, Kolar, Kanakagiri and forced Ekoji to come to the negotiating table.
Ekoji wrote to the Adil Shah Emperor complaining against Shivaji but the Emperor wisely refrained from interfering in what he called a family dispute.   
Shivaji forced Ekoji to sue for peace and he kept Doddaballapur, Chikaballapur and Kolar under his control even as he magnanimously returned Bangalore to Ekoji. He dictated the terms of an agreement that he had arrived with Ekoji whereby he made sure that Ekoji’s wife, Dipa Bai, would receive Bangalore as Choli Bangadi or pin money.
Santoji, another half-brother of Shivaji, was part of  Shivaji’s victorious Deccan campaign. He was subsequently rewarded with the province of Vellore and surrounding areas to rule. Santoji defeated Ekoji in two battles.     
Unfortunately, Bangalore’s gift as Choli Bangadi did not last long. Shivaji died in 1680 and Ekoji in 1687 decided to retire permanently to Tanjore to found the Maratha line of Kings. He entered into a pact with the Wodeyar King, Chikadevaraya, for the sale of Bangalore for Rs, 3 lakhs but before the transaction could be completed, the Mughals under Kasim or Quasim Khan and Shivaji’s son, Sambhaji, marched towards Bangalore. If Quasim Khan came with a large force to Bangalore from Golconda, Sambhaji marched with his dedicated army of Marathas from Ginjee. However, the Mughals beat the Marathas to Bangalore and captured the city. The Mughals held Bangalore for some time, there is confusion on whether our City was under the Mughals for three days or three years,  before selling it to the Wodeyars for Rs. 3 lakhs sometime in 1690. Sambhaji then went back to his stronghold of Ginjee, now in Tamil Nadu.
Coming back to the Marathas in Bangalore, Ekoji is remembered even today for his donation of Medaraninganahalli village for maintaining the Kadu Malleswara Temple in Bangalore. Apart from this structure, there is no other monument connected to the Marathas today in Bangalore.
Shivaji's death and the Mughul conquest of the Bijapur kingdom in 1686 exposed Bangalore and surrounding areas of south Karnataka to the Mughuls. Ekoji arrived at a pact with Chikkadevaraya Wodeyar (1645-1703) to sell Bangalore for Rs. 3 lakh. But before the sale was finalised, Sambhaji, the son of  Shivaji, from Ginji and the Mughals under Aurangazeb (1658-1707), from Golconda, marched towards Bangalore.
Khasim Khan then sold Bangalore to the Wodeyars in 1690 for Rs. three lakhs, while retaining Sira and surrounding areas which became a part of the Mughal province.  
Rajaram (1670-1700), a younger son of Shivaji, stayed in Bangalore around 1690 before he escaped from the perusing Mughals to Ginjee. Decades later, the Marathas under the Peshwas captured Bangalore along with Kolar, Hoskote and other places from the Wodeyar King. The Peshwas in 1770 felt that they had a right over Bangalore, Kolar, Mulabagal, Hoskote and surrounding places as it had been a Jagir of Shahaji. They also felt that the Jagir belonged to them as they had been rightfully conquered first by Shahaji, then by Shivaji and later ruled by Ekoji.
It was left to Hyder Ali to drive out the Marathas from Bangalore in 1773. Hyder and his son Tipu Sultan held Bangalore till Tipu’s death in Srirangapatna on May 4, 1799.
Strangely, even after 1799, the Maratha fascination for Bangalore did not end. Ramachandra Pandurang Tope better known as Tatya Tope (1814-1859), one of the heroes of the first war of Indian Independence, stayed at a temple on Avenue Road near Balepet Circle, Chickpet in Bangalore for some time


  1. shahaji married tukabai in 1628 so kindly confirm is shahaji was with adilshaha then the answer is no he was in pune area than so how can this marriagge take place in bangalore.

  2. sir nice reading details however shahaji married tukabai in 1628 when he was around pune and not in bangalore. kindly mail me details of maratha sources regarding marriage of shivaji at bangalore at my mail iam working on early history of shivaji