Zulfiqar Khan after capturing Maharani Yesubai and young Shahu was immediately despatched to pursue Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj as he left for the Deccan. He left Aurangzeb’s camp on 30 November 1689 and arrived at Gingee in June 1690 and laid siege to the fort.
The siege lasted for 8 years and is probably one of the most memorable battle of wits in Indian history. Though Zulfiqar Khan ultimately captured the fort after a titanic struggle, Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj managed to return safely to Maharashtra.
Aurangzeb was bitterly disappointed that he had failed to completely destroy the mighty Maratha power. The credit for reviving the Marathas goes to the wily Ramchandra Pant Amatya who read the Mughal intentions and assault plans like a book and Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav who executed the plan of the former to perfection.
Ramchandra Pant Amatya was known to be meticulous in his analysis and calculation, knowing full well when to strike and when to lie low. Santaji Ghorpade Senapati was a master in guerrilla warfare and had served the late Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as a young boy.
Santaji had full faith in Ramchandra Pant Amatya and was called upon to fight for the Marathas after the fall of Raigad. Santaji had an uncommon ability to handle large troops spread over a wide area. He would assess the situation and change his tactics accordingly, taking prompt advantage of every change in the enemy’s movements, plan and condition.
He would mobilize his troops posted in different locations rapidly for joint operations. His subordinates would carry out every order of his efficiently and this was the key to his successful campaigns. Santaji demanded implicit obedience from his men and enforced the strictest discipline in his army.
He terrorized the Mughal army and the mention of his very name would have them quaking with fear. Dhanaji Jadhav on the other hand was very mild in temperament and admired by both his men and the Mughals. His valour and skills in battle were legendary making him a formidable enemy in the battlefield.
The three worked in tandem to ensure that Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj would return safely to Maharashtra thus, adding to the misery and misfortune of Aurangzeb.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)
* Information about Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj is taken from archives