The Fall of Raigad – May 1818

A small note explaining how the proud capital of the Marathas finally went to the British….

By November 1817 Bajirao II decided to go to war against the British. (before this also some attempts and many mistakes , but leave that for the moment).

His wife Varanasibai moved to Raigad. At the start of 1818 Lt Col Prother decided to subjugate the Maratha forts. Visapur , Lohagad , Tikona fell in March 1818 . He then turned his attention to Raigad . In this direction he took Tale , Ghosale and Mangad in April 1818.On the 23rd of April , Major Hall of the 89th Regiment moved from Indapur to Pachad. At Pachad he was opposed by a force of 300 sent from the fort , which was defeated. Lt Col Prother asked for help from the Bombay Govt and was granted a further 6 companies of the 67th Foot . These managed to reach Raigad by the 4th of May 1818 . Varanasibai was granted safe passage , but she preferred staying on and fighting from the fort.After this started a general bombardment of the fort from the nearby spur of Kalkai. Lt Remon and Major Bond took the lead in this shelling , and were recommended by Lt Col Prother in his report to the Bombay Govt on the 12th of May 1818. A Maratha force from Kangori and Pratapgad , sent to relieve Raigad , was routed by Lt Crossby at Poladpur . Crossby had been stationed at Mahad.
The artillery fire continued almost continuously from 4th to the 9th On the 6th a huge cannon ball caused a tremendous fire to break out on the fort. This fire destroyed most of the palace . The continuous shelling also destroyed the Potnis and most other ministers’ houses. Raigad was in a so – so condition when the siege began , after it there was nothing of note left. The large fire forced the fort’s Arab killedar – Shaikh Abud to sue for terms.

Map showing relevant places.
On the 10th of May 1818 , around 15 days after arriving at Raigad , Lt Col secured the Mahadarwaja for the EIC . Varanasibai was sent to Vishrambaugwada
” She was still in her royal clothing and jewels amidst the ruins of the Marathas proud capital when they met ” — according to Lt Col Prother

References  :
Papers Respecting Pindari and Maratha Wars .
Raygadachi Jeevangatha
Mah govt Gazetteers Dept – Raigad .

© Aneesh Gokhale. Purchase his books on Assam and Maratha history at Amazon India

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