This write up is a tribute to one of his most famous victories , that at Bhopal over the Nizam of Hyderabad , in 1738 .
BACKGROUND AND CAUSE :
The immediate background for this event is Bajirao’s raids on Delhi in 1737 . Maratha armies had managed to pitch camp outside the Red Fort , in an area occupied by today’s New Delhi . After that Bajirao had proceeded to extract tribute and before the Mughals could react , had already left ! . The Mughal Mohd Shah , shaken to the core by this , had decided to call upon the services of the Nizam ul Mulk , Asaf Jah of Hyderabad . Together , he hoped to check Maratha influence in the north .
Asaf Jah proceeded to Delhi and reached there in the autumn of 1737 . He got for himself the subahs of Malwa , Agra as also tribute of one crore ( yes one crore ! ) .These subahs he wanted his son , Ghazi ud din to handle . Ofcourse , there was the small issue of malwa being in maratha hands . The Nizam of Hyderabad and the troops of Delhi started moving south into that province
NIZAM’S MARCH TO BHOPAL
Nizam’s march to BhopalNizam’s march to Bhopal
The Nizam proceeded from Delhi (A) , and keeping the Yamuna to his right , reached Kalpi (B). The Rajputs of Kota and Safdarjung joined him . Their numbers swelled to 70 ,000 .He reached Dhamoni (C) , then Sironj ( D ) in November and proceeded towards Bhopal ( E ) .Furthermore , the Nizam sent messages to his other son , Nasir Jung at Hyderabad . Nasir was instructed to attack the rear of the Maratha armies .
PESHWA PROCEEDS NORTH :
At the time the Nizam was in Delhi , Bajirao and his brother Chimaji Appa were busy fighting the Portuguese at Bassein ( Vasai ) . As soon as they got news of the combined Mughal – Nizam attack , Bajirao lifted the siege and proceeded north to meet the Nizam . Bajirao crossed the Narmada and Chimaji Appa stayed back at Varangaon to check Nasir Jung’s progress . Bajirao proceeded to Dhar and Indore , where the forces of Yashwantrao Pawar and Malharrao Holkar joined him . They now numbered 80,000
BAJIRAO CHECKS NASIR JUNG
The highlight of this whole campaign is the check Bajirao and other Marathas put on Nasir Jung . Asaf Jah had called for Nasir Jung to proceed to the Mawla , and if successful , would have put their numbers at well over 1,00,000 ! .
Bajirao stationed Chimaji Appa at Varangaon ( Duff quotes Phulumri , north of Aurangabad ) in today’s Jalna district , to prevent Nasir Jung from taking the Nagar – Aurangabad route . Fateh Singh Bhosale was sounded out to harass Nasir Jung from the Sahyadris . To the east , Raghuji Bhosale captured Echilpur ( Achalpur in present day Amravati ) from Sujayat Khan . This closed any route Nasir Jung could have taken via Vidarbha . All help from the south was completely blocked off , and it was now going to be just the Nizam v/s Bajirao .
BATTLE AT BHOPAL
In December 1737 , the Nizam reached Bhopal . He initially tried to take a stand between the lake in that city and a nearby river , but soon retreated into the fort with his huge army . The Marathas promptly cut the fort off by blockading any and all access to it . With Nasir Jung in their control , they had nothing to fear . The fort’s supplies quickly ran out and troops began deserting the Nizam .Only their guns kept the Marathas from entering the fort .
From Shajapur , to the west , Mir Mani Khan tried to come to his aid , but was captured and put to death by Malharraro Holkar . Safdarjung and the Rajputs of Kota then tried another attempt , only to be beaten back Pawar and Holkar .This state of affairs continued for over a month . Their soldiers starving and their horses reduced to consuming the plants and trees in the fort , the Nizam tried to escape back to Delhi ! . The troops of Bajirao fell upon the Nizam and the fort fell into Maratha hands in January 1738 .
The Nizam was forced to come to terms with Bajirao at Durai Sarai ,by which Maratha rule over the Malwa was consolidated .
1) Marathas became sole power in Central India
2) Nizam’s hopes of becoming a pan- India power were dashed .
3) The entire region between Narmada and Chambal was ceded to Bajirao , by both the Mughal and the Nizam .
4) Bajirao managed to extract 50 lakh as tribute from Delhi
Marathyancha itihas – vol 2 — Kulkarni n Khare ; Univ of Pune History of Marathas – Duff History of Marathas – Kincaid
© Aneesh Gokhale
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