This write up is a tribute to one of his most famous victories , that at Bhopal over the Nizam of Hyderabad , in 1738 .


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 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 .


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



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 .



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

More write ups by me on Peshwa Bajirao —

Bajirao v/s Mughals , Delhi , 1737

Marathas v/s Portuguese , Vasai – 1739

Bajirao v/s Mohd Khan Bangash , Bundelkhand , 1729

Do check out more about my two books on Maratha and Assam history