Lachit Barphukan – Defeater of Mughals

Today I shall talk about Lachit Barphukan – a household name in Assam, but largely unknown outside of that region. He is perhaps the reason why Assam is a part of India today and retains , nay celebrates its dharmic and Indic connections. He led a the Assamese armies against the Mughals and ensured that Assam remained free.

The Sena dynasty of neighbouring Bengal (by this I mean West Bengal and Bangladesh both) was overthrown by 1206 by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and the same year attacks on north east started. They wud continue every now and then for next four hundred years – all ending in failures.

In Assam itself , the Tai Ahom dynasty, originating in Myanmar, assumed power in 1228 AD. They too kept out successive invaders from Assam.

But a new and real challenge came with the ascent of Aurangzeb to the Mughal throne. He deputed two of his best generals – Mir Jumla and Diler Khan are sent to Bengal and from there to Assam. The later region at this particular point in time was in a state of flux. The  senapati was from a tribe other than the Tai Ahom and this has caused widespread resentment. The Mughal armies encounter a divided land and people. The unity that had kept out invasion after invasion was now missing. Mir Jumla and Diler Khan had an easy route through Assam and many forts fell without a fight. The Ahom king – Jayadhwaj Singha retreated even further east , leaving his capital Garhgaon – the place is 300 km east of Guwahati. The Mughals managed to install a faujdar at Guwahati. This 1662 – 63 invasion ends with a humiliating treaty being imposed on the Ahom king , which includes giving up all territory west of the Barnadi , including the city of Guwahati. Large amounts of cash , war elephants and — giving up his six year old daughter to the Mughal harem. Mir Jumla and Diler Khan also desecrated many ‘maidams’ or burial vaults of the Ahoms

The king Jayadhwaj Singha dies heartbroken and is succeeded by Chakradhwaj Singha, who now has a monumental task ahead of him. For this , he needs a new senapati or “Barphukan” . The term Barphukan is a rank, not a surname. A leader of all the Phukans in the army was called a “Barphukan”. The Phukan was the highest rank in Ahom army after the Barphukan – commanding 6000 soldiers or paiks.

After deliberations with his ministers, particularly the Prime Minister or the “Rajmantri Dangaria” – Atan Buragohain – Chakradhwaj Singha settles for Lachit and makes him Barphukan.

The challenge before them is immense –

1. Demoralised troops, who do not have any memory of a defeat.

2. Army commanders and ministers divided against themselves, owing to the internal dissent which pervaded everything prior to the Mughal invasion.

3. The knowledge that the troops who had faced defeat at hands of Mughals would now be asked to undo the damage. There was no option of starting with a clean slate.

4. The fact that the Mughal empire was immense and a veteran like Shaiste Khan was Subhedar of the next door province of Bengal.

Nothing is known about Lachit Barphukan’s childhood or early life, other than the fact that he was Momai Tamuli Barbarua’s son. Momai Tamuli Barbarua was a high ranking official in the Ahom kingdom. The Assamese chronicles – or Buranjis – almost exclusively deal with administration , politics and warfare. There is almost no information divulged about the personal life of the Ahom commanders and ministers. It is surmised that Lachit Barphukan was born somewhere around the year 1620.

He was attending political meetings with his father in his young age, doing the job of carrying the relevant documents and betel nut trays. Later on, he became the scarf bearer. Further on Lachit got promoted to Gorakaksharia Barua – head of the royal stables. Then he was promoted to Dolakaksharia Barua – leader of the royal bodyguard. He was at this rank when the invasion of Mir Jumla happened. During that invasion, he had led his troops with bravery at Dikhowmukh.

He was thus promoted to rank of Barphukan. The situation at this point of time was dicey, and even though some suggested a surprise assault on Mughal held Guwahati, Atan Buragohain cautioned them against it. He was of the firm view, that any attack on Guwahati would invite a retribution from Aurangzeb and the huge armies at his disposal. Lachit Barphukan proudly declared that even if he was the last Ahom alive, he would still fight the Mughals.

So the Ahom king invested the next four years in rebuilding the army into a robust and powerful force. Soldiers were recruited, boats built at dockyards, weapons procured. Cannons made and fortifications strengthened. The king, the Prime Minister and the Barphukan would regularly visit to check the progress being made. All this while pretensions of friendship were maintained with the Mughals – by slowly complying with the terms of the treaty signed between Mir Jumla and Jayadhwaj Singha. This was a diplomatic master stroke, enabling the Ahom to rebuild without inviting suspicion or ruffling feathers at either Guwahati or the capital of Mughal Bengal – Dhaka.

In 1667, the faujdar of Guwahati – Rashid Khan is recalled to Agra and replaced with Firoz Khan. This person sends a direct demand to Chakradhwaj Singha – calling him a vassal and orders him to send young Assamese girls for his pleasure.

The preparations for the war are almost complete, and this insult to their king rallies the people. At the head of a large army, Lachit Barphukan sets off west to recapture Guwahati – after a gap of nearly four years.

The important point to note here, is that the Assamese, lead by the Ahoms, had a very robust military system in place. Yes, the terrain helped them perfect their skills of guerilla warfare, but that was not all. The Ahom military system was based on –

1. The paik system. Every family across the kingdom was required to provide at least three persons for the kingdom. At least one would serve in the army, two if required.

2. There was a definite hierarchy of command – starting with a Deka commanding 10 paiks Bora over 20 paiks , Saikias on 100 paiks ,  Hazarika of a 1000 paiks , Rajkhowa on 3000 paiks and Phukan of 6000 paiks etc. The Barphukan was the supreme commander of all of these.

3. They did not have a cavalry arm – owing to the frequent floods of the Brahmaputra and the topography and weather of the land – which made it difficult for large numbers of horses. Instead they had an excellent infantry and something very unique in the Indian context – a riverine Navy. This was the backbone of the Assamese army of those times – and helped them dominate the river Brahmaputra.

4. Improvements on this riverine navy – such as the panigarh . This would be a quickly built stockade in the middle of the river, on which guns could be mounted and enemy boats and ships countered.

5. Fortifications – A string of forts on either side of the Brahmaputra.

6. A strong network of spies – this enabled them to rebuild the army and procure weapons without arousing suspicion.

Lachit Barphukan, at the head of this large army, attacked many forts near Guwahati. But even after months of siege Guwahati itself could not be captured. The city at that point in time was being protected by the fort of Itakhuli – which was being defended by Syed Firoz Khan himself. It was naturally strong, having the Brahmaputra on one side and well defended by walls and cannons on all others. The Mughal cannons had infact kept Lachit Barphukan’s soldiers at a safe distance from the fort. A few months passed in this condition of stalemate.

Finally, Lachit Barphukan agreed to a bold plan in which one of his commaders – Ismail Siddiqui or Bagh Hazarika played an important part. This involved sneaking into the fort in the dead of the night in very small numbers – ten or twelve at most and immobilising the cannons by pouring water into them. This daring mission was then carried out by Bagh Hazarika , Japang Gohain and a handful of ace soldiers one August  night. The next morning Lachit Barphukan could fearlessly attack Itakhuli ! The fort fell into his hands and Guwahati was free once more.

Lachit Barphukan then chased the Mughals all the way to the mouth of the Manas river, freeing forts such as Jogigopha from the Mughals as a result. The Ahom banner once again began fluttering over Assam.

This event in 1667 was Lachit Barphukan’s first claim to fame. It was the result of a careful and calibrated rebuilding of the army which had delivered the goal. But Barphukan knew simply winning Guwahati was not enough, for the Mughals were sure to attack again.

The news of this victory reached the ears of Aurangzeb a few months later. He was determined to recapture Guwahati and finally decided to send Ram Singh. Partly because he held Ram Singh responsible for Shivaji’s escape from Agra, and wanted to test his loyalty. Partly because the architect of the previous victory – Diler Khan was busy in the Deccan.

Ram Singh started at the head of a very large army, totalling over 70,000 soldiers. Following infographic gives a break up of his forces.

Mughal army 1667

Ram Singh managed to reach Dhaka in 1668 / 69 and had an audience with Shaiste Khan, who assured him of further help against the Assamese and warned him about the land and its peculiarities.

As for Lachit Barphukan, he did not rest on his laurels for even a single day and immediately got down to the work on rebuilding the fortifications and strengthening the forts in view of the impending Mughal invasion. His plan was simple – to build a ring of very strong defenses around Guwahati and fight the Mughals tooth and nail at this point in the Brahmaputra. This was because the Brahmaputra was at its narrowest near Guwahati, thus he intended to trap the Mughals at this point in the river, much like one would choke an army in a narrow mountain pass (strategem). Sufficient number of paiks were placed to guard the fortifications.

One incident  which happened during the building of these embankments around Guwahati which has since become part of Assamese folklore.

Lachit Barphukan’s plan was simple – he intended to fortify and guard the city of Guwahati so as to prevent the Mughals from sailing further east to Gargaon, the capital. All possible resources were thrown into the war effort. By the time Ram Singh reached Dhaka from Agra and began sailing towards Guwahati, the embankments and fortifications were complete – save for one very crucial patch. The person in charge was Lachit’s own maternal uncle. Lachit Barphukan realized that time was short and exhorted his uncle to keep working through the night so that the embankment would be complete. It was afterall , just a question of a few more hours of work. But Lachit’s uncle completely ignored his orders !The next morning, Lachit Barphukan beheaded his own maternal uncle for dereliction of duty and being callous towards defending the Brahmaputra Valley. For Lachit Barphukan, his attitude amounted to treason – punishable by death. The exact location of the embankment is unknown, but the story itself is very popular as Assamese folklore.

This raised Lachit Barphukan’s stature immeasurably in the eyes of the people and soldiers and they coalesced as one to face the Mughal threat.

Ram Singh began attacking the western outposts of the Ahom kingdom by 1669 and as planned, the soldiers retreated towards Guwahati , luring Ram Singh into the trap.

Ram Singh, seeing that he had easily gained a number of forts, grew haughty and believed his work was already done. In reality, he had almost fallen into the trap.

Ram Singh then sent a bag of poppy seeds to Lachit Barphukan, with the message that the Mughal army was as numerous as the seeds in the bag. Not one to bear an insult, either on the battle field or in diplomacy, Lachit Barphukan as a reply sent a tube full of sand from the river bank ! The message being that the Assamese army was as numerous as grains of sand. And while the poppy seeds could be ground into a paste, the sand was insoluble !

Now this message was sent to Ram Singh via two envoys – Nim and Ramcharan. At the Mughal camp, they noticed two exquisitely carved wooden birds, and took an instant liking to them. Although their job was only to deliver a message, Ram Singh persuaded Nim to accept two of the birds as a gift !

Lachit Barphukan was livid on getting this piece of news ! Dereliction of duty was not a trait he was looking for.

Thus, these two incidents showed the entire army that Lachit Barphukan meant to lead by example and indiscipline in the ranks when faced with a mortal danger would not be tolerated. The result was that the Assamese stood together like one monolithic rock inspite of the best of efforts by Ram Singh.

All attempts at conquering various forts were beaten back. Ram Singh sent part of his army to sneak in via a pass in Darrang, this too was found out and the soldiers mercilessly slaughtered. In general, the year 1669 ended with victories for Lachit Barphukan.

Finally a time came when the two armies were left facing each other on the opposite ends of the fields of Alaboi. Ram Singh then tried to sow dissent in the ranks of his enemy. made. Commanders who were not very happy with Lachit in charge  were offered huge bribes.

Lachit was wary of facing the Mughals on an open field, knowing full well that his own army did not consist of any cavalry, and his nemesis had perhaps the best cavalry. It would be suicide for his foot soldiers to face a cavalry charge. But the dissent being sown by Ram Singh and the long delays on the battlefield managed to make Raja Chakradhwaj Singha force his hand — and he issued an ultimatum to Lachit Barphukan to engage Ram Singh.

Much against his wishes, Lachit Barphukan was forced to battle Ram Singh on the open fields (5th Aug 1669). It ended as expected – a terrible disaster, with Lachit Barphukan losing over 10,000 of his best soldiers.

But the battle was a shot in the arm for Raja Ram Singh. Aurangzeb heard of it from Shaiste Khan and immediately increased Ram Singh’s mansab to 5000, making him a mansabdar of considerably high rank. He further asked him to push forward and capture Guwahati. Seasoned sailors like Munnawar Khan and Mohammed Saleh Karoh were deputed to aid him. White skinned freebooters and mercenaries plying around Bengal also joined the fray on the side of the Mughals.

In the meanwhile, negotiations had been opened between the Mughals and the Assamese, interspersed with skirmishes as before. Udayaditya Singha succeeded Chakradhwaj Singha in 1670 in the midst of all this.

Thus the year 1670 more or less passed with little happening of note.

By the beginning of 1671  Mughals also had built up their army , with the arrival of the firangees , fresh soldiers , Munnawar Khan and Mohamed Saleh Karoh to the Brahmaputra. Lachit Barphukan on his part was not slack. The forts were strengthened, pickets posted and a further twenty thousand soldiers requested to be sent from Gargaon.

Ram Singh discovered through his spies that there was a breach in the long line of embankments guarding Guwahati at Andurabali. Here was a golden chance to break through and capture the all important fort.

And at this critical juncture, with the Mughal armies amassed on the Brahmaputra with as many as forty war ships each carrying 16 guns and many smaller boats, Lachit Barphukan fell ill. To the extent that he could hardly stand and move around.

In the month of March 1671, the battle of began. It would go down in Assam and India’s history as the Battle of Saraighat. The grand climax to a series of events set in motion eight years ago with the invasion of Mir Jumla. It was unique, for it was the only major battle in India to have been fought entirely on a river ! But then the river Brahmaputra is gigantic in proportions – being a kilometre wide even at its narrowest point at Guwahati !

With their commander bed ridden, the Assamese faced off against the Mughals who were making one last determined effort to force their way through the breach at Andurabali and conquer Guwahati once more. In the absence of a leader, their movements were haphazard and the Mughal attack was devastating. Before long, withering in the face of the concerted attack, the Assamese began retreating their steps eastward !

Lachit Barphukan heard of this retreat and was livid. Much against the wishes of his vaidya and astrologers, he decided to join the war.

” I shall be the last one to leave the battlefield” he declared proudly ” And if I die, bury my mortal remains on a small plot of land I have bought on a nearby hill for the princely sum of four cowries” . But Lachit Barphukan would not lie on his sickbed while his soldiers were getting slaughtered.

He stepped into his warboat and unfurled the flag. That itself was like Adrenalin for his soldiers. Nothing could go wrong now !

The Ahoms turned around and faced the Mughals once more. Between the watery triangle formed by the temple of Kamakhya , the Bishnu Mandir at Aswaklanta and the Itakhuli Hill Fort a grand battle ensued. The Assamese made use of improvised defenses – such as the Pani garh — stockades built in middle of the water from where they could easily fire on the Mughals. Bridges of boats were built, acting like fortified barriers. The small   Ahom Bacchari boats were handled swiftly and deftly by their commanders , leaving the large war boats of the Mughals clueless. Lachit Barphukan and the Ahoms had perfected the art of fighting on the mighty river and it was at Saraighat that they scored their biggest victory.

By the end of that day in March 1671 , the Mughals were in retreat and would never again make a sincere attempt at annexing Assam.

Lachit Barphukan – Legacy and Importance.

Lachit Barphukan’s victory halted the Mughal march into Assam. It kept political control with the Ahoms. It was on this foundation that later day rulers like Rudra Singha could truly blossom and build many temples , tanks and give a cultural boost to Assamese society.

We do not know what would have happened in case of a Mughal victory. Total annihilation ? Vassalage ?  The ruling dynasty destroyed with the incumbent cruelly killed ? Destruction of temples ? We do not know, but all of the above had already been done by Aurangzeb  or would do in the years to come. But Lachit Barphukan prevented all of that through his valiant leadership.

The present shape of India is a sum total of all the various contributions through the ages by innumerable personalities. Each of them, battled in their own way to uphold Indic culture and lead us to where we are today.



Lachit Barphukan & Religion – A reply for Commies

Its a shame I have to write this, because frankly his religion should be least of our concerns. He fought against an army which represented Uzbek invaders and that is all that should concern us. But instead of recognising the flaw that was the Mughal empire, our secular donkeys issue following statements with regards to Barphukan – Mughal struggle :

  1. Lachit Barphukan was not a Hindu.
  2. He fought against the Hindu Ram Singh.
  3. Most important commander was a Muslim named Ismail Siddiqui.
  4. It was not a Hindu – Muslim struggle. Let us not paint it that way.
  5. Assam was never a part of India. (since definition of India is only as per Oxford dictionary)

So now, let us take the claims one by one.

Yes . He was not a Hindu. Surprised ? 

Technically speaking, he belonged to a religion called Fralung. This religion traces its origins to a God named Lengdon. Lengdon’s two children Khunlai and Khunlung came down to earth and started the Tai Ahom dynasty etc etc. Mythology basically, lets say Fralung mythology. Then all this manifests itself as deities like Ngi Ngau Kham etc. There was even a temple to this God at Charaideo in Assam.

But, there are some aspects of this ‘religion’ which are very close to classical Hinduism. Like for example – ancestor worship. Also there was a definite element of idol worship. Infact, an image of Lengdon was given to the king to signify his royal bearing. Then there was the Lakli calender, which closely resembled the Brihaspati Chakra. Also, there is a claim that Lengdon is Indra – but this is contested and since this is not a lecture on theology, I will not go into it. But why is he associated with Indra of all Gods ? A question to ponder.

Most importantly, adopting certain Hindu customs did not make them apostates. Even today, there are members of the Tai Ahom tribe, who while following many ‘Hindu’ customs, still follow Fralung customs like burial.

Even more important, is that after migrating from Burma, this dynasty adopted and enriched the local culture. They welcomed someone  Shankaradeva, built temples, tanks etc and ensured the well being of the people. So maybe initially they were not Hindu, but certainly did more for Hinduism in the north east than some “Hindus” elsewhere in the country. Also, they adopted more and more customs of classical Hinduism as time passed, till we had kings like Rudra Singha who was as Hindu as you or me.

Another interesting question for the secular donkeys to answer — why did this dynasty, at the peak of their power, exposed to so many different ideologies, adopt more customs of Hinduism ? Why not Islam – politically dominant every where else in India ?

For want of a better word – “Indic religion” is a good term to use for Lachit Barphukan specifically. The umbrella under which you will find Buddhism, Jainism perhaps even Sikhism among others. They are intrinsically different from Abrahamic religions and share many things in common. Moreover, in nations like China and Japan, people have been known top officially follow two religions at same time. Within India , is it odd to find Buddha statues in Hindu homes or Jains paying respects at Hindu temples ?

Secular donkeys can think of a religion only in terms of my way or the high way — which is the crux of the problem.

2. He fought against the Hindu Ram Singh. 

Well, this I have mentioned firmly in my book. What’s more, he even prayed at the Hayagriv temple at Hajo. His father also prayed at some temple in the Deccan – when he invaded on behalf of Aurangzeb. But again the secular donkeys forget that while the sword was in Hindu hands, the thought was Mughal. And what did Aurangzeb do in all those territories captured for him by his Hindu mansabdars ? Jaziya is just one example. So, the correct assessment is, he fought against the Mughal empire of Aurangzeb. Again, a common trick of deception perfected by commies – missing the woods for the trees. The whole exercise is of course to absolve the Mughal empire of any wrong.

3. His most important commander was Ismail Siddiqui 

Well, I agree he was an important commander and was instrumental in capturing Guwahati in November 1667. For this he should be known to all and my deepest respects to him. But, he was not the only commander under Lachit Barphukan. As often happens in such cases, his importance has been over blown by many secular donkeys. My question is, why does the Muslim fighting for the Hindu (or the Fralung here) always get mentioned like it is something extra special ? Were not the other people who accompanied Siddiqui important ? How many have heard about Miri Sandikoi, who prevented his entire battalion from retreating at Saraighat ? Doesn’t this itself show that such had been the exception and not the norm ?

Coming to his rank , it was Hazarika. Meaning he led contingents of 1000 soldiers. There were ranks for three thousand and six thousand also. So frankly, there were higher ranked officers who also played a very important role in the Assamese victory.

Well, in this we can see another commie gem — He was patriotic and remained true to his king inspite of being Muslim.

And if you have not seen the problem in that statement, well god help you.

4. It was not a Hindu Muslim struggle. 

Well it was not. It was a struggle between people who wanted swarajya and Uzbek invaders. It had as much logic in it as the Indian Freedom Struggle. Maharashtra, Assam, perhaps Bundelkhand have the distinction in having participated and won in not one but two freedom struggles.

Now, will our secular donkeys agree to this point ?

5. Assam was never a part of India. 

This again comes straight from Marx Tuition Classes. Commies have been trying to fit the Indian “nation” into European definitions and failed. In fact, a nation created on those very communal lines is on verge of falling apart.Pakistan that is. The commie assertion is — no “Indian” power has ruled, and hence it is never part of India. Basically till the British came, Delhi never ruled. Then this leads to usual commie dialogues

India has always been defined in cultural terms. And Assam very well fits in. Narakasur has been mentioned in the Mahabharat, as has been Bhagadatta. Then we have Ulupi and Chitrangada further east. Most important is the Kamakhya mandir at Guwahati. It is a very important Shakti peeth – symbolizing the Yoni. The other important Shakti peeth is in Balochistan ! And likewise there are over fifty spread all over the subcontinent.

This itself should tell us that Assam is culturally integral to India, much like the 12 jyotirlings. Also, the name of Burma was Brahmadesh, and Brahma idols are prevalent in that religion. Kamrup comes from Kamdev. The Yogini Tantra was also composed in Assam. And last but not the least the old name of Guwahati – “Pragjyotishpur” should finish all doubts about its cultural unity with India since ancient times.

well so .. there you go.





Sample pages – Jayadhwaj Singha

Sample pages from my book ” Brahmaputra” 

Jayadhwaj Singha

Jayadhwaj Singha , king of the Ahoms , was wearing the ochre coloured robes of a simple soldier. His sword , a weapon with a long  hilt and a straight blade called a  heng dang which denoted his royal stature was missing , and his arms had been covered with cuts and bruises. Tears trickled down his face , mingling with the constant drizzle . He was glad that no one could see his tear stained face , but there was no escaping the lump in his throat which felt heavy and gnawed at his very soul.

He turned his gaze to his left , to a little mound jutting out of the third . It was a burial vault of one of his ancestors . The burial vault was an echo of his ancient Tai Ahom tribal religion of Fralung – much of which had been given up by the Ahoms. But the age old Fralung practise of burying the dead along with the deceased person’s possessions and treasures had stood the test of time and a fast changing civilisation.

Jayadhwaj Singha’s heart ached as he saw the Mughal soldiers attack the burial vault with pick axes , hammers , shovels and swords. Fury raged in his eyes. But there was little he could do about it. Far above him , the dark dank clouds converged into an ugly black mass , adding to the gloominess already enveloping the Ahom king. He looked away as the Mughal soldiers began looting the sacred burial vaults of his forefathers.

His gaze turned to the east , where two huge black  stallions towered above the landscape , reaching into the grey skies . Grotesque in shape and gigantic in size with  eyes that  seemed empty and lifeless. Astride one was a colossal figure  with a white beard and high cheekbones . He was wearing the rich robes of a Mughal noble and a richly adorned pagdi .  He watched the Mughal soldiers go about defiling the burial vault . On the stallion beside him , was a wicked looking man sitting in the saddle. He too wore the exquisite robes of a Mughal noble . Fair of skin and with cold and cruel eyes , his samsher  hung from his cummerbund , still stained with blood. His Afghan turban rested easily on his head , with an end dangling carelessly over his shoulder. Jayadhwaj Singha recognised the two as Mir Jumla and Diler Khan – Mughal sardars who had tormented the Ahoms.

Suddenly he heard a little girl crying . He turned around , only to see his own daughter of six years , standing there , clutching her rag doll. What was she doing there ? In the midst of the Mughal soldiers and those two Mughal sardars he wondered ? He felt someone was looking at him , and turned around to find Mir Jumla glaring at him , with cold , unfeeling eyes .
“ The Ahom king must no longer even look at his own daughter . She belongs to the Mughal harem now “ the figure on the ugly black stallion bellowed . The cruel conditions of the treaty he had signed at Gilijharighat came back flooding to Jayadhwaj Singha ….
“Aaah…” Jayadhwaj Singha awoke with a start. He could feel his heart pounding. Sweat trickled down his forehead. Outside , the cold , dark night stretched into the distance. The unnerving silence pervading everything being broken only by the rhythmic chirping of crickets. Jayadhwaj Singha’s breathing was heavy. All the horrors of the past few months had been brought alive in one cruel nightmare. Tears welled up in his eyes as he remembered his daughter , a mere child of six years , now in the Mughal harem. He mutterd to himself , asking for her forgiveness. The frightening images of the Mughal soldiers danced before his eyes .

And what good was he ? He had heard whispers that the people were calling him “bhagodiya raja “ for having abandoned his capital of Gargaon and sought shelter in the hills of Namrup to the east. But how was he to explain that the arduous journey to the small village of Bakata was also for his people alone – to regroup his armies and inspire them to fight the Mughals once again.

The Ahom king coughed loudly and felt a liquid thud into his hands. The commotion woke up his wife , who rushed towards her husband. Jayadhwaj Singha coughed again and blood splattered onto his simple white clothes. His wife frantically called for the vaidyas and deodhais . Attendants rushed about in panic .

Jayadhwaj Singha knew his end was near . He felt drained and spent , both physically and emotionally. With a voice barely audible and symptomatic of the great pain he was in , he whispered to his wife

“Send for my cousin , Supungmung” he said the words in great pain .

“Quickly, rush to his camp across the stream and bring him here. Tell him to reach here as soon as possible” his wife shouted, his voice having more than a hint of panic.

“He will rule after me … Supungmung… tell him so….”  Jayadhwaj Singha’s breathing was heavy as he spoke. His queen was crying, her tears streaming down her face and staining them. She held Jayadhwaj Singha’s hand, hoping for a miracle. The vaidyas and deodhais frantically brought herbs and potions for the king, but with every passing minute, Jayadhwaj Singha’s condition only worsened. He coughed once again, staining the white clothes of the deodhai a deep red. Then suddenly the hand went limp, and Jayadhwaj Singha’s heart stopped beating  forever….

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Rudra Singha – The greatest king of North East India

Rudra Singha

Originally published in DNA on 26 Feb 2017

When we speak of medieval Assam, Lachit Barphukan is perhaps the only name known to us, for his exploits against the Mughals. But the person who took Assam to its cultural and political zenith was a king named Rudra Singha, who ruled between 1696 and 1714 AD. He was from the Ahom dynasty which ruled Assam from 1228 to 1821 AD. Having ascended the throne, he had taken the Ahom name Chao Sukrungpha and almost immediately got down to building Assam into a prosperous kingdom. Numerous civil works were undertaken by him. The Joysagar, said to be India’s largest man-made tank with an area of 318 acres, was constructed during his reign. In a significant break from traditional Ahom architecture, which made heavy use of mud, bamboo and wood, Rudra Singha built solid stone structures. The Namdang Stone Bridge, which connects the eastern towns of Shibsagar and Jorhat, is another example. Built in the early eighteenth century, it was incorporated as part of National Highway 37 and continued to carry modern vehicles till a few years ago. Its heritage value was finally recognised some years ago and now a new road has been built.Various administrative buildings were constructed at Rangpur, the new capital of the kingdom. The king also built a number of temples, such as the Shiva Doul and Gauri Doul. He established various Satras and also gave royal patronage to the Bihu festival. He also sent young boys to Benares to study. Rudra Singha’s planned invasion of Mughal Bengal is perhaps his greatest claim to fame. Hindu kings who dreamt of going beyond their territories are few and far between. The reasons for this planned invasion are not very clear. Historian SK Bhuyan says various reasons can be attributed, such as Mughal officials sending him a khillat and Hindu pilgrims being harassed in Bengal. One must understand that Rudra Singha was a great patron o f Hinduism and the coins minted in his name contained the words “shri shrimadvengar deva rudra simhasya” and “shri shri haragauri padambuja madhukarasya”. The Tungukhia Buranji, a contemporary source, states that Rudra Singha held an assembly where he declared his intention to invade the region between Rangmati and Dhaka. Dhaka, at the time, was an important Mughal city in Bengal. Another reason could be that being a devotee of Shiva, he wanted to include a part of river Ganges into his domain. Meticulous preparations for this grand invasion were done. The neighbouring kingdoms such as the Jayantia and Cachar joined him. The Koch ruler Rup Narayan also sent favourable replies. He ruled over what is today’s region of Cooch Behar in North Bengal. He solicited support from the Hindu zamindars of Burdwan and Barnagar in Bengal. Closer to Guwahati, alliances were stitched with neighbouring kingdoms — Rajas of Morung, Bana-Vishnupur and Nadiya. For the first time, diplomatic relations were opened with Tripura and help was sought regarding the grand invasion of Mughal territories. Thus, Rudra Singha, in a short span of time, united all the tribes and kingdoms of the North East and a huge army of 4 lakh soldiers began to gather at Guwahati. Assam had a glorious tradition of beating back invaders for over 400 years. Rudra Singha intended to pay the invaders in their own coin. At this critical juncture, Rudra Singha, on whom the whole campaign rested, died a sudden death in 1714. His death is one of the great ‘what ifs’ of Indian history. With a Mughal Empire on its last legs, who knows how much success would have come Rudra Singha’s way. In the context of the capitulation of Bengal in 1757, could a strong king have perhaps prevented a British entry? His death leaves us only with conjectures. Thus, Rudra Singha was a multifaceted personality, an able king who excelled at diplomacy, politics and warfare. At the same time, he patronised art and religion, and gave a great fillip to art and architecture during his reign. Assam achieved great heights in the realm of art, architecture, civil works, as well as military prowess during his reign.

The Maharaja Takhta Singh Observatory of Pune !

First published in DNA on 15 September 2019

The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics or IUCAA has put Pune on the astronomy map of the country for over 30 years. The radio telescope at Narayangaon (GMRT) is another feather in the astronomy cap. But, while these are well-known recent modern day developments, what is not generally known is that the city’s oldest astronomical observatories were built over 130 years ago! The Maharaja Takhta Singh Observatory, for instance, was launched in 1888. 

As early as 1842, one SW Jacobs had begun doing astronomical observations of his own in Pune. This was not a proper observatory though, more of a personal pursuit with a telescope that lasted till about 1848. After this, he went away to Madras and consequently returned to England. Yet, the location of Pune as a good high altitude site for astronomy was not lost on him. He made several petitions to have some money released for establishing an observatory. The powers obliged him with a thousand pounds — a large sum in those days. Jacobs used this money to purchase equipment and telescopes in England and set sail for India. But, as luck would have it, Jacobs died merely a week after returning to India and his dream of establishing an astronomy observatory in Pune remained unfulfilled.

Years later, a professor of astrophysics named Kawasji Dadabhai Naegamwala once again set the wheels in motion towards an astronomy observatory in Pune. 

A student of the prestigious Elphinstone College in Mumbai, he graduated in the late 19th century with a Masters in both chemistry and physics. He then took up a job at the same college. While he was there, Maharaja Takhta Singh, the ruler of the Princely State of Bhavnagar, paid the college a visit. He blessed Naegamwala’s project with a generous grant of Rs 5,000 and the government matched it with an equal amount. Naegamwala left Elphinstone College and took up a job as an astrophysics professor at the 25-year-old Poona College of Science, (now College of Engineering, Pune). It is here that his astronomy observatory blossomed. Armed with the generous donation by Maharaja Takhta Singh as well as crowdfunding from other sources, which included the great Jamshedji Tata contributing Rs 250, Naegamwala went to England to purchase his telescopes. 

The observatory made notable contributions in studying the total solar eclipse of 1898, a detailed report of which, replete with data and photographs is readily available.  Talking about photographs, the camera used by Naegamwala was a 10-foot-tall structure, requiring several men to handle it. Kawasji Dadabhai Naegamwala was one of the first astrophysicists of the country in the modern sense of the term. 

It is difficult to imagine today, an observatory functioning near Pune’s COEP College, given its urban location. The telescope was located near the village kd Bhamburda. But back in the 1890s, vehicular pollution and light pollution — the two main enemies of anyone looking at the night time skies — simply did not exist! Why, even the village of Bhamburda had just been included within the Municipality ! The observatory started off with a 16-inch telescope, later upgraded to 20-inch-long equipment. This telescope remained the biggest in the country for the next half century, at least! While the observatory ran efficiently for some time, Prof Naegamwala stopped publishing any new papers from 1902 and the observatory was utilised far below its potential. A probable reason could be Naegamwala’s disappointment at not getting to head the newly established Solar Physics Observatory at Kodaikanal. A detailed study of the total solar eclipse of 1898 with photographs and data remained one of the achievements of the observatory. 

With the retirement of Kawasji Dadabhai Naegamwala in 1912, the Government of India ordered the Maharaja Takhta Singh Observatory to wind up its operations. The short life of this observatory, sadly, came to an end. It had some of the best facilities in the country and was ideally located, but the entire observatory hinged around one man — Naegamwala himself. Much like how Jacob’s Poona observatory had shut down years earlier, the one-man show proved to be the undoing of the Maharaja Takhta Singh observatory also. However, while the observatory shut down, its principal telescope lived on and charted a life of its own. 

The main telescope of the observatory and other instruments were shipped off to Kodaikanal, for installing in a new observatory there, but it did not come out of the packaging box till 1951! Around 1980, the telescope was shipped to Kovalur. It was by now nearly a 100 years old, but still in use!  In light of this (pun unintended), it is perhaps fitting that IUCAA was set up in Pune.  Also appropriate that the country’s oldest amateur astronomy club — Jyotirvidya Parisanstha — was established in this city in 1944, almost a 100 years after Lt Col SW Jacob’s abortive attempt at an astronomy observatory.

SS Enterprise – First Steamship to India

Originally published in DNA on 20 Jan 2019

Many of you must have read about the first train in India — the famous 1853 run from Boribunder to Thane. It heralded a new dawn for communications, industry and transport in India. An equally important event happened 30 years prior to that, in 1825 in Calcutta. The first trans-ocean steamship reached India: The SS Enterprise. It had completed the maiden England-India voyage using steam engines! The steam engine and its successor, the diesel engine, completely revolutionised the shipping world. Ships using sails were always made of wood; they were slow moving and small in size. The steam engine enabled the use of iron for building ships, and eventually enabled the building of vessels over 200 metres long. The RMS Titanic, for example, was nearly 300 metres long and moved at a speed three to four times that of the erstwhile sailing ship!

Hence, to move from sail to steam was a milestone for any country, including India. The Nawab of Awadh had a small steamboat built for himself by Henry Pickett. This was followed by other river steamboats such as the Diane. The Diane was the first steamboat built in India, being put together in Calcutta by JT Roberts. But it had little luck when it came to commerce and Roberts had a tough time selling his product. Eventually, its English Oak structure had to be replaced by teakwood (Indian teakwood was much in demand for ship building), before finally being launched in 1824. Just the previous year, some in London were giving serious thought to rounding the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) by a steamship — an idea which many described as a waste of time. But the success of the Diane and other steamboats increased the interest in such an ambitious project which finally went ahead. A preliminary study concluded that 80,000 rupees would be required to run the vessel during the entire trip (running costs are into a few lakhs per day on modern ships); much of it on coal, its fuel.

Interestingly, the Nawab of Awadh financed nearly a fifth of this amount! The Calcutta Steam Committee even announced a cash prize if the ship managed to reach within its declared ETA, which was 70 days. The SS Enterprise was a peculiar, hybrid ship — it had sails along with a steam engine. Such ships were called ‘Auxiliary steamships’. The transition from sail to steam actually had an in-between invention to show! For some part of the journey, the sails were rigged and used, as the weather permitted. Elsewhere, the steam engine kicked into action.

As it turned out, the ship took over 100 days to complete the journey instead of the promised 70. Ten of these were spent in replenishing the coal on board. In December 1825, the SS Enterprise arrived at Calcutta harbour, marking a shift from the age of sail to the age of steam. Although it took roughly the same amount of time as a contemporary sailing ship, the advantages were obvious and the technology was here to stay. The vessel was sold to the East India Company for the princely sum of 40,000 rupees, and immediately pressed into service as a supply and communication vessel for the Anglo Burmese War.

The person who had commanded the SS Enterprise to India, Captain Johnston, was now put in charge of another ambitious project — navigating a steamboat called The Hooghly from Calcutta to Allahabad for a distance of eight hundred miles. At the same time, another steamboat, The Brahmapooter, journeyed from Calcutta into Assam.

Not long after that, the ship building yard at Bombay Docks got to work on a steam ship. The docks run by the Wadias already had a long and rich history of building worldclass vessels, including those directly commissioned into the Royal British Navy. Hence, when the building of the steam ship ‘Hugh Lindsay’ was taken up in 1829, it was hardly to anyone’s surprise. This ship plied from Bombay to Suez and back. Proposals to extend the service into Europe, via railways, were discussed. At the time called the ‘overland route’, since the Suez Canal was yet to be built! Ten years later, the Victoria — the fastest steamer in the world then — was launched. A steam-powered ship built at the Mazagon Docks also made its way to its buyer a few years later — the Imam of Muscat! Each of these ships had a silver nail hammered into the ship’s body for good luck – a Parsi tradition!

The steam engine and its related innovations – the steel or iron hull and the new screw type propeller — completely revolutionised global shipping, trade and commerce. Ports and routes hitherto unreachable or unnavigable by sailing ships were now thrown open. Immense amounts of cargo could now be carried in massive ships; today’s largest ships are many times larger than the ones in which Columbus and Vasco Da Gama travelled! The steam engine enabled more progress to be made in ship construction in 200 years than wood and canvas sails had in 500!

The Post Office, the Telegraph and 1857

“We must leave office; all the bungalows are being burnt down by the sepoys of Meerut. They came in today morning. Mr. Todd, we think, is dead. We are off.” – This short message sent on a telegraph line from Delhi into the Punjab in 1857 probably changed the course of India’s First War of Independence. It was actually sent by two young boys, William Brendish and J.W Pilkington who worked as signalers at the newly formed Delhi Telegraph Office. Clerks, sending and receiving messages as ordered to.
The first telegraph line was tested in 1837 between Calcutta and the nearby Diamond Harbour. Nothing much came of the experiment, till Lord Dalhousie put his influence to work for a telegraph network for India after which funds and materials starting flowing for it from 1850 onwards. By the beginning of 1857, telegraph lines connected Calcutta to Peshawar via Agra, Delhi, Ambala and Lahore. A line connected Mumbai to Madras and Mumbai to Delhi. Another connected Calcutta to Mumbai forming a network that stretched thousands of miles and covered over forty towns. The telegraph wire revolutionized communications. Thus far, sending messages had always meant physically delivering a piece of paper. Speed was dependent on good roads and good horses, which no matter how good required days for getting a message from Delhi to Calcutta. Now the same could be done in few hours! 1857 actually was not the first time that the telegraph was used in battle in India – the honour goes to the Anglo Burmese Wars, when news of the British victory was relayed to Calcutta in advance of messengers reaching there with letters. A few months delay in the Delhi – Frontier telegraph line might well have changed the course of history! The leaders of the sepoys in 1857 were fully aware of the importance of the telegraph system. One of their first acts was to destroy the telegraph office at Barrackpore, effectively cutting the Agra – Kanpur – Calcutta line. It still worked in bits and pieces, and by sending messages via Mumbai but the potency of sending a message directly from Calcutta to Delhi had finished. Then the Meerut – Delhi line was cut on the 11th of May. But the lines from Delhi onwards were still active. Seeing that the chatter from Meerut had stopped abruptly, Mr. Todd, who was in-charge of the Delhi Office, left to check the lines suspecting some damage near the Yamuna only to be killed by sepoys who had already entered Delhi. With the city burning around them, the young signallers managed to send a message to Ambala and Lahore in the nick of time. The capture of Delhi was known the day it fell. Thanks to the telegraph, the British came to know about the events at Delhi and Meerut before the sepoys in the Punjab did. The fire that had started in Awadh could be nipped by the EIC before it engulfed the entire Grand Trunk Road. General Anson, the C in C quickly moved to have complete control over the munitions depots in the Punjab. He further took the various Punjab chiefs, such as Patiala and Nabha, into confidence. The result being that almost no help could come from the Punjab to the succor of the rebels at Delhi. Reasons were various, but swift action by the EIC following the messages received from Delhi had played its role. In fact, remarked Montgomery, the Judicial Commissioner of Lahore, – “The Telegraph saved India” (for the East India Company that is). A freedom fighter remarked that it was the rope that had strangled them!
The Post Office also played a crucial role. It had roots going back to 1774 and by 1857, the Indian Post Office was already a robust country wide network. During the war, it performed two duties for the EIC that of intelligence and transport. It had, apart from two legged postmen, entire trains of bullock carts and horse drawn carriages. It also ran a palanquin service over its large network and had rest houses or Dak Bungalows. The present avtaar of the Post Office dates to 1837 , when it was standardized by a Government Act. Coincidentally, the first telegraph wire was tested the same year !
General Havelock, who took command of the troops at Allahabad and would later fight at the siege of Lucknow, ordered the entire Bullock Train of the Post Office to be put at the army’s disposal for transporting stores and ammunitions. Yes, the East India Company utilized bullock carts on the war front! The other two services of India Post – the Horse Train and the Dak Palkhi or palanquin service were also fully utilized for various purposes. The Dak Palkhis being used like some sort of ambulance service and later on for transporting civilians to safety. With the doab in chaos, letters were routed from Delhi to Calcutta via Mumbai! The Post Office filled in where the telegraph did not exist or had been destroyed, providing crucial communication and transport links. The freedom fighters themselves were not averse to the importance of Post Offices viz communications and hence, many postmen were attacked and killed and bags of letters looted. Dak Bungalows were set afire in few places and generally the lines of communication disrupted. Not just the epicenters of the revolt, but Post Offices were burnt as far afield as Indore and Kolhapur! In view of the ongoing warfare, Field Post Offices were developed , which were Post Offices operating out of a tent and moving with the camp of Gen Havelock or the Malwa Field Force. Thus, forming a communication channel, that along with the telegraph had helped the East India Company greatly in winning the war in 1857.
A stone monument – the “Delhi Telegraph Memorial” still stands at the spot where the famous “we are off” message was sent. It commemorates the services rendered by the two signalers and the office in-charge, Charles Todd.

Purandar Fort – A post 1818 history.

Originally published in DNA on 8 Sept 2019.

When things had reached the breaking point between the East India Company and the Peshwa Baji Rao II in 1818, the British set out on a campaign to capture the forts in the Sahyadris. Purandar, along with Sinhagad, Raigad and Trimbak, commanded a status of importance even at the turn of the 19th century, as is evident from various letters of the day. These four forts were demanded from the Peshwa by the East India Company in connection with the Trimbakji Dengale case. Various sources also mention how Purandar and Sinhagad were regarded as watch towers of the city, meant to defend it and/or to provide a safe haven in case of an attack on Pune city. The campaign to capture the Maratha forts began in February 1818, with Sinhagad the first to fall on March 3 to General Plitzer. Save for a small fight given by a Sindhi contingent at the house of Aba Purandare at Saswad, Plitzer made it to Purandar on the 11th of the month. The guns were laboriously pulled up a spur and fire opened on Vajragadh. Curiously, an almost ditto tactic was used by Diler Khan when he took the fort many decades earlier. The neighbouring fort of Vajragadh was the first to fall on the morning of the 15th and Purandar later that evening. The East India Company brought under its control over a hundred hill forts spread across the Sahyadris by July of that year. But, unlike in previous times, the forts did not merely change masters. Mountstuart Elphinstone ensured that their lives as forts were finished forever. The garrisons were disbanded and their fortifications destroyed. The deserted forts were then left to the elements. Purandar, however, was treated slightly differently. It retained a military presence, albeit in a modified form. Instead, a convalescent centre was set up on the fort. Its aim was to provide the sick British soldiers from Pune and Ahmednagar cantonments, a change of climate to help recover. The cool, fresh mountain air acted as a medicine! If you go to the fort of Purandar, you will see an old gothic style abandoned church on it, quite out of place with all the Maratha history surrounding it. This church was built in the memory of Col Frederick Fitz Clarence of the 36th Regiment, Commander in Chief of the Bombay Army who died whilst recovering on Purandar fort in 1854. The convalescence centre was built from buildings and parts of the erstwhile fort itself, and was said to accommodate around a hundred persons. ‘The Good Words and Sunday Magazine’ of 1878 tells us how a 400-year-old former warehouse for storing grain had been converted into living quarters! Little much happened on that fort after that, save for the attached garrison rotating itself like any other army barracks. For example, at the turn of the century, the Royal Scots regiment took up residence there. Curiously enough, the fort served as a detention centre for German prisoners of war during the Second World War. These were essentially German citizens, and a few from other nationalities such as Italy, detained at Purandar so as to nip any pro-Nazi attempts in the bud. It was a kind of house arrest, with some of the ‘inmates’ even being allowed to cycle to Pune on the condition that they return before sunset. Called the ‘Purandhar Parole Settlement’, it was a home to over a hundred people from 1940 through to 1946. A certain Hermann Von Goethe wrote an account about the fort during his stay there, while others busied themselves in various pursuits. Another German, Paul Von Tucher has also described life at the parole camp in a small book. Mention is of one Eva Mayer who composed poems about their stay at Purandar. Her husband, a qualified doctor — started a free clinic for the local people.Some were attached to various German missions. They got together and established a Theological faculty on the fort in 1943. Surprisingly, nearly 20 of the 100 or so Germans were qualified doctors. One Dr Walter Fabisch was appointed as the Medical Superintendent of the camp. With couples staying on the fort, some children were born on the fort during the war years. It would be interesting to see which Germans today calls Purandhar their birthplace, a status they would coincidentally share with Chhatrapati Sambhaji and Madhavrao Peshwa. There was constant influx into the camp of new refugees or prisoners, so much so that the place had to accommodate twice the number by the end of the war. A Red Cross visit right at the close of the Second World War (Aug 1945) lists over a hundred Germans, around twenty Italians and over fifty detainees of other nationalities. The Parole Camp was not emptied as soon as war ended, because Britain was too busy picking up itself and exiting India. The last people on the fort left as late as mid-1946. Post independence, the hospital barracks gave way to a NCC Training Centre which continues to this day.a

Battles of the Maratha Empire

The following battles and other important events of Maratha history are covered in the author’s latest  book – “Battles of the Maratha Empire”

Purchase in Paperback or Kindle on Amazon

  1. Chhatrapati Shivaji and the science of hill forts.
  2. Chhatrapati Shivaji v/s Afzal Khan , Pratapgad , 1659.
  3. Chhatrapati Shivaji & Chhatrasal Bundelada
  4. Chhatrapati Shivaji v/s Mughals , Salher , 1672.
  5. Chhatrapati Shivaji – Importance of correct policies
  6. Maratha War of Independence – 27 year Mughal – Maratha War
  7. Chhatrapati Sambhaji – List of   battles.
  8. Santaji Dhanaji – List of battles.
  9. Peshwa Bajirao v/s Nizam of Hyderabad , Palkhed , 1728
  10. Peshwa Bajirao v/s Mohammed Khan Bangash , Bundelkhand , 1733
  11. Peshwa Bajirao v/s Mughals , Delhi , 1737
  12. Peshwa Bajirao v/s Nizam of Hyderabad , Bhopal , 1738
  13. Chimaji Appa v/s Portuguese , Vasai , 1739
  14. Marathas and Jagannath Puri
  15. Panipat –  Govindpant Bundela
  16. Peshwa Madhavrao v/s Nizam of Hyderabad , Rakshasbhuvan , 1763
  17. Mahadji Scindia – Campaign to capture Delhi, 1771
  18. Marathas v/s East India Company , Wadgaon , 1779
  19. Ahilyabai Holkar and India’s cultural rejuvenation
  20. Marathas v/s Nizam of Hyderabad , Kharda , 1795
  21. Marathas v/s East India Company , Delhi , 1803
  22. Marathas v/s  East India Company , Laswari , 1803
  23. Yashwantrao Holkar v/s East India Company , 1804
  24. Marathas v/s East India Company – Fall of the Sahyadri hill forts , 1818
  25. Rani of Jhansi , 1857
  26. Marathas and Bengal – Chhatrapati Shivaji as a national hero.

Price : Rs 325

Pages : 280

Battles of the Maratha Empire – Contents page

Available on Amazon India & Kindle Purchase here

  1. Chhatrapati Shivaji and the science of hill forts.
  2. Chhatrapati Shivaji v/s Afzal Khan , Pratapgad , 1659.
  3. Chhatrapati Shivaji & Chhatrasal Bundelada
  4. Chhatrapati Shivaji v/s Mughals , Salher , 1672.
  5. Chhatrapati Shivaji – Importance of correct policies
  6. Maratha War of Independence – 27 year Mughal – Maratha War
  7. Chhatrapati Sambhaji – List of   battles.
  8. Santaji Dhanaji – List of battles.
  9. Peshwa Bajirao v/s Nizam of Hyderabad , Palkhed , 1728
  10. Peshwa Bajirao v/s Mohammed Khan Bangash , Bundelkhand , 1733
  11. Peshwa Bajirao v/s Mughals , Delhi , 1737
  12. Peshwa Bajirao v/s Nizam of Hyderabad , Bhopal , 1738
  13. Chimaji Appa v/s Portuguese , Vasai , 1739
  14. Marathas and Jagannath Puri
  15. Panipat –  Govindpant Bundela
  16. Peshwa Madhavrao v/s Nizam of Hyderabad , Rakshasbhuvan , 1763
  17. Mahadji Scindia – Campaign to capture Delhi, 1771
  18. Marathas v/s East India Company , Wadgaon , 1779
  19. Ahilyabai Holkar and India’s cultural rejuvenation
  20. Marathas v/s Nizam of Hyderabad , Kharda , 1795
  21. Marathas v/s East India Company , Delhi , 1803
  22. Marathas v/s  East India Company , Laswari , 1803
  23. Yashwantrao Holkar v/s East India Company , 1804
  24. Marathas v/s East India Company – Fall of the Sahyadri hill forts , 1818
  25. Rani of Jhansi , 1857
  26. Marathas and Bengal – Chhatrapati Shivaji as a national hero.

How Indian was the Mughal Empire ?

This article shall explain how, from the time of Babur to that of Aurangzeb, foreign born nobility always formed the major component of Mughal nobility. No, not descendants of the original bunch who accompanied Babur or Humayun, but fresh recruits or their sons, arriving at every Mughal’s court. This component was very high during the reigns of Babur and Humayun stayed around seventy percent during the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan and dipped slightly during the latter part of Aurangzeb’s reign mainly due to the influx of Dakkhani Muslims and Marathas.


Read the complete,  detailed essay at Indiafacts : How Indian was the Mughal empire ?

Garden to Cup – A history of tea !

A piping hot cup of tea is something we routinely drink and also offer any and every guest. In fact, it is so common a courtesy, that not being offered a cup of tea would seem rude to many people! Let us see how tea began it’s journey in the jungles of Assam as a wild plant plucked by a tribe for it’s aroma , and grew into a cash crop involving plantations of hundreds of acres!


Read the full article at DNA –>  Garden to cup – Tea’s illustrious journey

Image : DNA


My book on Lachit Barphukan – ” Brahmaputra” – can be purchased at Amazon India. 


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