Battles between the Maratha Empire and the Portuguese in 18th century

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Bhoja, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. Bhoja

    Bhoja Regular Member

    Oct 8, 2011
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    At the beginning of the 18th century the Marathas led by the Maratha commander Chimaji Appa fought several battles against the Portuguese to drive them out of Western India.
    Chimaji Appa (1707–1741) was the son of Balaji Vishwanath Bhat and the younger brother of Bajirao Peshwa. He was an able military commander who liberated the western coast of India from Portuguese rule. The crowning glory of his career was the capture of Vasai fort from the Portuguese (who had technically advanced weapons and artillery at their disposal) in a hard fought battle.

    While Portuguese naval supremacy had been weakened by the British, French and Dutch Navies, they still maintained a strong presence on the western coast of India, from the Gujarat coast, through the Konkan, down to northern Malabar. They maintained well defended fortresses all along the coast located in islands and harbour mouths. From their headquarters in Goa they ran a theological Christian state all along the western coastal region from Daman and Diu down to Mangalore. To further the spread of Christianity, Inquisition was promulgated throughout the Portuguese possessions in India, and a program to annihilate Hindus through conversion or massacre commenced. Hindus were subjected to torture frequently surpassing even the barbarity of contemporary Islamic rulers.
    It was in this milieu that the Marathas arose, ignited by the call of swaraj given by Shivaji, to restore the land of India to the sons of the soil. While Bajirao was waging war against the Mughal empire, Chimaji Appa concentrated his energies towards the Western Ghats. Vasai (formerly known as Bassein) was the ultimate objective of the war, as this was the capital of the provincial government of Portugal's northern Indian possessions.

    The capture of Vasai
    After careful planning, Chimaji appa led a Maratha army into the occupied territories in 1737. Chimaji's strategy was to go for the weakest link in the chain to the strongest, thereby progressively weakening the Portuguese.
    On 28 March 1737, Maratha forces led by Ranojirao Shinde and his great grand father Janojirao with both his sons Chengojirao and Raoloji shinde fought gallantly in this war. Maratha General Shankarbuwa Shinde captured the strategic island fortress of Arnala, thus cutting off a crucial relief line to Vasai. Thane and Salsette Island were freed in 1737.
    In November 1738, Chimaji Appa captured the fort of Dahanu and on 20 January 1739, Mahim capitulated. This was speedily followed by the capture of the forts of Kelve/Mahim by Chengojirao shinde, Sirgão - by Ranojirao shinde, Tarapur - by Janojirao shinde, and Asserim on 13 February 1739 by Chimnajirao Peshwa self. On 28 March 1739 Portuguese lost the island and the fortress of Karanja to Raoloji Shinde's forces.
    Finally in February 1739, Chimaji Appa invested Bassein fort. He first occupied Versova fort and blockaded Bassein Creek. Then mines were laid at various points under the fort walls and detonated, causing a breach in the wall. As the Marathas including Ranojirao Shinde and Janojirao poured into the fortress, the Portuguese fought on desperately and viciously, using their technically advanced weapons and artillery, they caused high casualties among the Marathas. Inch by inch the fort was secured and resistance contained in small pockets. At this stage the tower of Saint Sebastian collapsed in an explosion, and Portuguese morale plummeted.
    All resistance ceased immediately. On the 16th of May the Portuguese army surrendered. Portuguese Captain Caetano de Souza Pereira signed the surrender as most of the top army officers were already dead.
    Chimaji was magnanimous in victory, and surviving Portuguese were given a safe passage from the city. Legends also speak of his emulating Shivaji by returning with honor a woman of Portuguese governor’s household who was presented to him as a spoil of war. Portuguese were given eight days to take all their movable property and move out. Accordingly the last remnants of Portuguese army and administration pulled out of Vasai by 23 May 1739.
    Great maratha warrior Manajirao killed Portuguese top official General Martinho da Sylveira, General Pedro de Mello and Lt. Colonel João Malhão. The Portuguese sources record that during the entire war with Chimaji Appa during 1737-1740, besides the Northern Province's capital Baçaim (Portuguese name for Vasai), they further lost eight cities, four chief ports, twenty fortress, two fortified hills and 340 villages. The losses amounted to nearly the whole of the Northern Provinces. Jawaharlal Nehru finished what Chimaji had started by reclaiming Goa in 1961.
    To celebrate his victory and to fulfill a vow taken in front of Devi Vajreshwari, Chimaji appa had a temple built for the goddess nearby. The Vajreshwari temple still stands there as a relic of Maratha glory.
    Chimaji Appa died in 1741. The conquest of Bassein was long cherished by the Marathas as a matter of national pride and glory. A relationship built on trust and camaraderie between Bajirao and Chimaji was the key to the meteoric rise of the Marathas during Bajirao Peshwa's reign.

    1739 – Siege of Bacaim

    The Siege of Bacaim began on 17 February 1739 under able leadership of Chimaji Appa. Marathas exhibited force, besieging skill, courage and perseverance, and thus Portuguese lost their commander Silveira de Menezes. The Portuguese garrison defended with courage and constancy using hand grenades, musketry and mortars. Using their technically advanced weapons and artillery, the Portuguese inflicted high casualties on the Marathas. Angre's fleet played a brave role and on 16 May 1739 the Marathas defeated Portuguese. Naro Shankar Dani's cavalry and infantry exhibited bravery and loyalty along with artillery, which played an important role, with Chimajiappa himself igniting the first shot from a cannon. Artillery's Lieutenant in command Girmaji Kanitkar wreaked havoc by consistently bombarding the fort with his artillery. This with Manaji Angre's seaborne musketeers' accurate shooting forced the Portuguese to surrender. Portuguese offered to capitulate, but requested to allow marching out with honors which Marathas accepted, as a mark of humane protocol to the defeated army.
    1739 – Bacaim was named as Bajipur after the Peshwa Bajirao. To restore the Hindu culture and resettle the unconverted natives they incurred upon by the Portuguese rule, Peshwas brought a group of well trained, well learned Brahmans to 'purify' the native converts willing to reconvert to their original Hindu fold of four castes. To the converts unwilling to come back to Hindu fold or to those who were born out of Portuguese, the Peshwas allowed them liberty to practice their faith.
    Chimaji Appa restored the Nageshwar Mandir near Naga Kunda, built Hanuman Mandir over a church which might have been built on a mosque or temple foundation in the Fort. The oldest Trivikram Mandir in fort over St. Anthony Church and Vamana Mandir of Aggasi are said to have been established by Shri Vamadev Tirtha Swami. In 388 B.C. built Bhavani Shankara Mandir of Aggasi over our lady of light church, Papdy Kshetrapaleshwar Mandir which was built over our lady of Fatima.
    Also rebuilt and restored was Jagadguru Shankaracharya Mandir at Nirmal. The Padmanabha Tirtha Swami Samadhi Ruins on the outskirts which were destroyed by Portuguese were re-established. Shankarji Keshav, the Subhedaar of Vasai led all these activities. When going back to Pune, Chimaji took beautiful church Bell's, which was cast in Europe and was in use of church services in the Fort. These bells were so beautiful that, Chimaji couldn't resist to take it along with him in his backward journey. One of the beautiful bell among them is installed at Mahabaleshwar Mandir, Satara. One can see it even today. Inscribed on the Bell Ave Maria. Another Church bell was taken away by Naro Shankar & placed on the bank of river Godavari in Nasik city. Chimaji allowed all Portuguese people to leave unharmed with their belongings.also the brave support of aan and mann thakur brothers of dombivali who helped chimaji peshwe to built explosives at vasai fort by giving their valuable lives

    Maratha commander Chimaji Appa
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
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  3. ashdoc

    ashdoc Senior Member Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2010
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    chimaji appa's devotion to his older brother peshwa baji rao stands as a shining example of filial loyalty in politics .

    he never gave any thought of winning the peshwaship for himself , but instead loyally followed his brother without question .

    when his brother baji rao died , he could not withstand the shock of the death of his brother and died within a few months .

    such an example is rare in politics . on the other hand the mughal princes used to kill all their brothers in barbaric manner to try to gain the throne .

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