This Day in History (5-Apr-1663) – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj attacked Shahistekhan at Pune

After his accession to the throne and the dramatic death of Afzal Khan in the hands of Shivaji Maharaj, Aurangzeb sent his uncle, Shaista Khan as viceroy of the Deccan with a large army to defeat Shivaji Maharaj. In January 1660 Shaista Khan arrived at Aurangabad and quickly advanced, seizing Pune, the center of Shivaji Maharaj’s realm. On his way, he destroyed many temples in Maharashtra. He also captured the fort of Chakan and Kalyan and north Konkan after heavy fighting with the Maratha. The Maratha were banned from entering the city of Pune and Mughal distance from the locals turned out to be an error. Shaista Khan brutally ruled the region for more than 3 years while Shivaji Maharaj patiently waited for the right opportunity.

On the evening of April 5, 1663, a wedding party had obtained special permission for holding a procession. Shivaji Maharaj and many of his nearly 400 men disguised as the bridegroom’s procession members entered Pune. Others entered in small parties dressed as laborers and soldiers of Maratha generals serving under Shaista Khan. After midnight, they raided the Nawab’s compound and then entered the palace in an attempt to assassinate Shaista Khan.

Shaista Khan was clearly unaware and unprepared. The Marathas broke into the courtyard of the palace and slaughtered the palace guards. Shaista Khan lost three fingers in a skirmish with Shivaji Maharaj, while his son was killed in an encounter with the Marathas in the palace courtyard. Forty attendants and six women were also killed. Taking advantage of the confusion and darkness, the Marathas escaped the palace and Pune, despite the widespread camping of Mughal forces. Shivaji Maharaj escaped to SinhGad while enticing Khan’s army on a wild chase to a mountain pass in Katraj. Shocked by the sudden and bold attack in Pune, Aurangzeb angrily transferred Shaista Khan to Bengal. Within 3 days of Shivaji Maharaj’s attack, Khan left Pune!

The attack reconfirmed Shivaji Maharaj’s leadership skills in terms of great planning and leading from front in adverse situation.


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