Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rani Tarabai

Rani Tarabai or the (dowager) Queen Tarabai (b.1675-d.1761) was the wife of Chatrapati Rajaram Maharaj, and the daughter in law of the great Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj . Incidently she was also the neice of Shivaji’s wife Soyrabai (Rajarams mother and her mother in law) and the daughter of Hambirao Mohite the famed Sarsenapati (commander in chief) of the Maratha army.

After the death of Rajaram, his widow Tarabai took over the reins of the Maratha kingdom and continued their resistance against the Mughal onslaught led by Aurangzeb himself. She offered the much needed leadership to the Maratha army at the crucial hour.

Fight against the MughalsA daughter of a General and well versed in the art of warfare, Tarabai herself planned and supervised military expeditions.
In 1705, Nemaji Shinde entered Malwa (Madhya Pradesh) and ravaged it while Khanderao Dabhade raided mughal territory upto Ahmedabad( Gujrat) .
In 1706, Ramchandra Bavdekar bribed the commandant of the Panhala fort and it was passed on to the marathas( and also Pawangad).
Parshuram Trimbak and Annaji later retook Satara and later Parali.
Shankar Gandekar retook Sinhagad, Torna and Rajgad.
Dhanaji Jadhav, the commander in chief led many expeditions against the Mughals along with other able Maratha commanders like Udaji Pawar and Haibatrao Nimbalkar and caused serious damage to the Mughals.
Aurangzeb too had aged. For a man, rarely accustomed to failure, he had to bear the ignominy of repeated failures and a string of bad news coming from the Maratha front.
In 1707, (at Khulatabad near Aurangabad), Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor, died a bitter man.
Advent of Shahu
After Aurangzebs death , the Mughals (Prince Azam) released Prince Shahu , the son of Sambhaji (and grandson of Shivaji) from captivity. The idea was that , the Maratha ire against the Mughals be alleviated to some extent and at the same time there should also be dissension in the Maratha ranks , thus weakening their position.

But things never went as per their plans, as the Mughal princes (Prince Azam ,Shah Alam, and Kambaksh etc) themselves had to fight each other for the throne. As a result the mughals werent able to take advantage of the troubles in the maratha camp.
Meanwhile, Tarabai refused to acknowledge Shahu as the real king , even called him an imposter and insisted on her son becoming her successor.
But with Shahus arrival, many Maratha commanders (with a exception of a few like Pant Pratinidhi Parshuram Trimbak) left Tarabais side and joined Shahu. They felt Shahu being the son of Sambhaji was their natural ruler (and Rajaram and Tarabai were only the temporary rulers in the absence of the real king, something even Rajaram himself had professed).
After a few unsuccessfull battles and facing regular desertion from her closest aides, Tarabai accepted defeat (especially after the battle at Khed,Oct 1707) and reluctantly agreed to accept Shahu as the rightful king of the Marathas.
Shahu also magnanimously allowed his aunt to retire to the province of Kolhapur , where she set up her independent throne in 1713. She however wasn’t able to bridle her ambitions, and continued her machinations against Shahu. But Shahu's Peshwa , Balaji Vishwanath put a temporay halt on her plans, by helping Rajasabai (Rajarams other wife)and her son Sambhaji to usurp the throne of Tarabai and her son Shivaji III, in Kolhapur. But Sambhaji later turned hostile, forcing Shahu to switch sides with Tarabai. Shahu even allowed Tarabai to stay in the Satara palace. That was where her son Shivaji III died.
Thus loyalties and power equations kept changing in the Maratha kingdom in the quest of power.

Note: Tarabai had earlier imprisoned Rajasabai and her son Sambhaji (the other wife and son of Rajaram , and also the contenders to the throne) so that her natural son could attain the Maratha throne. Raja Karna, the illegitimate son of Rajaram, had earlier been placed on the throne by Dhanaji Jadhav and other ministers , but he died within three weeks by small pox.

Tarabai's power politics
After the death of Shahu in 1749, Tarabai supported the succession of Ramraja (Tarabais putative grandson and later adopted by Shahu) to the Maratha throne.
Note, Shahu earlier was going to adopt Mudhoji Bhosale , the son of Raghoji Bhosale of Nagpur and name him his successor. This is something his wife Sagunabai, too had wanted, so as to control the Marathas through that adopted son. Sagunabai was also challenged by Shahus other queen Sakwarbai who wanted her own say in the matters.She supported the Karveer raja  Sambhaji (something which was acqeicsed by the Peshwa as well).
But Tarabai impressed upon Shahu, that her grandson, whom everyone had thought had died, was in fact alive , and that she had kept him hidden to ward of assassination attempts on him by her dead husbands other wife, Rajasabai and her son Sambhaji. Tarabai thus presented Ramraja as a more direct descendent with greater right to succeed Shahu. Shahu also never wanted Sambhaji to succeed him (as Sambhaji himself was quite old and had no heir) and was keen on a adopted son instead. Shahu, thus after much deliberation agreed and adopted Ramraja as his son. the Peshwa too decided to abide by his masters wishes and acquiesced the adoption of Ramraja, thwarting Sagunabais plans of grabbing power through the Bhosales of Nagpur and that of Sakwarbai through Sambhaji (Karveerkar).By doing so he also kept his rivals like Dabhades (who were from the Sakwarbai camp) at bay. In fact it was impressed upon the council of ministers (mainly by Tarabai), that Sakwarbai as per tradition should attain Sati (which she eventually had to agree to).Through Ramraja, Tarabai tried to exercise control over the affairs of the Maratha kingdom. She even tried unsuccessfully to remove the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao from his post , as she found him an impediment challenging her power. Later, finding Ramraja out of control , Tarabai imprisoned him. She even declared that Ramraja was not really her grandson but someone whom she had pretended to be one to gain the throne
There was a brief power struggle between the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao and Tarabai . But eventually the power of the Peshwas prevailed. The old queen agreed to a compromise whereby Tarabai will accept the power of the Peshwas, leaving them in sole control of the Maratha kingdom. In return the Peshwa would allow Tarabai independent control over her principality. Ramraja remained Tarabais prisoner to her last.

Though the Marathas were perturbed by the unbridled ambition of the dowager queen, all grudgingly accepted that if Tarabai hadn’t intervened at the crucial juncture after Rajarams death, the hard fought kingdom of Shivaji would have disintegrated. So all her shortcomings were overlooked. Afterall, Tarabai , despite all her faults was one of the most fearless and competent leaders the Marathas had seen.
As the noted historian Jadunath Sarkar has written about her, 'In that awful crisis her character and strength saved the nation'. Even the mughal historian Khafi Khan has praise for her. According to him,'She was the only lady capable of taking over six provinces of the Moghul Empire, a great feat indeed!’
Tarabai died old in 1761.


List of the Chatrapatis of Kolhapur:

Kolhapur was the seat of Rani Tarabai, the dowager queen and widow of Chatrapati Rajaram Maharaj and their young son (all of ten years) Shivaji II. After her failure to check the assension of Chatrapati Shahu on the Maratha throne, she retired to this principality, from where she ruled along with her son Shivaji II, whereas her nephew Shahu (son of Sambhaji the step brother of Rajaram and the prior Chatrapati) ruled the Maratha dominions from Satara.

Shivaji (rule .1700-1712) was the son of Chatrapati Rajaram and Rani Tarabai and the first king of Kolhapur.Installed on the throne at Vishalgad, on 10th March 1700. Reigned under the regency of his mother until, 12th October 1707. He became Raja of the separate state of Kolhapur 1710. Deposed on 2nd August 1714.He died young in 1712 by small pox in confinement at Panhala. He died young in 1712.

Sambhaji II (b.1712- d.1760) was the second son of Rajaram from another wife Rajasabai. He succeeded to the Kolhapur throne (with alleigence to the Satara throne) after Rani Tarabai was imprisoned by Rajasabai (Shivaji II’s natural mother) and a coterie of ministers.He was initially supported by Shahu and his Peshwa . But his conspiracies along with Nizam Chin Quli Khan against Shahu (over territorial disputes) earned him Shahus wrath. Shahus armies defeated Sambhaji and forced on him a treaty in 1730, by which Sambhaji II was forced to give up all territories north of river Warna. His sovereignty being acknowledged over the tract of country lying between the rivers Warna and Krishna on the north and north-east and the river Tungbhadra on the south, and over the part of the Konkan between Salsi and Ankola.He died at Vadgaon on 18th Dec 1760. His only issue being a daughter, a son was adopted to succeed him to the throne of Kolhapur.
Note.SambhajiIIs wife Jijabai was said to be a astute diplomat and warded of threats from the Peshwas to merge the Kolhapur kingdom with Satara.

Shivaji II (1760-1812) was the adopted son and successor of Sambhaji II (Jijabai the widow of Sambhaji II acted as his regent). His biological father being Shahaji Bhosale of Khanwat (a kin). The Kolhapur court led by Jijabai (Shivaji II was a minor then) had continued their hobnobbing with the Nizam , which irritated the Peshwa and he dispossessed Shivaji II of his territories of Chikodi and Manoli , which he handed over to his knight Patwardhans of Sangli. Piracy had also increased in the Kolhapur kingdom. There were pirates from Malwan and Sawantwadi constanly looting Merchant ships. To counter them, the English East India company sent an naval expedition which captured the Malwan fort (fort Augustus). It was later handed back to Kolhapur in return for a sum of Rs 3,82,896. The English were also given rights to set up a factory in Malwan . There were also unconfirmed reports of human sacrifices in Kolhapur at the temple of godess Kali. When the regent Jijabai died 1772, Shivaji II was still a minor. The kingdom was left vulnerable to attacks from the Peshwas troops and also from raids by the Patwardhan Kannherrao Trimbak and Pant Pratinidhi of Aundh. Kagal, Bavda ,Vishalgad regions also rose in revolt(1777) at the instigations of the Peshwa Madhavrao. Thats when Kolhapur led by one of its sardars, Yeshwantrao Shinde sought the help of Hyder Ali of Mysore against the Peshwas. They drove out the Peshwas troops from Chikodi and Manoli. But the Peshwa came down heavily on Kolhapur, despatching a large army led by Mahadji Shinde against them. Chikodi and Manoli had to be ceded back to the Peshwa. Sawantwadi also rose in rebellion against Kolhapur, over a dispute concerning rights over villages claimed by both . Yeshwantrao Shinde also died in 1782. That’s when other sardars like Ratnakar pant , Chavan and the king, Shivaji III personally led an attack against Sawantwadi and quelled the revolt. There was also an successful revolt by Pawangad Gadkaris at the instigation of the Sardesai of Sawantwadi. The Kolhapur armies then punished Sawantwadi for this misdemeanor and Sawantwadi was forced to pay an tribute of one and a half lakh rupees to Kolhapur.Meanwhile piracy resurfaced and the English contemplated an attack on Kolhapur. Shivaji II the sought the help of Tipu sultan of Mysore. Eventually a treaty was concluded between Kolhapur and the English in 1792. But the treaty proved shortlived and the English took away the maritime possessions of Kolhapur.Meanwhile Parshuram Bhau Patwardhan started a revolt against Kolhapur. Though his army was defeated at Alta (his son Ramchandra being captured), peace was proposed between them . But it also met an abrupt end , as Patwardhan laid another siege on Kolhapur, which was lifted only after a payment of Rs three lakhs by Shivaji III. Later taking advantage of the confusion prevailing in Maharashtra after the death of Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao, Shivaji II took Bhudargad from Parshuram bhau Patwardhan.He also reposed Chikodi and Manoli. Meanwhile the Satara raja and Shivaji II aligned to throw of the yoke of the Peshwas of Poona. Parshurambhau supported the Peshwas troops ( the new peshwa Bajirao II and Nana Phadanvis were at the helm of affairs then).Parshurambhau was killed in a skirmish with the Kolhapur troops in 1799 at Pathankudi village, Chikodi .His son Ramchandra tried to attack Kolhapur, but his armies were defeated. The hostilities between Kolhapur and its enemies (Sawantwadi,Nipani,Poona) continued till the death of Shivaji II in 1812.He had three sons and six daughters. The eldest Sambhaji III (Shambhu raje) succeeded him.

Shambhuji (1812-1821) aka Abasaheb was the eldest son and successor of Shivaji III. He tried restoring law and order in the kingdom. He sided with the British against the Peshwas, for which he was regranted the possessions of Chikodi and Manoli. Shambhu raje was however shot dead after an heated exchange with the Mohites (a Karad sardar), over a land dispute. He left behind an infant son, Shivaji. But he too died soon by chicken pox after reigning (under the regency of his uncle Shahaji) for a few months.

Shahaji (1821-1837) aka Buvasaheb , was the brother and successor of Shambhuraje(technically his nephew Shivaji who was king for a few months under the regency of Shahaji). He was said to be a wild and reckless king, and always had to be kept in check by the English residents. He was also rumoured to harbor bands of highway robbers and the state of Kolhapur always lived in fear and apprehension during his rule. He died because of Cholera in 1837.He left behind three sons and two daughters.

Shivaji III (1837-1866) was the son and successor of Shahaji. He being a minor, his aunt became his regent. The British also appointed a minister in the kingdom by the name of Daji Krishna Pandit. But the minister being a Brahmin and because of his unpopular measures while disciplining his Maratha officers , started a rebellion in the state(1844). Daji Pandit was imprisoned by the rebels. But the Britih came to his rescue and he was reinstated. There was also a British superintendent (capt.D. C . Graham) appointed to look after the administration.there was another revolt in 1857 (following the mutiny). The king himself remained loyal to the British, but his brother Chima sahib sided with the rebels. After the rebellion was quelled , Chimasaheb was charged with treason and Shivaji IV was honoured by the British with the ‘Order of the Star of India’. He was also granted with a sanad for adoption. After 1862,Shivaji III was also given more administrative powers by the British.

Rajaram I (1866-1870) was the adopted son (born Nagojirao patankar, a son of Shivaji IV’s eldest sisiter) and successor of Shivaji IV. He died early while vacationing in Europe. His remains were burnt, according to the rites of the Hindu religion, on the banks of the Arno (Florence,Italy), at a spot beyond the Cascini, now marked by a statue of the deceased. The ashes were later immersed in the Ganges.

Shivaji IV (1863-1883)aka Narayanrao (son of Dinkarao Bhosale a kin) was the adopted son of Rajaram II’s widow. He went insane and died soon after(apparently in a scuffle with his attendant , one Private.Green). In March 1882 under a Government Resolution the affairs of the Kolhapur administration were transferred to a Regency Council. The Regent,being the Chief of Kagal, was assisted by a Council of three members viz. the Diwan, the Chief Judge, and the Chief Revenue Officer.

Note: Kolhapur State had eleven feudatories; viz: Pant Pratinidhi (Chief of Vishalgad), Pant Amatya (Chief of Bavda), Senapati (Chief of Kapshi) Sarjerav Vajarat Mab (Chief of Kagal), Ghorpade (Chief of Ichalkaranji), Sena Khaskhel (Chief of Torgal), Amir-ul-Umrav (Chief of Datvad), Himmat Bahadur, (Sarjerav Deshmukh of Kagal), Sar Lashkar Bahadur and Patankar.
The prominent amongst the feudatories were: the Chiefs of Vishalgad, Bavda, Kagal, and Ichalkaranji. The Chief of Vishalgad, styled Pant Pratinidhi, was a Deshastha Brahmin and his family name was Jaykar. His headquarters were at Malkapur, twenty-eight miles north-west of Kolhapur. The Chief of Bavda, styled Pant Amatya was a Deshastha Brahmin and his family name was Bhadanekar. He used to reside at Kolhapur. The Chief of Kagal, styled Sarjerav Vajarat Mab, was a Maratha by caste and his family name was Ghatge. He used to reside at Kolhapur. The Chief of Ichalkaranji, styled Ghorpade, was a Konkanasth Brahman and his family name was Joshi. His head-quarters were at Ichalkaranji about eighteen miles east of Kolhapur. He was a first class sardar of the British Government for rank and precedence only and had subsequently been permitted to pay a separate visit to the head of the Government. [source: Kolhapur Gazeteer].

Shahu IV (1884-1922) from the Ghatge family of Kagal (adopted by Anandibai the widow of Shivaji V). He ascended the throne of Kolhapur. The British appointed a council of regents to assist Shahu IV. He was trained in administration by one Sir Stuart Fraser, and given partial administrative powers in 1894. Shahu IV proved to be an excellent administrator and a great social reformer.
Shahu Maharaj encouraged education in his state, subsidizing it for the poor and the girls. He encouraged widow remarriage, which was considered a taboo. He stopped the practice of child marriages as well. He also enabled employment schemes for the poor. He also urged several non Brahmin youth to take up priesthood much to the chagrin of the local Brahmins of Kolhapur. He patronized the reformist Satya Shodhak Samaj and later the Arya Samaj. Shahu Maharaj was also responsible for Radhanagari dam(1935) to be erected in Kolhapur, thus ushering in agricultural prosperity for the kingdom.He founded Shahu Vedic school, Shivaji Memorial Institute,Shahu cloth mill,Jaysingpur trading market.
Shahu Maharaj was also an patron of wrestling (he himself was a wrestler), which till date is very popular in Kolhapur.
Shahu Maharaj and his wife Laxmibai (from the family of Khanvilkars of Baroda) had four sons. Son Rajaram II who was the eldest and the heir apparent, daughter Radhabai (Akkasaheb)Puar who became the Queen of Dewas (married to Tukoji III the maharaja of Dewas).Her son Vikramsingh Puor (maharaja of Dewas from 1937-47) later inherited the Kolhapur legacy as Shahoji II (1947-83). Shahus other offsprings being Maharajkumar Shivaji and Rajkumari Aubai (who died young).
Shahu IV thus proved to be a benevolent king and a visionary striving for the betterment of his populace. Indeed a rarity amongst the princes of those times.Shahu Maharaj died at the Shalini palace,Rankala,Kolhapur on 6th May 1922.

Rajaram II (rule.1922-40, b.1897-d.1940) was the son and successor of Shahu IV. He was also a reformist.He built the Kolhapur High Court,many housing colonies,made female education free, modernized water supply systems,established Kolhapur municipal authority, an local panchayat system. Since he had a daughter the Kolhapur throne passed on to a distant relative Shivaji V.

Shivaji V (1941-1946) He was from the Satara branch. He was made the successor to Rajaram II, but he died young in 1946 .

Shahoji II (1947-1983)aka Maharaja Vikramsingh Puor of Dewas. Son of Radhabai, the daughter of Shahu IV. He was also a commissioned second lieutenant in the Maratha Light infantary, and distinguished himself in the war in Africa. Vikramsingh was Knighted. He retired as a Major and returned to Dewas, where he was crowned king after his father Tukoji III abdicated the throne and fled to Pondicherry. Shahoji abdicated the Dewas throne for his son Krishnajirao III and took up the crown of Kolhapur. On 1st March 1949, the princely state of Kolhapur was merged in the Bombay presidency. Sir Shahaji became a Major-General in the Indian Army in 1962, but in 1971, he was stripped of his rank, titles and stipends as part of the mass removal of royal titles and prestige under the Indira Gandhi (Congress) regime along with abolitition of the privy purse to the Royals. Shahoji died in 1983.

Shahoji II was succeeded by his grandson, Shahu II (b.1948), the present Maharaja .

The Royal Ghatges of Kagal

Kagal was a small principality adjoining the Kolhapur state. It was once ruled by the royal Ghatge family. They claimed descent from Udaipur in Rajasthan and the original surname of Rathod. A folklore says that Ch. Shivaji orderered one of the ancestors of this family ’to take a jump’ during battle, hence the name Ghat-ge.
Shrimant Pirajirao Tulojirao Ghatge. 16th century.founder of the state.entered the service of Sultan Adilshah of Bijapur and distinguished himelf in battle earning the sobriquet Zunzarrao and Sarjerao along with the Kagal (a pargana comprising of 69.5villages) as jagir.
Shrimant Vithoji Ghatge.
Shrimant Mahadji Ghatge. Was probably in the Maratha service.
Shrimant  Vithoji Ghatge II. Was probably in the Maratha service.
Shrimant Pirajirao Ghatge II. Was probably in the Maratha service.
Ch.Shivaji II of Kolhapur had confiscated the jagir of Kagal on insubordination charges but was returned in 1788.
Shrimant  Tuljojirao Sakharam Ghatge. Son.late 18th century.Family estate split into two viz. Kagal senior and Kagal junior with the title ‘Sarjerao’ going to the Junior house (lead by Tuljojirao’s brother Shrimant Vishwasrao Ghatge receiving the Valwa village +7 others) and ‘Sarjerao vajarat ma-ab’ resting with the senior house. Tuljojirao’s daughter Baijabai was married to Shrimant Daulatrao Shinde of the Gwalior royal house.His other daughter Saibai was married to ChShivaji II of the Kolhapur royal house. Tuljojirao was a powerful noble who wielded considerable influence in the Maratha politics.

Kagal Senior House

Shrimant Hindurao Ghatge (Babasaheb). (d.1856) Son of Tuljojirao.built a fort in Kagal in 1813.He came under Kolhapur and British rule.Died in 1856.The state of Kolhapur once again had friction with the Ghatges and confiscated their jagir in 1825 , but was restored under British pressure.But the British also ruled that Kagal would continue to remain a subordinate to Kolhapur.
Shrimant Sakharambapu Ghatge. (1856-64) Adopted son.died young
Shrimant Jaisinghrao Narayanrao Ghatge (Abasaheb). (1864-85) Adopted son.served for some time as a regent to the Chatrapati of Kolhapur (for the allegedly deranged Shivaji IV who later died after a scuffle with his British guard). Jaisingraos son Yeshwantrao was later crowned as Ch.Shahu, king of Kolhapur state. He had married Radhabaisaheb from the Mudhol royal family.
Shrimant Sir Pirajirao Ghatge III (Bapusaheb).(1885-1926).younger son.His daughter Mohnraje had married in the royal Baroda family, while  his other daughters had earlier married into other royal families e.g Jyotsana raje had married in the royal Jath family and his other daughter Tarabaisaheb had married in the Akkalkot royal family.Ch.Shahu (brother of Pirajirao)of principal state Kolhapur, gave his brother the title of Raja which was used by him and his descendents.
Shrimant Jaisinghrao Ghatge II.(1926-2008).son.
Shrimant Vikramsinha Ghatge (2008+)son.He is a industrialist and sugar baron.

Kagal Junior House

Shrimant Narayanrao Ghatge (b1834-rule from.1894)
Shrimant Dattajirao Ghatge (1894-1946)son.He had three wives:from his first wife he had a son Yeshwantrao. Dattaji was also married to a lady from Nepal from whom he had a son Fatehsinha and a daughter Chandraprabha (married in the royal Holkar famly of Indore). Fatehsinha married Sitaraje the half sister of Yeshwantrao Holkar of Indore from Nancy Ann Miller. They had a son Vijayendra Ghatge who is a actor in Bollywood (Vijendras daughter Sagarika is also an actress) and a daughter Sunanda who was killed in the Kanishka plane bombing by Sikh terrorists
Shrimant Yeshwantrao Ghatge (1946-?) son.married the princess of Sawantwadi.Had two sons Ajitsinha and Himmatsinha (son Jitendrainha) and a daughter Vaijayatiraje who was married in the Sardar Ghorpade family of Dattawad .
Shrimant  Ajitsinha Ghatge .son.Also married in the Sawantwadi royal house and has a son Mrigendraraje Ghatge.


  1. thank you.the information was useful...........

  2. खूप छान माहिती ! धन्यवाद

  3. Vaachaaila vel kaadhlyabaddal maajhe hi dhanyawaad.

  4. Sagarika Ghatge had said in an interview that Vijayendra Ghatge is not her father and a distant relative. Is there a confusion between another Vijay Ghatge producer of the movies shobhayatra and ganuraya.