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Who was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj?

Dec 04, 2022

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

In today's edition of our Current Affairs, we will be talking about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in detail and its relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus.

For Prelims: History Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Battle of Pratapgad, Tanaji Malusare, Mughal Empire, Jagirdari System, Ryotwari System.

For Mains: GS Paper I: History; Important Personalities About Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Significant Battles of Shivaji Maharaj, Remembrance of Shivaji Maharaj, Shivaji and the Mughals, The great escape.


Recently a comparison between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s legendary Agra escape and to Chief Minister’s defection has triggered a controversy and drew sharp criticism.

Probable Question

Who was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and what was his significant contribution and events? (150 Words, 10 marks)

About Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

  • Birth: 
    • He was born at Shivneri Fort in District Pune in Maharashtra on 19th February 1630.
    • He was born to Shahaji Bhonsle, a Maratha general who served different Deccan Sultans under the Bijapur Sultanate, and Jijabai, whose religious qualities had significantly influenced Shivaji.
  • Early Life:
    • Shivaji Maharaj was keen on expanding his father’s fiefdom of modern-day Pune into an independent Maratha state. 
    • It was the time when several Sultanates (mainly Bijapur, Golkonda, and Ahmadnagar) and the Mughals were vying for control of the Deccan.
    • Early in his life, Shivaji realized that the key to holding power in the Deccan (or for that matter, many places in India in that era) was to capture and hold important forts.
    • Shivaji’s conflict with the Adil Shahi Sultanate of Bijapur began when he was only 16. 
    • His military zeal helped him to acquire Adil Shah’s Torna Fort and Kondana Fort.
  • Death: He died on 3rd April 1680.

Read Also: The Unknown and the Unsung "Alluri Sitarama Raju”

Significant Battles of Shivaji Maharaj

  • Battle of Pratapgad, 1659: The battle was fought with the Adilshahi general Afzal Khan at the Pratapgad fort near the town of Satara (Maharashtra).
  • Battle of Pavan Khind, 1660: It was fought between the Maratha Sardar Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Siddi Masud of Adilshahi at a mountain pass in the vicinity of fort Vishalgad, near Kolhapur (Maharashtra).
  • Sacking of Surat, 1664: It was fought with Inayat Khan, a Mughal captain, near Surat (Gujarat).
  • Battle of Purandar, 1665: The battle was fought with Mirza Raja Jai Singh I, a Mughal Army Chief on the fort of Sinhagad near the city of Pune, Maharashtra.
  • Battle of Sinhagad, 1670: The battle was fought between Tanaji Malusare, a commander of Maratha ruler Shivaji Maharaj and Udaybhan Rathod, fort keeper under Jai Singh I.
  • Battle of Kalyan, 1682-83: It was fought with Bahadur Khan of the Mughal Empire. Maratha's army was defeated in the battle and Kalyan was taken over.
  • Battle of Sangamner, 1679: It is the last battle of Shivaji Maharaj. It was fought with the Mughal Empire.

Also Read: Bhakti-Sufi Traditions Devotional Texts

Remembrance of Shivaji Maharaj

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1630-1680) carved out an independent Maratha kingdom from various Deccan states in the 17th century.
  • At the time of his death, he held around 300 forts over an area that stretched across the Konkan coast, from Surat to near Goa, and was overlooked by the strategic Western Ghats.
  • Shivaji replaced the Jagirdari System with the Ryotwari System.
  • He changed the position of hereditary revenue officials (popularly known as Deshmukhs, Deshpande, Patils, and Kulkarnis).
  • He created an elaborate administrative system with a council of ministers known as “Ashta Pradhan.”
  • He would spend the rest of his life fighting various opponents, which laid the foundation for the Maratha Empire across large parts of the Indian subcontinent and ruled till the 19th Century.
  • Shivaji remained a Maratha folk legend until two centuries after his death. 
  • It was the British Raj and the subsequent anti-colonial movement that marked his increasing stature in history and as a pan-Indian hero.
  • Shivaji rose from being a folk hero to a nationalist icon, seen as a proto-nationalist himself. 
  • Over the 19th and 20th centuries, the narrative around Shivaji Maharaj emphasized both his military heroism and his just rule.

Also watch a related video on world explores in Indian History and enhance your IAS Preparation:

Shivaji and the Mughals

  • His first direct encounter with the Mughals was during Aurangzeb’s Deccan campaigns of the 1650s. 
  • His tactics against the Mughals were raiding and pillaging Mughal strongholds. While on rare occasions he would engage in a battle to actually capture and hold Mughal positions.
  • In 1664, he attacked the port of Surat (now in Gujarat) and plundered one of the richest and busiest commercial towns of Mughal India while the local governor hid in a nearby fort.
  • As the legend of Shivaji and the physical sphere of his influence grew, Aurangzeb sent a 100,000-strong, well-equipped army under Raja Jai Singh I to subdue him in 1665. 
  • After putting up a valiant fight, Shivaji was besieged in the Purandar hill fort.

The Great Escape

  • He was taken to Aurangzeb’s court in Agra in 1666. He presented Aurangzeb with various gifts, but he felt slighted at the treatment he received in return.
  • Aurangzeb put him under house arrest in Agra. Shivaji began to plot a plan to return home and the story of Shivaji’s subsequent escape is now part of common lore. 
  • Aurangzeb was livid and embarrassed. 
  • He offered Shivaji the title of Raja and guaranteed his authority in the Maratha lands as long as he acknowledged the supremacy of the Mughals and maintained a truce.
  • By 1669, Shivaji had regrouped and raised an effective army. 
  • Shivaji deftly regained his lost position on the Konkan coast. 
  • In 1674, he crowned himself Chhatrapati, officially creating an independent Maratha kingdom.
  • The next six years Shivaji promoted the use of Marathi and Sanskrit in his courts.

News Source: The Indian Express

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