Shivaji Bhonsle (c. 1627/1630 – 3 April 1680), also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was an Indian warrior king and a member of the Bhonsle Maratha clan. Shivaji carved out an enclave from the declining sultanate of Bijapur that formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire. In 1674, he was formally crowned as the Chhatrapati (Monarch) of his realm at Raigad.
Shivaji established a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of disciplined military and well-structured administrative organisations. He innovated military tactics, pioneering the guerrilla warfare methods (Shiva sutra or ganimi kava), which leveraged strategic factors like geography, speed, and surprise and focused pinpoint attacks to defeat his larger and more powerful enemies. From a small contingent of 2,000 soldiers inherited from his father, Shivaji created a force of 100,000 soldiers; he built and restored strategically located forts both inland and coastal to safeguard his territory. He revived ancient Hindu political traditions and court conventions and promoted the usage of Marathi and Sanskrit, rather than Persian, in court and administrative.
Shivaji's legacy was to vary by observer and time, but began to take on increased importance with the emergence of the Indian independence movement, as many elevated him as a proto-nationalist and hero of the Hindus. Particularly in Maharashtra, debates over his history and role have engendered great passion and sometimes even violence as disparate groups have sought to characterize him and his legacy.
Battle of Pratapgarh:
In the ensuing Battle of Pratapgarh fought on 10 November 1659, Shivaji's forces decisively defeated the Bijapur Sultanate's forces. The agile Maratha infantry and cavalry inflicted rapid strikes on Bijapuri units, attacked the Bijapuri cavalry before it was prepared for battle, and pursued retreating troops toward Wai. More than 3,000 soldiers of the Bijapur army were killed and two sons of Afzal Khan were taken as prisoners.
This unexpected and unlikely victory made Shivaji a hero of Maratha folklore and a legendary figure among his people. The large quantities of captured weapons, horses, armour and other materials helped to strengthen the nascent and emerging Maratha army. The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb now identified Shivaji as a major threat to the mighty Mughal Empire. Soon thereafter Shivaji, Shahaji and Netaji Palkar (the chief of the Maratha cavalry) decided to attack and defeat the Adilshahi kingdom at Bijapur.
Battle of Kolhapur:
To counter the loss at Pratapgad and to defeat the newly emerging Maratha power, another army, this time numbering over 10,000, was sent against Shivaji, commanded by Bijapur's Abyssinian general Rustamjaman. With a cavalry force of 5,000 Marathas, Shivaji attacked them near Kolhapur on 28 December 1659. In a swift movement, Shivaji led a full frontal attack at the center of the enemy forces while two other portions of his cavalry attacked the flanks. This battle lasted for several hours and at the end Bijapuri forces were soundly defeated and Rustamjaman fled the battlefield. Adilshahi forces lost about 2,000 horses and 12 elephants to the Marathas. This victory alarmed Aurangazeb, who now derisively referred to Shivaji as the "Mountain Rat", and prepared to address this rising Maratha threat.
In late March 1680, Shivaji fell ill with fever and dysentery, dying around 3–5 April 1680 at the age of 52, on the eve of Hanuman Jayanti. Rumors followed his death, with Muslims opining he had died of a curse from Jan Muhammad of Jalna, and some Marathas whispering that his second wife, Soyarabai, had poisoned him so that his crown might pass to her 10-year-old son Raja ram.
Shivaji died in 1680, leaving behind a state always at odds with the Mughals. Soon after Shivaji's death, the Mughals attempted to invade it, but could not subdue the Marathas and it resulted in a war of 27 years from 1681 to 1707 ending in the defeat for the Mughals.