February 19 marks the 391st birth anniversary of the founder of the Maratha Kingdom, Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Shivaji Maharaj was one of the bravest and most progressive rulers of India. His birth anniversary is celebrated as Shivaji Jayanti with great rigour and traditional style by Maharashtrians.
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Remembering the greatest Maratha ruler on his birthday, here are some interesting facts about Shivaji-
- Shivaji was born to be a natural leader and fighter. By the age of 16, he managed to gather a band of fiercely loyal Maratha men and set about conquering nearby lands. Their first triumph was the capture of Torna Fort of the Bijapur Kingdom.
- Known as the Father of Indian Navy, Shivaji took a lesson from the Portuguese and English traders and began the building of a naval force. He was the first Indian ruler of his time to use his sea power for trade as well as for defense. He strategically established a navy and forts at the coastline to defend the Konkan side of Maharashtra. The Jaigad, Vijaydurg, Sindhudurg and other such forts still stand to testify his efforts and ideas.
- He incorporated modern administrative concepts such as a cabinet, foreign affairs, internal intelligence, and others and commanded an extremely well-trained army. He knew the importance of a good army, and with his skills, expanded his father’s 2000 soldier army to 10,000 soldiers.
- Mughal ruler Aurangzeb called him ‘Mountain Rat’ because of his widely known guerrilla warfare tactics. He had a keen awareness of his land’s geography and often used guerrilla tactics like raiding, ambushing and surprise attacks on his enemies.
- In a place and age stained by religious savagery, he was one of few rulers who practiced true religious tolerance. Even though both Christians and Muslims often imposed their creeds on the populace by force, he respected the beliefs and protected the places of worship of both communities. Many Muslims were in his service. He was also very supportive of people who converted to Hinduism.
Shivaji died at the age of 52 on April 3, 1680, at the Raigad Fort, after suffering from dysentery.