Colonialism Vs. the Maratha Empire - Siddi and Maratha Empire




Siddi and Maratha Empire:

In the latter half of the 15th century Siddi arrived in India from Abyssinia (Ethiopia). They established themselves at Janjira. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj took over the forts at Tale, Ghosale and Rayari. Siddi was alarmed because of this.

In 1671, Maratha army blocked all approaches to Janjira fort. Siddi, agreed to surrender the fort to Marathas but at the same time extended a hand of friendship to the Mughals and expessed readiness to be their feudatory. The Mughals agreed to help him. With the help of Mughals, Siddi successfully repulsed the Maratha army.

Siddi and the British always helped each other against a common enemy. To strengthen the Maratha position against these two, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj began to build a fort on Khanderi island. The construction work was supervised by Mainak Bhandari. Hughes, a British officer attempted to shut down the construction work by stopping the supplies to the site. The British had to face strong opposition from Mainak Bhandari and Daulat Khan, the chief of Maratha navy. They seized British ships and captured a number of British officers. The British deployed one big steamship and seven small ships. 40- 50 small ships of the Marathas bravely confronted the British ships. In the end the British were forced to beat a retreat from the vicinity of Khanderi.

Siddi was increasingly getting difficult. Hence, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj decided to curb his movement and planned a campaign against him. Siddi was driven to despair because of the repeated attacks by the Marathas in the vicinity of Underi, Apte, Nagothane and Janjira.

While Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, was thus planning to crush Siddi for ever, the Mughal army was marching toward Swarajya. It would have been unwise to face two enemies on two different fronts. Hence, Maratha army stopped chasing Siddi.

After Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj and Maharani Tarabai were continuously engaged in combating Aurangzeb. Therefore they could not pay much attention to the nuisance created by other enemies.

During the times of Bajirao Peshwa I, (1733C.E.) once again the Marathas became active against Siddi. Chimajiappa, the younger brother of Bajirao Peshwa I, declared war against Siddi and won it. It was a great victory. A treaty was signed by the Marathas and Siddi. Siddi accepted a feudatory status under the Marathas.

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