Battle of Gajendragarh: When Marathas humiliated Tipu Sultan, Forced him to Pay Rs. 48 Lakh and Snatched his Fort

Tipu Marathas

The south of the Vidhyas was never ever a monopoly of any single power. Most of the time, it saw a tripartite struggle between powers. Be it the one between Chera, Pandyas or Cholas in 10th century or the one between Nizam, Tipu and the Marathas in the 18th century.

The Maratha Ascension had been halted briefly by their defeat in the third battle of Panipat in 1761. The period saw the emergence of Mysore under Hyder Ali and Hyderabad under the Nizam. As Peshwa Madhav Rao I restored the Maratha pride, He also ensured that the power dynamics didn’t shift much beyond the reach of the Marathas.

The Marathas first cut Haider Ali to size and then his son Tipu to make up for their loss at Panipat. Between 1764 to 1772, the Marathas defeated Haider Ali in a series of skirmishes under the leadership of Murarrao Ghorpade . Haider who was desperate to seek a revenge chose the timings of his revenge when Marathas were busy in their internal squabbles between 1775 to 1782, a period that is referred to as the First Anglo Maratha War. Haider besieged Gooty in 1776, the hometown of Murarrao Ghorpade who was captured and died as a prisoner as he could not be retrieved by the Marathas.

An emboldened Haider, further besieged and captured Dattawad, Gajendragadh and designated his newly captured territories as a separate province.

By this time, the Marathas were done with the English and had taken them to task successfully under the leadership of their general Nana Fadnavis, the Marathas decided to settle the score with Tipu who was now the King of Mysore.

The Marathas chose Tukoji Rao Holkar to lead the battlefront against Tipu. He was to be supported by Generals, Haripant Phadke and Malojiraje Ghorpade. Nizam, Asaf Jah of Hyderabad who was also fed up of Haider decided to help the Marathas against Tipu and the combined armies raided Gajendragadh in June 1786.

Tipu’s infantry could not match the Maratha cavalry while the Maratha artillery under General Ganesh Vyankaji wreaked havoc amongst the forces of Tipu. The swift charge of the Maratha cavalry was compounded by the artillery. It checked the movements of the Mysore infantry. Maratha cavalry tore through the ranks of the infantry.

The results were disastrous for Tipu. His forces were decisively routed in the forces.

Not only Tipu was forced to surrender the fort of Gajendragadh, he was asked by the Marathas to pay a war indemnity of 48 lakh rupees as well as annual tribute of rupees 12 lakhs. He was also asked to pay the 4 arrears of the tribute that Haider owed to the Marathas.

The battle of Gajendragadh was a watershed moment in the history of the Deccan as it made both the regional superpowers, i.e. Tipu and the Marathas realize that it was futile to waste their energies upon one other. They realized that it was better to concentrate on the common nemesis – the East India Company.

The hostilities between the Marathas and the Mysore Kingdom ended as the former recognized the latter as the Nawab of Mysore. East India Company on their part had angered both the Marathas and Tipu by staying neutral at the time of the crisis and not siding with any of them.

Because of Marathas’ aggressive campaign, Tipu’s expansion both northwards and the East of Krishna came to a grinding halt forever. Tipu has been overhyped as a military genius. He was defeated decisively by the Marathas, Nizam and finally the English. He might have been a pioneer in the rocket science but his so called genius hardly ever materialized in the fields of war, they never won him a decisive victory against any foe. Tipu’s impending end was secured way before the fourth Anglo Mysore war and it all started with the battle of Gajendragadh.