Re-capture of Sinhagad by Tanaji; his heroic sacrifice (4th February 1670)

Sinhagad was a very important fort, 18 miles from Pune. From the foot of the fort, the climb is about 3 miles. It was considered as the most important of the forts which Shivaji had to surrender to Mirza Raja Jai Singh by the treaty of Purandar (12-13 June 1665). It was looked upon as the key to the western region and he who possessed Sinhagad was master of Pune.

No other fort was so well protected by men and nature. Artillery could have no effect upon it. Shivaji considered it impregnable. But Jija Bai insisted that it should be recovered at any cost for national honour.

Jija Bai sent for Tanaji, a close comrade of Shivaji, and his brother Suryaji, captains of the Mavle infantry. Tanaji immediately left amidst marriage festivities at home to fulfil his master's orders and came to Shivaji and Jija Bai as shown in the next painting (top left).

With about 300 Mavles, Tanaji arrived at the fort after night fall. A party of troops under Suryaji remained concealed near the main gate of the fort to rush when the gates were opened by their comrades. Tanaji with select followers scaled the walls of the fort with the help of an iguana (goh), put the sentries to sword, and opened the gates of the fort. The garrison was roused on hearing the alarm. In a single combat between Udai Bhan Rathore (Qiledar) and Tanaji, both fell down dead. Suryaji and his men then rushed through the gate and captured the fort. A huge bonfire announced the capture of the fort to Shivaji at Rajgad.

When it was dawn, the dead body of Tanaji was brought in a palanquin before Shivaji and Jija Bai who deeply grieved the loss. Shivaji exclaimed "Sinh ala par Sinh gela" i.e. Sinhagarh has been gained (conquered) but Sinh (lion Tanaji) has been lost. To immortalize Tanaji's exploit, Jija Bai sent for Tulsidas, a bard from Pune, and asked him to compose a ballad describing Tanaji's great exploit and sacrifice. The ballad recounts in touching and stirring strains the whole sequence of events which led to the re-capture of the fort. Tulsidas' balled is still recited before thousands of listeners whose hearts are passionately moved in strong sentiments of pathos and patriotism, writes G.S. Sardesai, who testifies to its historical accuracy.

Details of the next painting

The painting shows Tanaji scaling on a dark winter night the less abrupt side of the hill fort with picked Mavle infantrymen by means of rope fastened to an iguana near the Kalian gate. The garrison when woke up, put up stiff resistance. In a single combat, Tanaji and the Rajput Qiledar Udai Bhan Rathor, both fell down and dead, shown on the right side of the painting. Marathas who had managed to enter the fort opened the Kalian gate for their supporting columns. A signal blaze informed Shivaji at Rajgarh (9 miles southward) (top right) that the fort has been captured. But when Tanaji's body was brought in a palanquin before Shivaji, he deeply mourned the loss of his devoted captain and exclaimed "Sinh ala par Sinh gela" (middle left).