Thursday, January 13, 2011

Remembering Panipat - 250 years later

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Commander of Indic forces - Sadashivrao Chimnaji Bhat aka "Bhau"

On the eve of 250th anniversary of that fateful day, I remember our ancestors who fought and died to protection of Rashtra and Dharma and gave such a blow to the enemy that there hasn't been a single invasion  from northwest again in last 250 years. 

Exactly 250 years ago, those brave men must have gathered in tent of Bhau at this time (16:00 IST). They must have started their discussions on how to break the siege and move towards Yamuna. They knew Peshwa had left Pune with 50,000 army. It was only matter of time when Abdali would find himself between rock and a hard place. The only luxury they did not have, was time. There was no food. Almost everyone was hungry in the army for atleast 2-3 days, including horses. They had to reach Yamuna at all costs.

The north India was shivering with cold wave. Marathas come from region which is not so cold, they did not have enough clothes to protect them from cold and their armour was light. their strength was speed, but with empty stomachs, how far will they run and how fast?

Malharrao must have insisted on using traditional fast manoeuvring tactics of Marathas. Bhau, however, had sensed that there cannot be victory unless troops get food to eat and water to drink. He wanted to reach Yamuna and cross the river at all costs, under cover of artillery. Bhau must have taken Holkar aside, alone and insisted to save himself and all women, should anything unfortunate happens. 

Next day morning at dawn, everybody ate the last piece of bread, applied turmeric to their faces determined to kill or die. The opening salvo of Maratha artillery went over the heads of Abdali's troops. Gardi recalibrated the range and his batteries started raining fire, hell and death on right flank of Abdali. The charges of abdali on left flank of Marathas was foiled again and again. Under that cover, the entire base of  Marathas, their women, children, traders, old pilgrims started moving towards Yamuna. So fierce was this artillery attack that entire battlefield was in hands of Marathas for entire morning. About 12000 Pathans were killed by left flank of Marathas in matter of an hour. One can imagine the horror in the eyes of Abdali.

The Charge of Bhau

The enemy started attacking centre. Bhau advanced the centre under his personal command. The charge of maratha centre under bhau is one of the most romantic moments to imagine. It is depicted in the picture above with Bhau on elephant and Vishwasrao, Vitthal Shivdeo and elite heavy cavalry of 15000 Huzurat devastating the centre of Abdali. The road to Yamuna was now open. The lines of Abdali were pushed 3 to 5 kilometers behind in matter of minutes, sheerly due to inertia of the charging cavalry far away from range of Abdali's infantry. The victory was in sight, the road to safety, food and delhi was opened. Now all that was required was hold ground and position. Bhau's men were tired, but they cut entire army of Abdali in two halves and the right half of Afghan army was totally destroyed by Ibrahimkhan's artillery. It was only matter of time now.

Shinde started his attacks on Najib preventing him from coming for the aid of Abdali. 

This is when accidently, Vishwasrao fell to a stray bullets while facing the charge of Afghan reserve and camel mounted artillery known as "Shaturnal". The Afghan heavy cavalry began their charge and with Bhau in firing range, Ibrahimkhan could not fire on advancing Afghan heavy cavalry. Bhau assigned 1500 troops for protection of artillery and led the charge himself. He knew that it was all over and now all he could do is inflict as much damage upon Afghans as possible before he died. 

The Memorial of Bhau and Marathas

Cannon to left of him, cannon to the right of him, into the valley of death, Rode Bhau and marathas.

Almost entire generation was killed in one single day. There was no home left in Maharashtra and MP which had not lost someone on Panipat. Quoting Jim Morrison, 

"This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand
In a...desperate land

Generation lost, but Rashtra saved... lakhs killed, but Dharma saved... all that in one day - 14th January 1761...

My heart cries for our ancestors.. May that sacrifice not go in vain.


Ace said...

Succinct article. However, looking forward to a second part (a more detailed part describing reasons of debacle at Panipat, the people who participated, killed,escaped.....,pre and post Panipat scenario).

parth_sapbasis said...

Enchanting...beautifully depicted.
My heart cries out too...only if a few policy decisions could have been correctly taken by the once mighty marathas...

But hey...have we learnt our lessons yet ?

sobubisht said...

hindu army always lost their battle against muhammad army...


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