The "SaY" Magazine
Tanaji & Shivaji Maharaj - गड आला पण सिंह गेला
Tanaji Malusare was a Subedar in the army of Chhatrapati Shivaji and was also one of his good friends. He belonged to the Malusare clan and fought various battles alongside Chhatrapati Shivaji.
He is best remembered for the battle of Sinhagad (1670) where he fought until his last breath against the Mughal fort defender Udaybhan Rathore. This battle paved the way for the Marathas’ victory. Shivaji used to call him 'सिऺह' (Lion) because of his strength.
Preparations were going on for the marriage of Tanaji Malusare's son, Rayba. There was an atmosphere of frolic all around. He had gone to invite Shivaji and his family to attend the wedding but he came to know that Shivaji and his beloved "मासाहेब"wanted to get the Sinhagad Fort back from the Mughals.
He decided his son's marriage can take back step and told Shivaji "आधी लगीन कोऺढाण्याचे मग रायबाचे.
Earlier, the name of the fort of Sinhagad was Kondhana. In 1665, due to the treaty of Purandar, Shivaji had to give the Kondhana Fort to the Mughals. Kondhana, located near Pune, was the heaviest fortification and was a strategically placed fort. After the treaty of Purander, the Rajput, Arab and Pathan troops protect the fort on behalf of the Mughals. The most capable commander among them was Udaybhan Rathore. He was a fort-keeper and was appointed by the Mughal army chief Jai Singh I.
Shivaji initially was reluctant to send Tanaji for the battle because of his sons forthcoming wedding but after Tanajis insistence he gave him go-ahead and early next morning Tanaji with 300 soldiers marched to capture the Sinhagad fort on 4th February 1670. He was accompanied by his brother and maternal uncle, Shelar. The weather was not good and it was difficult to climb the fort because of its height. The climb was almost vertical.
It is important to note that the fort was guarded by 5000 Mughal soldiers under the leadership of Udaybhan. The only part of the fort where there was no Mughal army was on top of an overhanging cliff.
It is said that Tanaji, with the help of Shivaji's pet, a giant reptile named Yashwanti (also known as Ghorpad in Marathi), succeeded in climbing the cliff with the help of a rope with the soldiers and attacked the Mughals silently.
Udaybhan and Mughal soldiers were unaware of this attack. The battle was fought fiercely and Tanaji was killed by Udaybhan. Tanajis army was nervous and turned back to run but uncle Shelar, took command of the battle and cut the ropes to climb down. Tanaji's army fought fiercely and Shelarmama killed Udaybhan. Finally, the fort was captured by the Marathas and hoisted the saffron flag on the Kondhana Fort.
Despite the victory, Shivaji was deeply hurt by the loss of his most capable commander and friend and famously said – “ गड आला पण सिंह गेला.” (“The fort has come, but the lion is gone.”). In the honour of Tanaji, he changed the name of the Kondhana Fort to Sinhagad Fort as he used to refer to Tanaji as 'सिऺह' (Lion).
Tanaji Malusare is remembered as a brave warrior who was devoted to Shivaji and fought the epic Battle of Sinhagad Fort and won it without thinking about his son's impending marriage or his family.
The valour of this great Maratha is widely acknowledged and remembered in Maharashtra and all over India.