Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra| Ingenious Plan of a Great Man| 1666

Discover the incredible tale of the Greatest Escape – Shivaji Maharaj escape from Agra. Uncover the secrets of his successful evasion in this captivating narrative.

Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra
Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra

Introduction

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, a name synonymous with valor and leadership, faced one of his most challenging trials when he found himself imprisoned in Agra Fort. The shackles couldn’t contain his indomitable spirit, leading to a daring escape that still is remembered as Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra. This article is a detailed account of that remarkable escape, peppered with insights and facts that bring this incredible story to life.

The Diplomatic Pretense

It was of utmost importance for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to maintain an appearance of submission towards Mirza Raja, Jai Singh I, in order to orchestrate the renowned Treaty of Purandar on June 11, 1665. Interestingly, Mirza Raja held a favorable disposition towards Maharaj and was optimistic about forging a lasting understanding between Aurangzeb and Shivaji.

Mirza Raja’s Favorable Disposition

As time progressed, Mirza Raja came to the conclusion that it would serve the Mughal Empire’s best interests to emulate the diplomatic approach of their predecessor, Akbar. This involved extending friendly gestures to Hindu kings, particularly Maharaj.

Jai Singh’s Urgent Recommendation

In a letter dating back to February 16, 1666, Jai Singh corresponded with Aurangzeb, advising him to summon Shivaji promptly to the Mughal court. This decision was rooted in the belief that it would not be wise for Shivaji to remain in the Deccan any longer. The combined forces of Govalkonda and Bijapur had begun to rise against the Mughals, and Jai Singh expressed his apprehension that Shivaji might align with them.

Aurangzeb’s Decision

Responding to Jai Singh’s counsel, Aurangzeb embraced the proposal and, in accordance with Jai Singh’s recommendation, issued directives for Shivaji to be treated with the honor and respect befitting royalty. This pivotal moment in history laid the groundwork for the subsequent events, including Shivaji Maharaj’s daring escape from Agra, which we have explored in our article

The Agra Journey

On the pivotal date of March 5, 1666, Shivaji Maharaj embarked on a daring journey from Raigad, accompanied by his son Sambhaji and a distinguished assembly of loyal Marathas. Among these valiant individuals were iconic figures such as Tanaji Malusare, Yesaji Kank, Baji Sharzerav Jedhe, Hiroji Farzand, Balaji Avji, Niraji Raoji, Raghunath Ballal Korde, Trimbak Sondev Dabir, and Madari Mehtar, each contributing their steadfast support to Shivaji Maharaj’s cause.

In addition to this remarkable entourage, Shivaji was joined by a formidable corps of expert swordsmen and a formidable Mavali brigade comprising three to four thousand warriors. This assembly of loyalists symbolized the resolute spirit of the Maratha Empire and their unyielding determination to secure the freedom of their beloved leader, Shivaji Maharaj.

Shivaji Maharaj arrived in Agra on June 11, 1666. While he was cordially welcomed by Jai Singh’s son, Ram Singh, the reception at the Mughal durbar on the next day held a stark contrast. Upon entering the durbar, Shivaji found himself placed in the inconspicuous third row among the courtiers. Aurangazeb didn’t even acknowledge him. This treatment left him incensed, and in response to this humiliation, Shivaji abruptly departed from the durbar in a state of indignation.

During his confinement in Agra, Shivaji resided in a royal guesthouse rather than an actual prison, yet he was effectively under house arrest with stringent surveillance. His attempts to secure an audience with Aurangzeb were fruitless, and he was forbidden to leave Agra. This situation persisted for three months until August when Shivaji, realizing his captivity was unlikely to end, meticulously planned his daring escape. This period of captivity, from May 12 to August 17, witnessed increasing restrictions, compelling Shivaji to send his loyal followers home in preparation for his audacious breakout.

Unfolding the Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra

By mid-July, Shivaji had crafted a meticulous plan for his escape. He sought a loan amount from Ram Singh, using it as a cover for his preparations.

Designing the Prop to Stage the Escape Drama

Under the guise of a religious vow, he initiated a weekly custom of sending sweets and confectionery to the court’s nobles every Thursday. To transport these treats, ten large baskets were filled and suspended from a bamboo pole carried by two men.

Initially, the vigilant guards rigorously inspected the burden, but as this routine repeated from one Thursday to the next, they grew weary of the needless search and eventually only glanced into a couple of baskets. Who would have thought that those baskets were the Props to be used in the “Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra”- the Escape Drama which was to be staged in the coming days.

Planning the Safety of his whole team at Agra

Seizing this opportunity, Shivaji gradually dispatched his remaining followers, who had stayed behind with him, using passports granted by Aurangzeb, citing reasons such as sickness, a desire for a change in climate, or fatigue leading to a preference for a new leader. Consequently, the number of his followers dwindled day by day, all the while awaiting his rendezvous at designated locations, setting the stage for his daring escape.

Building on the plan of Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra

As the days passed, Shivaji found himself with just his son Sambhaji, Hiroji Farzand, and a couple of attendants. To pave the way for his escape, he adopted a clever ruse. Shivaji pretended to fall seriously ill and summoned physicians for assistance. Simulating his worsening condition, he intentionally avoided company and instructed those approaching him to maintain a distance.

After some time, he initiated a routine of sending substantial baskets of sweets to Brahmins and courtiers, distributing alms to Brahmins, the impoverished, and fakirs. This practice became so routine that the guards permitted the unchecked passage of these baskets.

Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra, Begins

On the critical day of August 17, Shivaji conveyed to the guards in the afternoon that he had taken gravely ill and desired not to be disturbed, setting the stage for his remarkable escape. Shivaji Maharaj and his son Sambhaji discreetly concealed themselves within two of the baskets, amidst others laden with gifts and sweets and began their escape journey in the evening.

Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra made Foolproof

Shivaji Maharaj always had a person or two who would fool the enemy to be Shivaji Maharaj themselves. Hiroji Farzand played that role this time. He donned Shivaji’s attire, reclining on the bed beneath a quilt. His right arm was extended, embellished with Shivaji’s gold wristlet. It seemed that Shivaji Maharaj himself was resting on the bed.

He pretended to sleep the whole night, the morning and then almost up to the afternoon time. The Guards thought that he was seriously ill. So, they were a bit relaxed. Hiroji Farzand capitalized on that moment, changed his attire, came out in a very tensed mode, had a hasty conversation with the guards that he has to leave that spot to bring in the Vaidya, and left the place.

Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra made Successful

Meanwhile, the baskets were transported a distance of three miles from the city of Agra, where Niraji Raoji, Tanaji, and other loyal comrades stood ready with horses. In a swift deliberation amidst the jungle’s embrace, Shivaji, accompanied by Sambhaji, Niraji Raoji, Datta Trimbak, and Raghumitra, chose to cloak themselves in ash, adopting the appearance of ascetics. Their destination: Banaras and Mathura, the initial steps on their journey back to Raigad. Simultaneously, the remaining members of the group dispersed, carrying with them the astounding news of Shivaji’s audacious escape.

Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra, A Mystery?

The Guards gradually realized that something was suspicious. But, by the time they realize the fact that Shivaji Maharaj has eluded them, was too late. The news went to Aurangazeb as a flash light. He was furious but at the same time felt clueless, helpless. The escaped on one side was designed so meticulously that on the other side, the people were left astonished. Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra was a mystery for them.

Conclusion

The Mughals had a huge army and more control over the territories. Aurangzeb seem to be invincible. So, to win with them was never a possibility, even showing the courage to fight with them and sustain the fight looked a distant dream. But Shivaji Maharaj was such a great warrior that sometimes he defeated his enemies psychologically.

This Shivaji Maharaj Escape from Agra was a psychological defeat for the enemy. After the escape, Shivaji won a series of battles and in 1674, he was coronated as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Aurangzeb left the Capital and came to Aurangabad so that he can defeat Shivaji Maharaj. But, He never came even close to the Agra debacle. Aurangzeb had his moments after the death of Shivaji Maharaj where he outscored the Marathas temporarily, but lived his rest of life with the regret that he could never defeat Shivaji Maharaj. Finally Aurangzeb died in Aurangabad which is far from the Capital.

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