Sunday, 6 March 2016

Shivaji Maharaj : Father of Indian Navy

India is truly the land of martyrs. One amongst them who is worshiped as a National Idol is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Not only did he give a befitting reply to the Mughals, he also laid the foundation of modern warfare in India.

Guerrilla Warfare is a well-known tactic brought to practice by Shivaji himself. Likewise he is also revered as the Father of Indian Navy. Let’s take a wider look at his contribution to Indian Navy.

Indian Navy has been into existence since long. From the time of the Mauryas, Cholas, Guptas etc. it has been taking shape gradually. The Marathas marched with this torch a little farther. It must be known that the naval army of the Marathas progressed incessantly at the face of the odds and challenges posed by the Dutch, the Portuguese, the Mughals, and the English.

Now, with Shivaji at the throne, there were mighty changes in the Naval army. The Naval base was strengthened in various regions across Maharashtra, including those of Konkan and Goa. This was done with a view to protect trade at the sea. There were ample vessels that were built, sea forts and fortresses were constructed, and there were also ports and shelters that were built.

Overall, now the navy was strong enough to protect against foes and able enough to carry out business. The manpower which took charge of the Navy was also able and adequate in all respects.Quite a reason to proclaim Shivaji as the Father of Indian Navy, isn’t it?

Shivaji had excellent foresight. He did very well understand that just as a strong army is needed to keep up the sovereignty of his land, so also strong manpower is needed at the sea as well; because sea provides an excellent route for the encroachers. And a strong kingdom would never leave his areas at the mercy of other powers weather it is on land or at the sea. Therefore, quite evidently, he built a sea base almost from scratch, thus taking navy to a different plane of operation. Some of the naval forts built during Shivaji’s flagship include Jaigadh, Suvarndurg, Vijayadurg, Sindhudurg, Padmadurg etc.

Shivaji’s Fleet

Apparently, the fleet of ships at Shivaji’s naval guard had two squadrons. There were a total of 200 ships approximately in each squadron. However this information is dubious. But, with time more number of ships were added, taking the number to over 400 ships. There were a variety of ships in the fleet, Gurabs, Pals, Majhuas, Galbats, Gallivats are just to name a few.

Shivaji the great warrior, remained calm when confronted by foes. Many a time he was challenged by enemies to stop his fort building spree, but he with an extra ordinary planning and courage put all the challenges to rest. Kanohji Angre was the most trusted official of Shivaji’s navy line. He is also remembered as Shivaji of the Sea. Indian Navy picked up from where Shivaji left, thus making him the ‘Father of Indian Navy’.

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