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The Lion of Sinhagad



By Atharv Patil

The moon appeared hazy. It was almost midnight. And yet, none of the soldiers’ eyes showed even a tinge of fatigue even though they’d marched all the way from Rajgad—the Maratha Capital—and now were waiting surreptitiously at the foothills of the mighty cliff. 

“The ropes?!”

“Here they are, Subedar.”

“And the ghorpud—Yashwanti?”

“Here she is, Sir.”

The ropes were carefully tied to the tail of the ghorpud—a monitor lizard and off she was thrown upon the vertical cliff where she was stuck submissively.

“Alright friends, I’ll climb up first and then throw down more ropes for all of you. Let’s drive them crazy tonight. Har har mahadev—May victory be ours!” 

The Marathas stealthily started scaling the hill fort of Kondhana, which was, at that point occupied by the dastardly Mughals, busy dreaming up there on the fort and not considering even the slightest possibility of the Marathas attacking the fort in the peak of night.

The tireless trekkers soon reached the tat-bandis, thehumongousstone walls of the fort. “Subedar Tanaji, before an alarm gets raised, the beast needs to be drugged!”

The Commander, one of the bravest sons of the Deccan, knew exactly what was to be done with the beast elephant, named Chandravelly, known to trample her enemies to death. She was stationed there by Uday Bhan Rathod, himself a mughal-puppet, and formerly a Rajput king, who was in-charge of commanding the Mughal army on the fort. Thus, the elephant was secretly drugged before she could wreak any havoc within the already outnumbered Marathas.

The core of the fort was now under attack, and finally an alarm was raised. A huge fight ensued. 

The message was soon relayed to Uday Bhan’s chamber.

Huzoor, the Marathas have attacked the fort!” 

“What!? How!? When!?” the half-asleep and dumbstruck commander mumbled.

“They scaled the walls, Sir.”

“That’s impossible! Were our men sleeping?!”

“I’ve heard they use black-magic Sir. They come like ghosts and before you realise what has happened, you are defeated.”

“Nonsense! Go and release Chandravelly. She’ll definitely make sure to trample them! And don’t disturb me again!!”

A few minutes later the commander’s sleep was again compromised. A fierce sword-fight ensued, between the two commanders, who were almost of equal caliber. None of the two showed any signs of defeat. Both were in pursuit of slicing the other. Suddenly, Tanaji’s shield was struck by a great blow from the Mughal’s sword, rendering it broken. However, the Maratha commander, using his presence of mind, soon enough removed his turban and tied it around his hand, using it as a makeshift shield. 

The duo showed no signs of ceasing. It was like a lion fighting another lion in the jungle. Soon, the unexpected happened. Tanaji’s hand—the one covered with his turban—received a massive blow from Uday Bhan’s sword. Alas, the lion stumbled once and finally fell.

The soldiers now realised that no matter what, their commander’s sacrifice could not go in vain. They charged again at the Mughals with twice the energy and made sure to finish each one of them.

Meanwhile, a heavily wounded Uday Bhan was spotted by Shelar Mama, Tanaji’s uncle, and was sliced then and there.

By the time the sun touched the feet of the fort, the Maratha Saffron was fluttering proudly atop the fort. The news was immediately brought to the notice of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at the capital, Rajgad. However, the moment he heard the news of losing his childhood friend, and his most trusted commander, he couldn’t stop himself from bursting into tears.

The fort of Kondhana was thus renamed to Sinhagad, or ‘The Lion’s Fort’ to forever cherish the memory of the sacrifice of the bravest Maratha lion.