Udayavni Special

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s first and only naval expedition to free tiny port town of Basrur


Team Udayavani, Jul 7, 2020, 1:07 PM IST

Chhatrapati Shivaji is one of the great rulers of India. He is considered to be one of the greatest warriors of his time and even today, stories of his exploits are narrated as a part of the folklore

Shivaji engaged in both alliances and hostilities with the Mughal Empire, Sultanate of Golkonda and Sultanate of Bijapur, and European colonial powers. Shivaji’s military forces expanded the Maratha influence, capturing and building forts, and forming a Maratha navy

Shivaji had built a strong navy, which had successfully kept a check on the activities of British and Portuguese who used oceans for their military campaigns in far-off places.

On February 13, Chhtrapathi Shivaji Maharaj took to the sea, his first and only naval expedition to free the tiny port town of Basrur in Karnataka. Basrur is a tiny port town today in Kundapur taluk of Udupi district in Karnataka. The famous Taulaveswarar Temple, Guppi Sadananda Temple and many other temples are located in this town.

Centuries ago, it was a bustling town that was a centre of trade, commerce and art. This town is the one to which Shivaji his first naval expedition.

Shivaji’s Army was busy raiding Bijapur towns above the ghats, such as Khanapur and Hubli. The chief of Bidnur Somashekhar alarmed at the nearness of Shivaji’s army solicited protection from Shivaji on payment of yearly tribute.

Local rulers informed Shivaji Maharaj of the oppression by the foreign traders who had settled down in Basrur, he led his forces and helped the town gain freedom

Shivaji secretly planned and carried out a raid on the port of Basrur. He dispatched a navy of eighty five small frigates, three little ships and some small crafts with 4000 soldiers on 8th February 1665.

Also, Shivaji’s fleet consisted of 400-500 large and small ships. They were named as Gurab, Varande, Gulbat, Mubar, Sihad, Pagar, Machwa, Tirkati, Pal, etc

Shivaji Maharaj arrived on 13 February 1665 by sea circumventing the Portuguese navy surveillance off the Goa coast. He was in Basrur for about 2 days and liberated the port town from the clutches of Portuguese dominion.

Shivaji selected the day just after Mahashivratri day where pilgrims gathered around Mahalingeswara shrine

The  entry into the town of Basrur was difficult due to the only opening to the sea which was also obstructed by a long bar of sand. It is said that Shivaji took the help of local guides to assist him enter the town in the shortest of time and return to the sea with all the loot.

Historians claimed the loot was beyond the counts. The Dutch estimated it to be 300,000 guilders. The loot consisted of not only cash, but of cloth, grains, spices, probably some horses too, brought there for the sale by the Arab ships.

It is said that the raid was conducted in order to break the trade control of the Portuguese and the Dutch who were competing for monopoly over the town.

Basrur town celebrates Shivaji Maharaj’s first and only naval expedition on 13 February every year.

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