In 1670, a horrific battle took place between Tanhaji and Sidhhi Hilal. Tanhaji bravely fought against thousands of Mughal soldiers, winning the Kondhana fort for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It is said that Sidhhi Hilal, known for cruelty and mental cunning, beheaded his 9 wives so that they could not remarry if he died in the battle.
Can we imagine a group of 300 people had to fight against a strong army of 5,000 people with no option to turn back? It was March 1670, imagine what must be going through the mind of a young Maratha soldier who was set to fight against huge armies of Mughal in order to win the strategically important Kondhana fort for Chhatrapati Shivaji. It was none other than a great warrior ‘Tanhaji Malusare’ who was the military leader of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, founder of the Maratha Empire.
A 2,000-year old fort was almost impossible to be conquered. One night, Jijabai, also known as Rajmata Jijabai, was gazing at a strategic fort at a distance with a desire to capture it. She could see the green flag of the Mughals fluttering over the fort. Just then Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, son of Jijabai, came there and noticed that his mother was looking at the fort and something was disturbing her. He asked why she was so upset. She said, “the green flag over the fort is disturbing me. It is disturbing me too, said Shivaji.
On the other hand, Tanhaji Malusare’s son was going to get married and preparations were going on. Tanhaji was a good friend of the great Shivaji and so, Tanhaji invited Shivaji Maharaj and his family to attend the wedding but Shivaji Maharaj wanted to get back the Kondhana fort which had been captured by Mughals. Shivaji called for a meeting with his soldiers and asked, who amongst you would want to take this challenge to win over the fort for us. Everybody was quite. All of a sudden, somebody from the crowd stood up and said, I shall win Konadan for you. Shivaji noticed it was Tanhaji Malusure who had volunteered. Hence, Shivaji appointed Tanhaji for the dangerous mission. At night Tanhaji gathered 300 troops and marched to capture the fort.
The fort was guarded by 5000 Mughal soldiers. Udhaybhan, a Rajput general, was a commander of the Mughal army. The only way to enter the fort was on top of an overhanging cliff. Tanhaji had brought his pet lizard called Ghorpad that could easily climb. With the help of the lizard and rope, soldiers managed to climb the cliff. On that night, Sidhhi Hilal was spending a beautiful night with his 9 wives. Just then Hilal and his armies came to know about Maratha soldiers’ arrival. Soon, Sidhhi Hilal along with his army went on high alert for war. Fearing that his wives would remarry after his death, Sidhhi Hilal beheaded his 9 wives before fighting with Tanhaji.
Now, both armies burst into the war and the battle was fought fiercely. Tanhaji fought against Mughals with grit and determination and eventually, the fort was captured by the Marathas. But, unfortunately, Tanhaji was killed by Udaybhan. Ultimately, the Marathas won due to Tanhaji’s bravery and hoisted the saffron flag at Kondhana Fort.
When Shivaji Maharaj got the news that Tanhaji was killed in the battle, he was deeply upset. Shivaji uttered the word, “Gad ala pan Sinha gela.” (“The fort has come, but the lion is gone.”). In the honour of Tanhaji, Kondhana Fort was renamed after Sinhagad Fort because Shivaji used to call Tanhaji as ‘Sinha’ (Lion).