top of page

Maratha Empire

Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857
Stacked Wooden Logs


The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was a power that dominated a large portion of the Indian subcontinent in the 18th century. The empire formally existed from 1674 with the coronation of Shivaji as the Chhatrapati and ended in 1818 with the defeat of Peshwa Bajirao II at the hands of the British East India Company. The Marathas are credited to a large extent for ending Mughal Rule over most of the Indian subcontinent.[4][5][6][note 1]
The Marathas were a Marathi-speaking warrior group from the western Deccan Plateau (present-day Maharashtra) who rose to prominence by establishing a Hindavi Swarajya (meaning "self-rule of Native Hindu/Indian people").[8][9] The Marathas became prominent in the 17th century under the leadership of Shivaji Maharaj, who revolted against the Adil Shahi dynasty, and carved out a kingdom with Raigad as his capital. His father, Shahji had earlier conquered Thanjavur which Shivaji's half-brother, Venkoji Rao alias Ekoji inherited and that Kingdom was known as the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom. Known for their mobility, the Marathas were able to consolidate their territory during the Mughal–Maratha Wars and later controlled a large part of the Indian subcontinent.
After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, Shahu, grandson of Shivaji, was released by the Mughals.[10] Following a brief struggle with his aunt Tarabai, Shahu became the ruler with the help of Balaji Vishwanath and Dhanaji Jadhav. Pleased by his help, Shahu appointed Balaji Vishwanath and later, his descendants, as the peshwas or prime ministers of the empire.[11] Balaji and his descendants played a key role in the expansion of Maratha rule. The empire at its peak stretched from Tamil Nadu[12] in the south, to Peshawar (modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan[13][note 2]) in the north, and Orissa & western Bengal up to the Hooghly River,[15] in the east. The Marathas discussed abolishing the Mughal throne and placing Vishwasrao Peshwa on the Mughal imperial throne in Delhi but were not able to do so.[16] In 1761, the Maratha Army lost the Third Battle of Panipat against Ahmad Shah Abdali of the Afghan Durrani Empire, which halted their imperial expansion into Afghanistan. Ten years after Panipat, the young Peshwa Madhavrao I's Maratha Resurrection reinstated Maratha authority over North India.
In a bid to effectively manage the large empire, Madhavrao gave semi-autonomy to the strongest of the knights, and created a confederacy of Maratha states. These leaders became known as the Gaekwads of Baroda, the Holkars of Indore and Malwa, the Scindias of Gwalior and Ujjain, the Bhonsales of Nagpur, the Meheres of Vidharbha, the Puars of Dhar and Dewas and the Newalkars of Jhansi. In 1775, the East India Company intervened in a Peshwa family succession struggle in Pune, which led to the First Anglo-Maratha War in which the Marathas emerged victorious.[17] The Marathas remained the pre-eminent power in India until their defeat in the Second and Third Anglo-Maratha Wars (1805–1818), which resulted in the East India Company seizing control of most of the Indian subcontinent.
A large portion of the Maratha empire was coastline, which had been secured by the potent Maratha Navy under commanders such as Kanhoji Angre. He was very successful at keeping foreign naval ships at bay, particularly those of the Portuguese and British.[18] Securing the coastal areas and building land-based fortifications were crucial aspects of the Maratha's defensive strategy and regional military history.


A portrait of Shivaji Maharaj
Shivaji (1627–1680) was a Maratha aristocrat of the Bhosale clan who is the founder of the Maratha empire.[4] Shivaji led a resistance to free the people from the Sultanate of Bijapur in 1645 by winning the fort Torna, followed by many more forts, placing the area under his control and establishing Hindavi Swarajya (self-rule of Hindu people[9]). He created an independent Maratha kingdom with Raigad as its capital[24] and successfully fought against the Mughals to defend his kingdom. He was crowned as Chhatrapati (sovereign) of the new Maratha kingdom in 1674.
The Maratha kingdom comprised about 4.1% of the subcontinent, but it was spread over large tracts. At the time of his death,[4] it was reinforced with about 300 forts, and defended by about 40,000 cavalries, and 50,000 soldiers, as well as naval establishments along the west coast. Over time, the kingdom would increase in size and heterogeneity;[25] by the time of his grandson's rule, and later under the Peshwas in the early 18th century, it was a full-fledged empire.

Mughal Library

Rate This BookDon’t love itNot greatGoodGreatLove itRate This Book

Your content has been submitted

Post Comment
Ratings & Review
Click To Close Comment Box
Click To Post Your Comment
Show Reviews

Ismail Mazari

average rating is null out of 5

Very good information.

average rating is null out of 5

Shah Sharaf Barlas

average rating is null out of 5

If possible anyone have shijra family tree of Mughal Barlas traib of Attock Pakistan please share with me.


The Mughal Maps takes you back to a historical time of different eras, where you can see historical events based on the map and location of the event with all the details of the area of that time. You can add your maps to The Mughal Library here.

Mughal Library brings readers of our history and related subjects on one platform. our goal is to share knowledge between researchers and students in a friendly environment.

bottom of page