2ndlook

Questions: Sculpture at Raigad Fort

Posted in History, India by Anuraag Sanghi on June 17, 2012

The sculpted panel at the entrance of the Raigad fort poses some interesting questions.

Raigad Fort - Entrance to Nagarkhana. Stone engraving at the entrance of Raigad fort. |  As per original caption, this 'depicts five Deccani sultanates being trampled by the Maratha Kingdom.  The five Deccani sultantes were, Bijapur - Adilshahi; Bidar - Bidar Shahi; Berar - Imad Shahi; Golconda - Qutb Shahi; Ahmednagar - Mugal Shahi.'  |  Image by MadPai on May 1, 2008 from his Flicker album  |  Click for larger picture.

Raigad Fort – Entrance to Nagarkhana. Stone engraving at the entrance of Raigad fort. | As per original caption, this ‘depicts five Deccani sultanates being trampled by the Maratha Kingdom. The five Deccani sultantes were, Bijapur – Adilshahi; Bidar – Bidar Shahi; Berar – Imad Shahi; Golconda – Qutb Shahi; Ahmednagar – Mugal Shahi.’ | Image by MadPai on May 1, 2008 from his Flicker album | Click for larger picture.

I wonder. Is there more to this?

  1. The horse is trampling only 4 elephants.
  2. The fifth in fact is on top of the horse.
  3. It seems like the horse’s tail has becime a azgar (python) and attacking the fifth elephant.
  4. Is the fifth elephant the Qutub-Shahi rulers who ‘escaped’ the fate of the other four?
  5. Is this a more general representation of cavalries becoming more crucial instead of elephants.
  6. By the time of Shivaji, elephants had become largely beasts of burden – and no more the armoured corps that they were earlier.
  7. If the nearby sculptures are political like this, then it may be Maratha vs Bahmani representation.
  8. If they are generally military representations, these may be general mnemonics of army compositions.

It would be nice if the 2ndlook community can decipher this?

Any: –

  • Thoughts
  • Knowledge
  • References
  • Observations

Even any more questions and interpretations will do. Open for discussion now.


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6 Responses

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  1. admin said, on June 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm

  2. balai_c said, on June 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Elephants, especially elephant corpses were used as an effective tool of penetrating into infantry columns during pre-Islamic India.Later advancements in battle strategies laid more importance on horses. Since central Asia and middle east (as per Mercator maps) was the ideal rearing place for horses, Islamic invasion forces were able to invade into India. Just like that ,later advancement in firearms (especially musket rifles) again enabled a rebirth of the infantry, when Maratha forces used muskets to perfection , helping them to repulse waves of horse born cavalry, so menacing in Islamic era. Likewise horses as a weapon of force projection became a thing of past with the emergence of armored vehicles like tanks and aircrafts, which became the best way to destroy enemy war assets and troupes. So, yes this picture is a succinct example how a prized asset of now could become a burden tomorrow. Kind of sad and redolent.

  3. A fan of your content said, on June 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    My limited knowledge of Maratha battle strategy tells me that a guerilla fighting force would provide better offense with cavalry than the Dakhin sultanets having elephants and used to fighting in the plains. I may be wrong.

    Let’s not forget the mighty Mughal Awrangzib who was harassed no end by the Maratha guerilla forces.

  4. deepak said, on June 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    It is not correct to describe the Maratha battle tactics as guerilla fighting. Shivaji established a standing army as well as the tertiary army of peasants, who were paid on contract basis to participate in the wars. Marathas, the current dominant caste in Maharashtra, has a clan system – mostly on the lines of the Scottish clans, where the entire Maratha population is divided into 96 clans (96 Kulas). Each clan leader had a minimum force of 96 soldiers organised in a 12*8 formation. The main crux of Shivaji’s tactics was speed, which led to Maratha Light Infantry instead of a heavy cavalry, and what is called ‘Ganimi Kawa’ in Marathi, which is often wrongly described as guerilla tactics. The basics of Ganimi Kawa involve putting oneself in the enemy’s shoes to check the weakest points in the supply chain and attack on the weakest links. This would then enable to main infantry to attack the centre of the enemy force. These tactics eveloved over time, starting with small skirmishes on the borders (like with Afzal Khan) that involved more of brain rather than battleforce, to building the cavalry force during Peshwas. Terming these tactics as guerilla puts them at par with the Talibans and other sundries.

  5. Rupesh said, on August 7, 2015 at 10:15 am

    HI I am from the same region & I know this symbol very well,

    Basically this symbol was used Indian warrior king named “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,” a member of the Bhonsle Maratha clan, for every fort he built.

    This sculpture depicts a tiger-like beast (symbolyze Shivaji Maharaj) clasping elephants in its claws.
    where as these 4 elephants symbolizes Shivaji’s major enemy dynesties on which he possess control – Adilshahi, Qutb Shahi, Mughalshahi &Nizamshahi

  6. Bedekar Prakash B. said, on April 5, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    This must be taken up with Historians who can throw light on this. This should be referred to Bharatiya Itihas Sanshodhan Mandal, Pune or Deccan College Pune


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