THE TERRAIN As mentioned earlier, Shivaji, Sambhaji and his close associates were given spacious quarters in one of the big houses probably owned by Mirzaraja Jaisingh, near the famous Tajmahal, i.e., Tejomahalaya, the most magnificient Shiva temple at Agra. The house had large surrounding open ground around its building. A good park was maintained in it. It was a 'haveli' - a big mansion, and had a couple of entrances, with the main entrance facing the Yamuna river in the North. Fauladkhan set up guards at several places arpound the building, in the open ground and also within the building. Shivaji and Sambhaji and their personal servants were residing in the interior of the haveli. Ramsingh had appointed some brahmins to remain close to Shivaji, in the neighbouring rooms, to guard him. Ramsingh feared that Fauladkhan may do some harm to Shivaji. Outside the building, along with Fauladkhan's men, a Shahi contingent of guards were also pressed on duty. It has been noted in the Rajasthani letters that at any given time about 1000 men were on guard duty on the premises! The sundry men - Shivaji's shiledars, servants to other men, palkhi bearers, etc., who had come with Shivaji to Agra werehoused in tents (dera) on open ground located some distance away from Shivaji's haveli. The horses, camels and elephants were housed on the same ground.
THE PLAN Shivaji had come with his trusted men and servants to Agra. However, he had thought that he will meet Aurangzeb, discuss his arrangements and finalize them in a few days and start the backward journey immediately. Somehow that did not materialize. He was put under house arrest! Shivaji's goal was to escape from Agra and reach his own kingdom safely. He started to plan for this almost immmediately after the house arrest order. For a few days he just kept quiet, without sending any requests to Aurangzeb. This is Shivaji's style. He is impatient to carry out various things. He wants to do things fast. But he also is meticulous in planning various activities. He gathers all the information required thoroughly. Shivaji collected information through his trusted officers and associates. From the events and historical papers, it seems Shivaji had made friendship with the chief postmaster of the Moghul court, and his subordinates! This is important because through these people, Shivaji could know the contents of various letters sent by Aurangzeb and his mansabdars and also received by them. There is strong ground to believe that these people acted in tandem with Shivaji in order to help Shivaji escape! One of them even kept Shivaji's important people in his own house! One thing was clear, Shivaji had to keep a low profile. And before leaving secretly, he had to get the written guarantee given by Ramsingh to Aurangzeb cancelled, since Shivaji had given oath to Ramsingh for not leaving Agra. To do this he had to move very slowly. After a few days he became "ill". He also started distributing sweets to sadhus, fakirs, and general public to get cured from bad health. He had taken permission to do this from Aurangzeb!
Later Shivaji applied for permission to send all his men to the home country. And Aurangzeb granted it! Shivaji declared that he himsel will remain in Agra / Delhi and call his relatives here and stay well in the care of the great emperor! After a few weeks, the permits (Dastak) were issued to Shivaji's men to travel southward. (In those days, one required permission to travel from one place to the other!) With the help of these permits Shivaji's men and horses went to several important towns on the direct road to Rajgad (the same by which Shivaji had come) and settled there guarding a small house and feeding the several horses each one was given. At a town, at least two trustworthy men were lodged with 3 to 5 horses. When they were all in place, Shivaji was ready to leave Agra!
THE GREAT ESCAPE! Shivaji was put under house arrest on 29 May 1666. By the end of June, Shivaji's men started getting the permits to trave to South. By about 10 July 1666, most of his men who had been given tasks had left Agra. All this time, Aurangzeb was busy with making arrangements to suppress the rising in the northwest. This helped Shivaji greatly. In mid-July, Shivaji received the news that Aurangzeb and his senior mansabdars were leaving Agra for shikar on 22 July! Ramsingh asked Shivaji if he wanted to join the shikar, but Shivaji refused! Shivaji spotted the opportunity and put his escape plan into action!!
One senior Marathi Pandit, Kavindra Paramananda, who was a teacher in Sanskrut Pathashala at Varanasi (Kashi), had come to meet Shivaji at Agra. Shivaji had known him since at least 1664. On Sunday, 22 July 1666, Shivaji held a ceremony for honoring the pandit Kavindra Paramananda! In the open grounds of the haveli, he ceremoniously presented the pandit with a two elephants, a saropa (ceremonial dress), a horse, one thousand rupees, and several sevants! He also promised to give another elephant to the pandit! At the function, Shivaji announced, "The emperor does not give permission to go home. I shall give off all my elephants and horses and remain here as a Fakir!" After the presentations, Shivaji pushed forth his son Sambhaji to complete the ceremony - presenting other pandits in Kavindra's entourage with gifts.
Shivaji himself went inside the house to his inner room. The only person accompanying him was Niraji Raoji! Shivaji removed his beard, changed to the standard clothes of a pandit - dhoti, kurta, and a grand pagadi (a great round hat), which was the main mark of a Brahmin pandit in those days! Shivaji himself was a fairly white-skinned and handsome person, and therefore could pass off as a brahmin pandit easily. Niraji Raoji also had a beard and was himself a brahmin officer of Shivaji's court. He was conversant with the Moghul politics and the events which had taken place at Agra. Niraji put on Shivaji's clothes and slept on Shivaji's bed! Shivaji, in the garb of a pandit came out of the house and mingled with other pandits. One of his trusted officers, Raghunathpant Korde was with him. Several others who were in the know had surrounded Shivaji to take care of him in case his guise blew up. After the ceremony, all the people in Kavindra Paramananda's entourage prepared to leave. Kavindra and other pandits in his entourage climbed in their palakhis. Shivaji also climbed in his palakhi! They were all going towards Jaipur. About 60 to 70 people along with Shivaji and his selected men came out of the haveli premises. Because of the ceremonious atmosphere and the sweet meal after the ceremony, the guards on duty were slack. Shivaji took advantage of the crowd. He also had a dastak in the new name with him! The group left the haveli premises in the afternoon. Slowly the reached the western gate of Agra. Through the check-post there they started off towards Fatehpur Shikri. After about 10 to 15 miles' journey, darkness fell and they decided to camp. Shivaji in the guise of a pandit and his close associates, took leave of Kavindra Paramananda and started off towards the south, to the city of Dhaulpur, bypassing Agra city, on horsebacks! They travelled fast and by late night they reached a night camp few miles south of Agra. A team of Shivaji's men had started from Agra that same morning and was camping there! Shivaji, still in the guise of a pandit, and his men took rest at the camp.
Thus, the great Shivaji escaped the clutches of the Moghul emperor on 22 July 1666, leaving Sambhaji behind!
SHIVAJI's ROUTE After reading the above, it is just a matter of record to state the route which Shivaji followed to reach his home country. Shivaji used the same route by which he had come to Agra. From Agra to Gwalher (Gwalior), Narvar then straight to Burhanpur! From here Shivaji diverted to Nashik region since he did not want to go to Aurangabad.
It is interesting to go into the logic of the selection of route by Shivaji. One major and important reason to select this route is that Shivaji and his men had come by this route and new the terrain, the towns, camping places, etc. Also, this is the most direct and fastest route to the south, and in the monsoon season, when it rains heavily in the midlands of India, this is the most safe and most used route! Using other route exposes Shivaji to many other unknown dangers and uncertainties. And Shivaji is not a person who tolerates too many unknowns in an adventure! Using any other route to go to the south would have taken much longer time and also made Shivaji vulnerable to arrest by Moghul soldiers,in case his escape was discovered immediately!
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