14 January 1761
Third Battle of Panipat
The Third Battle of Panipat was fought on 14 January 1761 between the Maratha Empire and the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan.
- The Maratha power was on the rise in the 18th century and they had many regions under their control stretching from the Indus in the north to the southern parts of the subcontinent. Delhi was also under their control as the Mughal Emperor was only a nominal ruler.
- Ahmed Shah Durrani (also called Ahmed Shah Abdali) had established the Durrani Empire in Afghanistan in 1747. He also had Punjab and Sindh including Lahore under his control.
- The battle took place at Panipat (in Haryana) about 97 km from Delhi between the invading Afghan forces and the Maratha forces. The Afghans were led by their king Ahmed Shah Durrani, who got help from the Rohilla Afghans of the Doab and Shuja-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Awadh. On the other hand, the Marathas failed to get the support of the Sikhs or the Jats or the Rajputs.
- The Marathas were heavily outnumbered and were defeated by Durrani’s forces. The battle lasted several days and both sides suffered heavy casualties.
- The commander-in-chief of the Maratha camp was Sadashivrao Bhau. Other important commanders in the Maratha side were Vishwasrao (the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao’s son), Malharrao Holkar and Mahadji Shinde.
- Sadashivrao Bhau and Vishwasrao were killed in the battle along with tens of thousands of Marathas. Many women and children of the losing side were taken as slaves.
- The Peshwa died of a shock due to this immense defeat.
- Durrani returned to his capital after the war and did not stay in India. He ordered the chiefs in India, which included Robert Clive of the East India Company to recognise the Mughal Shah Alam II as the Emperor.
- Even though the Maratha surge was checked, they retook Delhi within ten years.
Also on this day
<style="text-align: justify;">1845: Birth of the Marquess of Lansdowne, Viceroy of India from 1888 to 1894. 1926: Birth of Mahasweta Devi, writer and social activist.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.