Santaji Ghorpade- Commander who blown sleep of Aurangzeb

by Feb 15, 2023

Hello friends, today I came with a biography of another interesting warrior and commander of Maratha army. He was one who blown away sleep of Aurangzeb after execution of King Sambhaji Maharaj and he was none other than Santaji Ghorpade.


Santaji Mahaloji Ghorpade, who lived from 1660 to 1696, is widely recognized as “Santaji” or “Santaji Ghorpade.” Under Chhatrapati Rajaram, he was the most powerful commander in the Maratha Empire and a famed fighter.

Following the accomplishments of Shivaji Raje and Peshwa Bajirao I, he gained recognition and admiration among the people. He conducted surprise attacks and raids which were typical of guerrilla warfare tactics. From 1689 until 1696, Santaji and Dhanaji Jadhav collaborated on several successful missions against the Mughal army, contributing to both men’s fame.

Brief Information

Estimated to be 1660 (No Certainty)
Maratha Bhosale Family
Army Commander
Sersenapati Maloji Ghorpade

Birth and Early Life

The Bhosale family tree includes the senior Ghorpade branch, where Santaji Ghorpade was born. There is some ambiguity surrounding his birth year, but historians estimate it to be around 1660. His father, Sersenapati Maloji Ghorpade of Kapshi, succeeded his uncle, the late Sarsenapati Hambirrao Mohite, as the head of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj’s army. He was the eldest of three sons.

Santaji helped Hambirrao Mohite learn and grow, starting with his early education. Eventually, he rose up the ranks. In 1679, Hambirrao’s brother Bahirji went with Chhatrapati Shivaji to Jalna. Santaji rose to prominence as a Sardar under Chhatrapati Sambhaji, and in 1686 he commanded an army of 12,000 to deliver food stuff from the Jinji area.

Santaji’s father refused to abandon his monarch, Sambhaji and was killed while trying to protect him from the invading Mughals. As Sambhaji intended to escape while the invading Mughal forces were distracted, I gave the order to Santaji to proceed. Santaji and his family were staunch supporters of Chhatrapati Rajaram I and Maharani Tarabai and the Maratha struggle for Swaraj, even after Santaji’s father’s death.


Santaji Ghorpade

Santaji’s time as a military leader spanned both Chhatrapati Shivaji’s and Chhatrapati Sambhaji’s reigns. He eventually became a respected Sardar and was given crucial assignments like heading a force of 12,000 to transport food supplies from the Jinji area. Throughout his career as a fighter, he earned a reputation for skill and bravery that made the Mughals from Pune to Chennai cower in fear at the mere mention of his name.

Santaji played a crucial role in the Maratha War of Independence. He and his army successfully carried out guerilla warfare tactics against the Mughal Empire, effectively weakening their hold over the region. His tactics and strategies earned him the “Rann Dhurandhar,” meaning the “Tornado of the Battlefields.”

Santaji’s guerilla warfare expertise helped a lot during the Maratha-Mughal War, where he again played a significant role in the Maratha victory. The people of Maratha knew him for his cunning and strategic planning, and his bravery on the battlefield inspired many of his troops to follow his lead.

Throughout his career, they knew Santaji for his loyalty to the Maratha cause and his unwavering commitment to the independence of the Maratha people. He remains a revered figure in Maratha history, and the people are remembered for his contributions to the Maratha War of Independence and the Maratha-Mughal War.

Role of Santaji Ghorpade In the Maratha-Mughal War

Santaji was a Maratha warrior and commander who played a significant role in the Maratha Empire during the late 17th century. With other notable Maratha leaders like Dhanaji Jadhav, Ramchandra Pant Amatya, and Shankaraji Narayan Sacheev, he was one of King Rajaram’s most trusted generals. The Indians know Santaj for his military victories against Mughal forces in Maharashtra and Karnataka. 

He played a crucial role in the defense of fort Jinjee, capturing Mughal General Ali Mardan Khan and defeating Mughal troops under Zulfikar Ali Khan. Santaji also led the Maratha forces in raids against Mughal camps and battles against Mughal generals, such as Himmat Khan, Kasim Khan, and Hamid-Uddin Khan.

The Maratha community highly regarded Santaji for his courage and leadership abilities. Queen Tarabai commended him for his bold attack on Aurangzeb’s army camp. Despite facing some defeats in battle, Santaji remained an important figure in the Maratha resistance against the Mughal rule and played a role in maintaining Maratha dominance in southern India.

Santaji is particularly famous for his role in the Battle of Umberkhind, where he led a small Maratha army to defeat a much larger Mughal force. This battle was a turning point in the Maratha-Mughal war, as it boosted the Maratha’s morale and demonstrated their military prowess.

Santaji assisted Dhanaji Jadhav in multiple raids and engagements against the Mughal army. Near the city of Satara, they overcame Mughal General Sarzakhan and captured him. To help Jinjee deal with the Mughals, they were also dispatched to Madras.

Santaji’s attacks on the Mughal encampment were famous for their speed and destruction. He could overpower several Mughal generals, notably Kasimkhan and Himmat Khan, and use lightning to annoy the Mughal army camped near Khatav. Hamid-Uddin Khan and Zulfikhar Khan, two Mughal generals, eventually defeated him.

Santaji and King Rajaram did not have a good relationship, so Santaji was removed from his role and replaced by Dhanaji. In July 1697, Santaji was killed by Nagojirao Mane, a Maratha general who Aurangzeb seduced.

In addition to his military skills, Santaji was a cunning strategist adept at manipulating the enemy’s weaknesses. He was known for his ability to launch surprise attacks and was feared by the Mughals for his ability to launch raids deep into enemy territory.

Overall, Santaji Ghorpade was an instrumental figure in the Maratha-Mughal war, and his contributions helped shape the outcome of the conflict in favor of the Marathas. He remains a revered figure in Maratha history and is remembered for his bravery and military prowess.


Emperor Aurangzeb of the Mughal Empire was determined to bring the Maratha warrior, Santaji, to justice for his looting and plundering against the empire. Aurangzeb issued a formal command to Hamiddudin Khan Bahadur with the task of capturing Santaji. Bahadur was responsible for tracking down Santaji. Hamiddudin Khan recovered some of the elephants Santaji had stolen and left some officers to continue the pursuit with Bidar Bakht.

However, Santaji’s plundering continued, and he even confronted Dhanaji Jadhav during his journey to Jinji. Despite capturing Rajaram, Santaji eventually apologized and conducted him to Jinji. Zulfiqar Khan Bahadur finally captured the fort, but Santaji escaped once again.

Santaji fled to Nagoji for safety, but was still pursued by Ghaziuddin Khan Feroz Jung, who had received a formal command from Aurangzeb to capture Santaji.

Meanwhile, Mane and Dhanaji attempted to bring Santaji back to the Maratha Empire, but their efforts were unsuccessful as Santaji was unwilling to surrender.

Santaji met a tragic end in a thick Maharashtra Forest while taking a bath. His death is shrouded in mystery; however, it is widely assumed that he met his end at the hands of Ghaziuddin Khan’s troops or Mane’s brother-in-law. Santaji’s head was eventually sent to the emperor as confirmation of his demise.

In telling the tale of Santaji, we see the Mughal emperor’s determination to punish those who defied him and the tensions between the Maratha soldiers and the Mughal Empire.


Santaji Ghorpade was a prominent figure in the Maratha Empire, a warrior, and leader who made a name for himself and his family through his military achievements. He was the father of Yeshoji and Tukoji, who continued their father’s legacy by moving their base of operations to Sandur and Guti in Karnataka. In the Maratha war of succession, they aligned themselves with the Tarabai faction against Shahu, showing their bravery and loyalty.

Even after the Peshwa of Pune consolidated his control in 1749, the Ghorpade dynasty remained vital to the administration and defense of the Maratha Empire. Murarrao Ghorpade, a grandnephew of Santaji’s joined forces with Muhammad Ali and played a major role in the famous Battle of Arcot during the Carnatic Wars. After aiding the British East India Company at the siege of Arcot, the Ghorpades kept in touch with them.

Santaji’s offspring can still be found in Satara, Kolhapur, and Sangli in Maharashtra and Sandur and Guti in Karnataka. Ramchandra Babaji Ghorpade belonged to a family line that possessed a feudal estate in the Satave region of Panhala when it was in the service of the Kolhapur Princely State of Bhosale. Nivruti Vithoji Ghorpade, the grandson of Ramchandra, left an indelible mark on the Indian corporate world as the Vice-chairman/Director of Warana Sugar and affiliated businesses, a company he co-founded and led for 35 years following India’s independence.

Santaji Ghorpade and his family left a lasting impression on the Maratha people. Their courage, loyalty, and leadership continue to serve as role models for modern Maratha soldiers and rulers.



  1. A sketch & portrait of Santaji Mhaloji Ghorpade-


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