Maratha invasion of Goa (1683)

Maratha Invasion of Goa (1683)
Date Apr 1683- Jan 1684
Ponda Fort, Bassein Fort& other forts and trading posts in the Konkan region
Result Status quo ante bellum
Maratha forces retreat from Velha Goa and Bombay and Bassein in the Konkan region
No territorial change.
Maratha Empire Portuguese India
Rebels of Sawantwadi
Mughal Empire
Commanders and leaders
Yesaji Kank
Krishnaji Kank
Francisco de Tavora Bahadur Shah I
11,000 infantry,
6,000 cavalry,
unknown naval vessels
3,700 infantry,
20 cannons,
unknown naval vessels
Desai Brahmin rebels
60,000 infantry
40,000 cavalry
Casualties and losses
low medium (mainly civilians) unknown

Maratha Invasion of Goa (1683) or Sambhaji's Invasion of Goa refers to the invasion of Portuguese controlled portion of contemporary Goa and the northern areas of Konkan. The battles were fought between the Mahratta Confederacy and the Portuguese in Goa and Bombay-Bassein, on various fronts in between 1682-1683. In 1682, 2 years after the death of Shivaji, Mahrattas began arming and fortifying their border with Portuguese held territories, and the Portuguese increasingly allied themselves with the Moghul empire to avert the looming threat, this would set the background for a series of Mahratta hostilities in and around the present-day Goa and Bombay of the Konkan region. The Ponda Fort near the capital city of Velha Goa was a strategic Maratha position, hence the viceroy Francisco led a botched attack on it in late 1683, attempting to avert the Mahratta threat to the Portuguese capital. Sambhaji arrived with reinforcements and tried to press on the advantage of the Portuguese retreat at Ponda. He stormed the colony of Goa, Marathas temporarily occupied many forts in Goa. The Maratha forces were preemptively mobilised, and the Portuguese situation eventually became dire. Sambhaji ransacked the north Konkan region for over a month, his forces also pillaged Salcette and Bardes areas in south Konkan. Sambhaji came very close to capturing the city of Old Goa,[citation needed] but his forces retreated from Goa, Damaon& Diu and the northern areas of Konkan division on 2 January 1684, to avoid the large Moghul army led by Prince Muazzam (alias Bahadur Shah I).


The Portuguese Empire was a powerful naval empire in the 17th century. They had established several enclaves on the west coast of India. The Portuguese territories of Damaon, Chaul, Bacaim, Goa and several others, bordered the Maratha Empire. The Marathas during the lifetime of Shivaji had maintained relatively good relations with the Portuguese East Indies. His successor, Sambhaji wanted to check up the Portuguese by constructing forts over at strategic locations, one being Anjediva Island off the coast of modern-day North Canara, and another on Parsik Hill in modern-day New Bombay. The Portuguese were alarmed at the mobilisation of Maratha forces and fortification at the borders, and attempted to stop the construction of the forts in 1683.[1] In August 1683, the Portuguese allowed the Mughal army to pass through their northern territories against the Marathas. When Sambhaji received information about Mughal-Portuguese cooperation. He adopted an aggressive strategy by attacking the villages of Chaul, Bacaim and Daman. The Marathas then plundered Portuguese controlled villages in Dahanu, Asheri and Bacaim. In response the Portuguese arrested the Maratha envoy Yesaji Gambhir.[2] Sambhaji's Peshwa Nilopant Pingle waged aggressive war against the Portuguese. He devastated, plundered& occupied 40 miles of Portuguese territory including the villages of Chembur, Talode, Kolve, Mahim, Dantore, Sargaon. The Portuguese retaliated by arresting Maratha merchant ships. They also attacked the newly built fort on Parsik Hill. All these events took place in April–May 1683.[1] The Marathas also besieged Revdanda fort and plundered its village in July 1683. The Portuguese Viceroy Francisco de Távora, wanted the capture of Sambhaji.[1] Desai Brahmins of Sawantwadi sided with the Portuguese in this conflict, as they lost most of their political privileges under the Maratha rule.

Battle of Ponda Fort

The Portuguese viceroy marched towards the Fortress of Ponda, with 3,700 soldiers. Viceroy camped at the border village of Agaçaim on 27 October 1683. They crossed the river and reached the villages west of Ponda on 7 November. Veteran Maratha general Yesaji Kank and his son Krishnaji were stationed at Ponda with a force of 600 Mavalas. The Marathas resisted the initial Portuguese infantry charges. In one of these skirmishes Krishnaji Kank was wounded heavily, he died a few days later. However The Portuguese heavy bombardment managed to broke through the walls of the fort, severely damaging it.

By 9 November Maratha reinforcements, which included Sambhaji himself, arrived from Rajapur to rescue the fort. He had 800 cavalry and 2,000 infantry with him. Viceroy thought that Sambhaji will attack him from the rear and cut his line of communication with Goa. On 10 November, he called for a general retreat towards the Durbhat port. The Marathas routed the retreating Portuguese by attacking them from a hill near creek. The viceroy was wounded during this skirmish. On 12 November most of the Portuguese army reached Goa.[3] This victory of Sambhaji has been praised by the Portuguese and they described Sambhaji as a war like prince.[4]

Invasion of Goa

In the north, the Peshwa Brahmins kept pressure on Revdanda. The Marathas also temporarily occupied some territory around Bassein and Damaon.[5] The viceroy had assumed that Sambhaji would quit the heavily damaged Ponda and leave, to the inland Panhala Fort.

On 24 November 1683 at night, when the tide was low, Sambhaji's full force attacked the unsuspecting fort and village on Santo Estêvão island. They captured the fort and plundered its village. A battalion of 200 men marched from mainland Goa in order to recapture the island. Seeing the size of the Maratha army, and the devastation caused by them, the battalion retreated to the capital City of Goa.[6]

After the fall of Santo Estêvão, and arrival of the retreating army, the Portuguese broke the bunds of rice fields on the outskirts of the city of Goa. This inundated the fields with river water, the plan worked by increasing the width of the river. Sambhaji had intended to attack Goa on this occasion, but was prevented by rising tide. The Marathas later retreated from the island due to the probability of a Portuguese naval attack.

News reached both Sambhaji and the viceroy, that a Mughal prince, Muazzam, had entered into Maratha territory with a 100,000 strong force. The Moghuls took advantage of Sambhaji's war with the Portuguese as a diversion. Sambhaji tried to bribe Muazzam,[verification needed] in order to use his army against the Portuguese before they could reach south Konkan. With this failing, Sambhaji continued storming the northern parts of the colony, attacking poorly defended villages.[7] By December 1683, the Maratha army had been reinforced and totalled to 6,000 cavalry and 8,000 - 10,000 infantry units. They attacked the regions of Salcete and Bardez and plundered town of Margão. The Portuguese successfully defended the inner territories of Ilhas de Goa and Mormugão from the onslaught of Marathas. All the other villages and forts were temporarily occupied by the Marathas. French factor of Surat Francois Martin has described the poor condition of the Portuguese, he said the viceroy was completely dependent on Mughal aid now.[8] After having laying waste to the outer districts of Salcete and Bardez the Marathas and had started closing in to the Islands of Goa. The viceroy was concerned that if the things remain unchanged, Sambhaji would soon capture the island of Goa. During this time, Muazzam was pillaging through the Maratha territory, as he made his approach towards Sambhaji. When Sambhaji learnt of Muazzam's arrival at Ramghat, fearing the large Moghul army he retreated all his forces back to Raigad Fort on 2 January 1684.

It is said that the viceroy went to the body of Francis Xavier, in the Bom Jesus shrine in the Velha Goa city, and placed his sceptre on the dead saint's relic and prayed for his grace to avert the Maratha threat.[6] The belief that St Xavier had saved the Portuguese led to the celebration of this occasion annually in Goa.[citation needed]


Sambhaji wanted peace with the Portuguese, as he was unable to fight a war on two fronts. He sent Prince Akbar and Kavi Kalash to negotiate with the Portuguese. After long negotiations final treaty was approved at Mardangad, between 25 January and 4 February.

Due to the arrival of Portuguese reinforcements in Goa and the Konkan, the Marathas realized that they were not going to be able to continue their conquest against the Portuguese, or keep any of their territories. The Marathas retreated from all their new possessions, in order to concentrate their forces against the Mughals. The campaign was a reality check for Portuguese aspirations in the Konkan. On 12 January 1684, the viceroy called a meeting of the state council to shift the capital Goa to Mormugao fortress further West. This proposal was rejected, and the capital continued to be the City of Goa[9] The viceroy did not expect hostile actions from the Marathas, until he met Sambhaji on the battlefield.[citation needed][verification needed]In spite of the fact that Goa was well fortified and the Portuguese had a fine navy.[10] The conflicts between the two powers continued in the following years, as Marathas continued raiding the borders, culminating in the Mahratta Invasion of Bassein, the Portuguese however did not make any significant offensive campaigns against the Marathas.



  1. ^ a b c Pissurlencar 1983, p. 82–85
  2. ^ Kulkarni 1982, p. 365.
  3. ^ Kulkarni 1982, p. 386.
  4. ^ Kolarkar, S.G. (1995). History of Marathas. Nagpur: Mangesh Publishers. p. 133.
  5. ^ Sarkar, Jadunath (1920). History of Aurangzib: Based on Original sources. IV. London: Longmans, Green and company. p. 331.
  6. ^ a b Pissurlencar 1983, p. 89-92
  7. ^ Glenn, Joseph Ames (2000). Renascent Empire?: The House of Braganza and the Quest for Stability in Portuguese Monsoon Asia c.1640-1683. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. p. 155. ISBN 978-90-5356-382-3.
  8. ^ Martineau, Alfred (1932). Memoires de Francois Martin. 2. Paris: Societe d'editions geographiques, maritimes et coloniales. p. 340.
  9. ^ Pissurlencar, P.S. (1953–1957). Assentos do Conselho do Estado. IV. Bastora, Goa: Rangel Publishers. pp. 417–26.
  10. ^ Pissurlencar 1983, p. 95-96


  • Kulkarni, A.R.; Khare, G.H. (1982). Gokhale, Kamal (ed.). History of Marathas. Nagpur: Maharashtra universities board.
  • Pissurlencar, P.S. (1983). "Portuguese-Maratha Relations". Mumbai: Maharashtra state board for literature and culture. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

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