1758 : Battle of Attock

Posted February 6, 2015 by admin in Legendary Battles

As the dreaded Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Abdali left India with his hitherto undefeated armies he left his Indian provinces (comprising of Western Punjab and the hill areas of modern Pakistan) under his son and future king of the Durrani Empire, Timur Shah guided by his able lieutenant, Sardar Khan.

 Strong Afghani forces were stationed to prevent the collapse of his new found territory and the shattered remnants of the Mughals swore loyalty and a hefty tribute to him each year. Certainly the formidable and defiant Jat power of Bharatpur under Suraj Mal remained undefeated and the Rajput states untouched by Ahmed Shah but the canny Pathan leader was able to unite the disparate and fanatical hill men of his country into a formidable and ruthless force which left terror and destruction in its wake.

From the south however came his greatest rival – the Marathas – Under the inspirational leadership of the Brahmin warrior – Baji Rao (1720-1740) the Marathas shattered the shell of the Mughal Empire and under his son Baaji Baji Rao (1740- 1761) the Marathas secured the ‘Chauth’ of all of Hindustan and fulfilled the prophecy of their legendary king Shivaji the Great (1657 – 1680) that the Marathas would rule from the Himalayas to the southern tip of India- from ‘Attock to Cattock’

In 1757 a vast force under the leadership of the Peshwas brother Raghunath Rao and the warlords of the Holkar and Sindhia families poured their waves of relentless light cavalry into northern India. The Afghan garrison in Delhi was utterly defeated and converging lines of Marathas began the invasion of Punjab and chased the Afghans to where Timur Shah was enclosed in Lahore – After defeating the Afghans and destroying their base in Sarhind with the assistance of local bands they marched to Amritsar, where they assisted in the cleansing of the Sikh holy site of the Golden Temple after expelling the Pathans who had desecrated the shrine.

The frantic Timur Shah calling for help from his father attempted to defend the city of Lahore only to have it fall before the Marathas (it is said that the gates of Somnath stolen by Mamhud Ghazni 800 years before were recovered at this time by Mahadji Sindhia to once again adorn the entrance of a grand Hindu Temple)

The retreating Afghans were chased over the Indus River into the home territories of their Pathan brethren. The city of Peshawar fell before the Sindhia contingent of the Maratha Empire and finally after the elapsing of 700 years a Hindu army once again stood at the gates of India. A desperate stand was made by the retreating Afghans at the fort of Attock only to fall after a month long siege – the saffron flag – Bhagwa Jhanda flew over the proud Pathan landscape to the chagrin of the locals to find the pagan Hindus once again returning and proving their ability to endure and emerge over the most fanatical and relentless hatred.  The peak of the Maratha Empire was reached and reaches out today as an example of the eternal battle to preserve civilisation and culture in the face of implacable hatred.


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