The battle of Kharda took place in March 1795 , ending up in a resounding win for the Marathas . It is notable mainly for two reasons :
1) It happened 34 years after Panipat, at which point all Maratha armies had supposedly disappeared for ever.
2) It was the last time that the Confederacy fought as one, reminiscent of Bajirao and to a lesser extent Balaji Bajirao.
Background and cause:
Chauth and sardeshmukhi issues had been simmering between the Peshwa and the Nizam for quite some time. It was only their common war against Tipu sultan that had put the issue on a backburner. In 1791 though, the Marathas decided to push their demands through their envoys at Hyderabad – Govindrao Kale and Govindrao Pingle. The Nizam provided his reply under 34 documents and promised to negotiate once the war with Tipu was over. Nana Phadnavis replied favourably to him and both waited out a couple of years.
When negotiations were reopened, the Nizam informed Govindrao Kale that the Marathas owed him two and a half crore rupees!! He had also arranged for the British under Shore to arbitrate in the dispute, much to the chagrin of the Marathas. At the same time, the Nizam had augmented his army from 2 battalions, under the Frenchman Raymond, to 23 battalions!
Negotiations dragged on till 1794 , with the Nizam not budging from his demands and the Marathas from theirs . Finally , the Mushir Ul Mulk at Hyderabad summoned Govindrao Kale and told him that Nana Phadnis would have to come to Hyderabad for any progress to be made and that the Nizam was prepared to bring him to Hyderabad if the need arose !! With the talks having fallen through, it was obvious that matters would have to be settled the old way.
The Nizam moves to Bidar:
The Nizam of Hyderabad along with Raymond, Mushir ul Mulk and the Nawab of Kurnool etc moved his armies to Bidar by the beginning of 1795.
From Bidar they proceeded to Wakigung and to the Mori Ghat , along the Manjiri river by February. There was general feel of confidence in the camp, with the Nizam boasting of how Pune would be captured soon and Khandesh etc annexed to Hyderabad. The Nizam had 45,000 cavalry; 45,000 infantry and over a 100 guns at his disposal.
The Marathas coalesce at Pune:
The Marathas under Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa and Nana Phadnis, prepared to meet the challenge head on . As the threat to Pune became imminent and a stupendous reply followed from the Maratha confederacy!
From the north, Daulatrao Shinde and Tukojirao Holkar joined the fray . From the west Gaikwad of Baroda arrived with his contingent . From the east , Raghuji Bhosale II contributed his cavalry . The loose Pindari mercenaries of Karim Khan joined in . Added to this were the contingents of Nimbalkar , Ghatge , Chavan , Pawar , Thorat , VInchurkar , Malegaonkar , Pant Sachiv and others who had so often rallied under the saffron standard.
Break of troops was as follows:
Shinde : 25000
Holkar : 16000
Govindrao Gaikwad : 10000 (?)
Bhosale of Nagpur : 15000
The Peshwa’s own Huzurat cavalry was under Baburao Phadke, with Patwardhan being given overall command .
All put together , the Maratha army was close to 1,00,000 alongwith a hundred guns.
The clash at Kharda :
The Maratha army took the route via Aurangabad to Bidar and managed to reach the vicinity of Wakigung and Paijiri.
Baburao Phadke was sent with an advance party to intercept the Nizam at the Mori Pass near Kharda , which he did, but ended up with heavy losses . He retreated towards the main army , hotly pursued by Raymond and his battalions. The commander in chief Parshuram Bhau Patwardhan now joined in , flanked by Shinde , Holkar’s and Bhosale’s contingents.
Very soon, war had broken out between the Nizam and the Marathas near the fort of Kharda. The drilled musketmen of Raymond clashed with those of Perron, under the Scindia. Skirmishing went on for the whole day , before both armies retired for the night.
The Marathas now played their masterstroke. Under the cover of darkness , they attacked the Nizam with guns and muskets. The Nizam , believing there was nothing to fear, and had planned for the march to nearby Parinda fort , was rudely shaken up. In the mayhem that followed, scores of his men were killed and a panic stricken Nizam retreated into the small fort at Kharda.
Marathas lay seige. Nizam comes to terms.
The Peshwa laid seige to the fort , while his Pindaries pillaged the deserted army camp . After seventeen days of holding out , by which time all cattle in the fort perished and his soldiers were also driven to starvation , the Nizam decided to come to terms . A dagger and seal was sent to the Peshwa , signalling that he was ready to accept any condition imposed on him !! The Peshwa gave a fitting reply, stamping his authority on this last great triumph.
He started off by asking for the Mushir Ul Mulk , who had insulted Nana Phadnis with his rude comments . The Nizam protested , but finally had to give in . His minister , the immediate cause of the war , was soon packed off to Pune as a prisoner.
The Nizam agreed to cede all land from Paranda fort to the Tapti river as well as fort of Daulatabad and territories which had been captured by Sadashivrao bhau in 1760.
Further , 3 crores 10 lacs were obtained from the Nizam as tribute.
29 lac were given separately to Raghuji Bhosale.
Land worth 3,00,000 annually was given to Raghuji Bhosale.
A resounding win had been scored, stamping Maratha authority on south India for one last time.