In 1754, the Mughal emperor, Ahmad Shah Rangila, was virtually made prisoner
by Safar Jang.
His advisor, Jawed Khan, had also been murdered by
But then Safdar Jang himself was removed in a
coup and retreated to Awadh. His replacement was the new wazir, Imad ul Mulk Gaziuddin
the younger (a grandson of Nizam
ul Mulk son of Gaziuddin senior). Imad ul Mulk proved equally bad for the emperor.
realignment between Ahmad Shah and his ex-wazir, Safdar Jang, the new
wazir deposed the emperor (by murdering him) and installed Alamgir II in his place. Imad
ul Mulk then tried to repossess the Punjab territories which had
earlier been taken by Abdali. Abdali reinvaded Delhi in 1756. 
Abdali then entered Delhi virtually unchallenged.
allowed Imad ul Mulk to continue as wazir, there was another
power centre created by him in Delhi, in the form of Najib-ud-daullah Khan Rohilla
Mahadev Pandit Hingane, otherwise known as Raja Bapu, the
peshwa's agent, was imprisoned, but he later escaped from
Meanwhile, Peshwa Balaji Bajirao
dispatched a huge Maratha army to take on Abdali (under his brother,
Raghunathrao, with Malharrao Holkar as his deputy). But Raghunathrao
was slow in his movements, and Abdali ravaged the Jat country,
forcing their leader, Suraj Mal, to open negotiations with Abdali.
Meanwhile, the Marathas advanced and Abdali
retreated. The Marathas took over Doab and Meerat, and soon marched
to Delhi and removed Najibud Daullah Rohila.
As a side note, relations between Malharrao Holkar
and his commander Raghunathrao were far from smooth as Raghunathrao
suspected Najibuddaullah of having bribed Malharrao Holkar to seek
his leniency. Already there was friction between the two as
Malharrao resented taking orders from a much younger Raghunathrao.
Earlier, thanks to Raghunathrao's insistence (cajoled by Jayappa
Scindia), Malharrao had to agree a treaty with Surajmal Jat, despite
the fact that the Jats had killed Malharrao's son, Khanderao. This
also added to the effect.
Also, relations between Najib and Malharrao Holkar
were very cordial and others believed that Malharrao was
deliberately being lenient towards Najib. Malharao has been accused
by a section of historians of deliberately keeping the threat of
Najib alive in order to counter any potential moves in the future by
the peshwa and Scindia. But there are versions of events which
refute these allegations against Malharrao.
Meanwhile Najib, the wily fox, was maintained his
pretence that he wanted to be reconciled with the Marathas, while
simultaneously maintaining a secret correspondence with Ahmed Shah
Abdali, apprising him of Maratha movements. The Afghans too
re-entered India and with the help of the Rohilla network, soon
regained most of the posts they had lost earlier to the Marathas,
including Delhi. Dattaji Shinde, the Maratha commander, had
instructed the wazir, Gaziuddin, to strengthen the defences of Delhi
and hold the Afghans until reinforcements could arrive. But
Gaziuddin fled and took refuge in the Jat camp, leaving the gates of
Delhi open for the Afghans.
 Meanwhile in 1757, Abdali was
advancing towards Delhi. The Maratha commander, Antaji
Mankeshwar, repulsed the first attack by Abdali. But while
returning the Maratha party was ambushed by Najibuddaullah Khan,
the Rohila chief of Sahranpur, who acted as a double agent for
Abdali (all the while professing loyalty to the Mughal emperor).
This created panic in the Mughal ranks and Imad ul Mulk also
surrendered Delhi to Abdali.
Ibrahim Khan Gardi, chief of the Maratha artillery
The Maratha commander, Dattaji Shinde, who was
supporting Gaziuddin, was also killed, at the Battle of Buradi Ghat
(January 1760). He was decapitated by the Najib's aide and
Shah, and his head was presented to Abdali.
The Peshwa then dispatched his cousin, Sadashivrao
Bhau, and his nineteen year-old son, Vishwasrao to supervise
operations (at the insistence of the peshwa's wife, Gopikabai, who
thought Sadashivrao might hog all the credit in course of achieving
a victory). Accompanying him were Nana Phadanvis, Mehendale,
Purandare, Damaji Gaekwad, etc.
Sadashivrao Bhau was the son of the
valorous Chimaji Appa, the younger brother of Peshwa Bajirao I. His
father died when he was young and he was raised in the peshwa
household. After gaining adulthood he took charge as the peshwa's
diwan. Known to be a very competent administrator, Bhau, as he was
popularly known, was as good with his sword as he was with his pen.
He won northern Karnataka for the peshwa and humbled the Nizam of
Hyderabad at the Battle of Udgir. He also added the legendary fort
of Daulatabad to the Maratha empire.
It is said that the Jats and Gaziuddin did not want
Sadashivrao Bhau to enter the north but the imminent threat of
Abdali's arrival was enough to make them bribe the diwans of Shinde
and Holkar (Dabholkar and Chandrachud) to dissuade Sadashivrao from
entering the north (and especially from controlling Delhi) but to
send his army to the north instead. In the event, things did not go
quite as they had hoped.
In July 1760, the Maratha commander Sadashivrao
Bhau entered Delhi (resistance was minimal and the pathans under
Yakub Khan who were guarding Delhi were soon routed). 
As per some historians, Sadashivrao Bhau was over-confident of Maratha might and refused help from the Rajputs,
Sikhs and Jats (however many historians dispute this and
maintain that Sadashivrao did try to convince the Jats, but because
they were refused control of Delhi, they abstained from the war -
the Marathas also no longer trusted Gaziuddin with the role of wazir
and were said to be entertaining thoughts of making Shujauddaula of
Awadh the next wazir. Therefore, both Surajmal and Gaziuddin decamped from Delhi without informing
The Rajputs were not very keen on helping
the Marathas anyway, whom they viewed as extortionists and a threat to their
own sovereignty. (Earlier, the Marathas had acted avariciously during the succession war between the brothers Ishwari
Singh and Madho Singh for the Jaipur throne and the Marathas ended up
losing their good will.
The king of Jodhpur, Vijay Singh, also resented the
Marathas for their extortionate demands, and had earlier murdered
their commander, Jayappa Shinde. To ascend their thrones, the Rajput
princes had earlier accepted the heavy demands made by the Marathas
in exchange for their help against their rivals. But they later
found that meeting Maratha demands was too cumbersome. Due to this,
Rajput support for the Marathas was not forthcoming. In fact, Madho
Singh of Jaipur gave a written undertaking to Abdali that he would
not help the Marathas. The Sikhs were also threatened by Abdali to
prevent them sending supplies and military help to the Mughals.
Surajmal , the Jat king, had earlier
promised help, but he insisted on the increased control of Delhi and
retaining Agra fort (something Sadashiv Bhau was not very
forthcoming about and wanted the decision to be postponed until the
war with the Afghans was over. Also, the Jats and Gaziuddin suspected
that Sadashivrao wanted Shujauddaullah as the wazir of Delhi and not
Gaziuddin, as Sadashivrao viewed Gaziuddin as too unreliable,
especially after his flight at the arrival of the Afghans when he
left Dattaji Shinde in the lurch.
 On hearing of Abdali's
capture of Delhi, the Marathas under Raghunathrao rushed the
Maratha armies to Delhi. They chased the Afghans as far as the
Northwest Frontier. The Marathas held sway over the north (Attock,
Lahore, Peshwar, Kashmir, etc) for over a year, between November
1758 to March 1759.
 Later, the Marathas under
Raghunathrao rushed their armies to Delhi. They chased the
Afghans (including Abdali's son, Taimur) into the northwest
frontier. The Marathas held sway over the north (including
Attock, Lahore, Peshwar, Kashmir, etc) for over a year (Nov 1758
to Mar 1759). But Raghunatrao returned to the Deccan leaving
behind a small garrison under Sabaji Shinde to defend Punjab.
After Abdali's departure, what followed was a struggle for
complete power between Gaziuddin the younger and Najib Kan.
Najib emerged the victor and Gaziuddin fled Delhi taking with
him Alamgir II as security (and a prisoner). Imad ul Mulk soon
murdered the emperor, Ahmed Shah Bahadur (after he intercepted
the emperor's letter to Abdali to free him from Gaziuddin's
clutches). Gaziuddin continued his attempts to regain control of
Delhi. He succeeded briefly in installing Alamgir II on the
Mughal throne (this emperor too was murdered by Gaziuddin when
friction developed between them). But Najib Khan soon drove
Gaziuddin off again, this time with Abdali's help (Abdali had
returned after quelling a rebellion in Balochistan). Abdali had
returned to India in response to the pleas from Najib and Shah
Waliullah, a Muslim cleric from Delhi who had given the clarion
call of Islam in danger after the advent of the Marathas in the
north, imploring Abdali's assistance in vanquishing them.
They also suspected that
Sadashivrao would agree to Shuja's bidding for the replacement of
Gaziuddin's and Surajmal's puppet emperor, Shaha Jehan II, with Shah Alam II, son of Alamgir II, the emperor who was earlier murdered by
Gaziuddin the younger). With no firm promises from Sadashivrao Bhau
forthcoming, they slighted Surajmal and Gaziuddin decamped from Delhi
in the middle of the night and thereafter stayed away from the
The Marathas soon found themselves isolated and without
supplies. Also, to pay the army's wages (especially to quell the
disgruntlement mercenaries within the army), the
Marathas had to sell off the embellishments (the canopy) from the
emperor's bejewelled throne. This irked many Mughal loyalists, but
it can be concluded that Sadashivrao had little option as there were no other sources
of funding available anywhere. 
Shuja ud Daullah, the Nawab of Awadh, had earlier
switched sides to join the Afghans (despite his mother Badrunissa Begum advising him taking sides with the
Marathas. Abdali's side was
mainly presented to Shuja by Najibudaullah Khan and Begum Mallika uz
Zamani, widow of ex-emperor Muhammed Shah Rangila).
It is also possible that Najib threatened
Shuja with reprisal through Abdali if he helped the Marathas. The
proximity of Abdali's allies to his kingdom may also have weighed
Shuja's decision. Also weighing on Shuja's mind may have been the lack
of support the Marathas had earlier shown towards his father during
his court rivalry with Imad, and he aligned himself with Abdali
(probably a little reluctantly, as there was no love lost between Najib, a Sunni
Muslim, and Shuja, a Shia Muslim).
It is also possible Najib played the
Muslim brotherhood card and raised the possibility
that the Marathas may conquer their pilgrimage places such as Prayag,
and Benares (Kashi) and relegate Muslims to playing second fiddle
in the north. Eventually Shuja did change sides from the Marathas to the
All these complicated events proved to be an ominous signs for the
By ensuring support from the Muslim kings and with the
Rajputs, Sikhs and Jats abstaining, supplies to the Marathas were
successfully blocked by Abdali.
Ahmed Shah Abdali (1723-1773) was the son of
Mohammed Zaman Khan, the chief of the Abdali tribe. He served the
Persian king, Nader Shah, after the latter rescued him from the prison
of Hussain Khan the Ghilzai governor of Kandahar. He was named Durrani or the
'Pearl of Pearls' by Nader Shah. After the
assassination of Nader Shah in 1747, by his Turkoman guards, Ahmed
Shah Abdali was elected chief of his tribe.
He unified all
Afghans under his banner, and expanded his kingdom by conquering Ghazni (from the Ghilzais), Kabul, Herat, Nishapur,
and Masshad, as well as Kashmir, Sindh
and Punjab from the Mughals. He made many attempts to attack Delhi
and succeeded in his fourth invasion of India (after the defeat of
the Marathas at Panipat). He plundered Delhi and its adjoining
regions and later sacked the Golden Temple at Amritsar in Punjab.
Eventually the Sikhs rallied against Abdali and drove his armies out
of Punjab. Abdali then retreated to Kabul, where he met his death in
Ahmed Shah Abdali-Durrani is remembered as the
father of modern Afghanistan. He was an astute war leader and to
his enemies a ruthless and ferocious foe.
Third Battle of Panipat, 14 January 1761
 Gaziuddin had murdered
Emperor Alamgir II on an earlier occasion and installed Shah
Jehan II as his puppet emperor. But the Marathas deposed Shah
Jehan II and declared the son of the previous emperor, Ali
Gauhar (who had taken refuge with Shuja and later the British)
as emperor and he came to be known as Shah Alam II. Later, Shah
Alam II was deposed after a confrontation with the British, only
to be reinstalled by the Marathas (Mahadji Shinde, brother of
Dattaji Shinde) in 1772. Mahadji Shinde was to act as his regent
for the next decade or more.
Shuja ud Daullah, the Nawab of Awadh, ally of the Afghans
 Thanks to the imminent
threat of war, the farmers were also not in a position to pay
revenue. To make matters worse, many moneylenders had fled town
during the build-up to war.
The Marathas had heavily aligned themselves with a well-equipped
artillery under their commanders, Ibrahim Khan Gardi (a Telugu
Muslim previously employed with the Nizam of Hyderabad and trained
by the French), and Le Corbosier
(a French mercenary who was earlier in the service of Tuloji
Angre), not to mention their famed cavalry and infantry under the
likes of Jankoji Shinde, Malharrao Holkar,
Raghunathrao, Vinchurkar, Bhoite, Purandare, and Shamsher Bahadur.
They were highly confident of victory.
Also accompanying the Marathas were their families, who had plans of
visiting holy pilgrimage sites on the way. This was to prove another
costly mistake. Shivaji always strictly prohibited an entourage
during his war campaigns. But these Marathas did not heed this
golden rule set forth by their ancestor.
This increased the mouths to be fed and also slowed
down troop movement. The Marathas won the initial skirmishes with
Abdali's troops at Karnal and Kunjapura. The killer of Dataji Shinde,
Qutub Shah, was also killed by the Marathas and he met the same fate
has had Dattaji, when the Marathas cut off his head and celebrated
the Dasera festival with great pomp.
Abdali himself was stuck behind a flooded
River Yamuna. But a greedy villager showed the Afghans a shallow
route across the Yamuna and Abdali's troops successfully advanced
and blocked the Maratha's southern movement towards Rohilkhand (the
Marathas had wanted to cut Najib Rohila's supply lines. Earlier they
had blocked off Abdali's return route to Afghanistan). The second
round went to the Afghans when they made many rapid strikes on the
Maratha battalions. Prominent Maratha commanders such as Govindpant
Bundele (Kher) and Balwantrao Mehendale were killed during this
time. Seeing their supplies dwindling and men dying, the Marathas
finally decided to take on the Afghans with
their full might.
On the day of the battle the troops on
both sides assembled at Panipat. In the Maratha lines were Holkar
and Shinde on the right. The peshwa's men were in the centre, with
the Maratha (led by Sardar Panse) and the Gardi artillery under
Ibrahim Khan Gardi on the left. The Maratha cavalry was led by
Sardar Damaji Gaekwad, with Sardar Vithalrao Shivdev Vinchurkar
behind, and Sardar Bhoite leading infantry, archers, musketeers, and
pikemen to provide cover for the artillery. Behind the cavalry were
the inexperienced soldiers guarding the civilians.
Ahmed Shah Abdali, son of Mohammed Zaman Khan
On the Afghan side were the forces of Shuja,
Abadali and Najib forces (the Rohillas under Hafiz Rehmat Khan, Shah
Pasand Khan, Amir Beg, and Barkhurdar Khan) on the left with their
artillery (long range cannon called 'zamzama' and camel mounted
light guns known as 'jamburkas' - of the swivel type and 'shaturnals'),
the forces of Shah Wali Khan Afridis (the wazir) and Jahan Khan (the
commander-in-chief) in the centre and the forward regiments of the
Afghans on the left. Abdali stayed behind on a hill with his reserve
troops and cavalry. 
The first salvos were fired by the Gardi
long distance cannons, but these went to waste as they whizzed over
the heads of the fast-approaching Afghan army, so these were quickly
replaced by short distance guns and muskets.
However, as the battle progressed the
Marathas seemed to be in a winning position (this was the first half
of the battle), with Ibrahim Khan Gardi's artillery wreaking havoc
on the Afghans. Bhau's forces managed to cut the Afghan lines in
two, almost demolishing the contingent of the wazir, Shah Walikhan.
Ataikhan, the adopted son of the wazir, was said to have been killed
during this time when Yashwantrao Pawar climbed atop his elephant
and struck him down. The Maratha cavalry, led by Bhau and Vishwasrao, then charged at
the fleeing Afghans. However, as the Marathas
proceeded, a stray enemy shot struck Vishwasrao, the eldest son of
the peshwa, killing him on the spot. This may have proved to be a
turning point. Vishwasrao's deeply upset uncle, Sadashivrao Bhau,
dismounted from his battle elephant in order to recover his nephew's
corpse. In the thick of battle, the Maratha soldiers saw the vacant
ambaari of their commander and thought that he had also fallen. They
Many fled the battlefield. Sadashivrao
Bhau soon found himself surrounded by Afghans. He fought valiantly,
but eventually succumbed to the large numbers. To his credit he,
like other Maratha sardars, had every opportunity to escape from the
battlefield but the brave Sadashivrao Bhau died fighting.  
This reversed the tide of the battle to the
detriment of the Marathas.
Jankoji Scindia's attack on Najib Khan was also
repulsed (Jankoji was later captured and executed).
Natural factors also did not seem to
favour the Marathas. One such factor was the 'Dakshinayan', an
effect of the sun where the suns rays shone directly into the eyes
of several hungry Maratha soldiers (it has to be remembered that the
Afghans had earlier cut off the Maratha food supplies, leading to
some very empty stomachs just before the battle), and many fainted
with heat stroke. They were all butchered by the rejuvenated Afghan
 The totals for the Afghan
and Maratha forces were therefore roughly 100,000 Afghans to
70,000 Marathas (plus 30,000 pilgrims and non combatants).
 Sadashivrao constructed the
Sadashiv Peth, a residential colony at Pune.
 The corpses of Vishwasrao,
Sadashivraobhau and many other Marathas were said to have been
purchased from the Afghans by Nawab Shujaudaula of Oudh (whose
father had enjoyed friendly relations with the Marathas in the
past) and his diwan, Kashiraj Pandit (who later wrote his
treatise on Panipat). The bodies were later cremated as per
Another factor that changed the tide of
battle in favour of the Afghans was when the Maratha artillery under
Ibrahim Khan Gardi was wreaking havoc on the Afghan lines. The other
Maratha commanders such as Damaji Gaekwad and Vithal Vinchurkar (who
were in charge of guarding the artillery) overzealously broke ranks
when they saw the enemy retreating and overran the Maratha artillery
and entered deep into the enemy lines. The reserve Afghan gunners
gunned down the charging Maratha cavalry. The Maratha artillery was
therefore left exposed and the advancing Afghan troops soon
overpowered it. Ibrahim Khan Gardi himself was captured by the
Afghans (Gardi's son and son-in-law were also killed in the battle).
They asked him to switch sides in the name of Islam, but the brave
captain refused to betray his master and preferred death. The
Afghans later tortured Ibrahim Khan Gardi to death.  
The Afghans capitalised on the confusion
in the Maratha ranks and cut through their flanks. Thousands were
massacred, along with just as many civilians. Seeing the massacre of
the Maratha army taking place, Malharrao Holkar also fled from the
battlefield, as did many leading Maratha commanders. Many sought refuge
with the Jats and the Sikhs who generously tended to them. Thus Panipat
proved to be a huge debacle for the Marathas.
They lost a significant amount of men,
and many commanders were also killed, including Balwantrao Mehendale
(killed before the final battle), Dattaji Shinde (before the final
battle), Jankoji Shinde (captured for ransom but later killed by the
Afghans), Govindpant Bundele (killed before the final battle,
captured and executed), Shamsher Bahadur (Peshwa Bajirao I's son by
Mastani, who succumbed to his injuries), Santaji Wagh (Holkar's
captain who succumbed to his injuries), Ibrahim Khan Gardi, Vishwasrao,
Antaji Mankeshwar (escaped the battle, but fell following a
treacherous ambush by some preying Baluchis at Farruknagar) and, last but
not least, their general, Sadashivrao Bhau. Many escaped with their
lives, such as Nana Phadanvis (who wrote his memoirs on Panipat.
Nana was to play a major role in subsequent Maratha politics. He
served as regent and chief minister to Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao),
Vinchurkar (escaped with severe wounds), Damaji Gaekwad (who
was wounded and escaped with his life. He founded the
royal house of Baroda), and Mahadji Scindia (who escaped from battle
but was severely wounded and had a limp all his life. Mahadji was
also to become one of the leading commanders in the Maratha army in
the future, as well as being the patriarch of the royal family of
 The old guard, such as
Malharrao Holkar, Vinchurkar, and so on, were against the
European battle styles and more in favour of their traditional
guerrilla warfare. Hence their support was said to be rather
 It can be said about Sardar
Vinchurkar, whose main job it was to guard the Gardi artillery,
did not want the Gardis to take all the credit for destroying
the enemy, so to make his mark on the battle, impatiently broke
away from the pre-agreed 'Golaachi ladhaai' circular battle
formation. In hindsight we can conclude that this proved
detrimental to the Maratha cause.
The debacle at Panipat left an indelible
scar on the Maratha psyche for a long time to come. The Afghans had
indeed won the battle, but they also lost men in large numbers
(35,000 Afghan casualties were reported in comparison to the 80,000
on the Maratha side). Also the treasury in Delhi was empty and there
was nothing to loot. The Afghan soldiers with time had grown battle
weary and refused to move further into India. Also, due to the
non-payment of wages, there was a growing feeling of discontent in
the Afghan ranks, not to mention news of a brewing rebellion back
home. Thus, despite winning the Battle of Panipat, the Afghan
victory proved a pyrrhic one.
The Afghans ruled the north India
for a very brief period, but soon returned to Afghanistan leaving Najib
ud Daullah in charge of northern India except Punjab, where Abdali
stationed his garrisons.
The Afghans named Shah Alam II as the titular
Mughal emperor in absentia, as he had escaped Gaziuddin's clutches
and sought refuge in the eastern provinces. Surprisingly, Gaziuddin
was made wazir, but the main powers of administration rested in the
hands of Najibudaullah who was reinstated as mirbakshi.
Gaziuddin never trusted Najib enough to return to Delhi. Shuja too
was upset with Abdali's decision to make Gaziuddin the wazir of
Delhi as he coveted the post himself. As a result he too left Abdali
in disgust, heading back to his own kingdom. Najib had earlier
promised Abdali the moon, also now expressed his inability to pay
Abdali's army, claiming that the Panipat campaign had rendered him
bankrupt. Thus Abdali's army remained short of finances.  
 Surajmal Jat did however
provide relief to the escaping Maratha refugees, tending to
their needs, unmindful of the consequences, as did Shujauddaula
who is said to have paid a fortune to the Afghans to allow the
cremation of the slain Maratha leaders.
 The Afghans took away
several Maratha men and women as slaves to Afghanistan. Their
descendents still survive in parts of modern Pakistan and
Afghanistan amongst the Bugti, Marri and Gorchani tribes. Some
Marathas took refuge in the villages surrounding Panipat and are
today known as Ror Marathas.
 Near modern Panipat (in
Haryana state), there exists a village called Bhaupur, named
after the martyred Sadashivrao Bhau. There also exists a temple
built in his memory where ballads singing his praises still
On their way back the battle-weary Afghan army was
ambushed several times and looted by roving Sikh bands. The Afghans
did make a couple of attempts to subdue the Sikhs by force and by
emoluments, but failed on all counts. Eventually, a few years later,
the Afghans were driven out of Punjab.
Gaziduddin, the ex-wazir of the Mughal
emperor, retired to the Deccan. Surajmal Jat died in 1763 fighting a
battle against Najib. Najib himself died in 1770. His kingdom, Rohilakhand,
was attacked and ravaged by the Marathas after his death
(during the time of his son, Zabita Khan, who fled and sought refuge
with Shuja). The Marathas even reoccupied Delhi. Shujauddaullah, the
reluctant ally of Abdali, was later reconciled with the Marathas when he
sought their help against the English. 
Raja Madho Singh of Jaipur, who had helped the
Afghans with supplies, later tried to muster support to prevent the
Marathas from re-entering the north. But Malharrao Holkar, chastened
by the defeat at Panipat, atoned for it by later defeating Madho
Singh in battle. However Malharrao was wounded and retired to
Alampur where he died.
Whatever spoils the Afghans took away from the
Third Battle of Panipat, they were recovered decades later by the
Sikhs under their General Nalwa (as per some reports, who was said
to be the great-grandson of Sadashivrao Bhau. Bhau's daughter, who
was separated from her mother during the war, sought refuge with a
Sikh family and was married there). This was after Abdali's death
(in 1773) when they defeated the Afghans comprehensively and pushed
them out of Punjab. 
 Earlier the Rohillas, led by
Hafeez Rehmat Khan, were promised help by Shuja against future
attacks by the Maratha army in return for compensation of four
million rupees. But the Rohillas went back on their promise as
the approaching Maratha army withdrew at the last moment due to
the untimely death of Peshwa Madhavrao, and the main war against
the Rohillas actually never took place, as a result of which Shuja attacked Rohilkhand
with English help. But friction soon developed between the
English and Shuja and the latter fought an unsuccessful Battle
of Buxar against them. Later he again sought Maratha help to
fight the English, albeit unsuccessfully. Shuja faced defeat at
the hands of the English at the Battle of Kara Jahanabad in
1765. Shuja died in 1775.
Peshwa Balaji Bajirao was unable to bear the news of the death of
his son Vishwasrao and his cousin Sadashivrao Bhau. He died due to
tuberculosis and depression in 1761 in the temple premises of
Parvati in Poona.
He left behind his wife, Gopikabai, and two sons, Madhavrao
(his successor) and Narayanrao. (There were two more sons; Yeshwantrao and Moreshwar,
but not much is known about them.)  
Balaji Bajirao's contributions to Pune
Balaji Bajirao was a shrewd tactician, a brilliant
administrator and a good man-manager. To his credit, he was also a
very good administrator. When he became peshwa, the state was
reeling under financial problems, mainly thanks to the Maratha wars
to expand the empire's boundaries. But being an astute
administrator, Balaji Bajirao improved the fiscal condition of the
He transformed Pune, his capital, from a village
into a well-planned city. He ensured a good infrastructure, built
good roads, wells, water reservoirs, sewerage facilities, bridges,
temples, and more. The famous temple of Parvati was also constructed
by him. Balaji Bajirao also established a water reservoir system at
Katraj that provides water to city of the Pune to this day. He also
built a wooden bridge over the River Mutha, known famously as Lakdi
Pul. He established residential areas such as Sadashiv Peth and Nana
Peth and invited people to come and reside there.
Thanks to all of this, and in spite of all his
shortcomings (the Panipat debacle, the rebellion of the Angre, etc),
which may be called mistakes in hindsight, Balaji Bajirao
contributed immensely to the Maratha empire. 
Maratha administration under the Peshwas
 Peshwa received the news of
Panipat in a cryptic message which read: 'two pearls dissolved,
27 gold coins have been lost and one cannot total the silver and
copper coins cast up'.
 Curiously there are reports
of the estates of many sardars including the Shindes, Pawars and
Holkars, being confiscated by the peshwa immediately after Panipat
(apparently out of anger for the debacle and the loss of his son and
cousin). Apparently, these estates were later restored to their owners,
perhaps after knowledge of the full situation had sunk in.
 Interestingly, Peshwa Balaji Bajirao
had married for the second time to the nine year-old daughter of a rich
moneylender (Sawkaar Naroba Naik) from Paithan. The reasons for such an
action have perplexed many historians. Why would a man weakened by tuberculosis
marry a girl less than half his age, especially when his men were out on the
important Panipat expedition? Some have attributed this to the discord between
the peshwa and his first wife, Gopikabai, while some have attributed
it to monetary reasons.
The Maratha kingdom was divided into
Tarf, Pargana, Sarkar and Subah. The Subah was under a sar subhedar.
Under them were the mamledars. Under the mamledars were the
kamvisdars. The mamledars and kamvisdars were in charge of local
administration. Under their control, revenue collections were managed by
the Patils (in Marathwada, Pune, and Khandesh) and Khots (in Konkan).
Under the peshwas All these posts became hereditary. The Deshmukhs
and the Deshpandes acted as chief district officials. Their
assistants were known as kulkarnis. They maintained record-keeping.
Then there were the local magistrates, the chief magistrate, etc. Each
area had kotwals in charge of police work. Under them were the
havaldars who acted as police constables, under whom were the 'Shipais'.
Overall, administration under the peshwas, though traditional,
was fairly efficient and well managed.
The drawbacks perhaps lay in Maratha administration
outside Maharashtra (barring perhaps the fiefs of the confederate
generals), where the regions were mainly seen as revenue yeilding
and no attempts were made to implement any permanent systems of
administration and control. The army also remained scattered outside
Maharashtra in different pockets with only small contingents left to
guard the captured areas. As a result, the recapture of those areas
proved comparatively easy for the enemy.
 Shukrawar Peth was build by
Jivajipant Khasagiwale during the rule of 'Shrimant Balajirao
Peshwa', as was Guruvar Peth. Vyavahare Joshi developed Rawaivar
Peth in Pune during the time of Balaji Bajirao.
Duff, James Grant - History of the
Mahrathas, Exchange Press, Bombay
Lal Mehta - Advanced Study in the History of Modern India
1701-1813, New Dawn Press, New Delhi
Gordon, Stewart - New Cambridge History of India: The Marathas, 1600-1818, Cambridge University Press
Kincaid, C A, and Rao Bahadur
D B Parasnis - A History of the Maratha People, Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press
Patil, Vishwas - Panipat (Historical
novel about the Third Battle of Panipat), widely available in
Marathi and English