About the empire
The best thing about the Maratha Dynasty was that it was rich in tradition and culture. Their vision and courage to expand their empire was so intense that other empires didn't stand a chance to compete against them. Maratha empire was founded by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj from 1674 with his coronation as the Chhatrapati and ended in 1818 with the defeat of Peshwa Bajirao-II at the hands of the British East India Company. Shivaji was a cultured and a tolerant Hindu ruler, proclaimed to be the protector of the Hindus, the Brahmans and the cows. He showed respect to religious texts of all religions and did not destroy a single sacred place of other religions.
Famous kings of their empire -
Shivaji: Shivaji (1627–1680) was a Maratha aristocrat of the Bhosale clan who is the founder of the Maratha empire. Surprise attack, guerrilla warfare techniques and utmost information about the opponents, about their strengths and weaknesses with the help of a very strong spy network led by Bahirji Naik were the top techniques of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in a war.
Sambhaji (Shambhu Raje): Shivaji had two sons - Sambhaji and Rajaram, who had different mothers and were half-brothers. In 1681, Sambhaji succeeded to the crown after his father's death and resumed his expansionist policies. Sambhaji was ambushed and captured by the Mughal troops on 1 February 1689.
Rajaram and Maharani Tarabai: Upon Sambhaji's death, his half-brother Rajaram ascended the throne. In his Reign, the Marathas raided Mughal territory, and many forts were recaptured by Maratha commanders such as Santaji Ghorpade, Dhanaji Jadhav, Parshuram Pant Pratinidhi, Shankaraji Narayan Sachdev, and Melgiri Pandit. In 1697, Rajaram offered a truce but this was rejected by Aurangzeb. Rajaram died in 1700 at Sinhagad.
Shahu Maharaj: Shahu, the son of Sambhaji (and grandson of Shivaji), was released by Bahadur Shah-I, the new Mughal emperor. During Shahu's reign, Raghoji Bhosale expanded the empire Eastwards, reaching present-day Bengal. Khanderao Dabhade and later his son, Triambakrao, expanded it Westwards into Gujarat.
Balaji Vishwanath: Shahu appointed Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath in 1713 and Peshwa became supreme while Shahu became a figurehead. His first major achievement was the conclusion of the Treaty of Lonavala in 1714 with Kanhoji Angre, the most powerful naval chief on the Western Coast. He later accepted Shahu as Chhatrapati. In 1719, an army of Marathas marched to Delhi after defeating Sayyid Hussain Ali, the Mughal governor of Deccan, and deposed the Mughal emperor.
Baji Rao-I: After Balaji Vishwanath's death, his son Baji Rao-I was appointed Peshwa by Shahu. Bajirao is credited with expanding the Maratha Empire tenfold from 3% to 30% of the modern Indian landscape during 1720–1740. He fought over 41 battles before his death in April 1740 and is reputed to have never lost any. The Battle of Palkhed, Battle of Delhi and Battle of Vasai were the highest achievements of his life. Balaji Baji Rao: Baji Rao's son, Balaji Bajirao (Nanasaheb), was appointed as the next Peshwa by Shahu despite the opposition of other chiefs. In 1740, the Maratha forces, under Raghoji Bhosale, came down upon Arcot and defeated the Nawab of Arcot, this initial success at once enhanced Maratha prestige in the south.
Peshwa Madhav Rao-I: Peshwa Madhavrao-I was the fourth Peshwa of the Maratha Empire and it was during his tenure that the Maratha Resurrection took place. He worked as a unifying force in the Maratha Empire and moved to the south to subdue Mysore and the Nizam of Hyderabad to assert Maratha power. He sent generals such as Bhonsle, Scindia, and Holkar to the north, where they re-established Maratha authority by the early 1770s. Madhav Rao died in 1772, at the age of 27. His death is considered to be a fatal blow to the Maratha Empire and from that time Maratha’s power started to move on a downward trajectory, less an empire than a confederacy.
Architecture style of the kings -
The temple tradition of the Marathas flourished between the 17th and 19th centuries, evolving in three phases corresponding to the major political developments. The Maratha architectural vocabulary developed two temple types, the 'Indigenous' type temples are an original contribution of the Marathas to the mainstream of temple traditions in India. They developed out of an early 'hands-on unselfconscious' approach of Maratha architects, leading to a deliberate mixing of disparate vocabularies of Yadava and Indo-Islamic architectures.
The 'Revivalist' type temples resulted out of the patron's desire for grand stone temples as built by their ancestors and comparable to those in other parts of India. It is shown that the morphological transformations within the Maratha temples were influenced by contemporaneous culture and political ideologies of the patrons. It is argued that the mixing of different styles led to an architectural sophistication comparable to other temple traditions in India.
In conclusion, Maratha temples are another manifestation of a cultural phenomenon typical of India, where strands of survival and revival of the traditions co-exist within the layers of India's cultural identity. These changes were also influenced by the socio-cultural exchanges between the Hindus and the Muslims. The two communities lived largely harmoniously though at times they witnessed antagonism and hatred. Art and architecture came under these influences. Temple building activity was replaced by Muslim sponsored buildings with traditional Islamic forms, as the Sultanates were the only patron left after the Yadavas were ousted.
Key temples built and enhanced during the Maratha empire -
The part of the Deccan that lies in Maharashtra has been a center of architectural activity. A tradition of carving from the living rock was active up to the 9th century. A prolific phase of temple building began in the 11th century under the Yadavas and their feudatories, which was only in general terms related to the tradition of rock-cut architecture in the Deccan. This tradition of structural temple building in stone flourished until the early 13th century when the Yadavas were supplanted by the Muslim invaders from northern India. Indigenous temple traditions in Gujarat and Rajasthan survived Muslim invasion and indeed readily adapted itself to the requirements of the Muslim patronage. However, in Maharashtra, after the initial persistence of Yadava patronage in the 14th century, the impression is of a wholesale importation of Islamic architecture from outside the region. Maratha temples in Maharashtra are the product of a tradition in which certain forms transformed while some new forms were created, stemming from the earlier traditions in the region. Broader areas of patronage, political perceptions and ideological views of this turbulent period in Indian history have been looked into. Along with these influences, Maratha temple architecture was created through the revival and survival of skills and the hybridization of the Indian temple and Islamic architecture. The Ganesh temple complex at Tasgaon in southwest Maharashtra is representative of the high point that the Maratha temple tradition had attained in the late 18th century. The temple brings to attention the hybrid sophistication of a lesser-known, understudied and misunderstood architectural tradition and establishes the Marathas as robust patrons of art and architecture despite the tumultuous political conditions in Maharashtra. The earliest Maratha temples like the Ramling Temple at Bahe and the group of Jyotirlinga temples at Devrashtre (both near Sangli and built in the second half of the 16th century) were created through a process of trial and error, and mostly by using Sultanate architectural elements and construction techniques.
Balsane Hemadpanthi Temple
Hemad Panthi Temple is a beautiful composition having a sanctum and an open pillared hall on the western edge of a large stepped kunda (tank). It is datable to 12th-13th century A.D. The plan shows a multiplicity of angles which are carried up through the walls and towers with numerous horizontal moldings. The pillars are also an important distinguishing feature and their main characteristics is the square, octagonal and round shape.
The Shiv Mandir of Ambarnath is a historic 11th-century Hindu temple locally known as Puratana Shivalaya. The temple was built in 1060 A.D beautifully carved in stone, sanctuary or garbhagriha is below ground, reached by some 20 steps down from the mandapa and is open to the sky as the shikhara tower above stops abruptly at a little above the height of the mandapa and was never completed.
Gondeshvara temple, Sirmar
Gondeshvara Temple is a Panchayatana temple, meaning that it incorporates five shrines. The central temple is dedicated to Shiva and the four smaller surrounding shrines are associated with Vishnu, Ganesha, Surya and Parvarti. The whole complex is raised on a platform and below this, the basement is heavily decorated with an animal frieze and sharply cut moldings.
Shiva temple, Anwa
Anwa Temple has a history dating back to the 12th century. Anwa temple consists of an open hall and also a sanctuary with many pillars well decorated. Anwa temple holds beautifully carved sculptures and well-decorated pillars and also holds the images of Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu, and many other.
Maratha temples in Maharashtra
Ramling temple - Bahe
Maratha Peshwe Antoba Naik Bhide built the chief temple of Ramalinga on a 2 ft high plinth where a 30 ft high, mortared brick pinnacle caps the entire temple chamber. It is believed that Lord Ram halted here during a pilgrimage and worshipped the ling and hence the temple came to be known as Ramalinga.
Bahuleshvar temple - Bahule
Bhuleshwar is a Hindu temple situated on a hill and was built in the 8th century. The temple also has an idol of Ganesha in female attire popular as Ganeshwari or Lambodari or Ganeshyani.
Dhomeshvar temple - Dhom
Dhumeshwar Temple structure is really old & interesting and there is one saying that someone unknown does the morning pooja by putting bel-patra on shiv ling. It happens every day and nobody has been able to catch the creature yet.
Atibaleshvar temple - Mahabaleshvar
Atibaleshvar temple is more than 400 years old. This temple is constructed along with Mahabaleshwar temple as Rudra puja's to Lord Shiva used to perform here and abhisheka and sathvika puja at the main temple. Lord Shiva killed Mahabal whereas Lord Vishnu killed Atibal before breathing their last, both the demons requested that they may be immortalized by building temples commemorating them and hence came these two temples into being.
Shri Panchganga Mandir panchganga - Mahabaleshwar
The Panch Ganga Temple is constructed at the confluence of five rivers, Krishna, Venna, Savitri, Koyna and Gayatri dedicated to Lord Krishna and has a beautiful idol of him. In the 16th and 17th Centuries, Raja Chandarao More of Jaoli and the Maratha ruler Shivaji improved upon its structure on a large scale.
Khandoba temple - Jejuri, Puri, Maharashtra, India
Khandoba temple stands on the bank of river Tarli and lies on the place of appearance by Lord Khandoba to his devotee, a milkmaid named Palai. Dhanaji bin Sambhaji Jadhav, the well-known Maratha general, added a hall that was supported by twelve pillars and the roof has broad carved eaves and parapet. Several pillars are coated with brass and have a little carving. Each corner of the mandap has a small pinnacle and a small arched spire in the center.
Vriddheshvar temple - Ghatsiras, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India
The Vriddheshwar temple is said to have been built around 1760 by Sardar Ghorpade from the Peshwa army. The temple complex, at one point also had a large Wada, a Dharamshala, and a strong wall along the river. All these structures were destroyed in the 1961 Panshet floods, and only the temple and the ghats have survived.
Nageshvar temple - Pune
Nageshwar Temple is one of the oldest temples in the city. The main holy place has the usual Yadava structure with a stone roof. Several renovations and additions have been made to the temple over the years. The stone building of the temple, based on a construction technique quite uncommon for the Peshwa period and the shikhara, with its Dravida and Rajasthani influences, may have been built much later around 1725-1750 during the reign of the Peshwas.
Shree Lakshmi Narasimha Temple – Niranarasinhpur, Pune, Maharashtra, India
Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, built in the year 1774 is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, whose murti is brought from Panchvati (in Nasik District) by a Brahmin of Ratnagiri. The bricks of the pillar from which Narasimha is said to have appeared can be seen here. In the year 1739, Bajirao Peshwa's younger brother Chimaji Appa captured Vasai from the Portuguese Empire and took the four church bells to Pune. One of the bells was brought to the temple by Diwan Sadashiv Mankeshwar who was the Inamdar of Tembhurni village.
Tulsibaug temple – Pune
Tulshibaug Temple was built by Peshwa Balaji Bajirao in the 1760's and is a famous temple of Lord Ram, Ganpati and Shankar. The Tulshibaug Ram Temple dates from the original construction under Tulshibaugwale. The overall form of the shikhara is an inverted cone which has a cusped circular base, placed on a square base block over the garbhagriha. The square walls are projected vertically in the form of a square base.
Belbaug temple - Pune
Belbaug temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the dindi-darwaja is a structure that is typical to the Maratha architecture. ‘Bel’ in Marathi refers to the tree whose leaves are offered to Lord Shiva. As you enter from the huge door you can see a wooden structure with a sloping roof consisting of a ‘sabha mandap’ and the ‘gabhara’ or the sanctum with the ceiling beautifully decorated with carved wooden panels.
Kashi Vishvanath temple - Sangam Mahuli
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva on the banks of Ganga. The riveting ceremonies of birth and death happen on the Ganga ghats almost side-by-side; bringing into focus the eternal truth of human life. Most of the modern-day ghats that we see on the Ganga bank were rebuilt after 1700 A.D. The royal patrons of ghats were kings from the Shinde, Holkar, Bhonsle, and Peshwa families, who rebuilt the riverfront with stone slabs. Above the tiers of stone steps, one can see ancient shrines and royal palaces built close to each other.
Mahadev temple - Shikhar Shingnapur
Shikhar shingnapur shiva temple is where lord shiva and Parvati ma got married. The temple is connected with the great king shiva Ji Maharaj family as shiva ji Maharaj used to visit this temple often. There are many shivlingas (around 8) in the temple which is why this temple is also known as Dakshin kailash. In the inner sanctum, one can see two shivling and 5 Nandi statues.
Shivarajeshvar temple - Sindhudurg
Chhatrapati Shivaji’s younger son Chhatrapati Rajaram in his remembrance built this temple and Chhatrapati Shivaji’s idol stands in a boatman’s attire inside the temple without a beard which is only one of it's kind in the country. Inside the fort, there are three wells of portable water built by Shivaji, which is a nature’s marvel as sea surrounds the fort on all four sides.
Ganesha temple - Tasgaon
Ganapati temple's idol is embellished with solid gold. Usually, Ganesh idols have a left-sided trunk, but at Tasgaon the idol's is seen with right sided trunk and considered as jagrut and it is regarded as a living idol, who bless the devotees with good luck, wisdom, prosperity and happiness. The construction of Ganapati temple started in 1779 by Parasuram Bhau Patwardhan and completed in 1799 by his son Appa Patwardhan. The temple architecture resembles South Indian temple, beautifully constructed from black stone brought from Jyotibha hills. The two acres of temple complex houses a platform, a hall and a 'Nagarkhana' and the entrance door has been carved from different colored natural wood.
Siddheshvar temple and Rameshvar temples - Toke
Siddheshwara temple is part of the famous group of temples of God Shiva which are placed around the confluence of Pravara and Godavari rivers at Toka near Newasa. The group includes Siddheshwar, Rameshwar, Mukteshwar, Ghoteshwar and Sangameshwar. The temple belongs to the period of the Peshwas as per the Devanagari inscriptions which are placed on the south-gate of the temple. It seems that Vishnu Mahadev Gadre had built the temple in the year 1767 and Nana Phadnis contributed further in repairing of the temple and also built six flights of steps from the temple to the Godavari River (called as Ghat).
Shri Trimbakeshwar temple - Trimbakeshwar, Nasik, Maharashtra, India
Trimbakeshwar is a religious center having one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and the temple has three lingams (an iconic form of Shiv) representing Shiv, Vishnu and Brahma rimbakeshwar built by Peshwa Nana Saheb in the 18th century. The Shiva deity of the temple consisted of the world-famous Nassak Diamond looted by the British in The Third Anglo-Maratha War.
Vateshvar temple - Wategaon
The Vatesvar temple is an insignificant edifice built out of rough trap and mortar beautifully situated at a sudden bend in the stream. The Vateshwar temple has a 40 ft high pyramidal pinnacle. Ruined cloisters surround the 100 sq ft courtyard. A small bastion flanks the 4ft thick, roughly cut rectangular blocks that form the walls of the temple.
Dholya Ganesha temple - Wai
Mahaganapati temple or dholya ganapati temple is located on bank of krishna river in wai. Its called as ‘dholya‘ because of the big size of ganesha statue. its 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide.
Mahalaxmi temple - Wai
Mahalakshmi Temple at Wai is built by Anandrav Bhikaji Raste in the year 1778. The spire of the temple tapers gracefully and has a square base with a handsome frieze, above which are 5 dodecagonal tiers surmounted by an urn. The floor has a trap door and the roof consists of slabs stretching from lintel to lintel.
Sangameshvar and Vateshvar temple - Saswad, Kuta
Sangameshwar temple was built sometime between the 10th and 13th century and stands guard over the confluence of the Chamli and Karha rivers. The temple is a mix of old architecture, one assumes possibly original, plus later modifications and renovations. The temple’s Shikhara has hundreds of small sculptures of deities carved in consecutive layers
Shri Grishneshwar temple - Ellora, Maharashtra, India
Ghrishneshwar Temple is a very revered temple as abode of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple went through several rounds of rebuilding followed by re-destruction during the Mughal-Maratha conflict. It was rebuilt in the current form in the 18th century under the sponsorship of queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore, after the fall of the Mughal Empire. Halfway up the temple, Dashavataras of Vishnu are carved in red stone and a court hall is built on 24 pillars with carvings summarizing various legends and mythologies of Shiva.
Omkareshwar temple, Pune
Omkareshwar temple is of Lord Shiva dedicated to his wife Goddess Parvati, is one of the biggest and oldest temples in the city built by Shivaram Bhat, spiritual guru of Peshwas between 1740 to 1760. Temple proclaims the splendor of the fallen Peshwa Empire as Chimaji Appa, commander of Maratha Empire and brother of Bajirao Peshwa provided donations to built the temple. The white dome of the temple is made of soft soap stone and the columns are in the shapes of circles, polygons and squares.
Vitthal Rukmini temple, Nagpur
Vitthal Rukmini temple is famously known as Dakshin Kash. There are four sections of the temple sabhamandap, main mandap, madhyagriha and gabhara. On the north of the madhyagriha, there is a room for wardrobe of Shri Rukmini. It is equipped with silver bed, well maintained mattresses and velvet clothes.