Comprehensive Essay on the Fall of the Marathas


The Third Battle of Panipat (1761):

Towards the middle of the eighteenth century, Marathas, under the leadership of the Peshwas, had established their supremacy over Haryana and most of north India.

The intrusion of the Afghan, Ahmed Shah Abdali into India, culminated in the Third Battle of Panipat on January 14, 1761. Ahmad Shah defeated the Marathas and this marked the end of the Maratha ascendancy. The defeat of the Marathas led to rapid decline of the Mughal empire after Aurangzeb’s death, leading ultimately to the advent of the British rule.


The main reason for the failure of Marathas was the absence of allies. Though their infantry was based on European style contingent, they failed to woo allies in north India. Their earlier behaviour and their political ambitions, which led them to loot and plunder, had antagonized all the powers.

They had interfered in the internal affairs of the Pajputana states and levied heavy taxes and huge fines on them. They had also made huge territorial and monetary claims upon Awadh. Their raids in the Sikh territory had incensed the Sikh chiefs.

Similarly, the Jat chiefs, on whom, also they had imposed heavy fines, did not trust them. They had therefore, to fight their enemies alone, except for the weak support of Imad-ul-Mulk. Moreover, the senior Maratha chiefs constantly bickered with one another. Each one of them had ambitions of carving out their independent states and had no interest in fighting against a common enemy.

Ahmad Shah (1722-73), the first amir of Afghanistan, was the hereditary chief of the Abdali tribe of Afghans, whom he later renamed as the Durrani. He led a contingent of his tribesman in the service of Nadir Shah, the king of Persia, who won control over most of Afghanistan and part of India.


When Nadir Shah died, Ahmed Shah founded an independent Afghans kingdom. He invaded the Indian Punjab six times between 1748 and 1752 and seized and looted Delhi. Although he was a powerful military leader, yet Ahmed never succeeded in ruling India on a permanent basis. He subsequently withdrew into Afghanistan.

The Advent of the British (1803 to 1857):

The year 1803 is an important year in the history of Haryana. In this year, the area of what is now present-day-Haryana and Delhi came under the control of the East India Company of Britain. At that time, Delhi was being ruled by old and week Mughal ruler, Shah Atom. But the real power lay in the hands of the Maratha leader Daulat Rao Sindhiya, who acted as his Regent.

On 6th September, 1803, the battle between General Lake’s British forces and the Marathas took place near village Pratapganj, 6 miles south of Delhi. Many people from Haryana fought along with the Marathas against the British.


Among them were: the Jats, led by Hari Singh, the king of Ballabhgarh; the Ahirs, led by Rao Tej Singh of Rewari; and 5,000 Sikhs. The Marathas fought bravely but lost due to the cowardice of French officers who were assisting them. When the British entered Delhi on 14 September, 1803, the Mughal ruler, Shah Alam, surrendered.

On 30 September, 1803, the Maratha leader, Daulat Rao Sindhiya, also decided to make peace with the British by signing a treaty with the East India Company. Under this treaty, the areas of Haryana and Delhi came under the control of the British.

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