February 19 is the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji who is one of the great rulers of India. He is considered to be one of the greatest warriors of his time and even today, stories of his exploits are narrated as a part of the folklore. With his valor and great administrative skills, Shivaji carved out an enclave from the declining Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur.
Also, on February 13, Chhtrapathi Shivaji Maharaj took to the sea, his first and only naval expedition to free the tiny port town of Basrur in Karnataka.
Raid on Basrur
Shivaji’s Army was busy raiding Bijapur towns above the ghats, such as Khanapur and Hubli. The chief of Bidnur Somashekhar alarmed at the nearness of Shivaji’s army solicited protection from Shivaji on payment of yearly tribute.
Shivaji secretly planned and carried out a raid on the port of Basrur. He despatched a navy of eighty five small frigates, three little ships and some small crafts with 4000 soldiers on 8th February 1665. He set sail from the creek of Malaiul, passed along the Goa Coast without being molested by the Portuguese, whose attention was on Bombay at the time.
He must have passed through the North Canara coast, leaving Karwar, Honavar behind and reached Kundapur in South Canara district of present Karnataka covering a distance of some 200 miles in four or five days.
Basrur town is situated five miles inland in the Southern branch of the Kundapur creek. The entry into the town of Basrur had been difficult due to the only opening to the sea which was also obstructed by a long bar of sand. Hence Shivaji must have taken local guides to assist him enter the town in the shortest of time and return to the sea with all the loot. It is said that the loot was beyond counts.
The Dutch estimate the plunder to be 3.00,000 guilders. The loot consisted of not only cash, but of cloth, grains, spices, probably some horses too, brought there for the sale by the Arab ships.
The raid was aimed at breaking the trade control of the Portuguese and the Dutch who were competing for monopoly over the flourishing town.