THE Chiplun and Kol caves show that, about the beginning of the
Christian era (B.C. 200 - A.D. 50), north Ratnagiri had Buddhist
settlements of some importance. [The Kol caves in the north are given by Mr. Burgess (Rockcut Temples, 13) at between B.C. 200 and A.D. 50, and as the Mahad and Kuda series on the north and those at Karhad on the south-east are said to be of about the same age, the Chiplun caves, which are of much the same character, probably date from about the Christian era.] About a century later, it formed part of the territory of Rudradaman, the Mahakshatrap whose dominions included Sind, Marwar, Gujarat, Malwa, and the Konkan as far south as north Kanara. [Rudradaman ruled between 70 and 100. The era is uncertain, but it probably is the Shak era, A.D. 78 Ind. Ant. II. 93. and VII. 257-263.] Though shunned as the Pirate Coast, the district contained several places of trade known to the early European writers (A.D. 57 - 247). [The places mentioned on the Pirate Coast within present Ratnagiri limits, are, by Pliny (77), Sigerus and Nitrias; by Ptolemy (150), on the coast, Mandagara, Byzantium, Chersonesus, Milizigeris, Annagara, and Nitra, and inland, Olochoera and the metropolis Musopalle (Bertius, 198, 205). Those mentioned by the author of the Periplus (247) are all on the coast, beginning from the north, Mandagora, Melizeigara, Byzantium, Toparon, and Turannosboas (Vincent, II. 427, and McCrindle,129). Almost none of these names have been identified. Mandagara seems to have been on the Bankot creek, either near the hill fort Mandangad, or at the mouth of the river, where on the right bank, Barbosa (1514) places a Mandabad and where there still are a Kol Mandla and a Bag Mandla. Milizigeris, Melizeigara, or Sigerus, an island in Ptolemy and a town in Pliny and the Periplus, may be the town-island of Mali, Melandi, or Malvan, Zigeris representing the Arabic Jazirah (island), a word still known on the Konkan coast under the corrupt form Janjira; Nitrias or Nitra, a place held by the pirates, may, as suggested by Rennel (Memoir, 31), be Nivti; Turannosboas may possibly be a translation of Rajapur; Armagara may be Harnaigad, or if the reading Brahmagar is taken it may be Guhagar, then, as iu Portuguese times, known as the bay of Brahmans; and Byzantium may be a Greek form of V ijayant, the original of Vijaydurg (see Weber in Ind. Ant. II..148). Of the inland towns, Musopalle may possibly be Mhasla on the Rajpuri creek in Janjira; and as the rock-temples at Kuda on the Rajpuri creek and at Bhaja at the foot of Lohgad are probably about the same age as Ptolemy (150), Olochcera may be Lohgad in the Sahyadris about eight miles south-east of Khandala. Other suggestions have no connection with the modern names. They are by Yule, Mandagora at Bankot; by Vincent, Melizeigara at Jaygad; and by McCrindle, Toparon or Togaron at Devgad. Turannosboas is by Muller placed at Achra and by Yule at Banda or Tirakot. (See McCrindle's Periplus, 129).] At the end of the sixth century the south of Ratnagiri was held by the Chalukyas, [Ind. Ant VIII. 25, 45. The village of Kochra, Kochchuraka, near Vengurla, was granted by the queen consort of Chandraditya, the elder brother of Vikramaditya I.] and in the seventh (about 684) they drove out the Mauryas as a wave of the sea drives out the watery stores of pools.' [Ind. Ant. VIII. 244. It was probably about this time that Karna, a Chalukya from Kolhapur, established himself at Saugameshvar and built or repaired the temple of Karneshvar, See below, p. 367, 368.] During the latter part
of the ninth and early years of the tenth centuries, Ratnagiri would seem to have been included in the dominion of the Rathod rulers of Malkhet near Haidarabad. [Sulaiman (851) (in Elliot, I. 4) says the kingdom of the Balhara begins at the Konkan. Mas'udi (915), Prairies d'Or, I.177, includes Chaut, Symour, in the Balhara's dominions. It is doubtful if they stretched any further south. The Rashtrakutas of Malkhet or Manyakhet, though an old family (Ind. Ant. VI. 60), did not rise to great power till about 767 (Ind. Ant. I. 209). They spread their sway over the Deccan, Konkan, part of Gujarat, and Central India up to the Vindhyas. They remained supreme till, about 970, they sank under Tailap the Chalukya (Ind. Ant. VI. 60).] Under the Chalukyas, the Konkan was conquered, about 1025, [Elliot in Jour. R. A. S. IV. 15; Ind. Ant. VIII. 18.] by Jay Sinh or Jagadek Malla. For about fifty years it was managed for them by the Silharas of Goa, and then passed to the Kadambas. [Ind. Ant. V. 320.] Early in the twelfth century it was taken by the Yadavs of Devgiri or Daulatabad, one of whom, Sinhdev (1075-1113), is said to have seized Panhala near Kolhapur and conquered the Konkan. [Jour. R. A. S. II. 381, in Nairne's Konkan, 19.] It remained with the Yadavs only for a few years as it was re-taken under the Chalukya king Vikramaditya IV. (1077-1128). [Elliot in Jour. R. A. S. IV. 15.] Towards the close of the century, Vijayarkdev restored the power of the Goa chiefs, and his son Bhojdev, a great builder of forts, with his capital at Panhala near Kolhapur, is said to have held the whole south of the Konkan to Karwar. [Grant Duff, 13; Nairne, 19.] According to tradition his country was reduced by a Raja named Singin, who dying before his power was well established, it fell into the hands of Maratha chiefs. [Grant Duff, 13. According to Jervis (Konkan, 81) these chiefs were the Paligars of Chakan and Junnar in Poona, Raygad in Kolaba, Panhala in Kolhapur, Kudal in Savantvadi, and Sonda in North Kanara.] In the thirteenth century, these local chiefs were probably subject to the Hoysala Ballalas of Dvarasamudra in Mysor (1050-1310) [Elphinstone, 218.]
Early in the fourteenth century (1312), Ratnagiri was overrun by the Musalmans. Dabhol seems to have always been held in strength. But with their head-quarters so far north as Daulatabad, the hold of the early Musalmans was slight.
When (1347) the Bahmani kings established their independence, the change of the capital south to Kalburga made the south Konkan its natural seaboard. Dabhol became a great port and was carefully kept in Musalman hands. Still the inland parts remained unsubdued. In 1377, it is stated that many of the chiefs owned allegiance to the Vijaynagar kings, who at that time held Goa. [Briggs' Ferishta, II. 338. According to Elphinstone (411), the Vijaynagar dynasty, which dates from about 1340, was a new family. But Ferishta (II, 338) says that Krishna Ray's forefathers had (1377) held the kingdom for 700 years. According to a local tradition Vijaynagar power stretched north to Raygad. Jervis' Konkan, 98. Compare Ind. Ant. III. 194.] During the fifteenth century, the Bahmani kings made three efforts to subdue the south Konkan. In 1429, Malik-ut-Tujjar overran the country and the chiefs agreed to admit Bahmani supremacy. [Briggs' Ferishta, II. 413.] No regular government was established, and only five years
later, the chiefs of Raygad and Vishalgad refused obedience. A second expedition (1436) for a time brought those chiefs to order. [Briggs'. Ferishta, II. 424. The fort is called Sonkhed, and under that name cannot be identified. In 1453, it is again spoken of as Sinhgad (Grant Duff, 27). The explanation seems to be that the Vishalgad chief was known as the Shankar Ray. See Fer. II. 484. Khafi Khan (Elliot, VII. 278, 372) calls it Sakhralna.] But the country was unsubdued, and before many years tribute was again withheld. In 1453, preparations were made for a complete conquest. The forts above the Sahyadris were reduced, and under the guidance of Shirke, one of the beaten chiefs, the Musalman army marched into the Konkan. For two days they passed along a broad easy road. Then they plunged into valleys 'where the sun never shone, and through passes crookeder than the curly locks of the fair and harder to escape from than the mazes of love'. The commander was struck by dysentery and the wearied troops, unable to form a camp or even to pitch their tonts, threw themselves on the ground wherever they could find room. Leaving them in this plight, Shirke went to the neighbouring fort of Vishalgad, and returning with a large body of troops surprised and routed the Musalmans, slaying, with the general and 500 noble Syeds, about 7000 men. [Briggs' Ferishta, II. 439.] For fifteen years this disgrace was unavenged. At last, in 1469, the minister Mahmud Gavan marched against the Konkan. The leader of the chiefs was the Raja of Vishalgad (Khelna), who, besides the unavenged insult to the Musalman arms, had of late, with his fleet of 300 sail, greatly harassed Musalman trade. Gathering troops from Junnar, Chakan, Kolhar, Dabhol, Chaul, Vai, and Man, Mahmud Gavan forced the passes and entered the Konkan. Finding them useless, he sent back his cavalry, and with the troops of Dabhol and Kolhar, cut his way through the woods to Vishalgad (Khelna). He besieged it till the rains set in. Then leaving the passes in charge of hardy troops, he withdrew to Kolhapur. Returning next fair season, by bribes and stratagems he gained the fort, reduced the country, and from the Ray of Vijaynagar, [Briggs' Ferishta, II. 484.] captured the fort and island of Goa.
The Bahmani kings did not long enjoy this conquest. In 1484, when the great Deccan nobles began to withdraw their allegiance from Mahmud II., Malik Ahmad, the founder of the Nizam Shahi or Ahmednagar dynasty (1484-1637), entering the Konkan from the north-east, took several forts [Among them were Mahuli in Thana, Koari in Poona, and Bharap and Pali in Ratnagiri. Nairne's-Konkan, 27.] and established his power over part of Ratnagiri, The rest of the district was seized by Bahadur Khan Gilani, the governor of Goa, who, aiming at independence, tried to secure the whole Konkan coast. In 1493, by the sack' of Mahim near Bombay, Gilani brought on himself the wrath of Mahmud Begada of Gujarat (1459-1511). Driven to activity by the threats of the Gujarat king, Mahmud Bahmani gathered a great army, and, near Kolhapur, defeated and slew Gilani. He then, with some of his chief nobles, paid a short visit to Dabhol and for some years more the district continued under his officers.
About 1500, in a fresh partition of the Bahmani lands, the commander of Goa agreed to acknowledge Yusuf Adil Khan [Briggs' Ferishta, III. 19.] as his sovereign, and the whole of the Konkan south of the Savitri or Bankot river came under Bijapur. On gaining the south Konkan, Yusuf Adil Shah, with Dabhol as the head-quarters of government, took steps to improve the district and bring its waste lands under tillage. [ Details are given at p. 225.] Defeated at Goa by the Portuguese, [Goa was taken by Albuquerque in 1508, regained by a Bijapur officer in 1509, and finally conquered by the Portuguese in 1510.] Yusuf Adil Shah, refusing to seek their friendship or acknowledge them as rulers of the sea, brought grievous loss on the trade of Dabliol and other coast towns.' [Dabhol was thrice sacked, in 1508, 1522, and 1661.]
For fifty years after the decline of the Portuguese (1600-1650), Bijapur power remained unbroken. But about the middle of the seventeenth century, Shivaji (1658) began to conquer the south Konkan, and in a few years, except that Malvan was left to the Savants, he had, by building and repairing forts, spread his power over the whole district. [In 1666, he held the whole coast north of Rajapur; he took Rajapur in 1670,
and in 1674 the south up to Goa limits. Orme's Hist. Frag. 22, 26, 40; Bruce's Annals, II. 37, 38, 43, 48, 57. Jervis (Konkan, 92) puts Shivaji's conquest some years earlier. He completed the conquest in 1661, forced the Savants to submit, built the forts of Redi and Siudhudurg in the south, and repaired the old forts of Vijaydurg, Ratnagiri, Jaygad, Anjanvel, and Suvarndurg.] The rise of Shivaji was, to their utmost, resisted by Bijapur and the Janjira Sidi, and the country was the scene of almost unceasing war. Still Shivaji (1674-1680) by introducing a better revenue system and offering the people well paid employment did much to improve the district. After Shivaji's death (1680), Ratnagiri suffcred on the land side by Moghal invasions, [Two large well equipped Musalman forces, in 1681 and 1683, passed through the inland parts of the Konkan. Though both suffered grievously from the country, the climate, and the food, they were unopposed by the Marathas and wrought much havoc and loss of life. Elliot, VII. 311,315. Aurangzeb was enraged with Sambhaji for helping his rebel son Prince Akbar.] and along the coast by struggles among the Portuguese,
the Marathas, and the Sidi.
In 1690, by the capture and execution of Sambhaji their ruler, and by the spread of the Sidi's power over Anjanvel and Suvarndurg, [In 1695, at the mouth of the Rajapur river the Portuguese gained one of their last victories, burning throe Maratha ships, the largest of thirty-two guns and carrying 300 men. Nairne's Konkan, 78.] the Marathas sustained two heavy reverses. [Kalusha, the minister, and his guest Sambhaji, in a pleasure house near Sangameshvar, were surprised by Mukarrab Khan from Kolhapur. Kalusha was wounded and taken prisoner. Sambhaji escaped but was found in a temple in the garb of a beggar and carried to Aurangzeb near Poona. Here, refusing to become a Musalman and reviling the Prophet, his tongue and eyes were torn out, and his head cut off. Elliot, VII. 339, 341.] Soon after (1698), Kanhoji Angria succeeded to the command of the Maratha fleet. A most daring corsair, he attacked vessels of all nations, ravaging the coasts, and leaving unmolested few trading towns from Travankor to Bombay. At first, Kanhoji's head-quarters were at Kolaba. Afterwards (1713), siding with Shahu Raja, he was
confirmed in command of the Maratha fleet, and except the Sidi's
territory of Dabhol and Anjanvel, was given the whole coast from
Savantvadi to Bombay, and the important inland stations of Palgad,
Rasalgad, Kharepatan, and Rajapur. Encouraged by this increase
of power, Angria plundered the shipping more fiercely than ever,
not even respecting the English flag. In 1717, attacked both by
the English and Portuguese, he laughed at their efforts. In 1720
a British attempt on Vijaydurg, in 1722 a joint British and
Portuguese attack on Kolaba, and in 1724 a Dutch expedition against
Vijaydurg, alike failed. Till his death, in 1728, Kanhoji Angria was
master of the Ratnagiri seas. Three years later (1731), the inland
districts, formally ceded by the Moghal Emperor in 1720, were
divided between Kolhapur and Satara. Except that Angria continued
to hold Vijaydurg and the Sidi Dabhol and Anjanvel, all south of
Vijaydurg went to Kolhapur and all north to Satara.
Kanhoji (1728) left two legitimate and three illegitimate sons. Sambhaji, one of the legitimate sons, succeeded his father at Suvarndurg, while the other, Sakhoji, remained at Kolaba. Soon after, on Sakhoji's death, in spite of Sambbaji's opposition, Manaji, one of the illegitimate sons, with the Peshwa's help established himself at Kolaba. In 1737, with the Peshwa's help he repulsed Sambhaji and the Portuguese, and three years later another attack on Kolaba was stopped by the English, and Sambbaji's fleet was driven south to Suvarndurg.[Grant Duff, I. 375, 385, 402.]
On Sambhaji's death (about 1745), his half-brother" Tulaji succeeded to the lands between Bankot and Savantvadi. Manaji Angria at Kolaba, obedient to the Peshwa, did not molest the English. But Tulaji, disavowing the Peshwa's authority, seized and plundered all ships he could master, which did not carry his passport.[Grant Duff, II. 59.]
Though the English and Peshwa's Governments had for many years determined to put a stop to Tulaji's robberies, nothing was done till, on the 22nd of March 1755, under Commodore James, a small squadron started from Bombay. Owing to the delay of the Peshwa's fleet, Angria's ships escaped. But after three days' battering (April 6th), the four Suvarndurg forts were taken without the loss of a man. [Grant Duff, II. 61.]Suvarndurg was, according to agreement, made over to the Peshwa, and towards the close of the year (1755), the English obtained possession of the Bankot fort and five neighbouring villages, in the following February, under the command of Admiral Watson and Colonel Clive, a fleet of fourteen sail, with eight hundred European soldiers and one thousand native infantry, was sent from Bombay.
Meanwhile, the Peshwa's troops had reduced all Angria's forts north of Vijaydurg.[Grant Duff, II. 63.] On the arrival of the English off Vijaydurg, Tulaji
began to treat with the Marathas. As this was a breach of the last
year's agreement, Admiral Watson (February 12th, 1756) attacked the
sea face, while Colonel Clive, landing with the troops, invested the
fort on the land side. [Grant Duff, II. 64.] The siege was pressed with vigour, and
on the following evening the fort was surrendered and Tulaji made
prisoner. During the attack a shell bursting on one of the vessels,
set it on fire, and in less than an hour the whole of Angria's fleet
was destroyed. As the Peshwa's officers had, contrary to agreement,
treated with Angria, and as his troops' had taken no part in its
capture, the English were unwilling to give up Vijaydurg. They
offered instead to restore Bankot. To this the Peshwa would not
agree, and in the end it was settled (October 12th, 1756) that the
English should give up Vijaydurg, taking in its stead four more
villages on the Bankot creek.[Grant Duff, II. 70.]
Angria's fall was no deathblow to piracy. The 'Malvans', [The English gave them this name from their head-quarters at Malvan fort See ChaptervXIV. (Malvan).'] that is the Kolhapur chief and the Savants, were as troublesome as ever, and under their Admiral Dhulap, the Peshwa's fleets and Raghoji Angria from Kolaba greatly harassed trade.
In 1765, a force under Major Gordon and Captain Watson took the forts of Malvan and Redi, Naming it Port Augustus, the Bombay Government meant to keep Malvan; but as it did not pay, on his promising not to molest their ships, to give security for future good conduct, and to re-pay losses and charges to the amount of £38,289 12s. (Rs. 3,82,896), Malvan was made over to the Raja of Kolhapur. Similarly, on his promising to keep the peace and pay a sum of £20,000 (Rs. 2,00,000), Redi was, at the close of 1766, restored to Khem Savant, the Vadi Desai. The £20,000 (Rs. 2,00,000) were raised by a thirteen years' mortgage of the Vengurla revenues, and to induce the mortgagee, Vithoji Kumti, to advance the amount, Mr. Mostyn, besides procuring two Vadi hostages, was obliged to promise that a small factory should be established at Vengurla and the English flag hoisted. [Grant Duff, III. 70.] The hostages escaped, and the mortgagee's agents were driven from their revenue stations. At the end of thirteen years, though they, had prevented the mortgagee from recovering the revenue, the Savants demanded the district. This was refused, and Vengurla was attacked and taken (4th June 1780), with a loss to the English of much private and some public property.
Proud of this success and of the marriage of Khem Savant with the niece of Mahadaji Shindia, the Savants renewed their piracies; and joined by the Kolhapur fleet, caused grievous losses to trade. In 1792, finding that an expedition was organised to punish him, the Raja of Kolhapur offered to indemnify all who had suffered from his piracies, and to allow the Company to establish factories at Malvan and Kolhapur. [Grant Duff, III. 72.] These terms were accepted; but next year the complaints of traders were as bitter as ever. Meanwhile, in 1785, war broke out between the Savants and Kolhapur, and with varying success lasted for twenty-three years. In 1793, except Malvan, the whole of the south coast was in possession of the Savants. In 1806, Kolhapur took Bharatgad or Masura and Nivti, and in return
the Savants wasted the country, re-took Nivti and Redi, and laid siege to Bharatgad. Coming in strength, the Kolhapur troops raised the siege and carried the war into the Vadi territory. At Chaukal, a pitched battle, ending in favour of Kolhapur, was followed by the siege of Vadi. But Lakshmi Bai, the regent of Vadi, by inducing Siddojirav Nimbalkar of Nipani to enter their territory, forced the Kolhapur troops to retire. Next year (1809), Phond Savant, the new Vadi chief, defeated by Mansing Patankar the Kolhapur general, was pursued and his lands laid waste as far north as Rajapur. In 1810, the Kolhapur troops were again forced to leave the Konkan, and Redi and Nivti fell into the Savants' hands.
Meanwhile the Peshwa's power was waning. His forts were out of order, and when, in 1802, he fled there from Holkar, Suvarn-durg was found unfit for defence, and Bajirav was forced to seek shelter with the English. As one consequence of the treaty of Bassein (31st December 1802), an English fleet in 1803 attacked and, on the Peshwa's behalf, took the fort of Suvarndurg from one of his revolted officers.
Piracy was still unchecked. The Kolhapur chief's promises had proved worthless. It was clear that trade would never be safe until.
the British held some forts and harbours near Malvan. With this object, in 1812, as part of the settlement between the Peshwa and the southern Maratha Jaghirdars, the Raja of Kolhapur ceded to the British Government the harbour of Malvan, including the fort and island of Malvan or Sindhudurg and its dependencies. He also agreed to give up piracy, to allow no armed vessels to leave or to enter his ports, to restore wrecks, and to help vessels in distress. At the same time, Phond Savant, the Vadi chief, made over to the British the fort of Vengurla. He bound himself to put down piracy, engaging, if he failed, to cede Nivti and Redi, to pass duty-free all articles required for the British troops, and on their paying customary duties, to allow British merchants a free passage to and from his territory. From this time, British civil and military establishments were maintained at Malvan and Vengurla. Though Kolhapur troubles were at an end, the Savant's quarrels kept the country in confusion for several years. Durga Bai, who soon after succeeded as regent, seized the Kolhapur fort of Bharatgad; and as she refused to give it up, British troops had to be called in. The fort was restored. But her attacks on Kolhapur continued till, in 1819, a British force took Savantvadi and exacted security for good behaviour.
At the close of the struggle between the British and the Peshwa (September 1816), the transfer of the whole of the Konkan was promised to the British. Thana was handed over, but as it was the native country of the' Peshwa and of almost all the chief Brahman families, the cession of Ratnagiri was delayed. After the battle of Kirkee (1st November 1817), arrangements were made for its conquest. Suvarndurg was without difficulty taken in November 1817 by a force under Col. Kennedy. Early in 1818 he reduced Mandangad and other forts in the present Dapoli sub-division, and
shortly after Ramgad, Palgad, and Rasalgad in Khed. Already
(January) Col. Pother advancing from the north-east had taken
Pali and Bharap, and Col. Imlack from Malvan occupied Salshi
and Devgad, and taking Sidgad, Bhagvantgad, and Achra, secured
the southern frontier. Anjanvel at the mouth of th6 Vashishti,
Govalkot, and other strongholds in Chiplun were taken on May
17th. In June the Ratnagiri Deshmukh's surrender of his forts,
and the Dhulap's cession of Vijaydurg, completed the conquest.
Under the last Peshwa the revenue farmers, vested with both civil and criminal powers, had stopped short of no exactions, complaints were unheard, and when the district was taken, except Suvarndurg and Anjanvel, it was impoverished and almost without trade.
Since the district has been under British rule, there have been no attacks from without and no internal disturbances or breaches of the peace. In 1844-45, an outbreak in Savantvadi slightly affected the very closely connected Malvan villages. But the disorder did not spread and was very soon put down. During the 1857 mutinies peace remained unbroken. At Kolhapur, the 27th Native Infantry Regiment broke into mutiny, and as a wing was at Ratnagiri, there was, some fear that the main body of the regiment would march there from Kolhapur. A steamer sent from Bombay in the height of the stormy season put in at Mirya. A small detachment of English soldiers and blue jackets was landed, and at the same time the ladies and children were taken to Bombay. These precautions were enough and the public peace was unbroken.