Chhatrapati Shivaji : Born 1630 – Died 1680.
Shivaji was just 12 years younger than his number one rival Aurangzeb. His father had laid the foundation of the Maratha Empire but he is considered the real founder of the Maratha Kingdom whose capital was Raigarh. His elder brother Sambhaji was killed in a military expedition in Karnataka.
Shivaji was born in Shivneri to a great Maratha lady Jijabai, who was an ardent devotee of Shiva.
Shivaji is known for pioneering the Shiva Sutra or Ganimi Kava which refers to Guerilla warfare techniques.
Shivaji was brought up in Poona, where he was noted for his courage and clever perspectives. He mixed with the wild highlanders of the neighboring Ghats and learnt every turn and path of the Konkan. When he found that the hills & forests are miserably fortified by the Bijapur soldiers he resolved upon seizing them.
His father Shahaji was in service of Deccan Sultanates and kept changing his sides between the Nizam Shahi of Ahamad Nagar, Adil Shah of Bijapur. His Jagir was Pune where he was able to sustain a small army.
Shivaji began by surprising the castle of Torna, 20 miles from Pune in 1645 at the age of 16 years. From there he started taking fortress by fortress at the cost of the Bijapur Kingdom. He took Kondana & Raigarh in 1647. Sindugarh and Purandar were also taken soon. This was enough to make Ibrahim Adil Shah resolve to teach him a lesson.
His father Shahaji was imprisoned. But clever Shivaji approached Emperor Shah Jahan and his intervention was enough to make the Bijapur sultan release Shahaji. Shivaji was now a Mughal Sardar.