The Marathas' rise to power was a dramatic turning point that accelerated the demise of Muslim dominance in India. Maratha chieftains were originally in the service of Bijapur sultans in the western Deccan, which was under siege by the Mughals. Shivaji Bhonsle (1630-80 A.D) is recognized as the "father of the Maratha nation." Shivaji Bhosle, founder of the Maratha Empire, was born in 1630 AD, in the fort of Shivneri, 40 miles north of Pune. By 1647, Shivaji had captured two forts and had the complete charge of Pune. He slowly started capturing forts in the region, Purandar, Rajgad, Torna. In 1659 Shivaji succeeded in killing of famous Adilshahi general Afzal Khan and demoralizing his army. He took advantage of this conflict and laid the foundation of Maratha Kingdom near Pune, which later became the Maratha capital. Shivaji used guerilla tactics and brilliant military strategies to lead a series of successful assaults in the 1660s against Mughal strongholds, including the major port of Surat. He lost to Aurangzeb's General Jai Singh and was arrested in 1666. He made a daring escape and regained his lost territory and glory. By 1673, he had control over most of western Maharashtra and had made 'Raigad' capital. In 1674 he assumed the title of "Chhatrapati" at his elaborate coronation. At the time of his death in 1680, nearly whole of the Deccan belonged to his kingdom. He had developed an efficient administration and a powerful army.
Family Background of Shivaji and Early Life: Shivaji belonged to the Bhosale family and his father, Shahaji Raje, was a soldier in the battle between the Mughal and the kings of Nizamshah. After leaving his services Shahaji joined Adil Shah of Bijapur which was to play a very important role in the future, of carving out the Shivaji Empire.
Shivaji, the son of Jijabai and Shahaji, born in the year 1630, was brought up in the guidance of his mother who instilled in him many qualities, required to be a leader, a good human being and an able ruler. His early military expeditions were against the Sultanates of Bijapur, the most important battle being that of the Pratapgarh in the year 1659 which established the power of Shivaji in the eyes of the Marathas.
Battles fought with the Mughals: the battles which Shivaji fought with the Mughal, especially with Shaista Khan, have been engraved in the chapters of history as examples of bravery and intelligence. The Battle of Umberkhind in 1661, the attack on the Mughal camp in Pune and the Battle of Surat were enough to rouse the anger of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Shivaji lost his Purandhar fort which was later reclaimed during the years 1670 to 1674.
Coronation of Shivaji: Shivaji was crowned the king of the Marathas or the Chhatrapati in the year 1674. By that time Shivaji’s Empire had grown and so had the strength of his army. Shivaji Empire has spread itself to the south also with the capture of the forts of Vellore and Jinji which are located in present day Tamil Nadu.