Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 between Ahmad Shah Durrani and Sadashiv Rao Bhau

The third Battle of Panipat was one of the famous battles of India History. This battle took place on 14th January 1761 AD between the Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Durrani also known as Ahmed Shah Abdali of Durrani Empire and the Maratha general Sadashiv Rao Bhau at Panipat of Hariyana. The Maratha Empire became very prominent after the death of Aurangazeb. In September 1759, Ahmed Shah Abdali proceeded to India with his large army. Ahmed Shah's army reached Karnal in December without much defense from the opposition. Ahmad Shah formed allies with two Muslim powers of India, one with Shuja-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Oudh and the other one was Najib Ud Daulah of Rohilla Afghans of the Doab. The Maratha tried to get support from Rajputs, Sikhs and Jats. Most of the kings of Jat, Sikh and Rajput kingdoms did not support the Marathas as they had earlier sour relationship with Marathas.

Sadashiv Rao Bhau was appointed as the Supreme Commander of the Maratha force. The Holkar , Scindia and Gaikwad of Marathas assisted the Sadashiv Rao Bhau. Malhar Rao Holkar, Vishwas Rao, Jankoji Scindia, Mahadji Shindia, Govind Pant Bundela, Damaji Gaikwad were among the main commanders of the Maratha force. The Jat ruler Suraj Mal provided assistance to the Maratha soldiers.

In October 1760, the force of Ahmad Shah Durrani reached Panipat and camped there to execute the assault against the Maratha Empire. The Maratha army also proceeded with the large army and camped near to Panipat and was waiting for the final moment. Both sides tried to cut off the food supply of the other camp. By end of December 1760, the Marathas ran out of food due to heavy obstruction of their food supply by the Durrani force.

The War: In Jan 1761 AD, it became difficult for the Maratha force to continue their stay due to insufficient food supply. On 14th Jan 1761 AD, Maratha force left their camp before dawn and proceeded to attack the Afghan camp. The two forces came on face to face confrontation and the large forces of the both sided continued their battle until evening. It is believed that around 125,000 troops took part in this battle. The battle continued for several days. Ahmad Shah Durrani defeated the Maratha force led by Sadashiv Rao Bhau. It is believed by many historians that total of 60,000 to 70,000 troops from both sides were killed in this battle. After this battle, the expansion of Maratha Empire in North stopped for few years. It took almost 10 years for Peshwa Madhavrao to revive the domination of Marathas.

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