Talegaon Dabhade is a small principality that
borders the city of Pune, in the modern state of Maharashtra in
western central India.
There was a time when this land had a ruler (a
jagirdar) of its own. They were known as the Sarsenapati
Dabhades, the traditional commander-in-chiefs of the Maratha empire.
Yesajirao patil Dabhade
Yesajirao lived in the first half of the
seventeenth century and was the earliest known ancestor of the
Dabhade family. He was the son of Bajajirao Dabhade, the mukadam
of Talegaon village in the last half of the sixteenth century. Not
content leading the sedentary lifestyle in his rather peaceful
village, Yeshaba took up service as the personal attendant of
Chatrapati Shivaji maharaj, the first Maratha king.
Yeshaba soon rose to the rank of Shivaji's personal
bodyguard and became one of his most trusted aides. After Shivaji's
death, Yeshaba took to tutoring his sons, both Sambhaji and Rajaram,
while his own children, Khanderao and Shivaji (from his wife,
Valahibaisaheb), became their pages and playmates. After Yesajirao's
death, his family was represented by his elder son, Khanderao
Sarsenapati Khanderao Dabhade
Known more simply as Sarsenapati from 1717 to 1729,
he was at his height in the late seventeenth century. Shivaji's son,
Sambhaji, was killed by the Mughals while another son, Shahu, was
taken captive. Thereafter Sambhaji's younger brother Rajaram became
king in 1689. He and his successor, Shivaji, ruled the Maratha
empire until Shahu, the son of Sambhaji, returned to claim his
rightful kingdom in 1707.
The Dabhades transferred their services
exclusively to Rajaram and his wife, Tarabaisaheb. During this time,
Rajaram found himself trapped at Panhala fort while it was being
besieged by the Mughal forces led by Zulfikar Khan. Fortunately for
Rajaram, the Dabhade family was there alongside him. The two
brothers, Khanderao and Shivaji, disguised themselves (and Rajaram)
as grass cutters and carried their master to safety. Rajaram's
health was frail and may not have made it if he had not been
literally carried by the two brothers, covering, it has been said,
almost forty miles in a day.
As an additional note, Shivaji was later killed in
battle at Dahihade. The king, grateful for the service of the two
brothers, granted the already-existing jagir of Imamura,
Erase, and Dhaka villages to the Dabhades, plus additional pataki/kukri
rights for the talks of Janna, Harishchanda, Poona, Akola and
Maval. Khanderao was also awarded the title 'Sena Khas Khel',
or chief of the royal guard.
Induri fort is located in Talegaon-Dabadhe village, and was
built by Sarsenapati Khanderao Yesajirao Dabhade between
Khanderao Dabhade, one of the greatest representatives of the family
In 1700, when Rajaram died, his widow, Rani
Tarabai, took over the reins of the Maratha kingdom and the Dabhades
served under her leadership. Later, after the death of Mughal
Emperor Aurangzeb, the Mughals released Sambhaji's son, Shahu, from
prison, supposedly as a goodwill gesture towards the Marathas. But
Rani Tarabai, who had ruled the kingdom for seven years, saw in
Shahu a threat to her supremacy. She ordered Khanderao to meet Shahu
in person (as Khanderao had been well acquainted with Shahu as a
child), and expose him as an impostor. To her chagrin, Khanderao was
quickly able to determine that Shahu was indeed the son of Sambhaji
and therefore the true king. Khanderao joined Shahu's cause against
Rani Tarabai. Shahu soon declared Khanderao his sarsenapati
(commander-in-chief of the army), and granted him a sardeshmukhi
of 104 villages of the parganas of Panner.
Khanderao later undertook the Gujarat campaign and,
in conjunction with the nizam, also scored a decisive victory over
the Syed at Balapur (in 1720). Gujarat was soon one of the major
areas of activity for the Marathas, all thanks to Khanderao Dabhade
and his men, important figures such as Pilaji Gaekwad, Kanthaji
Bande, and others. But by the time the campaign was almost over,
Khanderao was an exhausted old man. He requested that the king
transfer his title of sena khaskhel to his eldest son,
Trimbakrao, which was of course immediately granted. Khanderao then
retired to his village of Talegaon, where he died.
Khanderao Dabhade also constructed the
famous fort of Induri at Talegaon, along with his other palaces. He
was married to Umabaisaheb Dabhade, a gritty lady. It is said that
when a Mughal sardar named Jorawar Khan Babi raided
Ahmedabad, it was this unusually spirited lady who, in the absence
of her husband, picked up a sword and led her army into battle (near
Fort Bhadra). For her services the king personally travelled down to
Talegaon Dabhade and presented Umabaisaheb with a gold toda
(an ankle ornament), which remains a family heirloom to this day.
Umabaisaheb had a mansion built to accommodate the chatrapati
(the king) and his entourage in Talegaon Dabhade which Shahu himself
Trimbakrao (1729-31) was the son of Khanderao, and
was a valiant commander. Even after the death of his father,
Trimbakrao took the Gujarat campaign to its logical conclusion and
the Maratha's saffron banner flew over virtually every fort in Gujarat.
Meanwhile, the Mughals still had pockets of control
in Gujarat and were getting increasingly irritated with Dabhade's
men, including Pilaji Gaekwad and Kanthaji Bande, who encroached at
will on Mughal territory. The Mughal viceroy in Gujarat sought the
help of Bajirao (who had by now become well known as a rival of the
Dabhades), in curbing the activities of these freebooters.
Fort Induri remained at the heart of the Dabhade's possessions
for many years
A letter written by Khanderao Dabhade to Rajaram informing him about
the death of his brother, Shivajirao, at the Battle of Dahihade
He even awarded the sardeshmukhi of certain
areas in Gujarat to Bajirao's brother, Chimaji appa. Dabhade
severely resented sharing the spoils of revenue-rich Gujarat with
the peshwa. Bajirao proposed jointly sharing his newly acquired
territory in Malwa with Trimbakrao Dabhade if Trimbarao could part
with half his revenues at Gujarat. But Trimbakrao refused.
In this matter, Shahu seemed to be more
inclined to side with his peshwa, which incensed Trimbakrao even
further. He allegedly began to flirt with the likes of the nizam, an
arch rival of Bajirao, and with Sambhaji of Kolhapur, the rival of
Shahu (this was, of course, after some alleged correspondence
between Trimbakrao and the nizam was intercepted by the peshwa's men
and presented before the chatrapati as evidence). Eventually
Trimbakrao came out in open rebellion against the peshwa.
The rival armies faced each other at
Dabhoi (1731). Though Trimbakrao's army was much larger, it was very
much divided and Bajirao successfully isolated it from its other
division. But Trimbakrao wasn't a man to give up so easily.
He dismounted his elephant and decided to take on his enemy man-to-man.
Unfortunately, one thing he couldn't have counted on was the
treachery of his own kin, Bhausingrao Toke. Toke shot him dead from
behind once he had removed his helmet. After that, it was only a
matter of time before the peshwa's army subdued Yeshwantrao Dabhade,
Pilaji Gaekwad, and the others.
Shahu had been extremely perturbed by this civil
war between his own army commander and his peshwa and sought an
immediate reconciliation with Umabaisaheb Dabhade, the mother of
Trimbakrao and his brothers, Yeshwantrao and Sawai Baburao.
The king even graciously forgave the
brothers for their rebellion and saw to it that the title of
sarsenapati remained with the Dabhades (although it is said that
the peshwa had given orders to capture Trimbakrao alive, many
historians believe that the killing of Trimbakrao Dabhade may have
been the result of a conspiracy to remove him once and for all). The
title of sarsenapati was passed to Khanderao's second son,
Yeshwantrao Dabhade (Trimbakrao had married Laxmibaisaheb, but the
couple had no issue). The remaining brother, Baburao Dabhade, was
given the family title of senakhaskhel. Their territory and
privileges were also left unchanged.
Sardar Baburao Dabhade
An artist's depiction of Umabaisaheb Dabhade
Sardar was the son of Khanderao. He was also very quick to
prove his merit. It so happened that the nawab of Surat had levied an
octroi  on one of Shahu's envoys. To avenge this insult, Baburao
Dabhade entered the nawab's fort with 368 of his hand-picked men and captured
the nawab by surprise. He then extracted fourteen of the twenty-eight
mahals from the latter along with the pledge of chauth from Surat. 
The king was naturally pleased with his senakhaskhel's
feat and in return gifted Baburao the mokasa rights for Umbare,
Baglan, Khandesh and Karnatak.
But tragedy continued to pursue the Dabhade household.
Baburao Dabhade was poisoned and murdered in Khandesh. He left behind no
issue from his marriage to Tarabaisaheb.
The loyal commander of the Dabhade army, Pilaji Gaekwad,
had also earlier been assassinated by a Mughal sardar named Raja Abhay
Singh (the event taking place in 1732).
Sarsenapati Khanderao Dabhade's samadhi at Talegaon
 An octroi was a tax that was
levied by a local political unit, normally the commune or
municipal authority, on certain categories of goods as they
entered the area.
Chauth was a tax that was
regularly imposed by the Mughal empire from the early eighteenth century
onwards. It originates in the Sanskrit word for a quarter.
Yeshwantrao Dabhade suddenly felt very isolated and he blamed the
peshwa family for his misfortunes. Yeshwantrao avoided providing
service to the peshwas and started neglecting his affairs. As a result,
control of the army passed to Damaji Gaekwad, the son of Pilaji
Yeshwantrao (1731-1754) was the son of
Khanderao. Peshwa Bajirao had died in 1740 and was succeeded by his
son, Balaji Bajirao. Shahu too had died by 1749 and Peshwa Balaji
Bajirao was left in sole charge of the Maratha kingdom.
The Dabhades were in charge of Gujarat's
affairs and were to deposit half their income in the Maratha
treasury, something that they failed to do. Due to his affection
towards the Dabhade family, Shahu was lenient in his approach.
However, Peshwa Balaji Bajirao was determined to recover half the
revenue of Gujarat from the Dabhades.
Yeshwantrao Dabhade was not in a mood to
accept the peshwa's order to this extent. He had not forgotten his
family enmity with the peshwas and desired retribution. He decided
to join forces with Rani Tarabaisaheb, the arch rival of Peshwa
Balaji Bajirao, and an attack on Pune was soon organised with the
forces of Damaji Gaekwad. The peshwa's forces, led by Sardar
Trimbakrao Purandare, were able to get the better of Damaji's forces
on the battlefield at Alandi and Yeshwantrao Dabhade, his son
Trimbakrao, and his mother Umabaisaheb, along with Damaji Gaekwad
and Khanderao Gaekwad were soon captured and imprisoned.
They were released only when they pledged
to abide by the terms set by the peshwa. Damaji Gaekwad also agreed
to abandon the cause of the Dabhades. The Dabhades themselves were
left without any authority over Gujarat and had to resign their
former office to retire to their jagir at Talegaon.
Yeshwantrao later took part in the Battle of Bednaur in 1754 and
died on the banks of the Krishna. He left behind a son named
Trimbarao from his marriage to Ambikabaisaheb.
Trimbakrao Dabhade (1754-1799) was the son of Yeshwantrao.
He succeeded his father as the senapati. He took part in the infamous
Battle of Panipat. After Balaji Bajirao's death, Trimbakrao joined
the forces of Raghunathrao against Peshwa Madhavrao (the son of
Balaji Bajirao). But after the reconciliation between Raghunathrao
and his nephew, Madhavrao, Trimbakrao felt threatened and approached the
nizam, the old rival of the peshwas, for protection. Trimbakrao's
estates were confiscated and handed over to Damaji Gaekwad, who
proposed using them to pay off Trimbakrao's creditors. The peshwa's
forces soon routed the nizam's army and Trimbakrao found himself in a
precarious state. He died a disillusioned man at Verul.
Trimbakrao was married to Laxmibaisaheb
and had a son named Shivarao, who himself had died without issue. Without
an heir at all, the Dabhades adopted a son named Yeshwantrao II. Due to
the pressure exerted by the peshwa, Laxmibai Dabhade, the widow of
Trimbakrao, was given a large jagir by Govindrao Gaekwad, the
son of Damaji. But it came to light that the estate had already been
mortgaged by his brother, Fattehsinghrao, to his creditors. As destiny
would have it the Dabhade fortunes again came to naught. But Nana
Phadanvis, the regent for Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao, came to their rescue
and provided them with another jagir which yielded 50,000 rupees.
Yashwantrao Dabhade I at Old Rajwada
Yeshwantrao Dabhade II
Yeshwantrao was also known as Raosaheb
(1799-1833). He was the adopted son and successor of Trimbakrao. He had
a large jagir in Khandesh, but luck seemed to be as elusive as ever
for the Dabhades. The peshwa's aide, Balaji Kunjar, who was supposedly
eyeing up that property for himself, allegedly misled Yeshwantrao into raising an
large army. Kunjar even provided Yeshwantrao with a loan to maintain
the army, all the while promising that the peshwa would soon
strike off those expenses from his treasury.
To Yeshwantrao's chagrin, the peshwa refused and
Yeshwantrao was forced to relinquish his jagir to Kunjar in order to
repay the loan.
Now completely disillusioned with the peshwas, Yeshwantrao
cultivated the friendship of the English. By now they had
overturned the rule of the peshwa in India. Yeshwantrao married his son,
Bapusaheb (from his wife, Chimnabaisaheb) to the daughter of
Daulatrao Scindia (the most powerful noble in the Maratha court and
later an ally of the English), and proceeded to the Scindia jagir of
Gwalior. He later shifted to Mathura where he built a formal garden and a
mansion called Chinchachibaug. Eventually, he settled down in
Talegaon where he built a formal garden called Yeshwant baug.
Trimbakrao was also known as Bapusaheb (1833-1837).
He was Yeshwantrao's son and successor.
He married a woman named Mainabaisaheb.
Baburao Dabhade II
Baburao was also known as Babasaheb (1837-1864). He
was married to Anandibaisaheb. A regency governed the Dabhade estates
Khanderao Dabhade II
Khanderao was also known as Abasaheb (1870-1915). He was
married to Rajasbaisaheb (from the Madhyalkar Ghorpade family). He was the
founder president of Talegaon Dabhade municipal council, and built a mansion
called Yeshwantbaug wada on his ancestral garden at Yeshwantbaug.
Yeshwantrao Dabhade III
Khanderao Dabhade II
Yeshwantrao was also known as Raje Krishnarao
(1915-1933). He was married to Tararaje (from the Nagpur Bhosale family),
and after her death, he remarried, to Vatsalabaisaheb (from the Sardar
Kadam family), and then he remarried again, to Laxmibaisaheb (from the
Hande Deshmukh family of Janna). He served as the president of Talegaon
Dabhade municipal council. He had two sons from his second marriage in
the form of Veerdhawalraje (later the head of the senior branch of the
family) and Vijaysinhraje (the head of the junior branch).
Senior Branch (Sarsenapati)
The senior branch of the Dabhades
consists of the following:
Veerdhawalraje Dabhade (1933-1960). Member
of the Legislative Assembly from Maval Mulshi constituency in 1952.
He married Mangalaraje
Sangramsinhraje Dabhade (1960-1993), son of
Veerdhawalraje. He married Umaraje
Jayendraraje Dabhade (1993 onwards). He
married Anjaliraje and has a son named Sidhanthraje Dabhade
Junior Branch (Sarsenapati, Senakhaskhel)
The junior branch of the Dabhades
consists of the following:
Vijaysinharaje Dabhade, also known as
Chhaganraje (1933-1987), married to Mrinaliniraje
Padmasenraje Dabhade, also known as Raje Anandrao (1987
onwards), married to Vrishaliraje
Padmasenraje Dabhade is the current scion of the Dabhade
junior house and resides in Pune with his son, Satyasheelraje Dabhade.
The other members of the Dabhade royal family reside in Talegaon Dabhade
Yashwantrao Dabhade III
Kincaid, C A & Rao Bahadur D B Parasnis - A
History of the Maratha People, Humphrey Milford Oxford
University Press, London, 1918
Kincaid, C A - The Tale of the Tulsi Plant
and Other Studies, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1994
Mehta, J L - Advanced Study in
the History of Modern India 1707-1813, New Dawn Press Group, New
With thanks to Satyasheelraje Dabhade for
supplying information and pictures