On this day in 1680, Maharashtra's tallest icon and the son of the soil Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj breathed his last. Even after 340 years of his death, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is celebrated as one of the great leaders of India. Shivaji, whose Maratha empire spanned from modern-day Pakistan to Tamil Nadu at its peak and lasted for close to two centuries, died after falling ill with fever and dysentery.
Shivaji was born in the Bhonsle Maratha clan to Shahaji and Jijabai on February 19, 1630, in present-day Maharashtra. The government of Maharashtra celebrates the day as Shivaji Jayanti every year as a mark of honour for the great warrior. Shivaji's father was a Maratha general who served the Deccan Sultanates. At the time of Shivaji's birth, the power in the Deccan was shared by three Islamic sultanates.
As a teenager, Shivaji expressed the concept of Hindavi Swarajya (Indian self-rule) in a letter. According to reports, this was the first time that somebody in the Indian sub-continent had expressed the concept of self-rule. Shivaji developed guerrilla techniques and became an expert in warfare. His biggest achievement came at the age of 15 when he brave-heartedly negotiated with Bijapuri commander Inayat Khan to hand over the Torna fort to him.
Shivaji was formally crowned as the Chhatrapati (emperor) of his realm at Raigad in 1674. Shivaji was also known for reviving the Hindu political traditions and he promoted the usage of Marathi and Sanskrit language in administrative processes rather than the Persian language, which was widely used at the time of Mughal rule in India. The government of India in 2016 approved the proposal to build a giant memorial called Shiv Smarak (Shivaji statue) on a small island in the Arabian Sea near Mumbai. The 210 metres tall statue when completed will be the world's largest statue.