Shivaji and his followers took an oath at Rohedeshwar Temple to establish Hindavi Swaraj. In his next 35 years he lived an epic. Shivaji belongs to the highest bracket of the statesman-cum-generals the world has seen. Recognizing the threat from European traders, he built a strong navy. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was coronated a sovereign king, in 1674. His administration was centralised and had 8 misters to look after the affairs of the state. At this time his vast kingdom included whole of costal Maharashtra, Karnataka, and parts of Gujrat and Tamilnadu.In 1680, he was succeeded by his son Sambhaji, then 23 years old. Some accounts describe Sambhaji as irresponsible, addicted successor; while others describe him as a shrewd and responsible king.
After Shivaji's death, Aurangzeb marched on Deccan with the intention of ending the Maratha empire. After a struggle of 9 years Sambhaji was captured and killed by Aurangzeb. Sambhaji's younger brother Rajaram, succeeded him. Enraged by Sambhaji's brutal death, the Marathas lead by Rajaram fought Aurangzeb. He fought for nearly 10 years, until his death. His wife Tarabai continued the struggle. She shifted the capital of Maratha empire to Karaveer (Kolhapur). With the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 the Maratha struggle ended. Marathas fought for nearly 30 years against the Mughals. This was the toughest time for Marathas. For most of the time they fought without a king and without a kingdom.
Sambhaji's son Shahu was raised by Mughals. He was returned to the Marathas after Aurangzeb's death. With Balaji Vishwanath's afforts he became the new Chhatrapati. Shahu named Balaji as his Peshwa.
On Balaji's death, his son, Baji Rao I succeeded him as the Peshwa. Bajirao I groomed the generals Holkar and Shinde. He was an ambitious and far seeking man. Aided by his brother Chimaji Appa, he fought 36 battles and lost not one. When Baji Rao defeated Nizam and the Moghuls, Marathas were established as the supreme power in India.
1737 saw the death of the Peshwa brothers, Baji Rao and Chimaji. Baji Rao's son, Balaji Bajirao (Nanasaheb) succeeded as the Peshwa. The three brothers Nanasaheb, Sadashivrao and Raghunathrao continued the able rule of Peshwa for the next 25 years.
The 1761 Panipat battle, between Marathas and Ahmad Shah Abdalli was a hard blow for the Maratha power. They lost Sadashivrao and Nanasaheb Peshwa's eldest son. Nanasaheb died grief-striken in the same year. His second son Thorale Madhav Rao assumed the title. And his uncle Raghunath Rao acted as his care taker.
Madhavrao Peshwa defeated Haider Ali of Mysore and Nizam of Hyderabad. In 1769, Marathas lead by Mahadaji Shinde, headed the North India campaign. They defeated the Jats and took hold of Agra and Mathura. They reinstated the Mughal Emperor on the throne, who was living on the East India Company Pension.
After Madhav Rao Peshwa's death in 1772, Raghunathrao's attempts to be the Peshwa were foiled by the ministers. Hurt, he joined the British. The state came under the rule of ministers headed by Nana Phadnavis and Mahadaji Shinde.
In 1796 with no other peshwa hier, Baji Rao II, son of Raghunath Rao became the Peshwa. He signed a treaty with the British in 1802, which weakened the Peshwa power. His son, Nanasaheb Peshwa opposed the British with whatever support he could muster. By 1818 the Peshwa power came to an end. Nanasaheb Peshwa's fight still continued. But the failure of 1857 war, put an end to any lingering hopes.Unfortunately, the Maratha power was doomed by the untimely deaths of its great leaders. Shivaji(53), Sambhaji(33), Bajirao-I(40), Chimaji(37), Sadashiv(31), Balaji Bajirao(41), and Madhavrao(28). Nearly all died without a well groomed successor.