Saturday, July 12, 2014

The story of Chimaji Appa

Chimmaji Appa wont ring a bell in your mind. Neither did he ring a bell in my mind. But a whole lot of real bells that ring in Maharashtra temples, ring because of Chimmaji Appa. And thereiin lies a story. I read Guardian of the Dawn about the Portuguese Inquisition in Goa - which again, is a chapter omitted in whatever history I have learnt. I learnt about it on the internet. And then I asked my friend from Goa about it and one thing led to another and I found myself reading about Chimmaji Appa.

Here is what the wiki entry says:

While Portuguese naval supremacy had been weakened by the British, French and Dutch Navies, they still maintained a strong presence on the western coast of India, from the Gujarat coast, through the Konkan, down to northern Malabar. They maintained well defended fortresses all along the coast located in islands and harbour mouths. From their headquarters in Goa they ran a theological Christian state all along the western coastal region from Daman and Diu down to Mangalore. To further the spread of Christianity, Inquisition was promulgated throughout the Portuguese possessions in India, and a program to annihilate Hindus through conversion or massacre commenced. Hindus were subjected to torture frequently surpassing even the barbarity of contemporary Islamic rulers.


It was in this milieu that the Marathas arose, ignited by the call of swaraj given by Shivaji, to restore the land of India to the sons of the soil. While Bajirao was waging war against the Mughal empire, Chimnaji Appa concentrated his energies towards the Western Ghats. Vasai (formerly known as Bassein) was the ultimate objective of the war, as this was the capital of the provincial government of Portugal's northern Indian possessions.

Now this campaign is all around the Mumbai area - Vasai, Belapur, Mahim, Vajreshwari - and guess what,  having lived in Mumbai for a long long time I had no clue that there is so much history in each of these places. As per my knowledgeable friend, there is but one statue of Chimaji Appa in Vasai, near Mumbai . And no history book in Maharashtra covers this - atleast did not through the time I studied.

And coming to bells, Chimaji Appa, after his victorious campaigns, gifted bells from the Portuguese forts to 5 temples - which can be seen there even today.

A unique bell (Roman style) can be seen in front of the temple which was presented by Chimaji Appa (Brother of Bajirao Peshwa I and uncle of Nanasaheb Peshwa). Chimaji Appa collected five large bells after he won in war against the Portuguese from Vasai Fort. He offered one here at Bhimashankar and the others at Menovali near Wai in front of a Shiva Temple on the banks of the Krishna river, Banshanker temple( Pune), Omkareshwar Temple( Pune) and Ramlinga temple ( Shirur) [Link]

What a story!

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