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Kanhoji Angre

kanhoji angre, kanhoji angre in marathi
Kanhoji Angré Marathi: कान्होजी आंग्रे or Conajee Angria or Sarkhel Angré Sarkhel is a title equal to Admiral of a fleet1 August 1669 – 4 July 1729 was one of the first notable chief of the Maratha Navy in 18th century India He fought against the British, Dutch and Portuguese naval interests on the coasts of India during the 18th century As a result, his European enemies labeled him a pirate Despite the attempts of the British and Portuguese to subdue Angre, he remained undefeated until his death2


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Naval career
    • 21 Europeans on rolls
  • 3 Bases
  • 4 Campaigns
  • 5 Battles
  • 6 Death
  • 7 Seals of Kanhoji Angre
  • 8 Legacy
  • 9 The end of Angre family influences
    • 91 Publication of family history
  • 10 Tributes
  • 11 See also
  • 12 References
  • 13 Bibliography

Early lifeedit

Angre was born in the village of Angarwadi, six miles from Pune in the year of 1669, in a Sankapal Kshatriya family3 They were the guardians of small state named 'Vir Rana Sank' and were hence known as 'Sankapalcitation needed' His mother's name was Ambabai and his father, Tukoji, served at Suvarnadurg under Shivaji with a command of 200 posts3 Little is known about his early life except that he was involved in daring exploits at sea with his father He spent much of his childhood in the Suvarnadurg Fort, where he would later become the governor

Naval careeredit

He was originally appointed as Surkhel or Darya-Saranga Admiral by the chief of Satara in c 169845 Under that authority, he was master of the Western coast of India from Mumbai to Vingoria now Vengurla in present-day state of Maharashtra, except for the property of the Muslim Siddis of Murud-Janjira who were affiliated with the powerful Mughal Empire6

Kanhoji started his career by attacking merchant ships of the British East India Company and slowly gained respect from all the colonial powers In 1702, he abducted a merchant vessel from Calicut with six English sailors and took it to his harbor6 In 1707, he attacked the frigate Bombay which blew up during the fight6 In time, the British feared as he could take any merchant ship except large European ships6 When Maratha Chattrapati Shahu ascended the leadership of the Maratha Empire, he appointed Balaji Viswanath Bhatt as his Senakarta Commander and negotiated an agreement with Angre around 1707 This was partly to appease Angre who supported the other ruler, Tarabai, who claimed the Maratha throne As per agreement, Angre became head of the Maratha Navy

A painted scroll depicting different types of ships of the Marathan Navy, primarily grabs and gallivats, but also including some captured English ships

When the Maratha empire was weak, Angre became more and more independent and in 1713, an army was sent headed by Peshwa Bhyroo Pant to control Angre, but Angre won the battle and captured and held Bhyroo Pant as his prisoner6 Angre planned to march to Satara where Sahoojee was acting as a head of state and where Angre was requested to appear for negotiations, after which Angre was confirmed as Admiral Surkhiel of entire fleet6 Angre was also placed as chief of 26 forts and fortified places of Maharashtra6

In 1720, Angre captured the vessel Charlotte along its owner, a merchant named Curgenven who had been bound to China from Surat7 Curgenven would be imprisoned for 10 years7

Europeans on rollsedit

Angre employed Europeans, generally Dutch, to command his best vessels6 He also employed a Jamaican pirate named James Plantain and entrusted him with significant responsibilities such as the chief gunner post8 Angre reemployed Manuel de Castro, who was considered as a traitor and punished by the British Bombay Council9 for his failure in capturing Khanderi Island, which was controlled by Kanhoji Angre10


  • In 1698, Angre located his first base at Vijayadurg 'Victory Fort' formerly Gheriah, Devgad Taluka, located about 485 km from Mumbai11 The fort which was originally built by king Bhoj and strengthened by Maratha ruler Shivaji,11 is located on the coast and has an entrance hollowed out in it to accommodate entry of a vessel from the sea
  • Angre created an operating base from the fortified islands of "Kolaba" at Alibaug Khanderi and Underi off the coast of Thal, Alibaug, and attempted to levy a tax on every merchant vessel entering the harbour
  • He established a township called Alibag on seashore at southern tip of Mumbai12 The main village at that time, was today's Ramnath Kanhoji even issued his own currency in the form of a silver coin called the Alibagi rupaiya
  • In 1724, Angre built a port at Purnagad, located in Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra13 Seven guns and 70 cannonballs were found in the port13 The port was also used for limited trading activities13
  • He attacked English, Dutch and Portuguese ships that were moving to and from East Indies2


Kanhoji's controlled the northern coastline of the highlighted Konkan coastal area of India

Kanhoji intensified the attacks on naval powers like Great Britain and Portugal on the western coast of India On 4 November 1712, his navy even succeeded in capturing the armed yacht Algerine of the British President of Bombay, William Aislabie, killing the chief of their Karwar factory, Thomas Chown, and making his wife a prisoner, not releasing the captured yacht and the lady until 13 February 1713 for a ransom of 30,000 Rupees14 The release was done along with the return of previously captured land, hoping that the East India Company will help him in his other wars, but later he made an alliance with Balaji Viswanath and continued fighting the companycitation needed He seized EastIndiamen, Somers and Grantham, near Goa as these vessels were on their voyage from England to Bombay14 In 1712, he disabled thirty-gun man-of-war which was conveying Portuguese "armado" and captured it14

Angre eventually signed a treaty with the East India Company President Aislabie to stop harassing the Company's fleet Aislabie would eventually return to England during October 1715

After the arrival of Charles Boone as the new Governor of Bombay on 26 December 1715, Boone made several attempts to capture Angre Instead of succeeding, in 1718 Angre captured three ships belonging to the British leaving them to claim that he is a pirate

The British launched a fresh campaign in 1720, when shells from floating batteries burst in vain against the rocks of Vijaydurg fort The attempt to land inside the fort ended in disaster, and the British squadron soon retired to Bombay

On 29 November 1721 a joint attempt by the Portuguese Viceroy Francisco José de Sampaio e Castro and the British General Robert Cowan to humble Kanhoji also failed miserably This fleet consisted of 6,000 soldiers in no less than four of the European's largest Man of war class ships led by Commander Thomas Mathews Aided by Maratha warriors including Mendhaji Bhatkar and his navy, Angre continued to harass and plunder the European ships Commander Matthews returned to Great Britain, but was accused and convicted of trading with the pirates in December 1723citation needed Also, during 1723, Governor Boone returned to Great Britain After Boone's departure, relative calm prevailed between the British and Angre, until Angre's death in 1729


  • 1702 - Seizes small vessel in Cochin with six Englishmen
  • 1706 - Attacks and defeats the Siddi of Janjira
  • 1710 - Captures the Kennery now Khanderi islands near Mumbai after fighting the British vessel Godolphin for two days6
  • 1712 - Captured the yacht of the British President of Mumbai, Mr Aislabie, releasing it only after obtaining a hefty ransom of Rs 30,000 1
  • 1713 - Ten forts ceded to Angre by British7
  • 1717 - Angre captures British ship Success bombard Kennery island and Angre signs treaty with Company paying Rs 60,000
  • 1718 - Blockaded Mumbai port and extracted ransom British storm Vijaydurg fort but lose the battle/ Governor Boom returns empty hand to Mumbai
  • 1720 - British attack Vijaydurg Gheriah, unsuccessfully
  • 1721 - British fllet reaches Mumbai `British and Portuguese jointly attack Alibag, but are defeated
  • 1722 - Angre attacks 4 yachts and 20 ships of British near Chaul
  • 1723 - Angre attacks two British vessels, Eagle and Hunter
  • 1724 - Maratha and Portugees pactDutch attack Vijaydurg but get defeated
  • 1725 - Kanhoji Angre and Siddi sign a pact
  • 1729 - Kanhoji Angre wins Palgad Fort

File:Sarkhel Kanhoji Angrejpg|thumb|Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre, bust at Ratnadurg fort


A British-Portuguese-Indian naval force attacks the fort of Geriah, 1756

By the time of his death on 4 July 1729, Kanhoji Angre had emerged as a master of the Arabian Sea from Surat to south Konkan He left behind two legitimate sons, Sekhoji and Sambhaji; three illegitimate sons, Tulaji, Manaji, and Yeshaji Angre's Samadhi tomb is situated at Alibag, Maharashtra12

After Kanhoji, his son Sekhoji continued Maratha exploits at sea till his death in 1733 After Sekhoji's death, Angre's holdings were split between two brothers, Sambhaji and Manaji, because of divisions in the family With the Marathas neglecting naval concerns, the British soon found it easier to defeat the remnants of the kingdom Angre and his sons' reign over the Western coast ended with the capture of Tulaji in a joint British / Peshwa attack on the fort of Gheriah now Vijaydurg in February 1756

Seals of Kanhoji Angreedit

Three seals have been known to be used by Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre One during the reign of Chhatrapati Rajaram, and two during the reign of Chhatrapati Shahu

The three seals, along with their inscriptions and meaning are given below

Reigning Chhatrapati Inscription Meaning
Seal of Kanhoji Angre during Chhatrapati Rajaram Era Chhatrapati Rajaram15 ।।श्री।।

राजाराम चरणी

सादर तुकोजी सुत

कान्होजी आंगरे



Kanhoji, son of Tukoji, Angre is forever present at the feet service of Rajaram

Chhatrapati Shahu16 ।।श्री।।

राजा शाहू चरणी तत्पर

तुकोजी सुत कान्होजी आंगरे

सरखेल निरंतर


Kanhoji Angre Sarkhel, son of Tukoji, is forever eager at the feet service of Shahu

Seal of Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre Chhatrapati Shahu17 ।।श्री।।

श्री शाहू नृपती प्रि

त्या तुकोजी तनुजन्म

ना कान्होजी सरखे

लस्य मुद्रा जय

ति सर्वदा


King Shahu's favoured, Tukoji's son, Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre's seal is always victorious


File:Kanhoji Angre Samadhi - कान्होजी आंग्रे समाधी 1JPG|thumb|The Samadhi mausoleum of Kanhoji Angre at Alibag, Maharashtra Kanhoji Angre stands as one of the most notable admirals of the Maratha Navy who offered significant competition and damage to the prestige of the colonial powers Kanhoji is credited with the foresight that a Blue Water Navy's ultimate and strategic role is to keep the enemy engaged far from the shores of the homeland At one time, Kanhoji was so successful that he attracted enterprising Europeans in his fleet as mercenaries, including one Dutchman, whom he appointed to the rank of Commodore At the height of his power, Kanhoji commanded hundreds of warships and thousands of sailors at a time when the Royal Navy had little in the way of naval resources in far-away India that could significantly offset the growing strength of the Maratha Navy18

Kanhoji's harassment of British commercial interests who hence called him a pirate and the Battle of Swally led them to establish a small naval force that eventually became the modern Indian Navy Today, a statue of Angre proudly stands in Indian Naval Dockyard in Mumbai While the original fort built by Angre that overlooked the Naval Docks has vanished, its boundary wall is still intact and within it lays the Headquarters of Indian Western Naval Command and is called INS Angre Indian Naval Station Angre

The end of Angre family influencesedit

The descendents of Angres continued to hold Kolaba till the 1840s and in 1843, it was annexed to British East India Company as per a despatch to Governor General of Bombay dated 30 December 184319

Publication of family historyedit

Chandrojirao Angre, a descendent of Kanhoji Angre and a contemporary Jijabai of same family supported the publication of History of the Angres in 1939 at Alibag Mumbai19


  • Angria Bank, a submerged atoll structure located on the continental shelf 105 km west of the coast of Vijaydurg, Maharashtra, was named after Kanhoji Angre20
  • The Western Naval command of the Indian Navy was named INS Angre 21 on 15 September 1951 in honour of Kanhoji Angre Other important naval offices are also located at INS Angre21 His statue is erected at the old Bombay Castle located within the enclave located at the Naval Dockyard, South Mumbai
  • During April 1999, the Indian Postal Service released a Rupee 3 stamp showing a ghurab of Kanhoji Angre's fleet as depicted in a c 1700 AD painting
  • The old Kennery Lighthouse, on Khanderi Island which marks the southern boundary of the Mumbai Port, was renamed as Kanhoji Angre Light House
  • The large residential colony of Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers at Alibaug is named as " Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre Nagar"
  • During the Malwani Jatrotsav festival in 1995 at Parel, Mumbai, a simulation of the naval battle between Angre and the British fleet led by Charles Boon was conducted using remote-control wooden boats in an open tank 70' x 30' Radio Controlled boats carved out of Teak wood and powered by high torque motors were constructed by Vivek S Kambli and Vishesh S Kambli A thrilling soundtrack complemented this Audio Visual 3 Dimensional depiction of an important chapter from Maratha Naval history The show lasted 10 days and was witnessed by thousands of eager Mumbai citizens
  • An all-weather port at Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, named as Angre port, was inaugurated on 24 April 2012 by 9th descendent of Kanhoji Angre22

See alsoedit

  • Kunjali Marakkar
  • Battle of Colachel
  • British India


  1. ^ Rajaram Narayan Saletore 1978, p109
  2. ^ a b Andaman & Nicobar Islands Sura Books p 74 ISBN 9788174784193 
  3. ^ a b Kurup, K K N 1997 India's Naval Traditions: The Role of Kunhali Marakkars New Delhi: Northern Book centre pp 72–75 ISBN 9788172110833 Retrieved 12 December 2012 
  4. ^ Rajaram Narayan Salethore 1978 P99
  5. ^ http://historionnet/jbiddulph-pirates-malabar-englishwoman-india/page-27htmlpermanent dead link
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Colonel John Biddulph 1907, p37
  7. ^ a b c Rajaram Narayan Saletore 1978, p106
  8. ^ Rajaram Narayan Saletore 1978, p102
  9. ^ Chinese and Indian Warfare – From the Classical Age to 1870 New York: Routledge 2015 ISBN 9781315742762 
  10. ^ Rajaram Narayan Saletore 1978, p105
  11. ^ a b Madaan, Neha 3 April 2012 "ASI takes up renovation of Vijaydurg" The Times of India Retrieved 12 December 2012 
  12. ^ a b epaper 2012 "Alibag Popular Weekend Getaway" The Times of India epaper Retrieved 12 December 2012 
  13. ^ a b c Madaan, Neha 29 January 2012 "Fort mapping to study Maratha architecture" The Times of India Retrieved 12 December 2012 
  14. ^ a b c Colonel John Biddulph 1907, p38
  15. ^ Sadashiv, Shivade 2006 दर्याराज कान्होजी आंग्रे Deccan Gymkhana, Pune - 4: Utkarsh Publication pp 217, 220 
  16. ^ Shivade, Sadashiv 2006 दर्याराज कान्होजी आंग्रे Deccan Gymkhana, Pune - 4: Utkarsh Publication p 93 
  17. ^ Shivade, Sadashiv 2006 दर्याराज कान्होजी आंग्रे Deccan Gymkhana, Pune -4: Utkarsh Publication pp 218, 298, 314, 316 & 317 
  18. ^ http://wwwthepiratesrealmcom/Kanhoji%20Angriahtml
  19. ^ a b Govt of, Maharashtra "British Period" Mumbai: The Gazetteers Dept Govt of Maharashtra Archived from the original on 2013-10-01 Retrieved 12 December 2012 
  20. ^ Sailing Directions: West Coast of India, Sector 2: Diu Head to Cape Rama, page 40
  21. ^ a b "INS Angre" Global securityorg Retrieved 13 December 2012 
  22. ^ "Angre port located in Ratnagiri inaugurated" The Times of India 24 April 2012 Retrieved 12 December 2012 


  • Colonel John, Biddulph 1907 The Pirates of Malibar and an Englishwoman in India Reprinted 2005 ed London: Smith, Elder & Co ISBN 9781846377280 Retrieved 13 December 2012 
  • Rajaram Narayan, Saletore 1978 Indian Pirates: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day Delhi: Concept Publishing Company Retrieved 13 December 2012 
  • Malgonkar, Manohar The Sea Hawk: Life and Battles of Kanhoji Angrey, Orient Paperbacks, c 1984
  • Risso, Patricia Cross-Cultural Perceptions of Piracy: Maritime Violence in the Western Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf Region during a Long Eighteenth Century, Journal of World History - Volume 12, Number 2, Fall 2001, University of Hawai'i Press
  • Ketkar, Dr DR Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre Maratha Armar, Mrunmayi Rugvedi Prakashan, 1997

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