(Last Updated on : 12-04-2014)
Afzal Khan was an army general from Bijapur
. An able military commander, he defended the Sultanate of Bijapur admirably and was instrumental in many of the victories in the Carnatic. He is most well known for his encounter with Shivaji in Pratapgad fort
in 1659 where he was killed by Shivaji with a baghnakh of a tiger's claw. Afzal Khan was a man of immense physical strength. A nobleman of Afghan descent, he was a giant of a man. The brave and courageous Afzal Khan towered over everyone including the short Maratha ruler Shivaji whose head reached only the chest of Afzal Khan.
Afzal Khan was quite a religious man. He sought the blessings of the Pir before setting out on every military campaign. Khan visited the Pir before setting out against Shivaji, and the Pir prophesied that it would be his last campaign. Afzal Khan is in fact best remembered for this famous campaign against Shivaji. When the might of Shivaji was at its highest and he was proving to be a major threat to the Bijapur Sultanate, it was then that Afzal Khan offered to set out on a campaign against Shivaji and bring him back to Bijapur bound in chains. He set forth on this mission amongst great pomp and honour. Through a great diplomatic tact, Shivaji made it appear to the Khan that he was willing to accept the rule of the Bijapur Sultanate and was greatly sorry for not having done so earlier. Subsequently a meeting was arranged where the two leaders met face to face for the first and last time. The meeting was supposed to be one of peace; however that was not to happen. What exactly happened is still rather unclear and is shrouded in mystery. But the widely held belief is that the Khan tried to attack Shivaji by holding him in a vice-like grip. Shivaji, who was prepared for this moment, drew out a baghnakh and tore apart Afzal Khan. Thus was the end of the Bijapur general. However, Shivaji did give Afzal Khan a proper burial with full military honours.
Afzal Khan's mausoleum still exists today, where an annual 'Urs' is held.
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