Construction of Maratha Ditch
Maratha Ditch was constructed in 1742. It was acted as a protection against possible attacks by prowling Bargis, as the Marathas were known locally. The Bargis, however, never came to the city. Later, the ditch proved to be useless when the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah came and ransacked the British settlement in 1756. The ditch was never completely built. It was mostly filled up in 1799 to build the Circular Road and the balance was filled up in 1892–1893. It earned Kolkatans the sobriquet "Ditchers".
Chances of Maratha Invasion in Kalikata
From 1741 to 1751, the spectre of Maratha invasion and large scale plundering of the countryside dominated the western part of Bengal consisting of the modern Hooghly Region and some parts of modern Jharkhand. The invasions took place almost as an annual event. Bargi is corruption of a Marathi word which meant horsemen who were provided with horses and arms by the Maratha Empire in contrast to the siladars, who had their own horses and arms.
Independent Rule in Bengal
Alivardi Khan became Nawab of Bengal in April 1740, after defeating and killing Sarfraz Khan. His rule was challenged by Sarfraj Khan’s brother-in-law Rustam Jung, who was Naib Nazim of Odisha. Alivardi Khan defeated him in a battle at Falwaei, near Balasore, placed his own nephew as Naib Nazim of Orissa and left for his capital, Murshidabad, now Murshidabad District of West Bengal. Rustam Jung sought the assistance of the Maratha ruler of Nagpur, Raghoji I Bhonsle. He regained control of Odisha with the assistance of Marathas, who in the process discovered how easy it was to plunder the rich countryside in West Bengal. Alivardi returned to Odisha and again defeated Rustam Jung, but before he returned to Murshidabad, a Maratha cavalry under Bhaskar Padit was sent to Bengal by Bhonsle. They entered through Panchet and started looting the countryside. For about ten years, the Bargis raided and plundered Bengal every year. The invasions of Marathas came to an end in May 1751 after the Nawab and the Marathas reached an agreement, including the secession of Odisha. When the Bargis started plundering the Bengal countryside, the Nawab was still powerful, and the British were in the process of developing their trading outpost at Kolkata. It was fear of the Maratha attack that made them dig the Maratha Ditch, cutting across the only pathway, north of Kolkata, through which invasions by land were possible.
Geography of Maratha Ditch
The original plan of Maratha Ditch was extended for seven miles but in six months three miles of it was finished. When it was found that the Bargis did not approach Kolkata, further excavation stopped. It was from north-east at Halsibagan, to enclose the garden houses of Gobindram Mitter and Umichand, it followed the later day Circular Road from Perin’s Point at the north-west extremity of Sutanuti, where the Chitpur Creek met the river, down to a spot near the present Entally corner. It was planned to excavate it to the south of Gobindapur, but that was stalled.
History of Kolkata
West Bengal, Indian State
Administration of Mughal Dynasty
History of Maratha Empire
Contribution of Marathas in Indian Army
Alivardi Khan, Nawab of Bengal
Nawabs Of Bengal
Mir Jafar, Nawab of Bengal
Sarfaraz Khan, Nawab Of Bengal
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