Why Sainik Takli finds itself neglected, despite producing many martyrs

Uday Mahurkar
Uday MahurkarNov 16, 2018 | 10:10

Why Sainik Takli finds itself neglected, despite producing many martyrs

When I visited Kolhapur recently, Bhavani Singh Ghorpade Dattwadkar, a patron of the tradition of bravery, presented to me a Marathi book, The Military Tradition of Village Sainik Takli. The book is  based on a village, Sainik Takli, in Shirol taluka of Kolhapur district on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border, which has produced over 1,000 soldiers for the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy, including 18 martyrs, since World War I.


Six soldiers from the village were martyred in World War I and another five in World War II.

Thereafter, except the 1948 Kashmir operation, one soldier from Takli laid down his life in every major war that India fought — 1962, 1965, 1971, the Indian Peace Keeping Force operation in Sri Lanka and the Kargil operation.

Two soldiers from the village, who were part of the Azad Hind Fauj of Subhash Chandra Bose, were martyred. One of them, Gyandev Raosaheb Jadhav, was also his bodyguard at one point, according to the villagers.

The book, written by local poet and chronicler Manohar Mahadev Bhonsale, who has had 16 members in the defence services from his own extended family, describes the amazing military tradition of the village. Every man in Takli, before his marriage, has to take the following vow in the local Hanuman Mandir: “I will not hesitate to sacrifice my life for God, nation and dharma (duty). I can forget my wife but never my dagger.”

This tradition is about 350 years old, dating back to the times of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Living up to the tradition, over 50 soldiers from the village fought in World War II and four of them got middle-level gallantry awards or minor recognition, says Bhonsale.


Traditions of Takli village date back to the times of Chhatrapati Shivaji. (Source: Twitter)

Of Aurangzeb, Third Battle of Panipat and military pride

There is a 900-year-old Gopeshwar temple in a village neighbouring Takli, called Khidrapur, which was attacked by the iconoclastic Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s armies in the 17th century and even today, it bears marks of medieval vandalism. Bhonsale surmises that the military tradition of Takli took firm roots after the people of Takli and Khidrapur fought against the Mughal army, trying to ward off that attack.

Significantly, the highest rank a soldier has reached so far from the village is Brigadier. And the soldiers from Takli are spread across various Indian army regiments like the Maratha Light Infantry, Mahar Regiment and Electronics and Mechanical Engineers Corps.

Takli’s saga of bravery found mention in the speech made by the Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat when he visited Kolhapur recently. Interestingly, it was called just Takli till 1968 — the then-Army Chief PP Kumaramangalam visited the village and named it 'Sainik Takli' to commemorate its military tradition.

Before 1968, the village was also called Pahilwan (wrestler) Ki Takli because the village also had ages-old traditions of producing very good wrestlers who used to go as far as to Kolhapur, over 40 kms away, to participate in wrestling competitions. The princely state Kolhapur had a great wrestling tradition. In government records, however, the village is still called Takli and not Sainik Takli.


Some years ago, the military families of the village got together and formed Takli’s Sainik Samaj Kalyan Mandal, a welfare body for servicemen, and built an Amar Jawan Smarak (memorial) as a tribute to the soldiers who had sacrificed their lives for the nation in various wars.

It’s an impressive monument in a small village — but poor village amenities don’t live up to its level.

As much as 90 per cent of the village population comprises 96 Kuli Maratha Kshatriyas, the same caste as Chhatrapati Shivaji. The caste is also called Maratha Rajputs by some. Among the Marathas, a majority belong to the Jadhav Patil clan which reportedly descended from the Sindkhed Jadhav family of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s mother, the revered Jijabai. It is the same clan which is known by different names such as Bhati, Jadon or Jadeja in north India and Gujarat among the Rajputs. 

But Takli has other known Maratha surnames also like Gaekwad, Kadam, Jagdale, Salunke (called Solanki in Rajputs), Vasankar and Kharade. An ancestor of the Kharade family had fought in the famous Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 as a member of the Maratha army led by General Sadashivrao Bhau against Afghan invader Ahmed Shah Abdali. Around 50,000 Maratha soldiers were killed in the Third Battle of Panipat, which is the highest number in any battle in the medieval period.

Interestingly, the tradition of bravery in the village extends to non-Marathas, including Scheduled Castes, who comprise just three per cent of Takli’s population. Of the 18 soldiers martyred from the village so far, 14 were Marathas, mostly Jadhavs, while two were Scheduled Castes and the rest OBC.

One Muslim soldier too is in the army from Takli, which has just two Muslim families. At the moment, there are over 350 soldiers in the defence services from Takli, mostly infantry divisions of the Army. Bhonsle has penned a song of pride for the village, which brings its military tradition alive.

Takli has never shied away from making the supreme sacrifice for India. (Source: Uday Mahurkar)

Bhonsale claims that the famous war cry of the Maratha Light Infantry ‘Chattrapati Shivaji Ki Jai’ is because of a famous soldier of Takli, named Subhedar Major Sakharam Dattu Patil, who demanded it as a prize from the then-British rulers for the bravery he and some other soldiers from the village had shown in a famous battle fought in Italy in World War II, from May 11 to 13.

Backward village, despite a great tradition

Sadly, while Takli is up on military tradition, it is down on village amenities.

The village doesn’t even have a bank which forces retired servicemen to go to a town called Kuruntwad, 13 kms away, just to get their pension money.

Young boys wanting to join the army also have to go Kuruntwad, looking for a gymnasium or exercise on the village’s outskirts without any equipment as gym equipment in the village is enough for only a few at a time.

Drinking water supply in Takli isn’t proper and roads are potholed. The last the village roads were properly surfaced was over a decade ago. The primary health centre in the village with a population of 5,600 is also ill-equipped. The government funds coming to the village are just not enough for the panchayat to meet its developmental requirement.

Harshada Patil, Takli’s sarpanch, who is married into the family of a 1971 war martyr, says: “The government needs to recognise our contribution to the nation by giving us adequate amenities.” Her martyred father-in-law’s mother, Laxmi Bai, was honoured by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as ‘Veer Mata’ in Delhi after the 1971 war.

BS Patil, retired Honorary Lieutenant, president of the Sainik Samaj Kalyan Mandal, says the mandal is persevering to preserve the military tradition of Takli to inspire future generations and trying to develop the area as a tourist spot by promoting the ancient and beautiful Gopeshwar temple in nearby Khidrapur village.

The idea is that those visiting Gopeshwar will visit Takli too, inspired by its military tradition. “But our problem is funds. We welcome private donations for the purpose of developing the village,” he says.

Bhavani Singh Ghorpade, who is a descendant of the family of the famous Maratha warrior Santaji Ghorpade, who virtually terrorised Mughal emperor Aurangzeb with his military exploits, is living up to his family’s military tradition by helping the ill-equipped but brave village in significant ways by organising contributions from local district level funds as well as from corporate social responsibility funds of private companies.

 "If government bodies are short on for funds, then corporate houses can come forward for the development of a village with such a great tradition," Ghorpade says.

“The entire village is indebted to Bhavani Singh Ghorpade Sarkar for his selfless service. He is a true royal,” BS Patil says.

Santaji’s exploits too have played a role in encouraging the military traditions of Takli. On one occasion, Santaji came close to capturing Aurangzeb alive along with another great warrior, Dhanaji Jadhav. On another occasion in 1691, Santaji would have succeeded in killing the emperor by bringing down his tent at Koregoan near Pune. But providence saved Aurangzeb.

This village, with a rich history of such bravery, now awaits positive change.

Last updated: November 16, 2018 | 11:23
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