16?? - June 4, 1729
Shivaji raje , Khanhoji angre and other,
verify our navy
Place of birth
Place of death
Years of service
1698 - 1729
Kanhoji Angre or Conajee Angria or
Sarkhel Angre :
to June 4, 1729) was the first notable chief of the
Maratha Navy in 18th century India. He fought successfully all his life against
the British, Dutch and Portuguese naval interests in the Indian Ocean during the
eighteenth century, and hence was alleged by them to be a pirate. Similar work
was carried out against the colonial powers by the Kunjali Marakkars in the
sixteenth century. Despite the attempts of the British and Portuguese to subdue
Angre, he remained undefeated until his death.
Born in the town of Alibag, little is known about his early life except that he
was involved in daring exploits at sea and that his father was Tanoji Angre, a
commander under Maratha Chhatrapati (King) Shivaji. He spent much of his
childhood in the fort at Suvarnadurg Fort, of which he would later become
He was originally appointed as Darya-Saranga by the chief of Satara in 1698 .
Under that authority, he was master of the Western coast of India from Bombay
(now Mumbai) to Vingoria (now Vengurla) in present day state of Maharashtra,
except for the property of the Muslim Siddis of Janjira who were affiliated with
the powerful Mughal empire.
Kanhoji initially started by attacking merchant ships of the British East India
Company and slowly gained notoriety and power. When Maratha Chattrapati Shahu
ascended the leadership of the Maratha kingdom, 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 who
claimed the Maratha throne, Tarabai. Under the agreement, Angre became head of
the Maratha navy.
Later, he continued his harassment of all vessels. He also played a role in the
Maratha conflicts against Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who was camped in the Deccan.
kanhoji never broke away from the marthas, He just changed his king from
Kolhapur to Satra for the wellbeing of maratha emperor.
In 1698, Angre located his first base at the Maratha fort of Vijaydurg ('Victory
Fort') (formerly Gheriah) located about 425km from Mumbai. The fort which was
originally built by Maratha ruler, Shivaji is located on the coast, and has an
entrance hollowed out in it to accommodate entry of a vessel from the sea.
Angre created a base on the Khanderi and Underi islands off the coast of Mumbai,
and attempted to levy a tax on every merchant vessel entering the harbour.
Angre established a township called Alibag towards the end of the seventeenth
century. 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.
Angre even established a base in the Andaman Islands, and is credited with
attaching those islands to India.
With official Maratha backing Kanhoji intensified the attacks on colonial naval
powers like England and Portugal on the western coast of India. On November 4,
1712, his navy even succeeded in capturing the armed yacht Algerine of the
British President of Bombay, Mr William Aislabie, killing the chief of their
Karwar factory, Mr. Thomas Chown, and making his wife a prisoner. The yacht and
the lady were released on 13 February 1713 for a ransom of 30,000 Rupees. He
also signed a treaty with the President Aislabie to stop harassing the Company's
fleet. Mr. Aislabie departed for 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. But instead in 1718 Angre
captured three ships belonging to the British leaving them to claim that Kanhoji
Angre was a pirate. Angre blockaded the port of Bombay, and extracted a ransom
of 8,750 pounds from the East India Company.
The English 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 English squadron soon retired to
On 29 November 1721 a joint attempt by the Portuguese (Viceroy Francisco Jose de
Sampaio e Castro) and the English (General Robert Cowan) to humble Kanhoji also
failed miserably. This fleet consisted of 6,000 soldiers in no less than four
Man of war ships led by Commander Thomas Matthews. Aided by Maratha warriors
Mendhaji Bhatkar and Mainak Bhandari in his navy, he continued to harass and
plunder the European ships. Commander Matthews returned to England, but was
accused and convicted of trading with the pirates in December 1723. Also, during
1723, Governor Boone returned to England. After Boone's departure for a few
years for some reason relative calm prevailed among the English and Angre, until
1702 - Seizes small vessel in Cochin with six Englishmen
1706 - Attacks and defeats the Siddhi of Janjira
1710 - Captures the Kennery (now Khanderi) islands near Bombay after fighting
the English vessel, Godolphin for two days
1712 - Captured the yacht of the British President of Bombay, Mr. Aislabie,
releasing it only after obtaining a hefty ransom of Rs. 30,000
1713 - Ten forts ceded to Angre by English
1717 - English ships bombard Kennery island and Angre signs treaty with Company
paying Rs. 60,000
1718 - Blockaded Bombay port and extracted ransom
1720 - English attack Vijaydurg (Gheriah), unsuccessfully
1721 - English and Portuguese jointly attack Alibagh, but are defeated
1723 - Angre attacks two English vessels, Eagle and Hunter
By the time of his death on 4 June 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.
After Kanhoji, his son Sekhoji continued Maratha exploits at sea till his death
in 1733. After Sekhoji's death, the Angre might was split between two brothers,
Sambhaji and Manaji, because of divisions in the family. With the Marathas
neglecting the navy the British soon found it easier to defeat the remnants of
the kingdom. The Angre reign over the Western coast ended with the capture of
Tulaji in a joint English/ Peshwa attack on the fort of Gheriah (now Vijaydurg)
in February 1756.
Kanhoji Angre stands alone in the Indian list of early freedom fighters as the
one person who stood undefeated and inflicted many casualties on colonial
powers. However, the English and other shipping powers who were heckled by Angre
claimed that he was a privateer, forgetting that he was the appointed admiral of
the Maratha Navy.
Kanhoji is also credited with the foresight that a Blue Water Navy's role is to
keep the enemy engaged away from the shores of the land. At one time he was so
successful that he even employed certain Europeans in his fleet, including
making one Dutchman his Commodore. At the height of power, Kanhoji's commanded
hundreds of warships and the British Navy could do little to combat the Maratha
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.
Angre's tomb is situated at the city of Alibag, Maharashtra.