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Significance of today (February 13th) & the town of Basrur, in Indian Naval history!

Basrur is a port town in Kundapur taluk of Udupi district in Karnataka. It finds mention in the works of various historical scholars and chroniclers as Barcelor, Barcalor, Basnur, Bares, Abu-Sarur and Barsellor.

Way back in 1665, during the reign of the Adil Shah, the Nayakas of Keladi in Basrur wrote to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to liberate their trade and markets from the clutches of the foreigners, primarily the Portugese. The Portugese rulers of Basrur exploited the region as they used it to move rice and pepper. Shivaji Maharaj, at that time was raising his naval fleet.

357 years ago today (Feb 13, 1665), shortly after establishing the fort of Sindhudurg, which was to serve as the base of his naval forces, Chhatrapati Shivaji took to the sea with his fleet and demonstrated the strength of his forces on the waters too. His fleet included 88 ships (85 small frigates, 3 ships) with 4,000 soldiers. They sailed to & freed the port town of Basrur from the Portugese & Dutch. It was the Chhatrapati’s FIRST ever naval expedition with a swadeshi navy flying for the first time the Bhagwa flag of the Marathas on Indian waters.

Shivaji Maharaj left from Sindhudurg on 8 February. He passed along the Goa & North Canara coasts, leaving Karwar, Honavar and Bhatlad behind and reached Kundapur in South Canara district of present Karnataka covering a distance of some 200 miles in four days. He landed in Basrur on 13 February and carried out the raid just before day break when the Portugese were unaware and were in their beds. Within a day, the battle was won.

The clash ended in freeing the fort of Basrur from the hands of foreign rulers. On 14 February he left town by road, taking control of Gangoli, Honnavar and Bhatkal and then headed to Gokarna to visit the Shiva temple from where he wrote the letter to the Nayaks informing them of his victory and asking them to take over the region for governance.

After the letter, Somashekhar, the son of Bhadrappa Nayak, who took the reins of the region, even paid Shivaji a large sum of money as a token of appreciation for freeing them from the clutches of the Portuguese traders.

Even today, the people of Basrur mark February 13th as Basruru Swatantrya Diwas!!! The town witnesses a procession in which students of various schools participate. The procession highlights ‘the arrival of Shivaji Maharaj by a boat’, traverses through the town and crosses all the key temples in town.

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