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Unveiling the Legacy of Shivaji Maharaj’s ‘Wagh Nakh’ at Central Museum

Shivaji Maharaj, the legendary Maratha warrior king, continues to mesmerize the world even centuries after his reign. Among the treasures of his era, one artifact stands out — the formidable ‘Wagh Nakh’. This knuckle-duster adorned with metallic nails, reminiscent of tiger claws, holds a significant place in history. And now, it’s set to captivate the public eye at the Central Museum, Nagpur.

A Glimpse into History

Dating back to the 17th century, the ‘Wagh Nakh’ symbolizes the valor and indomitable spirit of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It was wielded by the king himself during the historic encounter with Afzal Khan, the ruthless General of the Bijapur Adilshahi empire, in 1659. This lethal weapon served as a tool of liberation, enabling Shivaji Maharaj to defend his people against tyranny.

A Journey from Across the Seas

In a remarkable initiative, Maharashtra Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar initiated the retrieval of the ‘Wagh Nakh’ from the prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed with Dr Tristram Hunt, the Director of the museum, Maharashtra secured the opportunity to showcase this invaluable relic on home soil for three years. The tireless efforts of the Maharashtra Government, in collaboration with British authorities, culminated in the return of this historic artifact.

The Story of Retrieval

The journey to reclaim the ‘Wagh Nakh’ was laden with diplomatic intricacies and historical significance. Correspondence between Maharashtra officials and representatives of the Victoria & Albert Museum marked the beginning of this endeavor. Notably, during a pivotal meeting with Imogen Stone and Alan Gammell, key figures in British-Indian relations, the groundwork for repatriation was laid. The tiger claw weapon, once in the possession of James Grant Duff, eventually found its way back to its roots, courtesy of a descendant’s benevolence.

An Iconic Display

Mayuresh Khadke, the Curator of the Central Museum, expressed enthusiasm about the forthcoming exhibition. He confirmed Nagpur’s inclusion in the list of venues where the ‘Wagh Nakh’ will be showcased, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich heritage of Maharashtra. Moreover, the State Government’s endeavor to retrieve ‘Jagdamba,’ the ceremonial sword of Shivaji Maharaj, underscores their commitment to preserving and promoting cultural legacy.

As the ‘Wagh Nakh’ prepares to grace the halls of the Central Museum, it serves as a poignant reminder of Shivaji Maharaj’s enduring legacy. This historic artifact not only embodies the valor of the Maratha warrior but also signifies the resilience of a people in the face of oppression. Through concerted efforts, Maharashtra celebrates its heritage and invites the world to embark on a journey through time.

1. What is the significance of the ‘Wagh Nakh’?

The ‘Wagh Nakh’ symbolizes the valor and martial prowess of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, particularly during his encounter with Afzal Khan.

2. How long will the ‘Wagh Nakh’ be displayed at the Central Museum?

The artifact will be on display for a period of three years, allowing ample opportunity for visitors to appreciate its historical significance.

3. Who initiated the retrieval of the ‘Wagh Nakh’ from the Victoria & Albert Museum?

Maharashtra Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar played a pivotal role in securing the return of this iconic artifact.

4. Are there any other artifacts associated with Shivaji Maharaj being brought back to Maharashtra?

Efforts are underway to retrieve ‘Jagdamba,’ the ceremonial sword of Shivaji Maharaj, from the United Kingdom, showcasing the State Government’s commitment to preserving cultural heritage.

5. How can visitors learn more about Shivaji Maharaj’s legacy?

In addition to the ‘Wagh Nakh’ exhibition, visitors can explore various museums across Maharashtra, including those in Satara, Kolhapur, and Mumbai, to delve deeper into the life and times of the Maratha warrior king.

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