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Vishwas Rao
Born 1741-03-02
Died 1761-01-14
Place of birth Supe, Indapur, Pune, MH, India
Place of death Panipat, Hariyana, India
Allegiance Maratha Empire
Battles/wars Third Battle of Panipat
Relations Nanasaheb Peshwa (father)
Sadashivrao Bhau

Vishwas Rao (March 2, 1742 – January 14, 1761) was the eldest son of the Nanasaheb Peshwa Peshwa of Pune (Poona) (the prime minister and de-facto ruler/administrator) of the Maratha Empire and also was the heir to the title of Peshwa of Maratha Empire. He was killed during the period of the most intense fighting (Approx. between 01pm and 02:30pm) at Third Battle of Panipat, fighting on the front lines. It is generally accepted that the third battle of Panipat, which hung in balance till his death, moved decisively in favour of the Afghans and ended up in victory of Durrani Empire.

Although Vishwas Rao was first exposed to actual warfare at Sindkheda near Hyderabad, against Nizam in 1756, he was the nominal Commander of Maratha Forces and the Peshwa's representative during Third Battle of Panipat under guidance of his uncle Sadashivrao Bhau.

At the time of the battle, the Maratha Empire was in control of about 2/3rd of present India and some parts of Pakistan. However, some historical documents/opinions suggest that the Marathas were considering abolishing the throne of Mughal Empire at Delhi of which Marathas were Protectorate and replacing Vishwas Rao as Emperor and launch offensives to remove East India Company's power from Bengal, and liberate Hindu holy shrines situated in the regions under controls of Islamic ruler, most prominently the one at Ayodhya and Kashi (Varanasi).

Early life

Maratha Confederacy at its zenith in 1760 (blue area) stretching from the Deccan into present Pakistan. The discussed abolishing the Mughal Empire and placing Vishwasrao on the Mughal imperial throne in Delhi.

Vishwasrao was born as the eldest son of Nanasaheb Peshwa at Supe near Pune (Supe was the Jagir of Shahaji near Pune. He was trained in Administrative matters and was exposed to Military training early in his life. Viswasrao had inherited the looks of his grandfather Bajirao and had even exceeded his charm. G. S. Sardesai writes that none was there with more handsome-looks in Peshwa lineage than this Viswas Rao. Raghunath Yadav author of one of the Panipat Bakhar had stated “पुरुषांत देखणा विस्वासराव व बाईकान्त देखणी मस्तानी” [1]


Vishwasrao was married to Radhikabai, daughter of Sardar Gupte who was tipnis (secretary) at his grandfather, Baji Rao I, and later at his uncle, Raghunathrao. Chatrapati Shahu, to broaden the base of his Peshwa administration, fixed Radhikabai’s marriage to Vishwasrao on Padwa day of 1749 as one of the preconditions for making the Peshwa post hereditary. Chatrapati Shahu’s confidante Parvatibai had likewise become the wife of Sadashivrao Bhau. Gopikabai had reservations about this match, as Radhikabai was not from the Chitpavan community.

Ahmad Shah Durrani and his coalition decisively defeat the Maratha Confederacy, during the Third Battle of Panipat and restored the Mughal Empire to Shah Alam II.[2]


He was killed at the Third Battle of Panipat when a stray cannon shell hit his head. He died during the battle and was later cremated.


  1. Abhas Verma, "Third Battle of Panipat", Bhartiya Kala Prakashan, ISBN13- 9788180903397
  2. S. M. Ikram (1964). "XIX. A Century of Political Decline: 1707–1803". In Ainslie T. Embree. Muslim Civilization in India. New York: Columbia University Press. Retrieved 5 November 2011.

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