He was the eldest son of Shrimant Govind Hari Patwardhan.
Govind Hari had four sons, namely:
1) Shrimant Gopalrao Raosaheb
2) Shrimant Wamanrao Balasaheb
3) Shrimant Pandurangrao Tatyasaheb
4) Shrimant Gangadharrao Balasaheb.
Shrimant Gopalrao was born approximately in the year 1721-22. After Gopalrao ’s birth his father, in 1721 Shrimant Govind Hari received the Phadnisi of “the Kadam Bande Paga” near Shaniwada Wada and began working for the Peshwa, later he was granted the Sanad for the same in the year 1741 all with the help of Senapati Ghorpade.
As a boy he stayed at Bahirewadi he to receive training and education from Senapati Ghorpade of Ichalkaranji. Later Gopalrao spent much of his time in his father’s Paga, it was here that he learnt horse riding, sword fighting, spear throwing and other martial arts and eventually mastering them.
At age 15 Gopalrao would accompany his father to battle in order to gain firsthand experience and knowledge of war this was a common practice in the court of the Peshwa. In 1749 Gopalrao began captaining a battalion.
During the reign of Shrimant Nana Saheb Peshwa the Patwardhan forces always participated in the wars in Karnataka
1) Gendya che malachi ladhai in 1751 – (between Damaji Gaikwad and the Peshwas) Ramchandra Hari’s battalion also participated in this war with other Sardars like Raste’s and Purshotam Daji of Amba. Gopalrao, Purshotam Daji, Shrimant Ramchandra Hari participated in this war and won the war by arresting Damaji Gaikwad.
2) After the treaty with Savnoor in 1754, Nana Saheb Peshwa sent Gopalrao to Sonde Sanstan, and later on sent Gopalrao along with Raste’s to Kalburga.
3) Battle of Udgir in 1760 with Nizam -In this battle the Patwardhan battalions played a key role as mentioned by Appasaheb Sanglikar in his biography. During the Battle with Nizam, a treaty was signed but Nizam refused to hand over the fort of Daulatabad to the Marathas. Therefore, Shrimant Gopalrao captured the fort with great effort. In this treaty an area with revenue worth Rs 6200000 was given to Peshwas.
Shrimant Gopalrao had borrowed money from the money lenders in order to arrange for 8000 fighters in his battalion. Therefore, Peshwas gave Kundgol, Behatti, Shahapur, Karkambe and Miraj Fort.
4) Ghod nadi and Alegaon war-
The third battle of Panipat had just ended and the Maratha forces were still licking their wounds. The loss of Vishwasrao Peshwa (elder brother to Madhavrao) and Sadashivrao Bhau (nephew of Bajirao I) was still fresh in the minds of the Sardars.
Shrimant Madhavrao the true Peshwa wanted to bring back glory to the Maratha empire to this extent campaigned extensively in Karnataka quite successfully.
Unfortunately Ragunathrao (Raghoba) the uncle of Madhavrao and Sakaramrao Bokil were more interested in seizing power for themselves at the cost of dividing the vas t empire carved out by the tireless effort of Balaji Vishwanath, Bajirao I, and Nana Saheb I. Gopalrao despised these power hunger gluttons whose interests were self-glorification and not nation building.
Shrimant Madhavrao Peshwa and his mother Gopikabai had full faith in Gopalrao and the Patwardhans like Nilkanthrao, Wamanrao, Parshuram Bhau, Kohenorrao, Moroba Aba, and Dhondoba Dada who were ready with their armies to lay down their lives for Shrimant Madhavrao.
Ragunathrao with the support of the Moghul looted the holy place of Paithan and wanted to attack Shrimant Madhavrao’s army. The two armies finally met at Ghod Nadi on the 7th November 1762
In this battle Nilkhantrao was killed by a bullet, and Narayanrao and Bhaskarpant were injured.
The young Peshwa all of 18 decided it was best to surrender to his uncle and not cause any damage to his army. Gopalrao left for Miraj to mourn for his brother.
5) Attack on Miraj Fort by Raghoba Dada –
Shrimant Ragunathrao (Raghoba) had seen the loyalty of the Patwardhans towards Shrimant Madhavrao and therefore wanted to finish the Patwardhans in order to take control of the Maratha Empire.
Shrimant Ragunathrao had put Shrimant Madhavrao under house arrest and then sent a letter to Govind Hari stating that he should hand over the fort of Miraj, its elephants, horses and treasury at Miraj to a person nominated by him.
At this time Gopalrao and his army were camped at Kudchi, Aba Purandare under the instructions of Shrimant Ragunathrao was ordered to loot him. He did so very successfully.
Therefore, Narayanrao with a section of the army went to the Nizam of Hyderabad, and Parshuram Bhau and Wamanrao went to Yadwad. Gopalrao was instructed by Shrimant Madhavrao to keep his army and his family safe so he took his army to the Nizam and sent his family to Mangalveda.
After Shrimant Madhavrao he called off the siege at Miraj and gave Mangalveda and a few other villages as a gift to the Patwardhans for staying loyal to him.
6) Rakshas Bhuvan war 1763-
Bhavanrao Prathinidhi, Gamagi Yamaji, Piraji Naik Nimbalkar, Vitthal Shivdeo Vinchurkar, Gopalrao and a few others went to meet the Nizam; The Nizam felt that he could conquer more territories with the help of the sardars who had come from the Peshwa army.
But Shrimant Madhavrao was trying to sort out the issues with all the sardars who had gone to Nizam, Shrimant Madhavrao wanted his sardars to come back. These Sardars told the Nizam that they would go back and bring their armies to join him.
On the banks of Godavari Nizam with his army reached Rakshasbhuvan. Nizam army had people like Vitthal Sunder, Raje Vinayak Das, Raje Gopalsingh, Nawab Ismil Singh, Ilichpurkar, Maloji Ghorpade. Murad Khan, Joytaji Ghadge and many other people were present. Raghoba Dada was also present in the war with Noam’s army.
Yamuna River was flooded and escaped to Aurangabad. Madhavrao showed his skill in conducting the warfare.
Patwardhans got their Sanad in 1763 and Saranjam of Rs 24 lacs and Miraj Fort from Madhavrao Peshwa.
The other villages which they got were: -Puntambe, Aste, Tasgaon, Shahapur, Bagewadi Sampagaon, Jamkhandi, Yadwad, Navalgund, Bankapur, Laxmeshwar and other villages were given to Patwardhans.
Attack on Hider – His last seven years were spent on Battles with Haider.
In 1760 Gopalrao attacked Seringapatam. Mysore’s Hyder had given his army under the charge of Makhadum alli and had camped on the Banks of Kaveri River. It was raining and at this moment. Khanderao attacked with his artillery on the army, but unfortunately Gopalrao was late and therefore attack on Hiders army was delayed. Makhadum alli pretended that he wanted to negotiate with the Maratha army, and under this pretext he ran away to Bangalore.
After reaching Bangalore, Haider recruited new army and Makhadum alli was asked to wait near Kadapnath Ghat. But Gopalrao surrounded him with the army and he had no way to escape.
After hearing about the state of the affairs of his army he sent his one of the Generals Mir Faizulla along with four thousand army men, but before reaching the destination Gopalrao attacked his army and looted all the belongings.
During this time Gopalrao heard about the defeat in Panipat and therefore agreed to accept twelve Mahals and Rs 300000 by way of Khandani and conclude the attack.
During Gopalrao’s last attack on Haider, Gopalrao came back to Miraj on January 1771 and died in Miraj.
Gopalrao’s first wife’s name is not known but he remarried again and her name was Saraswathi Bai. Gopalrao had one daughter from his first wife and her name was Kusha Akka. In Taluka Wai there is a fort known as Pandav Gad, and there is a small village known as Pandavwadi. Raghunathrao Baburao Kolatkar was married to Kusha Akka.
After the death of Gopalrao, Wamanrao took the charge. He was suffering from asthma but he took charge of his army but unfortunately died in Varangaon.
One of the greatest warriors like Parshuram Bhau Gopalrao was one of the SADETIN RAO.
The SADETIN RAOS according to history were Bhavanrao Prathinidhi, Murarrao Ghorpade, Gopalrao and half was Madhavrao Peshwa.
There is a story about a person who was a money lender entered the Pune area and informed the Kotwal that his name was Gopalrao. In those days the method was to inform the Peshwas about all the strangers entering Pune Border.
Accordingly, information was passed on to Madhavrao 1st that one Gopalrao has come to Pune.
Madhavrao was surprised to see that Gopalrao Patwardhan did not come to Shaniwar Wada to meet him. He called the Kotwal and asked him to bring before him Gopalrao.
Gopalrao was brought before Madhavrao and to his astonishment he found that this was a different person. He asked him as to whom he was, and it was found that his name was Gopal but as he was a rich person, he called himself as Gopalrao. His actual name was Gopal Naik Tambekar. He was arrested and fined and Madhavrao told him that there is only one Gopalrao Patwardhan of Miraj and nobody can use RAO in front of his name.
This is how Gopalrao was respected by all the people during Peshwas regime. Gopalrao had commissioned a Durbar Hall in Miraj, but he could not see the Diwankhana which he had commissioned.
This Diwankhana was given to Bombay Government when the Miraj state merged with Indian union.
This property was not sold but the condition was that the property should be maintained. Unfortunately, the property is occupied by Criminal court and is in a depilated state.