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Kolhapur is mentioned in the Devi Gita, the final and key chapter of the Devi-Bhagavata Purana, a special text of Shaktism. Kolhapur is noted as a place of Kollamma worship. In the text, Devi says,

"O King of Mountains! Still I am now telling something out of My affection to My Bhaktas. Hear. There is a great place of pilgrimage named Kollapura in the southern country. Here the Devi Laksmi always dwells."[3]

Medieval era

The Shilahara family at Kolhapur was the latest of the three and was founded about the time of the downfall of the Rashtrakuta Empire. They ruled over southern Maharashtra; the modern districts of Satara, Kolhapur and Belgaon. Their family deity was the goddess Mahalakshmi, whose blessing they claimed to have secured in their copperplate grants (Mahalakshmi-labdha-vara-prasada). Like their relatives of the northern branch of Konkan, the Shilaharas of Kolhapur claimed to be of the lineage of the Vidyadhara Jimutavahana. They carried the banner of golden Garuda. One of the many titles used by the Shilaharas was Tagarapuravaradhisvara, supreme sovereign ruler of Tagara.[3]

The first capital of the Shilaharas was probably at Karad during the reign of Jatiga-II as known from their copper plate grant of Miraj and 'Vikramankadevacharita' of Bilhana.[4] Hence sometimes they are referred as 'Shilaharas of Karad'. Later on although the capital was shifted to Kolhapur, some of their grants mention Valavada, and the hill fort of Pranalaka or Padmanala, (Panhala) as the places of royal residence. Even though the capital was shifted to Kolhapur, Karhad retained its significance during the Shilahara period. This branch rose to power the latter part of the Rashtrakuta rule and so, unlike the kings of the other two branches, those of this branch do not mention the genealogy of the Rashtrakutas even in their early grants. Later on they acknowledged the suzerainty of the later Chalukya for some time. They had used Kannada as the official language as can seen from their inscriptions. This branch continued to hold the Southern Maharashtra from circa 940 to 1220.

From 940 to 1212 CE, Kolhapur was the centre of power of the Shilahara dynasty.[4] An inscription at Teradal states that the king Gonka (1020 - 1050 CE) was bitten by a snake then healed by a Jain monk. Gonka then built a temple to Lord Neminath, the twenty-second Jain tirthankara (enlightened being). Jain temples in and around Kolhapur from this era are called Gonka-Jinalya, after the king.

Around 1055 CE, during the reign of Bhoja I, (Shilahara dynasty), a dynamic Acharya (spiritual guide) named Maghanandi (Kolapuriya), founded a religious institute at the Rupanarayana Jain temple (basadi). Maghanandi is also known as Siddhanta-chakravarti, that is, the great master of the scriptures. Kings and nobles of the Shilahara dynasty such as Gandaraditya I who succeeded Bhoja I, were disciples of Maghanandi.

Kolhapur was the site of intense confrontation between rulers of the Western Chalukya Empire and the rulers of the Chola empire, Rajadhiraja Chola and his younger brother Rajendra Chola II. In 1052 CE, following the Battle of Koppam, the victor, Rajendra Chola II, marched on to Kolhapur and there he erected a jayastambha (victory pillar).[5]

Between 1109 and 1178 CE, the Kopeshwar temple to Lord Shiva was built by the Shilahara kings, Gandaraditya Chola, Vijayaditya and Bhoja II in Kolhapur.[citation needed]

Kolhapur State

Main article: Kolhapur State

The state of Kolhapur was established by Tarabai in 1707 because of the succession dispute over the Maratha kingship. The state was annexed by the British in the 19th century. After India's independence in 1947, the Maharaja of Kolhapur acceded to the Dominion of India on 14 August 1947 and merged with Bombay State on 1 March 1949. Kolhapur is sometimes found to be spelled as Colapore[6]

Geography

The Panchganga river at Kolhapur

Kolhapur is an inland city located in south-west Maharashtra state, 228 km south of Pune, 615 km north-west of Bengaluru and 530 km west of Hyderabad. Within Maharashtra, Kolhapur's nearest cities and towns are Ichalkaranji (27 km), Kagal (21 km), Sangli (49 km), Satara (115 km), and Miraj (50 km),Gadhinglaj(90 km). Kolhapur has an elevation of 569 metres (1867 ft). It lies in the Sahayadri mountains in the Western Ghats.[7] Chandgad is the coolest place in the Kolhapur district (citation needed). Tambraparni river dam is the spectaculus place near Umgaon village.

Climate

Kolhapur's climate is a blend of coastal and inland elements common to Maharashtra. The temperature has a relatively narrow range between 10 °C to 35 °C. Summer in Kolhapur is comparatively cooler, but much more humid, than neighbouring inland cities. Maximum temperatures rarely exceed 38 °C and typically range between 33 and 35 °C. Lows during this season are around 24 °C to 26 °C.

The city receives abundant rainfall from June to September due to its proximity to the Western Ghats. The heavy rains often lead to severe flooding during these months. 2005 and 2006 were years when floods occurred. Temperatures are low in the rainy season and range between 19 °C and 30 °C.

Kolhapur experiences winter from November to February. The winter temperatures are warmer than other cities in Maharashtra such as Pune and Nashik. Lows range from 9 °C to 16 °C while highs are in the range of 26 °C to 32 °C due to its high elevation and being adjacent to the Western Ghats. Humidity is low in this season making the weather much more pleasant.