Kolhapur is one of the oldest civilizations of the country. Kolhapur's cultural history is dated back to 17th Century. Situated at the banks of River Panchganga, Kolhapur is called as DAKSHIN KASHI (Kashi is a holy city in Northen India and Dakhin means South) for its spiritual history.
India’s pre independence history is in fact, history of kings and their kingdoms. Kolhapur is not different from the others, it has also seen and gone under the various regimes and since the emergence of the Marathas, the place was being ruled by the Bhonsle dynasty. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj was not among the male ancestor of this dynasty as he was born as the eldest son of Appasahed Ghatge [Chief of Kagal(Senior)] on 26th June 1874 and was named as Yashwatrao Ghatge. Those were the days around the Holi [an Indian Festival related with colour and usually celebrated in the months of March – April] in the year 1884, when Rani Shrimant Anandibai Raje Saheb decided to adopt him and made him Chhatrapati of the princely state of Kolhapur.
Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj ascended the throne of Kolhapur in 1894, bringing an end to the 50 year old regency administration. His reign of 28 years from 1894 to 1922 ushered A new era of social, cultural and economic reforms for which he is remembered as one of the greatest rulers in Maharashtra.
The most benevolent and progressive rule of only 28 years from 1894 to 1922 of Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur was a distinct epoch and an important landmark in the history of modern Maharashtra as it engendered a number of socio-religious movements of a revolutionary nature like the Vedokta Movement, the Satya Shodhak Movement. These movements were mainly responsible for effecting social change on a large scale and for helping the rise of new social leadership in Maharashtra. It is pertinent to note that as Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj was the prominent central figure and the powerful moving force of these movements, he exerted tremendous influence on planning a social revival and on changing the course of social history in Maharashtra.
For more elaborate Sketch of Shahu Maharaj's Life Read -
CHHATRAPATI SHAHU : AN ENLIGHTENED MONARCH - by Shri.Bal Patil
published in Chhatrapati Shahu The Pillar of Social Democracy (1994).
Note: This article is provided by the author who is Secretary General, All India Jain Minority Forum, New Delhi. More about the author at the end of the Article.
After the Regin of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, the Bhosale Dynasty has continued on the Throne of Kolhapur. Post Independence Princely State of Kolhapur became an integral part of Union of INDIA. However the royal family is still held with High Respect amongst the people of Kolhapur. Shrimant Maharaja Shahu II Chhatrapati Maharaj ascended the royal throne on 9th May 1983 and is the current Head of Royal House.