Kolhapur was the seat of Rani Tarabai, the dowager
queen and widow of Chatrapati Rajaram Maharaj and their young son
(who was all of ten years of age), Shivaji II. After her failure to
check the ascension of Chatrapati Shahu on the Maratha throne, she
retired to the principality of Kolhapur, from where she ruled along
with Shivaji II, whereas her nephew, Shahu (son of Sambhaji the
step-brother of Rajaram and the prior Chatrapati), ruled the greater
Maratha dominions from Satara.
List of kings
Shivaji II (ruled 1700-1712) was
the son of Chatrapati Rajaram and Rani Tarabai, and was the first
king of Kolhapur. He was installed on the throne at Vishalgad, on 10
March 1700. Reigned under the regency of his mother until 12 October
1707. He became raja of the separate state of Kolhapur in 1710.
Deposed on 2 August 1714. He died young, in 1712, of smallpox while
in confinement at Panhala.
Sambhaji II (1712-1760) was the
second son of Rajaram from another wife, Rajasabai. He succeeded to
the Kolhapur throne (bearing allegiance to the Satara throne) after
Rani Tarabai was imprisoned by Rajasabai (Shivaji II's natural
mother) and a coterie of ministers. He was initially supported by
Shahu and his Peshwa. But his conspiracies in collaboration with
Nizam Chin Quli Khan against Shahu (over territorial disputes)
earned him Shahu's wrath. Shahu's armies defeated Sambhaji and
forced on him a treaty in 1730, by which Sambhaji II was forced to
give up all territories north of the River Warna. His sovereignty
was now acknowledged over the tract of country lying between the
rivers Warna and Krishna on the north and north-east and the River
Tungbhadra to the south, and over the part of the Konkan between
Salsi and Ankola. He died at Vadgaon on 18 December 1760. His only
issue being a daughter, a son was adopted to succeed him to the
throne of Kolhapur.
Shivaji III (1760-1812) was the adopted son
and successor of Sambhaji II (Jijabai, the widow of Sambhaji II,
acted as his regent). His biological father was Shahaji Bhosale of
Khanwat (a kinsman). The Kolhapur court, led by Jijabai (Shivaji III
was a minor then), had continued its hobnobbing with the Nizam,
which irritated the Peshwa so that he dispossessed Shivaji III of
his territories of Chikodi and Manoli, which he handed over to his
knight, Patwardhans of Sangli.
Piracy had also increased in the Kolhapur kingdom.
There were pirates from Malwan and Sawantwadi constantly looting
merchant ships. To counter them, the English East India Company sent
out a naval expedition which captured Fort Malwan (otherwise known
as Fort Augustus). It was later handed back to Kolhapur in return
for a sum of 382,896 rupees. The English were also given rights to
set up a factory in Malwan. There were unconfirmed reports of human
sacrifices in Kolhapur at the temple of the goddess Kali.
Shivaji II, first raja of the independent state of Kolhapur
When the regent, Jijabai, died in 1772, Shivaji III
was still a minor. The kingdom was left vulnerable to attack by the
Peshwa's troops and also from raids by the Patwardhan Kannherrao
Trimbak and Pant Pratinidhi of Aundh. The Kagal, Bavda, and
Vishalgad regions also rose in revolt (in 1777) at the instigation
of Peshwa Madhavrao. This is when Kolhapur, led by one of its
sardars, Yeshwantrao Shinde, sought the help of Hyder Ali of Mysore
against the Peshwas. They drove out the Peshwa's troops from Chikodi
and Manoli. But the Peshwa came down heavily on Kolhapur,
dispatching a large army which was led by Mahadji Shinde against
them. Chikodi and Manoli had to be ceded back to the Peshwa as a
Sawantwadi also rose in rebellion against Kolhapur,
over a dispute concerning rights over villages claimed by both
sides. Yeshwantrao Shinde also died in 1782. This is when other
sardars such as Ratnakar pant, Chavan, and the king himself, Shivaji
III, personally led an attack against Sawantwadi and quelled the
There was also an successful revolt by Pawangad
Gadkaris at the instigation of the Sardesai of Sawantwadi. The
Kolhapur armies then punished Sawantwadi for this misbehaviour and
Sawantwadi was forced to pay a tribute of 150,000 rupees to
Kolhapur. Meanwhile, piracy resurfaced and the English contemplated
an attack on Kolhapur. Shivaji III the sought the help of Tipu
Sultan of Mysore. Eventually a treaty was concluded between Kolhapur
and the English in 1792. But the treaty proved short-lived and the
English took away Kolhapur's the maritime possessions.
Meanwhile, Parshuram Bhau Patwardhan started a
revolt against Kolhapur. Though his army was defeated at Alta (his
son Ramchandra was captured), peace was proposed between them, but
this was short-lived as Patwardhan laid siege again to Kolhapur, and
this was lifted only after a payment by Shivaji III of 300,000
rupees. Later taking advantage of the confusion prevailing in
Maharashtra after the death of Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao, Shivaji III
took Bhudargad from Parshuram Bhau Patwardhan. He also repossessed
Chikodi and Manoli.
Kolhapur's Shalini Palace
Meanwhile, the Satara raja and Shivaji III agreed
an alliance so that they could throw of the yoke of the Peshwas of
Poona. Parshurambhau supported the Peshwas troops (the new Peshwa,
Bajirao II, and Nana Phadanvis were at the helm of affairs at this
time). Parshurambhau was killed in a skirmish with the Kolhapur
troops in 1799 at Pathankudi village, Chikodi. His son, Ramchandra,
tried to attack Kolhapur, but his armies were defeated. Hostilities
between Kolhapur and its enemies (Sawantwadi, Nipani, and Poona)
continued until the death of Shivaji III in 1812. He had three sons
and six daughters. The eldest, Sambhaji III (Shambhu raje),
Shambhuji (1812-1821), also known as Abasaheb, was the eldest
son and successor of Shivaji III. He tried restoring law and order
to the kingdom, and sided with the British against the Peshwas, for
which he was re-granted the possessions of Chikodi and Manoli.
Shambhu raje was, however, shot dead after a heated exchange with the
Mohites (specifically, a Karad sardar), over a land dispute. He left behind an
infant son, named Shivaji. But he too died early after catching chicken pox
and following a reign of just a few months under the regency of his uncle, Shahaji.
Shahaji (1821-1837), also known as Buvasaheb, was the brother
and successor of Shambhu raje (technically, he succeeded his nephew, Shivaji, who was
king for a few months under his regency). He was said to
be a wild and reckless king, and always had to be kept in check by
the English residents. He was also rumoured to harbour bands of
highway robbers and the state of Kolhapur always lived in fear and
apprehension during his rule. He died of cholera in 1837, leaving
behind three sons and two daughters.
A view inside Panhala Fort at Kolhapur
Shivaji IV (1837-1866) was the son and successor of
Shahaji. He being a minor, his aunt became his regent. The British
also appointed a minister in the kingdom by the name of Daji Krishna
Pandit. But the minister being a Brahmin and because of his
unpopular measures while disciplining his Maratha officers,
triggered a rebellion in the state (1844). Daji Pandit was imprisoned by the
rebels, but the British came to his rescue and he was reinstated.
There was also a British superintendent, Captain D C Graham,
appointed to look after the administration of the state. There was another revolt
in 1857 (following the mutiny). The king himself remained loyal to
the British, but his brother, Chima Sahib, sided with the rebels.
After the rebellion was quelled, Chima Sahib was charged with
treason and Shivaji IV was honoured by the British with the 'Order
of the Star of India'. He was also granted with a sanad for
adoption. After 1862, Shivaji IV was also given more administrative
powers by the British.
Rajaram I (1866-1870) was the adopted son and
successor of Shivaji IV. Born Nagojirao Patankar, a son of Shivaji IV's eldest
sister, he died early while visiting Europe.
His remains were burnt according to the rites of the Hindu
religion on the banks of the Arno (in Florence in Italy), at a spot
beyond the Cascini, now marked by a statue bearing his likeness. The
ashes were later immersed in the Ganges.
Shivaji V (1870-1883), also known
as Narayanrao (son of
Dinkarao Bhosale, a kinsman) was the adopted son of Rajaram II's widow.
He went insane and died soon after (apparently during a scuffle with his
attendant, one Private Green). In March 1882 under a government
resolution the affairs of the Kolhapur administration were
transferred to a regency council. The regent, being the chief of Kagal, was assisted by a
council of three members; the diwan,
the chief judge, and the chief revenue officer.
Note: The Kolhapur state had eleven
vassals; Pant Pratinidhi (chief of Vishalgad), Pant Amatya (chief of Bavda),
Senapati (chief of Kapshi), Sarjerav Vajarat Mab (chief of Kagal), Ghorpade (chief of
Ichalkaranji), Sena Khaskhel (chief of Torgal), Amir-ul-Umrav (chief
of Datvad), Himmat Bahadur, (Sarjerav Deshmukh of Kagal), Sar
Lashkar Bahadur, and Patankar.
A vintage shot of the old palace in Kolhapur
The most prominent amongst the vassals were the
chiefs of Vishalgad,
Bavda, Kagal, and Ichalkaranji. The chief of Vishalgad, styled Pant
Pratinidhi, was a Deshastha Brahmin and his family name was Jaykar.
His headquarters were at Malkapur, twenty-eight miles north-west of
Kolhapur. The chief of Bavda, styled Pant Amatya, was a Deshastha
Brahmin and his family name was Bhadanekar. He used to reside at
Kolhapur. The chief of Kagal, styled Sarjerav Vajarat Mab, was a
Maratha by caste and his family name was Ghatge. He used to reside
at Kolhapur. The chief of Ichalkaranji, styled Ghorpade, was a
Konkanasth Brahman and his family name was Joshi. His headquarters
were at Ichalkaranji, about eighteen miles east of Kolhapur. He was a
first class sardar of the British government for rank and precedence
only and had subsequently been permitted to pay a separate visit to
the head of the government (source: Kolhapur Gazeteer).
Shahu IV (1884-1922) was from the Ghatge family of
Kagal (adopted by Anandibai, the widow of Shivaji V). The British appointed a council of regents to
assist him, and he was trained in administration by one Sir Stuart
Fraser, and given partial administrative powers in 1894. Shahu IV
proved to be an excellent administrator and a great social reformer.
Shahu Maharaj encouraged education in his state, subsidising it for
the poor and for girls. He encouraged widows to remarry, which was
considered a taboo. He stopped the practice of child marriages as
well, created employment schemes for the poor, and urged
several non-Brahmin youths to take up the priesthood, much to the chagrin
of the local Brahmins of Kolhapur. He patronised the reformist Satya
Shodhak Samaj and later the Arya Samaj.
Shahu Maharaj was also
responsible for the construction of Radhanagari Dam (1935) in Kolhapur,
thereby ushering in agricultural prosperity for the kingdom. He founded
the Shahu Vedic school, the Shivaji Memorial Institute, the Shahu cloth
mill, and the Jaysingpur trading market.
Shahu Maharaj was also an patron of wrestling (he himself was a
wrestler), which to this day has been very popular in Kolhapur.
Shahu IV encouraged education and reformed social laws
Shahu Maharaj and his wife, Laxmibai (from the family of
of Baroda), had four sons. Rajaram II was the eldest of these and the
heir apparent, while daughter Radhabai (Akkasaheb) Puar became the
queen of Dewas (married to Tukoji III, maharaja of Dewas). Her son,
Vikramsingh Puor (maharaja of Dewas from 1937-1947) later inherited
the Kolhapur legacy as Shahoji II (1947-1983). Shahu's other
offspring were Maharajkumar Shivaji and Rajkumari Aubai (who died young).
Shahu IV proved to be a benevolent king and a visionary,
striving for the betterment of his populace. Indeed, he was a rarity amongst
the princes of those times. He died at Shalini Palace, Rankala,
Kolhapur on 6 May 1922.
Rajaram II (ruled 1922-1940, born 1897, died 1940) was the
son and successor of Shahu IV. He was also a reformist. He built the
Kolhapur High Court along with many housing colonies, made female education
free, modernised the water supply systems, and established Kolhapur's municipal
authority and a local panchayat system. Since he had a daughter the
Kolhapur throne passed on to a distant relative named Shivaji V.
Shivaji VI (1941-1946) was from the Satara
branch of the Maratha royal family. He was made successor to Rajaram II, but he died young
Shahoji II (1947-1983), also known as Maharaja Vikramsingh Puor
of Dewas. He was the son of Radhabai, the daughter of Shahu IV. He was also a
commissioned second lieutenant in the Maratha Light Infantry, and
distinguished himself in the war in Africa, earning himself a
knighthood. He retired with the rank of major and returned to Dewas,
where he was crowned king after his father Tukoji III abdicated the
throne and fled to Pondicherry. Shahoji abdicated the Dewas throne
for his son, Krishnajirao III, and accepted the Kolhapur throne. On
1 March 1949, the princely state of Kolhapur was merged into the Bombay
presidency. Sir Shahaji became a major-general in the Indian Army in
1962, but in 1971 he was stripped of his rank, titles and stipends
as part of the mass removal of royal titles and prestige under the
Indira Gandhi (Congress) regime, along with abolition of the privy
purse to the royals. Shahoji died in 1983.
Shahoji II was succeeded by his grandson, Shahu II
(born 1948), the present Maharaja.
A street bazaar in Kolhapur
Bendre, W S and Patil, Vishwas - Works on
Duff, James Grant - History of the
Mahrattas, Associated Publishing House, New Delhi, 1971
Kincaid G A - A History of the
Maratha People, Oxford University Press, London, 1918