Brief history of Kolhapur
Excavations performed at Brahmapuri in 1947 under the guidance of H. G. Sankaliya, many things were found handcrafted by Roman & Greek people. Even today, we can see them at the town hall museum of Kolhapur. This clearly means, local people had trade relations with these far away countries, 2300 years ago. During that period, Kur dynasty ruled in this region. After that, Chalukya of Badami, Shilahar & Yadav (in the 12th century) dynasties ruled here. Since then, till Chhatrapati Shivaji’s regime, this region was ruled by Muslims. After death of Chhatrapati Shivaji, his daughter in law, Chhatrapati Tararani made Kolhapur, the capital of the Maratha empire. She established a separate throne as Karvir Sansthan. She uses to handle it from fort Panhala (located 20 kilometers away from Kolhapur). The state capital was shifted to Kolhapur from Panhala in 1785. Then begun the golden era of Kolhapur.
Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj was born in the Ghagte family of Kagal. His original name was Yashawant. He was adopted to Karvir sansthan and was anointed as the ruler. During his tenure, citizens of Kolhapur experienced the most prosperous period.
Kolhapur, originally the residence of the goddess Mahalaxmi (Ambabai) became popular in various fields such as art, culture, sports and education. After death of Chhatrapati Shahu, his sun Chhatrapati Rajaram carried over the responsibility of overall development of Kolhapur. The very first thing he did is, completion of Radhanagari dam; the dream project of Chhatrapati Shahu.
Chhatrapaties of Kolhapur executed many public utility and welfare projects Since the pre-independence period. In 1947, Karveer sansthan was happily merged in independent India.
History of the temple
The Mahalaxmi (Ambabai) temple of Kolhapur is 1700 to 1800 years old. The first mention of the temple is seen on a copper plate found at Sanjan (Thane) , which says; King Amoghvarsha offered his little finger to the goddess Mahalaxmi. This evidence dates back to 871 BC. This clearly means the Mahalaxmi temple exists since 7th century.
Later on, Shilahar, Sind, Chalukya, Yadav dynasties ruled this region. All these dynasties expanded the temple in their own way. A famous legend about this temple says that two grand idols of exists in this temple are of demans; who build this temple. It took a night for them to build this temple. But according to the structural evidence, it took 5 -6 centuries to build this temple. Many emperors brought it through the hands of artists. To be specially mentioned, a person named Tailan built an archway in front of the temple in 1140. As mentioned there and can be seen today, the eastern door was build by sardar Dabhade.
The Garud Mandap in front of the Mahalaxmi temple was built during 1838-42, the term of political agent Daaji Pandit. The period during Adilshahi is unknown to the history. During this period, the idol of the goddess was kept hidden in a house of a priest. On 26th September 1715, the idol was re-established in the temple on the occasion of Vijayadashami. This ritual was performed by Savgaokar Pradhan, Gajendrajadkar Ghorpade Sarkar, Shri Poojak of Chatrapatis. In 2015, this ceremony completed 300 years.