1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kolhapur

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

KOLHAPUR, a native state of India, within the Deccan division of Bombay. It is the fourth in importance of the Mahratta principalities, the other three being Baroda, Gwalior and Indore; and it is the principal state under the political control of the government of Bombay. Together with its jagirs or feudatories, it covers an area of 3165 sq. m. In 1901 the population was 910,011. The estimated revenue is £300,000. Kolhapur stretches from the heart of the Western Ghats eastwards into the plain of the Deccan. Along the spurs of the main chain of the Ghats lie wild and picturesque hill slopes and valleys, producing little but timber, and till recently covered with rich forests. The centre of the state is crossed by several lines of low hills running at right angles from the main range. In the east the country becomes more open and presents the unpicturesque uniformity of a well-cultivated and treeless plain, broken only by an occasional river. Among the western hills are the ancient Mahratta strongholds of Panhala, Vishalgarh, Bavda and Rungna. The rivers, though navigable during the rains by boats of 2 tons burthen, are all fordable during the hot months. Iron ore is found in the hills, and smelting was formerly carried on to a considerable extent; but now the Kolhapur mineral cannot compete with that imported from Europe. There are several good stone quarries. The principal agricultural products are rice, millets, sugar-cane, tobacco, cotton, safflower and vegetables.

The rajas of Kolhapur trace their descent from Raja Ram, a younger son of Sivaji the Great, the founder of the Mahratta power. The prevalence of piracy caused the British government to send expeditions against Kolhapur in 1765 and 1792; and in the early years of the 19th century the misgovernment of the chief compelled the British to resort to military operations, and ultimately to appoint an officer to manage the state. In recent years the state has been conspicuously well governed, on the pattern of British administration. The raja Shahu Chhatrapati, G.C.S.I. (who is entitled to a salute of 21 guns) was born in 1874, and ten years later succeeded to the throne by adoption. The principal institutions are the Rajaram college, the high school, a technical school, an agricultural school, and training-schools for both masters and mistresses. The state railway from Miraj junction to Kolhapur town is worked by the Southern Mahratta company. In recent years the state has suffered from both famine and plague.

The town of Kolhapur, or Karvir, is the terminus of a branch of the Southern Mahratta railway, 30 m. from the main line. Pop. (1901), 54,373. Besides a number of handsome modern public buildings, the town has many evidences of antiquity. Originally it appears to have been an important religious centre, and numerous Buddhist remains have been discovered in the neighbourhood.