Apr 29, 2008



OF THE THREE SILAHARA HOUSES ruling in western India, the one ruling over the territories now comprised mostly of Satara and Belaganv districts and the former State of Kolhapur rose into prominence towards the end of the 10th century. Their rule extended over these territories for over a little more than two centuries. The Silaharas of Kolhapur, are described as Kashtatriyas in an inscription found at Kolhapur. The Kolhapur records also reveal that they hailed from the city of Tagara which is probably Ter about 95 miles from Paithan (J.R.A.S. 1901, pp. 537). The predecessors of the Silahara family seem to have migrated to Kolhapur from the territory round Ter.

The records of this house mention Kolhapur, Panhala, fort and Valavade as capitals. There is a reference to the marriage of the Calukya emperor Vikramaditya VI with Vidyadhara i.e. Silahara princess Candaladevi or Candralekha having taken place in her father's capital at Karthatak or modern Karad which suggests that Karad may have been their capital. However, as most of the records of this house are found in Kolhapur and as the Goddess Mahaaksmi of Kolhapur was their deity, Kolhapur was the chief headquarters of their administration and Karad a provincial headquarter.

The first three personages in the above genealogy are mentioned only in the Talale plates of Gandaraditya and omitted by latter plates. This indicates that they had not achieved the lull status of kings during, the period (940 to 1000 A.D.). They are described as kings by their descendants only when the latter attained a royal status.

The first ruling king of this dynasty was Jatiga II. [A. S. Altekar-The Silaharas of Western India, 1936, page 419.] His reign can be placed between 1000 to 1020 A.D. as his grandson King Marasinha is known to be ruling in 1058 A.D. The records of King Marasinha mention him as Tagranagara Bhopalaka and Pamaladurgadrisinha which indicate that he had defeated the Calukyas who were formerly ruling over portions of Kolhapur State, and held the fort of Panhala, thus establishing his rule over the area. During the reign of Gonka, the Calukyas conquered Kolhapur, under their king Jayasinha (before 1024 A.D.) The Silaharas had to submit to the Calukyas in order to retain their kingdom. In the records, Gonka is described as conqueror of Kahada (Karad), Mairiage (Miraj) and Konkan. It is probable that Gonka might have extended his rule over these territories as an agent for or with the consent of his over-lords. Gonka was succeeded by his not very ambitious son Marasinha who in a copper plate grant describes the fort of Kilagila as his capital. Guvala II succeeded his father in 1057. However, till 1110 the history of the Silahara family becomes complicated as all princes are mentioned as kings. On the death of Guvala in 1055 A.D., Bhallala and Bhoja must have ruled the kingdom. Acugi II, the Sinda ruler of Yelburga, is said to have repulsed a certain Bhoja who can be only the Silahara Bhoja. Bhoja was succeeded by Gandaraditya [A. S. Altekar-The Silaharas of Western India, 1936, page 422-423.] who claims to be the undisputed king of Konkan. During the later period of his regime, his son Vijayaditya defeated Jayakesin II of Goa who had ousted the Silahara ruler of Thana. Gandarditya executed various public works. At Irukudi in Miraj district he built a lake called Gandusamudra on the bank of which he built temples in honour of Buddha, Jina and Sankara. Gandaraditya was succeeded by his son Vijayaditya. He joined in a conspiracy which was being formed by Bijjala, a minister of his feudal Lord Taila III, and in the revolution that ensued the Calukya supremacy came to an end. The Satara plates of his son claim that Vijayaditya reinstated the fallen lords of Sthanaka and Goa. Vijayaditya had to fight hard to wrest independence from Bijjala, the new sovereign but it was only after the death of Bijjala that Vijayaditya could assume full sovereignty. The last of the family was Bhoja II. [A. S. Altekar-ibid, page 424.] He appears to have assumed the imperial titles from the beginning of his rule and was determined to retain the imperial glory so strenuously won by his father. His greatness is described in one of his own inscriptions as follows: -" fear of the edge of Bhoja's sword caused Colaraja to take a spear on his head and frightened other kings; but by the favour of Mahalaksmi, Bhoja was worshipped by the kings; he was a Vikram of the Kali age". The fortunes of Bhoja however, received a crushing defeat at the hands of Singhana, the king of the newly rising power of Yadavas in 1212 A.D. He had to run away in disgrace. The kingdom was annexed by the Yadavas and thus ended the career of the Silaharas of Kolhapur.

With the exception of what has been noted above in connection with Vijayaditya, the inscriptions of Gandaraditya and his successors give no historical details. But as regards the termination of their power, there has been no trace of any member of the family after Bhoja II; and, in Sak 1135 (A.D. 1213-14), Srimukha samvatsara, the Devgiri-Yadav king Singhana II was in possession of the country round Miraj, as is proved by his Khedrapur inscription [Jour. Bom. Br. Roy. As. Soc. XII 7.] which records the grant by him of the village of Kudaladamavada, the modern, Kurundavad,. in the Mirinji country; and as inscriptions of Singhana II shortly after that date are found at Kolhapur itself [Graham's Kolhapur, 428-436.], it would seem that Bhoja II was the last of his family and that he was overthrown and dispossessed by Singhana II in or soon after Sak 1131 (A.D. 1209-10) Sukla samvatsara, which was the commencement of Singhana's reign It is said that Singhana defeated Silahlra Bhoja at Umalvad in A.D. 1210. [Ibid, Sankalift and Dikshit, p. 5.] This is borne out by one of Singhana's inscriptions dated Sak 1160, [P. S. and 0. 0. Inscription No. 112,1. 10.11.] which speaks of him as having been "a very Garuda in putting to flight the serpent which was the mighty king Bhoja, whose habitation was Panhala." [Pannala-nilara-prabala-Bhojabhnpala-vyala-vidravana-Vihatngaraja.] An inscription of Saka 1194 indicates that the first king of the Yadava dynasty, Simha, had his original seat of power near Kolhapur at Mirijaya (Miraj), while two earlier inscriptions of the kings Mahadeva and Narayana, dated Saka 1162 and 1172 respectively refer to the temple of Mahalaksmi at Kolhapur and the district (Desa or Visaya) of the same name. The Yadavas held the place and the adjacent country for at least 15 years more until Saka 1187 (A.D. 1265) as is shown by an inscription of Mahadeva. [Sankalia and Dikshit, p. 5 Mahadeva referred to last, must obviously have been the grandson of Simha or Sindhava.] It may be assumed that the territory remained part of the dominions of the Yadavs of Devagiri, till the very end of their rule (A.D. 1306-7) when it was conquered by Malik Kafur, though probably the connection of the rulers was merly nominal as the hilly part of the country was occupied by Maratha palegars.

Before we turn to the history of Kolhapur in the Musalman period it is necessary to summarise the results of the legendary, Puranic and epigraphical accounts given so far. It would appear that the site of the modern Kolhapur, long before the city grew up on the banks of the river known at present as Pancganga, was called " Kollapura", probably after the goddess Kolla" referred to by Sarasvatipurana and Karavir mahatmya. She might have been so called because she was the deity of aboriginal tribes such as Kols or Kolis, mentioned in the legend cited by Graham. So from very early times the site came to be known as a seat of Mother Goddess (Matrkasthana, Ksetra, or pitha). It grew in importance when another goddess Mahalaksmi, was installed in the city and when a temple was built there during the Rastrakuta period (C.A.D. 800). The earliest epigraphical and literary records known hitherto cannot take us before the 9th century; the temple architecturally also is of about that period and not earlier. All the records call the city Kollapura and describe the goddess Mahalaksmi. She is, however, regarded not as the consort of Vishnu but as the avatar or incarnation of Parvati, the consort of Siva, and is more popularly called Ambabai. [Khare's Marathi Mss. in print, Maharashtrachi Panch Daivaten] It is significant that Harivamsa makes no reference to Kolla or Mahalaksmi. It merely mentions Karvirapura and it is difficult to say definitely that Karvirpur refers to Kollhapura and to none else. For, it might as well be Karhataka which has the first syllable Kara. Kolhapur seems to have been hit upon, because the king Srgala of the city was turned into the Prakrt Kolha (from Sanskrit Krostr) and his city later called Kolhapura. It was Karvir-mahatmya which definitely put the two together and identified Karvirpura with Kollapura or Kolhapura. The original word was Kol or Kolla or Kholla. It may be a non-Aryan, Dravidian or Austric word. Khare compares it with some other words like Kolla, Kholla, Golla, meaning low ground and suggests that it may be from Kannada. [Sources of the Mediaeval History of the Deccan III, p. 20-21.] It is pointed out that this interpretation would suit the topographical features of the place. [ Sankalia and Dikshit, p. 8.]

Whatever the origin of the word and the place, it appears from the inscriptional evidence and archaeological excavations, that Kolhapur had so far two periods of prosperity. The first was under the Satavahanas, who turned it into a city having well built brick houses out of a modest village. After an interval of some centuries the Silaharas built magnificent temples there. These Continued to be patronised by the Yadavas. [ Khare's Maharastrachi Panch Daivaten,-unpublished.] From the references in Brhaspatisutra, which roughly belongs to the 12th or 13th century, it appears that the place was regarded as a Mahaksetra by the Saktas; but Chakradhara the founder of the Mahanubhava sect flourishing during this period has definitely banned any visit by his followers to Matapur and Kolhapur. [This discussion as regards the derivation of the word ' Kolhapur' and its early site is taken from the report on the Excavations at Brahmapuri (Kolhapur) by Dr. Sankalia and Dr. Dikshit, p. 7-8.]

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