Apr 29, 2008

Early History of Kolhapur

by Prof. E. V. Oturkar

(A.D. 100).
KOLHAPUR history may be divided into three periods, early Hindu period, partly mythic and partly historic, reaching to about A.D. 1347; Musalman period lasting from A.D. 1347 to about 1700; and Maratha period since 1700. Kolhapur would seem to be one of the very old cities in the country. In making some excavations on its site in 1877 the foundations of a large Buddhist relic mound were turned up and in the centre of the mound was found a square stone box with, on the inner face of its square lid, an inscription of about the third century before Christ recording " The gift of Bamha made by Dhamaguta." [Journal Bombay Branch Royal Asiatio Society, XIV. 147-154, Bombay Archeological Survey. Separate Number 10, page 39.] Copper and lead coins and brass models have also been found at Kolhapur which show that about the first century after Christ it was under rulers who were kings or viceroys of the great satakarni or Andhrabhritya dynasties of the North Deccan, one of whom bore the name Vilivayakura. [Journal Bom. Br. Roy. As. Soc. XIV. 152-153; Professor Bhandarkai's Early History of the Deccan, 17, 20.] About A.D. 150 the Egyptian geographer Ptolemy mentions Hippokura as the capital of Baleocures who governed the southern divisions of the Deccan peninsula. Hippokura is probably Kolhapur [In fact it is Dr. Bhandarkar who identifies Hippokura with Kolhapur; but Dr. Katre, who has examined the problem linguistically is of opinion that Hippokura cannot be derived from Kolhapura (Social Survey of Kolhapur by N. V; Sohani, Vol II, "page 2).] and Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar identifies Baleocures with the Vilivayakura of the coins. [Bertius' Ptolemy, 205; Deccan Early History, 20.]

(A.D. 750).

To about this time or a little earlier belong the Buddhist caves called Pandav Dara about six miles west of Panhala, and the Pavala caves near Jotiba's hill about nine miles north-west of Kolhapur. From the Andhrabhrtyas the district would seem to have passed to the early Kadambas (A.D. 500) whose chief capital was at Palasika or Halsi in Belgaum about a hundred miles south-east of Kolhapur. From the early Kadambas it would seem to have passed to the early and Western Calukyas from about 550 to 760; to the Rastrakutas to 973; from the Rastrakutas to the Western Calukyas, who held the district, to about 1190 and while under them, to the Kolhapur Silaharas (A.D. 942-1205), and to the Devagiri Yadavas upto the Musalman conquest of the Deccan about 1347. Of the early and Western Calukyas no copper plates or stone inscriptions referring to Kolhapur proper have yet been found, Of the Rastrakutas, two copper plate grants have been found, one at Samangad fort four miles south of Gadhinglaj and another at Sangli town. The Samangad grant, which belongs to the seventh Rasrakuta king Dantidurga or Dantivarma II, bears date sak 675 (A.D. 733-54) and mentions that Dantidurga's victorious elephants ploughed up the bank of the river Reva or Narmada, that he acquired supreme dominion by conquering Vallabha, and that he easily defeated the army of the Karnatak which was expert in dispersing the kings of Kanci or Conjeveram and Kerala, the Colas, the Pandyas, Sriharsa, and Vajrata. [Fleet's Kanarese Dynasties, 32-33. This is the earliest known inscription in which the date is expressed by figures arranged according to the decimal system of notation.] The Sangli copper plate grant belongs to the fourteenth king Govind V and is dated Sak 855 (A.D. 933-34) [Jour. Bom. Br. Roy. As. Soc. IV. 97; Fleet's Kanarese Dynasties 37.]. Of the Western Calukyas who succeeded the Rastrakutas in A. D. 973, there is a copper plate grant from Miraj, which belongs to king Jayasimha III. It was made by him in Sak 946 (A.D. 1024-25) at his victorious camp which, after warring against the mighty Colas, the lord of the city of the Candramila and after seizing the possessions of the lords of the Seven Konkans, was located near the city of Kolhapura or Kolhapur for conquering the northern country. There is an inscription of Somadeva in the Mahalaksmi temple at Kolhapur, but it does not refer to Kolhapur itself. Next in point of time is a reference in a grant of the Kadamb king of Goa of (A.D. 1078). Therein the king Sastha is said to have gone to Kolhapur and worshipped the Goddess Mahalaksmi. It was during Somesvara regime that Colas under Rajendra II invaded the Calukyan territory as far north as Kolhapur and even claimed to have set up a pillar of victory at this place. [Excavations at Brahmpuri by Dr. Sankalia and Dr. Dikshit pages 5-6.]

Apart from the inscriptional evidence on the basis of which the early history of Kolhapur is being traced here, there are many references in Puranas which throw light both on the derivation of the word Kolhapur and the sacredness that the city has come to possess on account of the location of Ambabai temple there. The Puranic evidence has to be utilised with great caution, but it would be wrong to keep it out of sight altogether. "According to Puranas," says Major Graham writing in 1854, " this tract of the country was originally called ' Kurwir' (Karavira) from the goddess Mahalaksmi using her mace (Kur) in lifting her favoured retreat from the waters of the great deluge." According to another legend the name " Kolhapur" is derived from the story that a demon " Kole " was defeated and killed on a hill in the vicinity of Kolhapur. [Sankalia and Dikshit, p. 1.] Karavir-mahatmya which was written in A.D. 1867 and is said to form part of Padmapurana refers to the goddess Mahalaksml. So does a section of the Markandeya purana called Devimahatmya, which is said to be not older than A.D. 800. Another Purana, Harivamia, refers to Karavirpura which is said to be the same as Kolhapur. It has been stated therein that Krisna, and Balaram in their fight against Jarasandha at Mathura had to go to the south and reached Karavirpura. The place was then ruled by Srgala who was a man of an evil disposition. The two brothers after some unsuccessful effort to settle elsewhere, gave battle to Srgala and killed him. The throne of Karvirpura was given to his son Sakradeva. After waiting for some time the two brothers went back to Mathura and they are said to have reached the distance within six days.

Among the literary references the most authentic and datable is that of Hemacandra (C.A.D. 1130), the famous Jain writer of Gujarat. In his Dvyasraya kavya he refers to the gift sent by the lord of Kollapura, who was blessed by the goddesses Laksmi and Gauri, for Prince Camunda, the son of Mularaja. If the account is a genuine record of events, then the antiquity of Kolhapur as a seat (pitha) of these goddesses can be placed at least one hundred years earlier than the time of Hemacandra himself (A. D. 1088-1173). In Visvakarma Sastra referred to by Hemadri in his caturvarga cintamani there is a reference to (Mahalaksml of Kollapura. Another work Sarasvatipurana refers to Kollapura as a Mahapitha (great seat) wherein the four goddesses Mahalaksml, Mahakali, Kolla and Kankala were installed in east, north, south and west of the place respectively by Jayasinha Siddharaja (C.A.D. 1093-1142). In Jain literature, Harisena's Brhat Kathakosa, composed in A.D. 931-932 at Vardhamanapura, probably Wadhawan in Saurastra, refers in one of the stories to Kolladigiripattana in Daksinapatha. This seems to be no other than Kolhapur. As this mention occurs in a folk story recorded in the 10th century, the town must probably have been known by this name a couple of centuries earlier. [The above account is based upon the Report on the ' Excavations at Bramhapuri' (1945-46) by Dr. H. D. Sankalia and Dr. M. G. Dikshit, pp. 1 to 3]

Fresh light has been thrown by recent excavations on the antiquity and the earliest habitation of this place. The report on the excavations states that the oldest village from out of which Kolhapur later developed into a great city was situated on a hill on the banks of the river Pancaganga. It is now known as Bramhapuri. " An inscription of the Kolhapura Silahara king Gandaraditya of Saka 1048' (A.D. 1126-27) calls Kolhapura a Mahatirtha and refers to a temple Khedaditya (a Sun temple) at Bramhapuri." The statement in the inscription that Kolhapura or Bramhapuri was created by Brahman might signify that the site of Bramhapuri was so old that its origin in course of time was attributed to Brahma, the lord of creation himself. The inscription also mentions the capital Vallavadagrama, identified with Valavade, the site of the present Radhanagari, 27 miles south-west of Kolhapur. [Sankalia and Dikshit, p. 4. The exact identification of Vallavadagrama is controversial.] The years later in Saka 1058 (A.D. 1135) the same king's patronage to a Jaina temple by the name Rupa-Narayana at Kolhapur is referred to in an inscription located in the same temple in the present (Sukrawar Peth).

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