Kolhapur district is a district of Maharashtra state with its administrative headquarters located at Kolhapur city. There is a mythological story associated with its origin. According to the Hindu mythology story, Kolhasur, a Rakshasha (demon spirit) founded the Kolhapur district. Because of the destructions and devastations made by Kolhasur, Lakshmi or Mahalakshmi, (the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity) killed him. When Goddess Lakshmi asked Kolhasura's last wish, then he told that he want the city to be named after him and his wish was granted. The Shilahara family at Kolhapur was residing in this place since the downfall of the Rashtrakuta Empire. In those days, they ruled over the southern Maharashtra i.e. the modern districts of Satara, Kolhapur and Belgaon. And from 940 to 1212 CE, this region was the centre of power of the Shilahara dynasty. Around 1055 CE, there was the rule of Bhoja I of the Shilahara dynasty, at that time a dynamic Acharya (spiritual guide) called Maghanandi (Kolapuriya), under his supervision a religious institute was constructed at the Rupanarayana Jain temple (basadi). Kolhapur was the site of intense confrontation between the rulers of the Western Chalukya Empire and the rulers of the Chola empire. In 1052 CE, Rajendra Chola II won the Battle of Koppam, then came to Kolhapur and there he made a victory pillar named jayastambha. In 1707 Tarabai established the state of Kolhapur because of the series of dispute over the Maratha kingship. The state came under the rule of British in the 19th century. During the time of India's independence in 1947, the Maharaja of Kolhapur agreed to the Dominion of India on 14th August, 1947. Later, on 1st March, 1949 Kholapur was merged with Bombay State.
Ranjit Desai, an eminent Marathi writer and novelist was born on 8th April, 1928 at Kowad in the Kolhapur district. He is well admired for his historical novels such as "Swami" and "Shriman Yogi". He was also honoured by many notable awards like Sahitya Akademi Award in 1964 and Padma Shri in 1973.
Geographically, the district lies at 16°70'N latitude, 74°23'E longitude and 569 m altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 23.23% forest area of total geographical area. The district encompasses a geographical area of 7,685 sq km. and in terms of geographical area it occupies the ranks of 22nd in the state and 117th in India. It is bounded by Warana River on the north, Belgaum district of Karnataka on the south, Krishna River on the east and Sahyadri Ranges on the west. The climate of the district is characterised as temperate climate. The district generally receives heavy rainfall from the month of June to September. The actual rainfall in the district was 2489.3 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administration wise, the district is divided into 12 tehsils namely Karvir, Hatkanangle, Shirol, Kagal, Panhala, Gadhinglaj, Radhanagari, Chandgad, Shahuwadi, Bhudargad, Ajra and Bavda. There are 2 Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly constituencies in the district. Moreover, the district comprises 12 sub-districts, 23 towns and 1,195 villages. The administrative language in the district is Marathi.
According to 2011 census the district has a population of 38,76,001 including 19,80,658 are males and 18,95,343 are females. The district has a sex ratio of 957 females for every 1000 males. In the year 2001-2011 the population growth rate in the district was 10.01% out of which 9.58% were males and 10.47% are females. The population density in the district is 504 persons per sq. km. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 45,015 out of which 23,899 were males and 21,116 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 30,426 out of which 17,951 were males and 12,474 were females. As per 2011 census the major religion in the district is Hindu with 87.20% of the total population. According to 2011 census the principal language in the district is Marathi with 89.16%.
The economy of the district is based on agriculture to some extent. Some chief agricultural products in the district are rice, different types of pules, groundnut, soybean, oil seeds, sugarcane, cotton, jiggery, millet, betel leaves, etc. It is one of the prominent textile manufacturing districts in the country. In the India market, Kolhapuri chappal, a hand-crafted buffalo leather slipper is very famous. Other well known handicrafts of the district includes silver, bead and paste jewellery crafting, pottery, wood carving, lacquer ware, oxidised silver artwork and embroidery making. The Maharashtra Film Company was established by Baburao Painter in the district in 1929. Every year a huge chunk of revenue comes from this film company. In the year 2020-21 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 93,36,600 lakhs at current price and Rs. 65,31,100 lakhs at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2020-21 was Rs. 82,83,400 lakh at current price and Rs. 57,46,000 lakh at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost during the period 2020-21 was Rs. 1,96,570 at current price and Rs. 1,36,355 at constant prices in the year 2011-2012.
The district provides a platform for higher education. Some of its reputed colleges that offer professional courses are Chatrapati Shahu College, Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (Rahuri) College, Government Polytechnic College, Sanjeevan Knowledge City's College of Engineering & Technology, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Government Medical College, Mary Wanless Hospital and Homeopathy Medical College, Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Pharmacy, Shahaji Law College, etc. As per 2011 census the literacy rate in the district is 81.51% including 88.57% are males and 74.22% are females.
Dhananjay Mahadik, an illustrious Indian politician and the present Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha was born on 15th January, 1972 at Kolhapur. He was elected as a member of 16th Lok Sabha from Kolhapur constituency. He is a member of Nationalist Congress Party. Sadashivrao Dadoba Mandlik, a distinguished Indian politician and a member of 15th Lok Sabha from Kolhapur constituency was born on 7th October, 1934 at Kolhapur city. He also served as a member of the 12th Lok Sabha, 13th Lok Sabha and 14th Lok Sabha. Earlier, he was a member of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) political party but in the 15th Lok Sabha election, he contested the election as an independent candidate.
Kolhapur popularly known as Dakshin Kashi has numerous sets of tourist places which allure many travellers from across the country as well as the world. The Shri Mahalakshmi Temple is one of the Shakti Peethas for which the district is called as Dakshin Kashi. Natives of the district believe that the divine couple Maha Laxmi and Vishnu reside in the temple. Khidrapur Temple or Kopeshwar temple is an ancient and a marvellous temple, situated on the bank of Krishna River was built in 11-12 century by Shilahar. Some other notable temples in the district are Bahubali and Jahaj Mandir, Narsobawadi Temple, Sangli Ganpati Mandir, Audumbar Datta Mandir, etc. New Palace museum, an ancient building situated on the Bahvani Mandap-Kasaba Bavda Road was constructed during the period of 1877-1884. The location of the museum is so mesmerising with a beautiful garden, fountain and wrestling ground. Amba Ghat is a breath taking location which is full of natural sceneries and cool pleasant weather. It is the highest spot in the district. Rankala Lake is one of the nicest places of Kolhapur with beautiful garden around the lake. It is the perfect destination for the children and nature’s lovers.