Solapur is a district of Maharashtra with its administrative headquarters located at Solapur city. The name of the district 'Solapur' was derived from the two Devnagari terms-‘Sola’ meaning ‘sixteen’ and 'pur’ meaning ‘village’. The city was known as 'Sonnalage' during the period of the Kalachuristis of Kalyani and it was proved from the inscriptions of Shivayogi Lord Siddheshwar. Later it came to be pronounced as 'Sonnalagi' which was continued even up to the times of Yadavas. During different periods of time the district was ruled by different dynasties such as Andhrabhratyas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Yadavas and Bahamanis. Formerly, the district was the part of Ahmednagar, Pune and Satara districts. It became the sub-district of Ahmednagar in 1838. It was also incorporated in the Barshi, Mohol, Madha, Karmala, Indi, Hippargi and Muddebihal sub-divisions. In 1956 after the State reorganisation Solapur was included in Mumbai state and in 1960 it was emerged as a separate district in the map of Maharashtra State.
Dr. Jabbar Patel, a distinguished theatre and film director of India was born on 23rd June, 1942 at Pandharpur in the district. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is his most admired film released in 1999. In the year 1995 he was honoured by the Nargis Dutt Award for the Best Feature Film on National Integration for his Marathi film, “Mukta”. Maqbool Fida Husain or M F Husain, a famous Indian painter and Film Director was born on 17th September, 1915 at Pandharpur in Solapur. In 1967 he has received the National Film Award for the Best Experimental Film named Through the Eyes of a Painter. He was also honoured by numerous great awards-Padma Shri (1966), Padma Bhushan (1973) and Padma Vibhushan (1991).
Geographically, the district lies at 17068'N latitude, 75092'E longitude and 458 m altitude. In the year 2019, there was a total 0.33% forest area of total geographical area. The district encompasses an area of 14,895 sq km. and in terms of geographical area it occupies the ranks of 4th in the state and 20th in India. It is bounded by Ahmednagar district and Osmanabad district on the North, Sangli district of Maharashtra and Bijapur district of Karnataka on the south, Osmanabad district of Maharashtra and Gulbarga district of Karnataka on the east and Satara district on the west. The climate of the district is very dry. During the summer natives experience a high humidity and its maximum temperatures ranging from 30 to 40 °C. most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 392.1 mm in the year of 2018-19.
Administration wise, the district is divided into 11 tehsils include Akkalkot, Barshi, Karmala, Madha, Malshiras, Mangalvedha, Mohol, Pandharpur, Sangola, Solapur North and Solapur South. There are 3 Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly constituencies in the district. Moreover, the district comprises 11 sub-districts, 13 towns and 1,143 villages. The administrative language in the district is Marathi.
According to 2011 census the district has a population of 43,17,756 out of which 22,27,852 are males and 20,89,904 are females. The district has a sex ratio of 938 females for every 1000 males. During the year 2001-2011 the population growth rate in the district was 12.16% including 11.97% were males and 12.37% were females. The population density in the district is 290 persons per sq. km. In the year 2017 the number of live births in the district was 1,09,467 including 58,057 were males and 51,410 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 27,646 including 16,350 were males and 11,296 were females. As per 2011 census the major religion in the district is Hindu with 87.90% of the total population. According to 2001 census the principal languages in the district are Marathi and Kannada with 73.13% and 9.28%.
The economy of the district is mainly based on agriculture. Some chief agricultural crops in the district are Jowar, wheat, sugarcane, chana, tur and groundnut. The district is also renowned for some of its industries such as Chadder, handloom, power loom and beedi industries. Every year a huge chunk of revenue comes from these industries. The fast growing tourism of the district is also contributes in its economy. In the year 2017-18 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 70,46,300 lakh at Current Price and Rs. 58,09,300 lakh at Constant Prices in the year 2011-2012. In the year 2013-14 the net domestic product in the district was Rs. 40,28,900 lakh at Current Price and Rs. 23,72,600 lakh at Constant Prices in the year 2004-2005. In the year 2013-14 the Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost in the district was Rs. 88,821 at Current Price and Rs. 52,305 at Constant Prices in the year 2004-2005.
The district has some colleges which are affiliated to the Shivaji University, established in 1962 in Kolhapur. There is a Science Centre, popularly called as Science Museum in the district. The foremost aim of the centre is to impart scientific knowledge to the masses. As per 2011 census the literacy rate in the district is 77.02% including 85.03% are males and 68.55% are females.
Sushil kumar Sambhajirao Shinde, an eminent Indian politician was born on 4th September, 1941 at Solapur. He was the Minister of Home Affairs (31st July, 2012-26 May, 2014) and also the Minister of Power (29th January, 2006-31 July, 2012) under the Manmohan Singh’s government. During the period of 18th January, 2003 to October 2004, he was served as the Chief Minister of the Maharashtra state. He is a member of Indian National Congress party. Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh, an illustrious Indian politician and the member of the 14th Lok Sabha of India was born on 12th March, 1957 at Solapur. In the 14th Lok Sabha election he represents the Solapur constituency of Maharashtra. He is a member of Bharatiya Janata Party.
As a tourist place Solapur is well-known as Dakshin Kashi. Bhagvant temple at Barshi in the district is a temple of Lord Shri Vishnu which was built in Hemadpanthi style in the year 1245 A.D. This temple is the identity of Barshi. Hipparga Lake is situated about sixty km. from Solapur. It is the abode of Lord Vittal and pilgrims from far distance place come to this place to offer their prayers. Some other marvellous temples of Solapur include Markandeya Temple built in 1893, the Venkateshwara Temple built in 1970, the Rupa Bhavani temple built in the 19th century, Shri Shankar Temple, etc. Hazrat Shaikh Nooruddin Chishti (rehmatullahe aleh) at Akkalkot in Solapur district is dedicated to a Muslim saint Hazrat Nooruddin. Pilgrims visit this sacred place from across the country every year. Hazarat Shah Zahur Dargah, located at centre of the city is devoted to Hazarat Shah; a Muslim saint is one of the most vital pious places in the district.