Kolhapur is an historical city in the Panchganga river basin in southwest Maharashtra state, India. It is the municipal centre of Kolhapur district. Prior to Independence, Kolhapur was a nineteen gun salute, princely state ruled by the Bhosale Chhatrapati (Bhosale royal clan) of the Maratha Empire.
Hindu mythology holds that Kolhapura was founded by Kolhasura, a Rakshasha (a demon spirit). Kolhasura was killed by Lakshmi ( or Mahalakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity). Kolhasura's dying wish was to have the city named after him and this wish was granted.
From 940 to 1212 CE, Kolhapur was the centre of power of the Shilahara dynasty. An inscription at Teradal states that the king Gonka (1020 - 1050 CE) was bitten by a snake then healed by a Jain monk. Gonka then built a temple to Lord Neminath, the twenty-second Jain tirthankara (enlightened being). Jain temples in and around Kolhapur, from this era, are called Gonka-Jinalya, after the king.
Around 1055 CE, during the reign of Bhoja I, (Shilahara dynasty), a dynamic Acharya (spiritual guide) named Maghanandi (Kolapuriya), founded a religious institute at the Rupanarayana Jain temple (basadi). Maghanandi is also known as Siddhanta-chakravarti, that is, the great master of the scriptures. Kings and nobles of the Shilahara dynasty such as Gandaraditya I who succeeded Bhoja I, were disciples of Maghanandi.
Kolhapur was the site of intense confrontation between rulers of the Western Chalukya Empire and the rulers of the Chola empire, Rajadhiraja Chola and his younger brother Rajendra Chola II. In 1052 CE, following the Battle of Koppam, the victor, Rajendra Chola II, marched on to Kolhapur and there he erected a jayastambha (victory pillar).
The state of Kolhapur was established by Tarabai in 1707 because of the succession dispute over the Maratha kingship. The state was annexed by the British in the 19th century. After India's independence in 1947, the Maharaja of Kolhapur acceded to the Dominion of India on 14 August 1947 and merged with Bombay State on 1 March 1949.