Satara

Satara District is a district of Maharashtra state in western India with an area of 10,480 km² and a population of 3,003,741 of which 14.17% were urban (as of 2011).Satara is the capital of the district and other major towns include Wai, Karad, Koregaon, Koynanagar, Rahimatpur, Phaltan, Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. This district comes under Pune Administrative Division along with Pune, Sangli, Solapur and Kolhapur. The district of Pune bounds it to the north, Raigad bounds it to the North-West, Solapur the east, Sangli to the south, and Ratnagiri to the west.

The Sahyadri range, or main range of the Western Ghats, runs north and south along the western edge of the district, separating it from Ratnagiri District. The Mahadeo range starts about 10 m. north of Mahabaleshwar and stretches east and south-east across the whole of the district. The Mahadeo hills are bold, presenting bare scarps of black rock like fortresses. The Satara district is part of two main watersheds. The Bhima River watershed, which is a tributary of the Krishna, includes the north and northeast of the district, north of the Mahadeo hills. The rest of the district is drained by the upper Krishna and its tributaries. The hill forests have a large store of timber and firewood. The whole of Satara district falls within the Deccan Traps area; the hills consist of trap intersected by strata of basalt and topped with laterite, while, of the different soils on the plains, the commonest is the black loamy clay containing carbonate of lime. This soil, when well watered, is capable of yielding heavy crops. Satara contains some important irrigation works, including the Krishna canal. In some of the western parts of the district the average annual rainfall exceeds 5 m.; but on the eastern side water is scanty, the rainfall varying from 1 m in Satara town to less than 30 cm in some places farther east. The district is traversed from north to south by a railway line, which passes 15 km east Satara town.

The Mandher Devi temple in Mandhradevi, near Wai, is the Kalubai temple. Located on a hill 4,650 feet above sea level, the temple, some 20 km from Wai, overlooks the picturesque Purandhar fort. Devotees attribute miraculous properties to a grove around the shrine. Lore has it that the temple is more than 400 years old and was built during Shivaji’s Maratha rule. However, no definite date on the temple’s construction is available. It was the scene of a tragic stampede on 25 January 2005.

Historical inscriptions as old as 200 BCE indicate the oldest known place in Satara district in Maharashtra is Karad (mentioned as Karhakada). It is also believed that the Pandavas stayed in Wai, then known as ‘Viratnagari’, in the 13th year of exile.

Satara District can be proud of the oldest Rashtrakuta history. The oldest Rashtrakutas are believed to be from ancient Kuntala in the valley of river Krishna. Manank ruled from 350 – 375 C.E. and had built his capital in “Manpur” (now Maan in Satara district). The Vakatakas of Vidarbha, another Rashtrakuta rulers were in conflict with Manank. Subsequently the Rashtrakutas became feudatories to the Chalukyas and came into prominence under Dantidurga around 753 CE.

The empire of Chandragupta II, known as Mahendraditya Kumargupta I, extended as far as Satara district in Deccan when he ruled between 451 AD to 455 AD. The Mauryan empire in the Deccan was followed by the rule of the “Satvahanas” for about two centuries between 550 A.D. to 750 AD.

The first Muslim invasion of the Deccan took place in 1296. In 1636 the Nizam Shahi dynasty came to an end. In 1663 Shivaji conquered Parali and won Satara fort. After the death of Shivaji, Aurangjeb conquered Satara fort, later won by Parshuram Pratinidhi in 1706. In 1708 Chattrapati Shahu was crowned within the Satara fort. The direct descendents of Shivaji continue to live in Satara.

After their victory in the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1818, the British Empire annexed most of the Maratha territory to Bombay Presidency, but restored the titular Raja Pratap Singh, and assigned to him the principality of Satara, an area much larger than the present district. As a result of political intrigues, Pratap Singh was deposed in 1839, and his brother Shahji Raja was placed on the throne. When this prince died without a male heir in 1848, Satara was annexed by the British government and added to Bombay Presidency.

According to the 2011 census Satara district has a population of 3,003,741, roughly equal to the nation of Albania or the US state of Mississippi.This gives it a ranking of 122nd in India (out of a total of 640).The district has a population density of 287 inhabitants per square kilometre (740/sq mi).Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 6.93%.Satara has a sex ratio of 988 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 82.87%.