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History / Cultural Heritage of Kolhapur

Indian culture has a glorious tradition in various art forms. Indian epics, architecture and sculpture, with a history of thousands of years, speak volumes for the deep setting of art in the minds of the ancient Indians.

The origins of Indian classical music can be traced back to the Vedic period, to 'Sam Veda' in particular. A significant achievement of this period was the theorization of these art forms. Bharata's 'Natya Shastra' of this period speaks in depth about the aesthetics of Indian Classical Dance and Drama. The 'Rasa Siddhanta' in this work, is relevant even today, as a valid and inspiring concept.

This was followed by the creativity of generations of artists, which took this heritage to greater heights. The uniqueness of Indian classical art forms, acknowledged from time to time, lies in its relationship with nature and its potential of crossing the material boundaries, thereby achieving spiritual enlightenment.

From ancient times, the Indian Emperors have consciously supported and nurtured the art practices. This tradition continued even during the Mughal regime. Tansen, a great musician and vocalist, belongs to the same era. Further, even under the British rule, rulers of some states: Jaipur, Agra, Gwalior, Benaras, Baroda, Mysore. etc., were keen about preserving this heritage. In the recent past i.e. during the last 150 years, under the leadership of Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shri Shahu Maharaja, Kolhapur has acquired a leading place for itself, on the national scene.

Cultural Heritage of Kolhapur
Kolhapur
is a sprightly little town with an impressive historic background, located at the meeting point of the coastal Konkan and the plains of Deccan. It is also known as 'Kalapur' i.e. 'The city of arts'. At the end of the 19th century, His Highness Shri Shahu Maharaja became the ruler of Kolhapur. He was a great visionary reformist, and happens to be the architect of modern Kolhapur. On the one hand, for sound economy, he decided to help agriculture and to achieve this objective; he constructed the 'Radhanagari Dam' and established the famous 'Jaggery Market' of Kolhapur. He promoted education for all classes of the society and was keen on the development of the weaker section. Kolhapur, which was till then recognized as a holy place because of the famous Shri Mahalaxmi Temple, was soon recognized as a progressive state of the country.

V. Shantaram
V Shantaram

While fighting for social justice and heralding social reforms, he was also conscious about preserving the country's cultural heritage. He also established various institutions to promote sports and culture. He constructed the famous 'Khasbag Wrestling Arena' to promote Indian style Wrestling and constructed the 'Palace Theatre' to encourage performing arts. What is more, in the very second year of his Coronation, he invited the classical vocal music doyen, Ustad Alladiyan Khan to Kolhapur and appointed

Bhalji Pendharkar
Bhalji Pendharkar

him as the Court Singer. Motivated by the Maharaja, several luminaries in Music, Drama, Fine Arts, Sculpture and even Film, who later won universal acclaim, emerged in this ethos. The list includes Baburao Painter, V. Shantaram, Bhalji Pendharkar,

Keshavrao Bhosale
Keshavrao Bhosale

Baburao Pendharkar, Abalal Rehman, G. Wadangekar, Baba Gajbar, Ustad Alladiyan Khan, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Balkrishnabuwa Ichalkaranjikar, Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze, Keshavrao Bhosale, Govindrao Tembe, and Bal Gandharva, to mention a few.

Gayan Samaj Deval Club, dedicated to the preservation and propagation of the heritage of Indian Classical Music, Dance and Drama, came into existence in this period. The Club was then patronised by His Highness Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shri Shahu Maharaja and is amongst the very few centurion institutes of the kind.