(Last Updated on : 18/04/2009)
Satara district is counted amongst the richest districts in Maharashtra in terms of cultural and historical tradition. The name of the district derives from the seventeen walls, towers and gates that the town possessed in the ancient period. The district occupies a total geographical area of 10, 484 sq. km. Satara district is divided into 11 Tehsils and 11 Panchayat Samitis namely Satara, Karad, Wai, Mahabaleshwar, Phaltan, Man, Khatav, Koregaon, Patan, Jaoli and Khandala. There are 8 Nagar Palikas (Municipalities) in Satara that include Satara, Karad, Wai, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Rahimatpur, Phaltan and Mhaswad.
The Satara district has a rich historical background. According to historical inscriptions of 200 B.C., Karad is probably the oldest place in Satara. It is also believed that the Pandavas of Mahabharata stayed in Wai, then known as `Viratnagari`, in the 13th year of exile. The district was once a part of the Empire of Chandragupta II, also known as Mahendraditya Kumargupta I. Chandragupta II extended his empire till Satara district in Deccan during his rule from 451 AD to 455 AD. The rules of "Satvahans" followed the Mauryan Empire in the Deccan for about two centuries from 550 A.D. to 750 AD. The district was ruled by Muslim rulers for the first time in 1296 and the rule was extended until 1707. However, the Nizam Shahi dynasty came to an end in 1636 and in 1663; Shivaji conquered both the Parali and Satara Forts. The district once again came under Muslim rule after the death of Shivaji, when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb conquered Satara. Shahumaharaj was crowned as the ruler of Satara fort in 1708 and since then, the direct descendents of The Great Maratha King Chh. Shivaji Maharaj is living in Satara. The 13th descendent of Shivaji Maharaj, Chh. Udayanraje Bhonsale is the current king of Satara. Satara was also ruled by Chalukyas of Badami and the other rulers like Rashtrakutas, Silaharas and Yadav of Devgiri, the Bahamanis, Adil Shahi, Muslim Rule, Shivaji (Maratha rule), Shahu Ram Raja and Shahu II Pratapsinh, from time to time.
During the British rule, Raja Pratap Singh was given the principality of Satara by the British rulers in 1818. He was deposed in 1839 and was replaced by his brother Shahji Raja. As Shahji Raja died in 1848 without leaving any male heirs, the British rulers annexed Satara and added it to the Bombay Presidency. Satara became famous during the independence struggle of India, as there was a Prati Sarkar (Parallel Government) operating in Satara. The parallel government removed the British rulers from the rural areas in Satara during Quit India Movement and ruled the area for 4 years from August 1943 to May 1946. During the independence of India, the Satara district was re-constituted as part of merger of the former Indian states. The district was divided into two districts namely South Satara and North Satara and both districts were part of the Bombay State. However, the name of North Satara district was changed to Satara and the South Satara was re-christened as Sangli in 1960. Presently, there are 4 Sub-Divisions in Satara district namely Satara, Wai, Karad and Phaltan.
The Satara district is located in the western part of Maharashtra and is bounded by Pune district to the north, Solapur district to the east, Sangli district to the south and Ratnagiri district to the west. The Raigad district lies to the north-west side of Satara. Satara is situated in the river basins of the Bhima and Krishna River and there is a wonderful contrast of immense dimensions and a variety of landscapes in the district. It is located at 17°5` to 18°11` North latitudes and 73°33` to 74°54` East longitudes. The minimum temperature of the district is 11.6°C and the maximum temperature is 37.5°C. The district receives an average rainfall of 1426 mm. per year. The major rivers flowing through the Satara district include Koyana and Krishna. There are a few small feeder rivers of Krishna River in Satara that include Kudali, Urmodi, Venna and Tarali. Koyna is actually the largest tributary of Krishna River in the district. The other two rivers, Neera and Manganga are the two representative of the Bhima drainage in the north and north-eastern parts of the district, respectively. The climate of Satara district ranges from the rainiest in the Mahabaleshwar region, which has an average annual all of over 6000 mm to the driest in Man Tehsil, where the average annual rainfall is about 500 mm.
The Satara district is quite rich in its cultural tradition. The culture of the district is Maharashtrian and the people like to follow various customs. The people celebrate various religious and cultural festivals like Diwali, Holi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha, Buddha Jayanti, Mahavir Jayanti, etc. They celebrate these festivals together, irrespective of religion or caste differences.
The Satara district is most famous for its religious aspects. There are numerous pilgrimages of various religions located in the district. The Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Muslims visit the pilgrimages every year. The most notable and famous pilgrimages located in the Satara district include Kuraneshwar (Khinditil Ganapati), Yevateshwar Temple, Wai Ganpati Temple, Sikhar Singanapur Temple, Siddhanath Temple at Mhaswad, Chaphal, Yamai Devi Temple, Aundh, Bhavani Temple on Pratapgad, Khandoba Temple of Pali, Temple of lord Rama, Samadhi of Bramhachaitanya Gondawalekar Maharaj at Gondawale Bk., Sevagiri Maharaj Samadhi Mandir, etc. There are also many Masjids and Minars located in Karad, in the Satara district.
There are many eminent personalities who hailed from the Satara district. The most notable ones among them include the spiritual Guru and guide of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Samarth Ramdas; the once supreme judiciary authority in `Peshwai`, Ramshastri Prabhune; the famous ruler of the Satara State, Shrimant Chatrapati Pratapsinh Maharaj; the great warrior Queen, Zanshichi Rani Laxmibai; the famous revolutionary and freedom fighter, Krantisinh Nana Patil; the first lady teacher in India, Savitribai Phule; etc. The first Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Yeshawantrao Chavan; the great educationalist and founder of `Rayat Shikshan Sanstha`, Dr. Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil; Rajmata Sumitraraje Bhosale; the only Olympic Medal Winner for India till 2000, Khashaba Jadhav; etc. also hailed from the Satara district.
Satara district has some of the most prominent tourist destinations in the state of Maharashtra. The district largely contributes to the tourism sector of the district, as several people visit the tourist spots every year. Apart from the above mentioned pilgrimages, there are also many other important tourist destinations in Satara. The most important tourist destinations in Satara district include the Koyana Dam, Kanher Dam, Dhom Dam, Ajinkyatara Fort, Char Bhinti Hutatma Smarak, Thoseghar Water Fall, Chalkewadi Wind Energy Project, Kas Lake, Mayani Bird Sanctuary, Mahabaleshwar Temple, Panchgani, etc. Among all these places, the Mayani Bird Sanctuary and Mahabaleshwar Temple are considered the most popular ones.
This district in Maharashtra is predominantly an agricultural district. As a result majority of the people is engaged in agricultural activities. The major crops cultivated in the district include Bajra, Jowar, Wheat, Rice, Ghewada, Gram, Sugarcane, Groundnut, Potato, Soybean, etc. Among the crops, Sugarcane is considered the annual crop in Satara. The people of Satara are also engaged in fish cultivation. The Satara district has one of the largest numbers of fisheries in the state of Maharastra. About 14000 Hector of land is used for fish cultivation in this district and there are 10 Major, 13 Medium and 80 minor irrigated projects currently running in Satara. Apart from agriculture and fisheries, there are many industries in Satara district. Among these, the sugar industries and spinning mills are becoming the major source of employment in Satara district, day by day. There are also many co-operative societies operating in Satara and they provide employment to a significant number of people.
Another important aspect of the Satara district is its well planned educational system. The district is home to the first Sainik School of India, which was inaugurated on 23rd June, 1961. The school serves as a famous landmark in the Satara town and has sent hundreds of students to the National Defence Academy. The other famous educational institutions located in Satara include Bhimabai Ambedkar Kanya Vidyamandir, Dr. J. W. Airan Academy (formerly known as Narmada Education Academy), Kanyashala, Nirmala Convent High School, Sainik School, Saint Paul`s School, Lal Bahaddur Shastri College, Satara Azad College of Education, Chhatrapati Shivaji Arts College, Dhananjay Gadgil Vanijya Mahavidyalay, Ismailsaheb Mulla Law College, Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil College of Engineering, Yashawantrao Chavan Institute of Science Satara, Satara Polytechnic, Satara College of Pharmacy, etc. Health service is provided to the people of Satara through a General Hospital, cottage hospitals, primary health centres, primary health sub centres, rural hospitals, Ayurvedic Dispensaries, etc.
The Satara district is considered one of the prominent administrative districts in the state of Maharashtra. The district has is rich in its culture, history, economy, education, health, etc. and is also counted amongst the largest contributors to the tourism sector of Maharashtra.