The princely state of Sawantwadi was a compact region that was uninterrupted by the tracts of other British districts or Indian princely states. The region occupied the southern part of the territory called the Konkan. Sawantwadi state is bounded by the Indian Ocean in the west; by the British district of Ratnagiri in the north; by Kolhapur in the northeast; by the British district of Belgaum in southeast; by the Portuguese Goa in the south. After the British administration took charge of the princely state of Sawantwadi, the province has witnessed a number of disturbances and rebellions. Sawantwadi state was under the Deccan States Agency and Kolhapur Residency.
The Sawant Bhonsale dynasty had been hereditary deshmukhs of Wari (near Goa). In the year 1707, the Sawant clan established their full dominion with the support of Shahuji, the successor of Shivaji. Later in 1819, the region came under the protection of the British as the state was severely affected by piracy during the reign of Khem Sawant III. The entire sea coast was ceded to Britain. Sawantwadi state was under the control and administration of the British during the first half of the 19th century. The ruler of the princely state held the title Raja Sar Desai. The native ruler of the state had autonomous power to administer the internal issues of the state. But they maintained pleasant association with the British as they received protection and security in return.
The state was appointed as a 9 gun salute state and the courts of the state implemented full civil and criminal jurisdiction. The native ruler exercised final and absolute control over the administrative functions of the state. The Raja of Sawantwadi state was an original member of the Chamber of Princes in his own right.
The princely state of Sawantwadi was divided into 3 parts for administrative purposes, namely Banda, Kudal and Wadi. The local tender was replaced by the British currency in the year 1839.