Kopeshwar Temple – Khidrapur

What it cannot make up for in size and scale, the Khidrapur temple makes up in grandeur and ornateness. This temple is dedicated to the wrathful form of Lord Shiva, known as Kopeshwar. Of the Shiva temples, this one is unique, in that the Nandi is absent. We don’t know why.

Khidrapur - Kopeshwar Temple
Khidrapur – Kopeshwar Temple

Legend

Long time ago, there lived a chief of Gods called Daksha. He was married to Prasuti, the daughter of Manu, who bore him sixteen daughters. Satī was the youngest of them all, and had her heart set on Shiva.

Daksha and Shiva did not see eye-to-eye. There was, to say the least, a general animosity; more on Daksha’s side. When Satī was of marriageable age, Daksha held a Swayamvar, where he invited all, except Shiva. Satī had made up her mind about who she would choose, but not seeing Shiva in the assembly, flung the garland in the air and asked of Shiva to accept it. Shiva appeared there, middle of the assembly – garland around his neck. Daksha had no choice, but to grudgingly accept; Satī and Shiva were married.

Much later, Daksha held an ashwamedh (horse sacrifice) – again, all Gods were invited to partake of the offerings of the sacrifice; except Shiva. When Satī heard of this she was furious and after an argument with Shiva proceeded to the sacrifice, uninvited. Some insults ensued, and Satī released an inward consuming fire and died at Daksha’s feet. (some versions say Satī self-immolated in the sacrificial fire)

Khidrapur - Kopeshwar Temple
Khidrapur – Kopeshwar Temple

Shiva soon got to know of this and was consumed with rage. In that state he tore a lock of his hair and flung it to earth, which gave rise to the frightful form of Virbhadrā, who wrecked havoc at the sacrifice. Daksha was beheaded, among other ‘divine’ casualties. Brahmā and Vishṇu had to intervene to stop the carnage. Shiva bestowed a goat’s head to Daksha and made good, all injuries caused. Thus, all was well; all those present bowed to the Trinity, and departed.

Khidrapur - Kopeshwar Temple
Khidrapur – Kopeshwar Temple

History

Construction of this temple was started by the Śilāhāra King, Gandarāditya I, (the youngest of five sons of Mārasimha) around 1126 CE (Some sources put the date at 1028 CE). For more information of dynasties of Maharashtra, see The Dynasties of Maharashtra

The Śilāhāras were originally feudatories of the Rāśtrakuta empire, and ruled in North Konkan, from around 800 CE. By 900 CE, there were three branches of the dynasty; apart from the original North Konkan branch, they now also ruled South Konkan and South Maharashtra (Kolhapur). Gandarāditya I (r. 1108 – 1138), of the Kolhapur branch, started the construction of the Khidrapur temple. Gandarāditya was a prolific temple-builder and is credited for building four temples in the region and providing grants for a few more, including Jain and Buddhist temples. Gandarāditya was succeeded by Vijayāditya and Bhōja II, after which this dynasty came to an end at the hands of the Seuna Yādavs.

Khidrapur - Kopeshwar Temple
Khidrapur – Kopeshwar Temple

 

Construction of the temple continued for over seventy years during the reign of his successors, Vijayāditya and Bhōja II. The structure was still incomplete when the Yādav king Singhana annexed the Śilāhāra kingdom, and remains such, to this day. Singhana also possibly contributed to the construction of the temple, according to some inscriptions in the temple.

Temple Architecture

Plan - Khidrapur Temple
Plan – Khidrapur Temple (Click to Enlarge)

The temple consists of the garbha-grha (sanctum), the antarāla (antechamber), the gūḍha-maṇḍapa (enclosed hall) and the raṅga-maṇḍapa, constructed in a row. Usually, there is a dvāra-maṇḍapa in front of such a gūḍha-maṇḍapa but here its place is taken  by a detached large octagonal maṇḍapa (called sabhā-maṇḍapa or ranga-maṇḍapa), as in the case of the Sun Temple at Modhera. Inside, are twelve pillars in a circle which open to the sky, because the ceiling was never constructed. It is believed by the local people that a pious man who stands on the slab below that opening, goes to heaven. Hence, it is also called the swarga-maṇḍapa.

The garbha-grha, the antarāla and the gūḍha-maṇḍapa are star-shaped on the outside Their walls are decorated with various images from top to bottom The lowest part of the jaṅghā (pillars) are adorned with beautiful figures of elephants (Gajapeetha), with various Gods such as Indrā, Brahmā and Vishṇu riding them. There are 92 such elephants, 46 on each side. (Adapted from CII Vol. 4)

Khidrapur - Kopeshwar Temple
Khidrapur – Kopeshwar Temple

 

The construction methodology followed is the dry mortar bedding technique. (ASI, Mumbai Circle)

Here’s another extract (with minor edits for consistency and readability) from the The Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency (Vol. XXIV – Kolhapur) about Khidrapur:

Khidrapur, lies on the Krishnā river about twelve miles south-east of Shirol. The chief interest of the village is the temple of Kopeshwar which lies in the centre of the village and is 10½’ x 65’ x 52½’ high, to the top of the dome. The walls are made of black stone richly carved and the dome is covered with stucco. To the main building are attached two richly carved sculptured mandaps or vestibules. In the vestibule are two concentric squares; the outer with twenty and the inner with twelve pillars, richly carved. In front of the temple is round roofless structure called the Swarga Mandapa or Heavenly Hall, on the plan of what would be a twenty-rayed star, only that the spaces for four of the rays are occupied by four entrances. On the outside on a low screen wall stand thirty-six short pillars, while inside is a circle of twelve columns. Further from the temple is the nagārkhāna or drum-chamber. The outer walls of the temple are broken at oblique angles as in the Nilang Hemādpanti temple.

By the south door of the temple is a Devgiri Yādav inscription of Sinhadev in Devnāgari dated Shak 1135 (A.D. 1213) granting the village of Khandaleshwar in Miraj for the worship of Kopeshwar.

*

Khidrapur is about 65kms south-east of Kolhapur and well laid out on Google Maps.

Gallery

References

  1. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum. Vol. 6 Inscriptions of the Śilāhāras
  2. Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency Vol. 24 – Kolhapur
  3. ASI Mumbai Circle. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.asimumbaicircle.com/m_kolhapur.html
  4. Gupta, S. P., & Asthana, S. P. (2009). Elements of Indian Art: Including Temple Architecture, Iconography & Iconometry. New Delhi: Indraprastha Museum of Art and Archaeology.
  5. Nivedita, S., & Coomaraswamy, A. K. (n.d.). Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists.
  6. Shilahara Dynasty. (2017, March 26). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shilahara
  7. Virabhadra. (2017, March 28). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virabhadra

The Dynasties of Maharashtra

An overview of the various dynasties that ruled the region that is now Maharashtra, from 230 BCE – 1300 CE. A very short description of all these dynasties follows.

We are very grateful to Brigadier Gerard, who had first posted this as a sketch on Twitter, and gave us permission adapt it and post it here.

Dynasties of Maharashtra
Click to view large size

The Dynasties of Maharashtra

Most of the content below is sourced from Wikipedia. Apart from this, some references have been made to various books listed at the end.

A note on dates: You will notice some discrepancies in the dates in the infographic above and sources (including Wikipedia). This is primarily due to how historians interpret dates. Some take it starting from when a dynasty was established, some take it at later time. Most of the dynasties listed below were vassals or feudatories of the dynasties that preceded them. In such situations, they were semi-independent to an extent.

Sātavāhan

The Satavahana dynasty ruled the Deccan region between 230 BCE – 225 CE. They were probably vassals of the Mauryas, and established their supremacy in the Deccan after the decline of the Maurya Empire. The dynasty was established by Simuka, however, Gautamiputra Satakarni (86–110 CE) is the most well-known king of this dynasty. The Satavahanas ruled from Pratishthana (modern-day Paithan) and Amravati (Dist. Guntur, Andhra Pradesh) [Link]

Vākāṭaka

The Satavahanas were succeeded by the Vakatakas, who ruled during 250 – 525 CE, with their capital at Nandivardhana (modern-day Nandardhan, near Ramtek) and Vatsagulma (modern-day Washim). This dynasty was founded by Vindhyashakti (c. 250 – c. 270 CE). Vakatakas are known for their patronage of art & architecture. The famous Ajanta caves, were built by under the patronage of Vakataka emperor, Harishena. [Link]

Kālāchuri

The Kalachuri dynasty, ruled in Ujjayini, Vidisha, and Anandapura; and their capital was Mahishmati, which lies along the banks of the Narmada River. Not much is known about the founder of this dynasty; the earliest mentioned king was called Krishnaraja. Like the Vakatakas, the Kalachuris were also patrons of art & architecture. The Elephanta caves and the early Ellora caves were built under their patronage. [Link]

Chalukyas of Vatapi (Badami)

One of the most significant dynasties of the Deccan, the early Chalukyas, or the Chalukyas of Vatapi ruled a large area of the Deccan between 550 – 760 CE, covering the entire region between the Narmada and the Kaveri rivers. Their rule is considered to be an era of prosperity. It also saw the birth of a new architectural style called Chalukyan architecture. The Chalukyas were natives of Karnataka; this dynasty was founded by Pulakeshin I. [Link]

Rāṣṭrakūṭa

The Rashtrakuta dynasty ruled most of the Indian subcontinent, between 753 – 973 CE, with their capital at Manyakheta (Modern-day Malkhed). The Rashtrakutas were feudatories of the Chalukyas of Vatapi and at peak, the Rashtrakutas ruled from the Ganges River to Cape Comorin. This period saw the development of many literary works as well as development of architecture, which include the Kailashnath temple at Ellora and the Jain Narayana Temple at Pattadakal. [Link]

Śilāhāra

The Silahara were vassals of the Rashtrakutas and were split in three branches: North Konkan, South Konkan, and Kolhapur. Across these three branches, the Silaharas ruled between 765 – 1215 CE. The Northern branch was founded by Kapardin, and their capital was Puri (modern-day Rajapur, in the Raigad district). The Silaharas of Kolhapur originally ruled from Karad, and later shifted their capital to Kolhapur. The Panhala fort, near Kolhapur was originally built by the Silahara ruler, Bhoja II between 1178 and 1209 CE. [Link]

Chalukyas of Kalyani

The Chalukyas of Kalyani, or the Western Chalukyas, ruled the Indian subcontinent during 973 CE – 1180 CE, with their capital, earlier at Manyakheta, and later at Kalyani (modern-day Basavakalyan). Major ruling families of the Deccan, the Hoysalas, the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiya dynasty and the Southern Kalachuris of Kalyani, were subordinates of the Western Chalukyas. The Western Chalukyan architectural style is well known as the transitional style between the earlier Chalukyas and the Hoysalas. [Link]

Kadamba

The Kadamba dynasty ruled northern Karnataka and the Konkan from Banavasi. The dynasty was founded by Mayurasharma in 345 CE. Kadambas were the first rulers to use Kannada as another official administrative language. The Kadambas of Goa, first ruled from Chandor, and laters shifted their capital to Gopakapattana (Goa). The Kadambas of Goa ruled between 960 – 1310 CE and succumbed to the Seuna Yadavs. [Link]

Seuna Yadav

The Seuna Yadavs were feudatories of the Western Chalukyas, and established their independence as the Chalukyan power declined. The Yadavas of Devgiris, as they are also known, ruled from 1189 – 1310 CE, from Devgiri (modern-day Daulatabad). The name Seuna comes from Seunachandra, who originally ruled a region called Seunadesha (modern-day Khandesh), this dynasty was established by Bhillama V (1173–1192 CE). Singhana II (1200–1247 CE), however is considered the greatest ruler of this dynasty who expanded the Seuna kingdom. In 1317 CE, this kingdom was annexed by the Khilji Sultanate. [Link]

References

  1. A., N. S. (1976). A history of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar. Madras: Oxford University Press.
  2. Bhāndārkar, R. G. (1957). Early History of the Dekkan. Calcutta: Gupta.
  3. Nagpur District Gazetteer. (n.d.). Retrieved January 07, 2017, from https://web.archive.org/web/20060603010304/http://www.maharashtra.gov.in/english/gazetteer/FINAL_GAZETTEE/his1.html
  4. Sharma, L. P. (1987). History of Ancient India: (pre-historic age to 1200 A.D.). New Delhi: Konark .
  5. Singh, U. (2008). A history of ancient and early medieval India: from the Stone Age to the 12th century. New Delhi: Pearson Education.

Featured Image: By Dey.sandip (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Siege of Panhala, 1660

13 July, 1660.

It must have been an important day for Siddi Jauhar, as he would have watched Shivaji make his way back to Panhala Fort. Shivaji had descended the fort to seek terms of surrender, and it was now, only a matter of hours before Siddi’s siege would be successful.

Shivaji had captured Panhala on 28 November 1659, just 18 days after the death of Afzal Khan at Pratapgad. Two of Bijapur’s great commanders had failed in the task to capture Shivaji. First, Afzal Khan, who was killed and his army defeated at Pratapgad, then Rustam-e-Zaman, with Fazal Khan and other commanders, who were squarely defeated and made to flee, just a month after Shivaji’s capture of Panhala.

Bijapur was going out of options, at this growing influence of Shivaji, which had reached their capital city, and it was upon Siddi Jauhar to finish this task, once and for all. Siddi Jauhar having taking upon himself to lead this important campaign, would finally find favour at the Bijapur court and the Kurnool district would be restored to him. Shivaji had succumbed, offered surrender; it was time for respite from the arduous siege that had lasted five months. His men could now take it easy. Everything was going his way.

He could not have been more wrong.

Background

After the utter rout of the Bijapur army at the Battle of Pratapgad on 10 November 1659, Shivaji and the Maratha forces kept up the momentum and captured several forts that were under Bijapur control. Of these, the taking of Panhala fort was most significant. Panhala is an impregnable and a massive fort, with the means to withstand a long siege. Geographically, it is strategically located; the master of this fort controls the passes between the Deccan plateau and seaports of the Konkan region. Shivaji had already captured the twin forts of Chandan-Vandan. Soon after, the Maratha Armies captured Vasantgad, Rangna, and Khelna (which Shivaji renamed to Vishalgad), and other minor forts. Of these, Pavangad was a key acquisition, which lies on the spur of Panhala, east of the main fort.

Exactly a month after the capture of Panhala, 28 December, 1659, Bijapur ordered Rustam-e-Zaman to attack Shivaji and recapture Panhala. He was joined by Fazal Khan, son of the slain Afzal Khan, who was desperately seeking revenge for his father’s death. Some records mention that Rustom-e-Zaman, probably fought this battle half-heartedly.

A quick note about Rustam-e-Zaman may not be out-of-place here. He was the son of Randaullah khan, a famous noble at the Bijapur court, the viceroy of the southwest Bijapur kingdom, holding fiefs of South Konkan and Karawar districts. Randaullah Khan was considered to be a mentor of Shahaji, father of Shivaji, and they had friendly relationship, often working together on campaigns in the south. Rustam-e-Zaman was a hereditary title conferred on Randaullah Khan by Bijapur, and it passed to his son. It won’t be too far-fetched to imagine that the son of Randaullah Khan and the son of Shahaji also had cordial relationships. In fact, English Factory Records, refer to them as “friends” and cite instances of collusion. During Shivaji’s Konkan campaigns, Rajapur—a dominion of Rustam-e-Zaman—was spared, while nearby territories were overrun.

Afzal Khan was killed and defeated at Pratapgad. Rustam-e-Zaman and Fazal Khan had to flee and retreat at the Battle of Kolhapur. Ali Adil Shah, eventually decided to launch an attack on Shivaji, himself, with all the might of the Bijapur army. At this time, Siddi Jauhar presented himself as a contender for this campaign.

Siddi Jauhar was an African slave of a Bijapuri noble, Malik Abdur Wahah. After the death of this noble, Siddi Jauhar, proclaimed himself the master of Kurnool and independent of Bijapur. Seeking favour and reconciliation, Siddi Jauhar offered to lead the campaign against Shivaji, if only Bijapur would recognise his fiefs and grant royal pardon for dissension. Ali Adil Shah granted this pardon on the condition that there would be a “complete overthrow” of the Maratha leader, and as added incentive, lent legitimacy to the campaign by assigning Siddi Jauhar the title of Salabat Jung.

The confident Siddi Jauhar, marched towards Panhala with a large army [a]. Shivaji was campaigning in Konkan, when he heard of the movements of Siddi’s army. He turned towards Panahala and himself took command at the fort. It was not, however, a matter of a single large army marching towards Panhala. Bijapur, relentless and seeking victory at any cost, sought to surround Shivaji. Shivaji’s troubles were three-fold: One, they reached out to the Mughals, (who, incidentally had recently besieged Bijapur) to attack Shivaji from the north, Two, Fateh Khan was asked to charge from Janjira and retake Konkan, and Three, the Sawants of Sawantwadi moved towards the south-west frontiers of Shivaji’s lands.

Shivaji, aware of these oncoming onslaughts charged his commanders thus: Raghunathpant Korde was to fight Fateh Khan in Konkan. Abaji Sondev was to defend Kalyan and Bhivandi districts. Baji Pasalkar was to repulse the attack of the Sawants. The plateau region of the Sahyadri mountain range, that consisted of the forts of Purandhar, Sinhagad, Pratapgad and nearby areas was commanded by Moropant Pingle. Shivaji took residence in the fort on 2 March 1660, and Kadtoji Bargujar[*] conducted the defence of Panhala from within. Shivaji sent a message to Sarnobat (Commander-in-Chief) Netaji Palkar, who was campaigning close to Bijapur, to attack the army of Siddi Jauhar from outside.

Fazal Khan and Rustam-e-Zaman, earlier defeated by Shivaji’s armies joined Siddi Jauhar and marched their armies towards Panhala. This already large army was then joined by Baji Ghorpade, Pid Nayak – the Bedar chief of Shorapur, Sadat Khan, Siddi Masood, Bhai Khan, and Bade Khan.

Siege of Panhala - Bijapuri Armies
Siege of Panhala – Bijapuri Armies

In early March 1660, Panhala was under siege.

Shivaji expected that the onset of the rains would slacken the siege and the harassment by the light cavalry of his Commander-in-Chief – Netaji Palkar, would further weaken the besiegers. This was not to be.

Siddi Jauhar did not relent even as it rained, instead he continued the siege with renewed vigour, as he saw his position strengthen. Netaji Palkar could not reach Panhala in time with the necessary force that could have changed the outcome of the siege[b]. As if this was not enough, Siddi Jauhar added a crucial factor to this event by procuring heavy artillery from the English at Rajapur. The chief of the factory, Henry Revington, along with two others (probably gunners) William Mingham and Philip Gyffard, came to Panhala with the guns and ammunition, and publicly supported Siddi Jauhar, though at the time, the East India Company was strictly neutral. Needless to say, this enraged Shivaji, who had till now maintained cordial relationships with the English.

In the north, Shaista Khan, who had been appointed the Viceroy of the Deccan by Aurangzeb, was creating havoc in Shivaji’s lands. By May 1660, Shaista Khan had occupied Pune and taken residence in Lal Mahal, Shivaji’s palace. Shivaji’s position was altogether untenable. While Panhala had the resources to withstand the siege for a while, the shelling from the English artillery and the closing in of the Mughals required that he change tact. It was now the fifth month of the siege.

He made pretence of submission, and sent message to Siddi Jauhar that he would like to discuss terms of surrender.

13 July 1660

In the cover of the night, Siddi Jauhar and Shivaji met outside the fort, and began their talks. Agreeing to meet again the next day, and finalise terms, Shivaji made his way back to the fort, leaving Siddi Jauhar in a false sense of security and closure.

While Siddi Jauhar relaxed and his armies took a much sought break, Shivaji escaped from Panhala.

Two teams left Panhala that night. In one was Shivaji, along with the Baji Prabhu Deshpande and few hundred soldiers. In the other was a barber – Shiva Kashid who resembled Shivaji, with a few other soldiers. The imposter’s team made way through the main road that led to Vishalgad, while Shivaji’s team made way through a side route, across the Masai plateau – a trek of about 60 kilometres. However, the news of the escape reached Siddi Jauhar’s camp and they pursued the fugitives. Fortunately, they caught up with the imposter’s team, which was taken back to Panhala. The imposter was soon discovered, and probably beheaded[c]. Yet the purpose was achieved and Shivaji’s team got the vital lead. Siddi Masud and Fazal Khan went again in pursuit and nearly caught up with the rear of Shivaji’s small army, just at daybreak.

Shiva Kashid - Statue at Panhala
Shiva Kashid – Statue at Panhala

In what is now regarded as classic rearguard action, Baji Prabhu Deshpande, along with his brother Fulaji, and a few hundred soldiers, defended a narrow pass -— Ghodkhind, while Shivaji and the remaining soldiers hastened to Vishalgad, which was still seven to nine kilometres away. The very large Bijapuri army led three major assaults on this rearguard, but was repulsed each time. Baji Prabhu Deshpande’s rearguard held for almost four hours, determined not to open that narrow pass till they got the signal that Shivaji was safe : three cannon shots from Vishalgad. The third assault, from the Karnatic infantry of Fazal Khan, proved to be fatal and half of the defending Maratha army was lost. The battle now turned to a hand-to-hand combat, and Baji Prabhu Deshpande, wielding two dand-pattas[d] continued the struggle in spite of being severely wounded. Finally he heard the three cannon shots, and succumbed to his injuries. His loyal soldiers carried the mortal remains of their valiant captain back to Vishalgad. Shivaji renamed this gorge to Paawankhind and offered the “first honour of the court” to his family.

Baji Prabhu Deshpande
Baji Prabhu Deshpande

*

The armies of Siddi Jauhar then, camped at Gajapur, at the base of Vishalgad and considered laying siege to Vishalgad. However, it cannot be invested from the west — it’s a straight drop of 2000 ft, into Konkan and there isn’t a way depriving supplies to the fort. The siege at Panhala continued. By this time, Ali Adil Shah who had received news of Shivaji’s escape, had reached Miraj, and by most accounts, relieved Siddi Jauhar of his responsibility. He suspected collusion on Siddi’s part, for how else could Shivaji escape from such a tight siege.

Panhala was surrendered to Bijapur on 22 September 1660, following a truce, between Shivaji and Ali Adil Shah, along with Pawangad and nearby forts. However, Rangna and Vishalgad remained with Shivaji.

Shivaji recaptured it in 1673.

Notes:

[a] The number of soldiers and the composition varies in almost every source. The range that we see in different sources varies from 20,000 to 60,000. It’s possible that certain sources refer to the army that belonged to Siddi Jauhar, whereas other sources add up the armies of the various commanders. The most common occurrence across sources is approximately 40,000

[b] There are two versions of the role of Netaji Palkar for this event. Shiv Charitra says that he never made it to Panhala, for which he was stripped of his rank (Sarnaubat) and it was invested in Kadtoji Bargujar (later entitled Prataprao Gujar). Most other versions mention his arrival, even if late, but definitely ineffective.

[c] There is no definitive entry in any sources we have seen. This is a popular, folklore version, derived of oral history.

[d] Some sources refer to these as flexible swords. The general usage in most text refer to the flexible sword as patta and to the gauntlet sword (long straight blade) as the dand-patta

[*] Only Sen, S. N. mentions Kudtoji Gujar as the one assigned to the defence of the fort. Shiv Bharat Ch. 25 (1-24) mentions Trymbak Bhaskar.

References:

  1. Keḷakara, Narasĩha Cintāmaṇa, and Dattetraya Vishnu. Apte. English Records on Shivaji: (1659-1682). Poona: Shiva Charitra Karyalaya, 1931. Print.
  2. Kincaid, Charles Augustus, and Rao Bahadur D. B. Parasnis. A History of the Maratha People. Vol. I. Oxford: Longmann, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green, 1925. Print.
  3. Krishna, Bal. Shivaji the Great. Vol. II. Bombay: Taraporevala, 1932. Print.
  4. Patwardhan, R. P., and H. G. Rawlinson. Source Book of Maratha History. Calcutta: K.P. Bagchi, 1978. Print.
  5. Sardesai, Govind Sakharam. New History of the Marathas. Vol. I. Bombay: Phoenix Publications, 1946. Print.
  6. Sarkar, Jadunath. Shivaji and His times. London: Longmans, Green, 1920. Print.
  7. Sarkar, Jadunath. House of Shivaji (studies and Documents on Maratha History: Royal Period). Calcutta: M.C. Sarkar, 1955. Print.
  8. Sen, Surendra Nath. Siva Chhatrapati: Being a Translation of Sabhasad Bakhar with Extracts from Chitnis and Sivadigvijaya with Notes. Calcutta: Bagchi, 1977. Print.
  9. Shivaji, and Govind Sakharam Sardesai. Shivaji Souvenir. Bombay: K.B. Dhawale, 1927. Print.
  10. Takakhav, N. S., and Kr̥shṇarāva Arjuna Keḷūsakara. The Life of Shivaji Maharaj: Founder of the Maratha Empire. Bombay: Manoranjan, 1921. Print.
  11. आपटे, दत्तात्रय विष्णु. महाराष्ट्र इतिहासमंजरी. पुणें: चित्रशाळा प्रेस, १८४५. Print.

About A Sher (शेर)

Way back, in 2009, a family wedding pulled me away in the fine month of December, to Kolhapur, a city steeped in history. The bastion of Maratha history, it is a photographer’s delight, full of colour and fine imagery. Once an agrarian town, now, a city bustling with industry. But history is in its spirit, always. When you seek bits of history, they are available to you, everywhere.

Sher (Traditional Measure) - 1

One such bit that caught my attention was a standard measure, called a Sher (शेर) that was being cleaned and polished for a wedding ritual. When the bride enters the groom’s residence for the first time, she strikes inward, a Sher, full of grain (usually Rice) at the threshold with her right foot (thumb, if you care for the finer details). This ritual is called “Maap Olandne” (माप ओलांडणे), loosely translated, “Crossing the Threshold (or Measure, literally)”. It signifies the ushering of wealth and food (धन, धान्य) by virtue of her entry. I believe, this is a common tradition followed in most Maharashtrian weddings.

My focus however, is the Sher.

Sher (Traditional Measure) - 3

This particular Sher was made in the year 1910 and has a rhomboidal inscription, each corner displaying म श्री छ प on it (M, Shri, Chh, P). This stands for महाराज श्रीमंत छत्रपाती परवाना (Maharaj Shrimant Chhatrapati Parwana). It’s the seal of the king, and was perhaps completely in copper.

Sher (Traditional Measure) - 4

So how much is a Sher?

1 Sher = 1.25kgs, so
4 Sher = 5kgs, which is also known as a Payli (पायली)

Other related Sher terminology:

1/2 a Sher = 1 Mapta (मापटं)
1/4 a Sher – 1 Chipta (चिपटं)
and
1/2 a Chipta = 1 Kolwa (कोळवं)