PLACES

AKKALKOT

LOCATED IN 1730' NORTH LATITUDE AND 7610'EAST LONGITUDE, Akkalkot has a population of 26,485 souls as per the Census of 1971. It was formerly a head-quarters seat, a capital of the princely state of Akkalkot. After the merger of the State in Indian Union, it formed part of Sholapur district and became the head-quarters of the taluka bearing the same name. The municipal town has been electrified and has a protected water-supply. The town has a Government rest-house. A weekly market which is also a cattle market is held at Akkalkot on every Monday.

History: The history of Akkalkot town is coherent with the history of Akkalkot state as Akkalkot came to limelight only in the early part of the eighteenth century. The separate history of Akkalkot does not begin until the early part of the eighteenth century. During the sixteenth century it was part of the debatable Sholapur district, which so often proved a cause of war between Bijapur and Ahmadnagar. In the beginning of the seventeenth century it was held by Ahmadnagar as at that time Malik Ambar's settlement was introduced into its villages. In 1707 after the death of the Emperor Aurangzeb, Shahu, Chhatrapati Shivaji's grandson, who had been in confinement since his father Sambhaji's death in 1689 was set free by Aurangzeb's successor Muazzam alias Bahadur Shah. On his return to the Deccan, Shahu encamped at Parad, a small village in the Shivri sub-division of Aurangabad. Here he was attacked by Sayaji, the headman of the village, who appears to have been a partisan of Tarabai, the widow of Rajaram, who was struggling with Shahu for the Maratha headship. In the fight Sayaji was defeated and killed. His widow, taking her three little boys, threw herself at Shahu's feet and implored his forgiveness and protection. The kind-hearted Shahu, moved with pity, offered to take care of Ranoji, the eldest of the children. The mother gladly agreed, and received from Shahu the villages of Parad, Shivri and Thana in mokasa inam. Ranoji, who was a good-looking lad of about ten, soon won the favour of Shahu. On the way to Satara, the force was attacked by a band of highwaymen. The nominal command of the detachment employed to disperse this band was given to the boy Ranoji. They promptly dispersed the banditti and in reward for bis first success Shahu changed the child's name to Fattehsing. In 1712 Shahu took Fattehsing into his family, and gave him the family surname of Bhosle and the Akkalkot State in hereditary jagir. Among other campaigns, Fattehsing went on an expedition to Kolhapur in 1718, to Bundelkhand in 1730, to Bhaganagar in the Karnatak, and to Trichinapoli in the train of the Pratinidhi and Raghuji Bhosle in 1748. In 1749 on the death of his patron Shahu, Fattehsing retired to Akkalkot where he died in 1760. He had two wives, Ahalya-bai and Gujabai. who both became satis on his death. Fattehsing was succeeded by his nephew Shahaji, son of his brother Babaji Lokhande, patil of Parad, whom five years before his death, with the Peshwa's sanction he had adopted. In 1760 on his death Shahaji was succeeded by his son Fattehsing also called Abasaheb. A dispute between Fattehsing and his brother Tuljaji was settled by the cession to Tuljaji of the village of Kurla in the Khatav sub-division in Satara. On the 3rd of July 1820 the East India Company entered into an agreement with Fattehsing restoring to him the estate which with the rest of the Satara territories had come into the possession of the British Government. In 1822 Fattehsing died and was succeeded by his son Maloji. In 1828 Maloji died and was succeeded by his son Shahaji who was eight years old. During the minority of Shahaji, the Raja of Satara assumed the management of the State. In 1830, certain changes introduced by the Raja in 1829 led to a rising headed by Shankarrao Sardeshmukh of Borgaon. To quell this rising a British force was sent from Sholapur to Akkalkot. It met with severe resistance, and the rebels did not yield till the Resident at Satara offered an amnesty. Inquiry showed that the people had received much provocation from the Raja of Satara and a British officer, Captain Jameson, was appointed regent of the state during Shahaji's minority. In 1849, on the annexation of Satara, the chief of Akkalkot became a feudatory of the British Government. In 1857 Shahaji died and was succeeded by his son Maloji. In 1866 Maloji was deposed for misrule and died in 1870. Maloji left an infant son Shahaji who was born in 1867. All the earlier and subsequent rulers of Akkalkot, surnamed Bhosle, were Maratha by caste and ranked as first class sardars of the Deccan. No ruler of the state was entitled to any salute nor did he pay any tribute, but in lieu of the contingent of horse stipulated in the agreement of 1820 paid a commuted yearly allowance to the British Government of Rs. 14,592. Since 1866 the State had been under British management. With the integration of States in the Indian Union, Akkalkot became a taluka in the Sholapur district of the State.

Municipality: The municipality was established at Akkalkot in the year 1904 and was governed under the Bombay District Municipal Act of 1901. It is now governed under the Maharashtra Municipalities Act of 1965. The municipality covers an area of 20.4 square miles. The municipal council is composed of twenty-four members with two seats being reserved for the scheduled castes and two for women. No seats are reserved for the scheduled tribes.

The municipal functions are looked after by various committees such as the standing committee, the public works committee, education committee, sanitation, medical and public health committee, the water-supply and drainage committee and the planning and development committee. The chief officer is the executive head of the municipality.

The underground drainage system has not yet been introduced in the town. There are open gutters and the arrangement is made by the municipality for the removal of night-soil. The municipality maintains one dispensary. The veterinary dispensary is managed by the Zilla Parishad, no contribution being made by the municipality. The water-supply is made available to the town from the river Beri. Primary education has been made compulsory in the town and is managed by the Zilla Parishad, small contribution towards the same being made by the municipality. The total length of roads in municipal area measures 17.09 km. The municipality maintains one tractor and a tanker as fire-fighting equipment. The municipality maintains one park. The town hall has been constructed in Akkalkot at a cost of rupees one lakh. The municipality maintains three cremation grounds whereas the burial places are maintained by the respective communities.

Objects: The principal objects of interest in the town are the Vata Vriksha temple of Shri Swami Samarth Maharaj of Akkalkot popularly known as Akkalkot Swami, the hatyarkhana or the exhibition of armoury and weaponry in the old palace at Akkalkot and a temple of Yellama Devi.

Akkalkot is considered to be an important centre of Datta sect, it being a place where Akkalkot Swami took samadhi in 1878 A.D. and who was considered to be an incarnation of God Dattatraya. After the saint attained samadhi, a small temple of 8' X 8' was constructed. Subsequently a two-storeyed structure alongwith the nagarkhana also came to be constructed. The temple was further renovated in 1920 and the construction of the sabhamandap was completed in 1925. The further extension of the temple took place in 1942. The construction of the inner shrine admeasuring 12' X 12' X 11' was started in 1943 and was completed in 1946. Subsequent additions have been made to the temple from time to time but they are not of much architectural consequence. A brief history of the Swami in whose memory the temple has been constructed would not be out of place here.

Akkalkot Swami whose date of birth is not known came to Akkalkot in the month of Ashvina in the year 1857. He is said to have performed many miracles such as turning brackish water into sweet water, burning the hukka without fire etc., and is also said to have cured many from the diseases they were suffering from. He took samadhi at Akkalkot on Chaitra Vadya 13/14 in Shake 1800, i.e., A.D. 1878. Many devotees even now throng the temple on all the days particularly on Thursday and the day of Datta Jayanti and as per the local tradition people even now get cured of the diseases they suffer from by praying at the temple. An annual fair is also held at the temple.

The most important object of interest from the tourist point of view is the hatyarkhana or the well-arranged exhibition of armoury and weaponry which is a collection by Fattehsing Bhosle who was the ruler at Akkalkot from 1894 A.D. to 1923 A.D. This exhibition has been well arranged in three big halls in an old palace. The armament and weapons exhibited include a variety of articles from Indian and foreign soils and also from the historical times to the present day. Among many other articles it contains swords of different varieties, spears, bows and arrows, maces, different kinds of daggers, vagh nakhe (tiger's claws), body-armours, sudarshan chakra (the disc of Vishnu), etc. At the centre is placed a statue of a warrior on a horseback with sword in his hand. Different kinds of pistols, matchlocks and firelocks are also witnessed in the exhibition. Besides these arms and armament and weaponry the other exhibited articles include old coins of different dynasties, earthen pots, goblets etc., specially used for cooling water and which have carved figures of vines and creepers on them.

The other object of interest is the temple of Yellama Devi. The temple is not of any consequence from the architectural point of view but is much revered by the religious-minded devotees who assemble there in large numbers on every Tuesday and Wednesday. Every year. at this temple, a fair is held in honour of the goddess Yellama on the full-moon day of every Chaitra (March-April). More than ten thousand people assemble at the time of the fair and the temple becomes a centre of much hubbub and activity on that day.

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