Situated in 17°30' north latitude and 75°25' east longitude, Mangal-vedha is the head-quarters of the taluka bearing the same name and is located at a distance of fourteen miles from Pandharpur. The population, according to 1971 Census, was 15,141. Though no definite information is available as to how the town came to be known as Mangalvedha, as per the local tradition it is ascribed to one king Mangal who was ruling from Mangalvedha. As per another account the derivation of the name of the town is the temple of Mangalai that was there in the town. It was also known as Mangalvad or Mangaliveda during the reign of Kalachuris. It subsequently came to be known as Mangalvedha.
Being the head-quarters of a taluka the offices of the Mamlatdar and the Block Development Officer are located in the town of Mangalvedha. It has a police station the jurisdiction of which extends over seventy-one villages in the outlying areas. It is a seat of a Civil Judge, Junior Division and a First Class Magistrate. The educational facilities are provided by the primary schools conducted by the Zilla Parishad and the English School conducted formerly by the Government under the ex-Sangli State regime and now by the Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, Mangalvedha. The town has been electrified. The weekly market which is also a cattle market is held at Mangalvedha on every Monday. The Government rest-house is also located at Mangalvedha.
History: Mangalvedha is said to be noticed as Metulingpuri in the Bhima Mahatmya included in the Skanda Purana. But this identification is doubtful. From innumerable monumental stone remains of the times of the Chalukya kings of Kalyani found scattered about the place, it is concluded that it must have been a town of great note during the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries. It is certain from the inscriptions that the town was subject to the domination of the Chalukyas of Kalyani and was a seat of a great officer of theirs who lived at this place. Later
on it was the head-quarters of Kalachuryas and was the chief town of Tarikadu-nadu. According to one inscription Bijjana who suddenly emerged with great prestige and importance first as a Chalukya feudatory and then as a usurper of the Chalukya throne and an independent king was ruling from Kalyani on May 6, 1162 A.D. while according to another, from Mangalvedha in January 17, 1162 A.D. Bhillama, the king belonging to the dynasty of the Yadavas of Devagiri after conquering the fort of Shrivardhana and storming the fort of Pratyantagad (Prachan-dagad or Torna), proceeded towards the south and killed the Kalachuri king Bilhana. This happened between c. 1170 A.D. and c. 1184 A.D. Thus Mangalvedha passed on to the Yadavas of Devagiri and ceased to be the capital city which it formerly was. It subsequently passed on to the Bahamanis in the fourteenth century. Mangalvedha and the surrounding area was conquered by Bahadur Khan Gilani, a rebel Bahamani noble. Gilani entrenched himself in the fort of Mangalvedha. However, on the approach of the Sultan's army, he left the fort and the fort surrendered. Ratankhan defeated and killed Bahadur Khan Gilani on November 5, 1494 and captured Mangalvedha. It was subsequently bestowed upon Majlis I Rafi Malik Usuf Turk Adilkhan. In 1603 it was a seat of residence of Mir Mustafakhan, the nobleman of the Emperor Akbar. It constantly passed on from Moghals to Bijapur and vice versa and it finally became subject to the Moghal rule after the fall of Bijapur kingdom in 1686. During his stay at Machnur eight miles east of Mangalvedha, the Emperor Aurangzeb used to pay a weekly visit to the masjid of Pir Gaibi Saheb at Mangalvedha. It is said that while thus going from his camp at Mangalvedha through the waving fields of corn, Aurangzeb happened to enquire into the revenue of the pargana or sub-division and was told that only Rs. 1 lakh were realized by his government. This amount he deemed to be very small and gave orders to double it for that year and to increase the same by Rs. 40,000 more for the next year, that is, the husbandmen of the pargana had to pay Rs. 2 lakhs in 1699 and Rs. 2,40,000 in 1700. These exorbitant rates were continued for many years until in 1716, under the Satara kings, Bahirji Raje Pandhre in charge of the pargana found the country entirely depopulated and uncultivated. Pandhre induced the people to cultivate lands at Rs. 17½ per chahur of 120 bighas for the year 1717 and at Rs. 35 for the following year, thus increasing every year by a multiple of Rs. 17½ till it came to Rs. 105 in 1722. The Pandhres were succeeded by the Shivdevs in the headship of the pargana and in 1750 by Meghashyamrao Krishna Patwardhan who acted as a Mamlat-dar of the Peshwa's government till 1764 when Mangalvedha became part of the saranjam granted to Govind Hari Patwardhan. In 1801, at the division of the saranjam Mangalvedha came to the share of the Sangli branch.
A ground fort was constructed at Mangalvedha in the year 1493. Chhatrapati Shahu, after his release from the Moghal captivity and after ascending the throne, appointed Raje Pandhre as Subhedar who looked after the town from 1708 to 1742. The chauburji inside the fort was constructed by Raje Pandhre in 1720-1730.
The town went under the British administration for a few years after Shrimant Dhundiraj Tatyasaheb became the chief of the Sangli State. Much of the fort was demolished by the Joint Administrator Captain West and then by Major Waller. It again went under the British administrator from 1901 to 1910. After the rulership of the State was assumed by Sir Chintamanrao Appasaheb in 1910, some democratic rights were conferred upon the people in 1930. The responsible democratic government was established in Sangli State in 1946 and one Shri Ramchandra Ganesh alias Bhausaheb Karandikar of Mangalvedha was elected the chairman of the Sangli State Legislative Assembly. After the deed of accession to the Indian Union was signed by the Chief of Sangli on February 19, 1948, the State was merged with the Indian Union and became part of the district of Sholapur. When the State of Sangli was under the rule of an elected government, the Chief of Sangli used to visit Mangalvedha after every two to three years for about three days and give a patient hearing to the local people.
Municipality: The municipality was established at Mangalvedha in 1874. Formerly governed under the Bombay District Municipal Act of 1901, it is now governed under the Maharashtra Municipalities Act, 1965 and it covers an area of 2.5 square miles. The municipal administration is looked after by three committees, viz., the standing committee, the sanitary committee and the water-supply and drainage committee.
For public convenience, the municipality maintains one vegetable market. The medical facilities are provided by the primary health centre conducted by the Zilla Parishad. The town has underground drainage in some of its parts. Wells form the main source of water-supply. The town has a Nagar Vachan Mandir. The municipality maintains one park. Two cremation grounds and two burial places are maintained by the municipality.
Objects: The principal objects of interest in the town are the temples dedicated to Sant Damaji, Sant Chokha, Vishveshwar and Mahadeo and the chauburji of the fort besides a house in a dilapidated condition which was the residence of the last Maratha general Bapu Gokhale.
The temple of Damaji is a simple structure and has no pretence to any architectural elegance. It is, however, a symbol of religion and humanity for which Damaji strove hard all his life. Damajipant, according to a local story, was employed at Mangalvedha as a revenue officer under the Bidar government. He was a devotee of god Vithoba
of Pandharpur and used to pay a visit to the shrine at Pandharpur very often.
A famine known as Damajipant famine wasted the Deccan between 1458 and 1460. On finding that hundreds of people were dying of hunger while huge stock of grains was stored in government godowns at Mangalvedha, Damajipant who had charge of the large store of government corn, being a revenue officer, fed hundreds of those who flocked to Mangalvedha out of government stores. Hearing of this breach of trust on the part of Damajipant, Humayun, the Bahamani Sultan, who was bereft of any sense of pity and who was therefore known as the tyrant, issued orders that Damajipant should be seized and brought before him. While Damaji was on his way to Bidar, god Vithoba of Pandharpur whose devotee Damaji was and whom he worshipped took pity on him and appearing as a village Mahar at the Bidar court, paid the price of the grain distributed by Damaji. This story is significant from another aspect as well. The episode illustrates not only the human character of Damaji but at the same time shows the efforts of Damajipant directed towards removing untouchability by treating all on a level of equality. The Mahar incarnation of Vithoba has an added significance in this context. Every year a fair is held in honour of Damaji in the month of Pausha. About 2,500 people assemble at the time of the fair.
Another object of interest in the town is a small temple dedicated to sant Chokhoba who was contemporary of sant Dnyaneshwar. As per the local tradition, the saint died under the debris when the wall on the eastern side of the fort gave way and collapsed when under construction resulting into the death of many other workers along with the saint. This happened in 1338 A.D. The saint was buried. Later on saint Namdeo visited Mangalvedha. When he went to the spot where Chokhoba was buried he could sense the spot resounding with the name 'Vitthal', 'Vitthal'. He therefore dug the spot, removed the remains of the saint and carried them on the spot where these remains were set to rest at Pandharpur and where a samadhi was constructed. His padukas are placed in a ghumati which has assumed importance in view of the fact that many devotees who visit Pandharpur visit the shrine on the way.
The temple dedicated to the god Vishveshwar Mahadeo is said, as per the local tradition, to have been constructed in 800 A.D. It is a Hemadpanti structure and was renovated in the year 1572 A.D. This temple bears an inscription in Marathi. In the month of Magna, the Mahashivaratri festival is celebrated here when devotees assemble in large numbers.
Yet another object of interest in the town is the chauburji constructed in the fort by Raje Pandhre during 1720-1730. Though the fort has now completely given away the chauburji still exists.
Fort: The fort of Mangalvedha was probably built by the Bidar officials. These officials knocked down all the old Jain temples of which there were many at Mangalvedha and built the fort with the materials so obtained. For, in an inscription on a pillar in the temple of Vishwanath dated the 3rd of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada of Shake 1494 Angiras Samvatsar or A.D. 1572, it is stated that the kulkarni of Hippargi who was then a majmudar at Mangalvedha, had repaired an old pulled down temple in the fort near Jagbhavi with the permission of Mulla Yakub Khan and had placed in it the ling of Vishwanath. The fort is 1,245 feet long on the north, 1,200 on the east, 1,100 on the south, and 920 on the west. The wall is thirty-five feet high and thirteen feet wide. Except in the east where it was pulled down, the wall is in good condition. The fort has seven bastions called the Mardan, Karad, Chophala, Jagbhavi, Gachi, Kaikad and Borale. Of these, the Mardan, the largest bastion, is 47½ feet high and fifty feet in diameter. Of the remaining six smaller bastions, five are round and one, the Chophala, is a rectangle. Their height is not uniform. The ditch round the fort is eighty-two feet wide and 6½ feet deep on the north side. The main gate on the east is 14'X12'. Within the fort is another small fort called the chauburji which is a square having one of its sides 230 feet long, eighteen feet high and eight feet wide. It has four bastions called the Ranmandal, Rahat, Baut and Badekhan. The bastions are twenty-five feet high and thirty feet in diameter. The chauburji has two gates, one in the middle of the east wall 12'X8' and the other in the middle of the west wall 17'X4'.
Amongst the objects of interest in the town, the only Muslim object is the dargah of Gaibi Saheb which is not of any particular consequence. An urus is held in his honour in the month of Rajjab. About 5,000 people assemble at the time of the urus.
The house where once lived Bapu Gokhale is in a dilapidated condition but is preserved to commemorate the last Maratha general who was killed in an action with the English at Ashti.
The town is famous as a place of birth or place of residence of many renowned saints. Prominent among them besides Damajipant are Chokhoba, Tikacharya, Kanhopatra, Govindbuwa, Akkalkotkar Maharaj, Maunibuwa, Balkrishnabuwa, Shivadasa Maharaj Vakharikar, Latifbuwa and Gaibi Saheb. It is of interest to note that the original name of Tikacharya was Dhondurai Raghunath Deshpande. He took sanyas and came to be known as Jayatirtha. He wrote a number of commentaries on Madhavacharya and came to be known as Tikacharya. He took samadhi at Malkhed in Shake 1287.
In the thirteenth century was born in a family of a prostitute, a devotee of the Vithoba of Pandharpur named Kanhopatra. She was born at Mangalvedha and has composed many abhangas. According to a local
story, while she was pursued by some anti-social elements with a view to ravaging her modesty or molest her she went to Pandharpur and when she was worshipping Vithoba, died at his feet.
Akkalkotkar Maharaj was staying at Mangalvedha for about twelve years from Shake 1760. Later on he migrated to Akkalkot.