Situated in 17°40' north latitude and 75°46' east longitude, Sholapur city is the head-quarters of the district bearing the same name and is a railway station on the broad gauge line of the South-Central Railway, 165 miles to the south-east of Pune and 283 miles to the south-east of Bombay. The derivation of the name Sholapur is attributed to the fact that the former town was composed of sixteen villages known as Adilpur, Ahmadpur, Chapladev, Fatehpur, Jamdarwadi, Kalajapur, Khadarpur, Khanderavkiwadi, Muhammadpur, Ranapur, Sandalapur, Shaikpur, Sholapur, Sonalgi, Sonapur and Vaidkawadi. However, this derivation appears to be fallacious in view of the name Sholapur being among the list of sixteen villages given. Recent research however shows that the name Sholapur is derived from Sonalapur and not from
the congregation of sixteen villages. (For details see Chapter 1.) The city is spread over an area of 8.6 square miles and has a population of 3,98,361 souls as per the Census of 1971. The area under the jurisdiction of the Sholapur Municipal Corporation is 22.35 square kilometres.
The city lies about 1,800 feet above sea level on the water shed of the Adila, a feeder of the Sina which it joins at Nandur about eight miles to the south-west of the city. The city stands in the centre of a large plain, the nearest hill called Daval Malik being eight miles to the east, while on the north at a distance of twelve miles rises Savar-gaon Dongar and about ten miles further north-west is the Ekruk tank, or as it is generally called the Hipparga lake, and to the north, about half a mile on the Tuljapur road, is the old Sholapur water-works engine house and about 500 yards further north runs the Selgi stream from east to west.
The rock on which the city is built is a hard murum almost approaching trap. Except to the north and the east where there is some rich cotton soil, the rock in places near the surface is barely covered by soil. In the rains the surroundings of the city are green and pleasant whereas at other times the city gives bare and uninteresting appearance.
The city was formerly enclosed by walls, an excellent description of which is given in the old Sholapur District Gazetteer, 1884. The same is reproduced below:-
"Walls: The city is enclosed by a wall, two and half miles round, of which two miles round the Kasba and Shukravar wards are old and half a mile on the north was made about 125 years ago. About 1872, to give room to the growing town, the municipality pulled down the whole of the east wall and parts on the south-west and north. The walls are eight to ten feet high, four to six feet wide at the base, and three to four feet wide at the top. In some parts they are built entirely of stone and mud, in other parts the three or four feet at the foot are built of stone and the five or six feet at the top of sun-dried bricks and mud. The stone work is throughout pointed with mortar.
Sholapur had originally eight gates or vesas, Degaon, Nava and Bala on the west, Tuljapur on the north, Kumbhari and Dari on the east, Bijapur and Pani on the south and Killa or Revni [Revni seems to be a local pronunciation of the English word ravelin, as the gate leads to the ravelin on the north of the fort ditch.] on the south-west. The Degaon, Tuljapur, Kumbhari, Dari and Bijapur gates have been pulled down and a fine road made from the Kumbhari gate to the Bijapur gate. The Nava gate, so-called because it leads to the Navi ward opened by Mr. Goldfinch in 1864, about 275 yards of the Degaon gate, was opened by the municipality in 1864."
The climate of Sholapur is healthy and dry throughout the year. Hot winds blow in April and May during the day but the nights are fairly tolerable. The prevailing wind is south-westerly. The chief rainy months are from June to September and the fifty-year averages show 41 days and 677 mm. of rainfall.
As stated before the city is the head-quarters of the district bearing the same name. It is also the head-quarters of two talukas in the district, namely, North Sholapur taluka and South Sholapur taluka and as such it is the main centre of Government activities in the district. A municipal corporation has also been established at Sholapur, the date of establishment being May 1, 1964.
Besides the Collectorate and the Zilla Parishad office, the offices of the Mamlatdars and the Block Development Officers of North Sholapur and South Sholapur talukas are also located at Sholapur. The courts of the District and Sessions Judge, two Assistant Judges and Additional Sessions Judges and two Assistant Judges and Assistant Sessions Judges are also located in the city. It is also a seat of Civil Judges (Junior Division) and First Class Judicial Magistrates for the talukas of North Sholapur and South Sholapur. There is also one First Class Judicial Magistrate for Sholapur Taluka Police Station and Sholapur City Sadar Bazar Police Station. It is the head-quarters of the District Superintendent of Police. Besides the post and telegraph office, a telephone exchange has also been established at Sholapur. Sholapur is not only served by the railway but also by the State Transport buses whose depot is located here. The city bus service has also been introduced in the town. Besides wells, the city has a protected water-supply from Ekburji tank through pipe lines. However, scarcity of water is often felt.
Municipal Corporation: The municipality was established at Sholapur on August 1, 1852 and was upgraded into a municipal corporation on May 1. 1964. The Municipal Corporation of Sholapur is composed of 55 seats with three seats being reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The municipal corporation covers an area of 22.35 km. The Municipal Commissioner is the head of the Municipal Corporation. He is assisted in his work by a number of officials such as the Assistant Municipal Commissioner, Chief Accountant, Internal Auditor, Legal Advisor, Municipal Chief Auditor, Municipal Secretary, City Engineer, Assessor and Collector of Taxes, Octroi Superintendent, Chief Superintendent of Markets, Transport Manager, Works Manager, etc., and other necessary ministerial and non-ministerial staff.
Markets: There are seven vegetable markets, six mutton markets, one fish market and one combined fish and beef market as also a slaughterhouse for supplying beef. Arrangements such as open pandals and other
facilities have been made for weekly markets which are held on every Tuesday and Wednesday. The Corporation also maintains a market for fodder (kadba). A free reading room-cum-library is conducted at H. N. Vachanalaya where a number of newspapers are made available for the reading public.
The Municipal Corporation maintains eleven hospitals and dispensaries in the city.
History: No definite information about Sholapur district as also about the Sholapur city is available for the early or pre-historic period and the earliest mention of any place found in the district is that of Pandharpur. The idol of the Vithoba of Pandharpur was installed as early as 400 A.D. according to Dr. Bhagwanlal Indraji and the inscriptions in the temple belong to twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Like other parts of the Deccan Sholapur district must have formed part of the kingdom of Andhrabhrityas or Satakarnis whose capital was Pratishthan, i.e., modern Paithan and who ruled from 222 B.C to 226 A.D., i.e., for about 448 years. Andhrabhrityas were followed by the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the western Chalukyas and the Yadavas of Devagiri and throughout these reigns Sholapur formed part of their kingdoms alongwith the outlying areas of the district. Many Hemad-panti temples scattered in the district at Chapalgaon, Barshi, Malshiras, Natepute, Velapur, Mardi, Pandharpur, etc., and many inscriptions of the times of the Yadavas of Devagiri discovered at Kadapgaon, Mohol, Vaphe, Velapur, Pandharpur and Paluj subscribe to this view.
However the earliest trace of Sholapur would seem to be about the end of the fourteenth century and the history of Sholapur city could be traced in the history of the regions in its vicinity. Upto 1347 it formed part of the Delhi Sultanate. In 1341, Musalman exactions caused a general revolt in the Deccan which, according to Ferishta, was so successful that in 1344, Muhammad had no part of his Deccan territories left with him except Daulatabad. After the successful revolt by the Deccan nobles an Afghan soldier named Hasan Gangu founded a dynasty which he called Bahamani and Sholapur along with the neighbouring region formed part of that dynasty and the capital of that dynasty was located at Gulbarga just sixty miles to the south of Sholapur.
In 1357 the Bahamani kingdom was divided into four divisions or tarfs and Sholapur was included in the tarf of Gulbarga.
Sholapur city suffered from the severe famine known as Durga Devi famine for about twelve years during the period from 1396 A.D. to 1407 A.D. alongwith the other parts of the district and the entire area got devastated.
During the reign of Ala-ud-din Shah Bahamani II (1435-1457), the
king's brother Muhammad, in the hope of making himself independent with the aid of the Vijayanagar king to whom he was sent to demand tribute took Sholapur and other neighbouring places.
Sholapur alongwith the entire district again came to be worst hit by famine known as Damaji Pant famine in 1460. Peace lasted at Sholapur for about four decades and afterwards it became a hot bed of intrigues and wars between the Nizamshahi kingdom of Ahmadnagar and the Adilshahi kingdom of Bijapur.
During the tenure of Mahmud Gavan, the learned and able minister of Muhammad Shah Bahamani II, in 1480 the territories were divided into eight provinces and Sholapur came to be included in the province of Ahasanabad. With the disintegration of the Bahamani empire, the district formed part of the Nizamshahi kingdom of Ahmadnagar.
In 1511 Zainkhan, the brother of Khwaja Jahan of the fort of Paranda about fifty miles to the north-west, delivered Sholapur to the Bijapur regent Kamalkhan.
In 1523 Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur and Burhan Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar met each other in the fort of Sholapur, a treaty of friendship was entered into and Marium, the daughter of Ismail Adil Shah, was given in marriage to Burhan Nizam and the marriage was celebrated at Sholapur in great pomp. However, the treaty came to be short-lived and it actually became the bone of contention between the two kingdoms of Ahmadnagar and Bijapur as the fort of Sholapur which was promised to the Nizam Shah as dowry was not handed over to him. The war continued between the two powers intermittently.
In 1524 a quarrel led to a war between Bijapur and Ahmadnagar. Burhan Nizam Shah secured the aid of Imad Shah of Berar and of Amir Barid, regent of Bidar, and the confederates marched with forty thousand men to besiege Sholapur and to occupy the ceded districts. The attempt failed and the confederate army was completely routed. In 1542 Sholapur was taken by Burhan but next year restored to Bijapur. In 1551 Burhan Nizam, with the help of the Vijaynagar king Ram Raja, took Sholapur and strengthened it. Sometime after Ibrahim, the Bijapur king, made an attempt to take Sholapur but his army was defeated in the battle on the plains of Sholapur.
Again in 1552, the two powers came to settlement and Chand Bibi, the Ahmadnagar princess, was given in marriage to Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur while the sister of Bijapur Sultan, Hadiya Sultana, was married to Murtaza, the Ahmadnagar prince. The fort of Sholapur was given to Bijapur as part of Chand Bibi's dowry.
In 1594 Burhan II, failed in an attempt on Sholapur under the walls of which his force was defeated. In 1623 Malik Ambar collected a large army and bringing grain from Daulatabad laid siege to Sholapur and took it by storm. In 1636, under a treaty between Bijapur
and the Moghals the Nizamshahi dynasty came to an end and it was settled that the forts of Sholapur and Paranda with their dependent
(districts should be given to the Bijapur king Mahmud Adil Shah (1626-1656). In 1668 in accordance with the terms of a treaty between
Aurangzeb and Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur, the fort of Sholapur passed
on to the Moghals. In 1686 when the final siege of Bijapur began
Aurangzeb himself encamped at Sholapur. In 1694 in one of their
numerous raids the Marathas led by Ramchandrapant Amatya levied
contribution as far as Sholapur. In 1723 on his throwing off his
allegiance to the Moghal Emperor Muhammad Shah (1720-1748) the
fort and the town of Sholapur passed with Karmala and other portion
of north and west Sholapur to the Nizam. During the last Maratha war
Sholapur fort and town surrendered to General Munro on 14th May
1818 after a siege of four days. The details regarding the siege of
Sholapur as given in the old Sholapur District Gazetteer are reproduced
below as they have a direct bearing upon the history of Sholapur
" About three months after the battle of Ashta, during which the Peshwa's Satara strongholds were reduced, Sholapur was again the seat of severe fighting. After reducing the greater part of the Bombay Karnatak, General Munro marched towards the Bhima between which and the Ghatprabha, the Peshwa's choicest infantry and guns were camped. General Munro's army was not strong enough to enable him to push on the war. On the 19th of April he was joined at Nagar Manoli in North Belgaum by General Pritzler's division of the reserve force from Satara. This force consisted of two companies of artillery under Lieutenant-Colonel Dalrymple; the European flank battalion composed of the flower of four regiments, who notwithstanding the difficulties of maintaining in a state of regularity a corps composed of various details, under Major Giles' command, had been as remarkable for their discipline and order as for their gallantry; the four companies of Rifles, the second battalion of the 22nd Native Infantry, the second battalion of the 7th Bombay Native Infantry, and a detachment of Pioneers. Two much-needed iron eighteen pounder guns, and two mortars were likewise brought from the Bombay battering train. With this force General Munro marched north, passed Gherdi about twelve miles south-east of Sangola, and arrived at Sidapur on the Bhima which was crossed on the 7th of May. The approach of Munro's force compelled the Peshwa's troops to fall back on Sholapur to make their final stand. On the 8th of May the British force crossed the Sina at Patri and on the 9th took up ground within two miles of the Maratha position, which General Munro immediately under a continual fire closely reconnoitred. A summons, with an offer of terms, had been sent forward by a native officer Chensing, subhedar of the 2nd battalion
of the 4th Regiment. His singular intelligence and address had in many cases enabled Chensing to induce garrisons to come to terms. On this occasion, inspite of the holiness of his flag, Chensing was cruelly murdered by the Arabs under the walls of the fort. Nothing remained but to begin the siege.
The Sholapur fort is an oblong of large area with a wall and faussebraye or rampart-mound of substantial masonry flanked by capacious round towers. A broad and deep wet ditch encircles the place, and the north and east sides are covered by a large town surrounded by a good wall and divided into two parts of which one is close to the fort. To the south, communicating with the ditch, a lake, surrounded on three sides by a mound, formed a respectable breastwork to the Maratha position under the walls. Their force thus strongly posted amounted to 2000 Arabs, 1500 Rohilas, 1000 Sidis, 700 Gosavis, 5000 infantry, and 1500 cavalry. Major DePinto, a country born European, commanded the regular infantry, and Ganapatrav Panse was the hereditary commandant of the Peshwa's artillery. Nothing effective could be attempted against the fort while the covering army continued unbroken, and to hazard an attack on the army without gaining possession of the works on which it leaned was useless. General Munro accordingly turned his attention chiefly to the reduction of the town. Finding that the walls were not so high or the ditch so deep as to make it impracticable he resolved to try and take the town by escalade. At three on the morning of the 10th May, the British troops chosen for the attack began to get under arms. The second battalion of the 12th Madras and the 2nd battalion of the 7th Bombay Native Infantry, except their flank companies, remained in charge of the camp under Lieutenant-Colonel Fraser. The remaining troops were formed in the following order. For the escalade of the town walls, under the general orders of Colonel Hewitt, two columns commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Newall and Major Giles, each composed of two European flank companies, two companies of rifles, one incomplete battalion of Native Infantry, and one company of Pioneers. For the support of the escalading force, a reserve, under the personal command of General Pritzler, consisted of a squadron and a half of dragoons with gallopper guns, two European flank companies, four native flank companies, four six-pounders, and two howitzers. The escalading columns took up positions 1000 yards from the point of attack till the day broke. At daybreak they moved briskly forward preceded by the Pioneers carrying scaling ladders, while the reserve, from a position opposite the same face, opened a smart fire on the front and flanking defences. The ladders were planted with promptitude; and the heads of both columns topped the walls at the same moment. As soon as a sufficient number of men
were formed by each column, the towers to the right and left were taken, parties were sent to open the gate, and the whole force entered. The right column, under Lieutenant-Colonel Newall, followed the course of the wall by the right; and, having gained the wall which divides the town occupied three large houses in the quarter close to the fort. Major Giles with the left column, which was accompanied by Colonel Hewitt, separated into two parts of which one kept along the wall on the left, and the other advanced up the central street to the opposite end after forcing the gate which divided the town. The outer gate was also forced and the columns, both parts of which here rejoined, passed through and, by detaching a company of European grenadiers, dislodged a party of the enemy posted in a neighbouring suburb. Meanwhile outside of the town Ganapatrav left his position near the fort, and passing round by the eastern side, placed himself with seven guns and a respectable body of horse and foot opposite the reserve on which he immediately opened fire. General Munro, finding himself too weak in men to storm this position and with too few guns to silence the fire, withdrew the reserve under the wall of the town and sent to Colonel Hewitt for a reinforcement. Before the reinforcement came, one of the enemy's tumbrils blew up and the order was given to attack with the bayonet. General Pritzler headed the dragoons, and Colonel Dalrymple the infantry, joined by the artillerymen from the guns, while General Munro then fifty-seven years old directed the charge in person vociferously cheered by the Europeans, whose delight at the veteran's presence among them excused the noisy freedom of their greeting. Meanwhile the Marathas lost their commander, who was severely wounded, and their second in command who was killed by a cannon shot. They began to draw off their guns, but not in time to prevent three of them falling into the hands of the reserve, while their foot were driven into a garden and enclosures from which they were dislodged by Colonel Newall with a body of Europeans and rifles from the town. In retreating to their original position near the fort the Marathas passed the south gate of the town, from which Colonel Hewitt ran out a field piece and opening suddenly on them caused much annoyance. A gate leading into the inner town was taken by a company of the 69th Regiment and three companies of Native Infantry. But as the range of their position was found by one of the enemy's guns, the gate was abandoned and the troops confined to the main streets and the avenues leading into it. The enemy kept possession of the parts of the town which their matchlocks could reach from the fort. The reserve returned to camp which had meanwhile been moved from the west to the north of the town. It was here joined by Duli Khan, an officer in the Nizam's service with eight hundred irregulars of whom three hundred were horse. During the day the garrison made some
attempts to extend their possession of the town. As these efforts proved unsuccessful their friends outside seemed anxious to quit their position which the events of the morning had made unsafe. As soon as this movement was known in the camp, the detachment of dragoons and as many auxiliary horse, with the two gallopper guns, were ordered out under General Pritzler; and Duli Khan's horse was directed to follow with all speed. The Marathas had left their guns that their flight might not be checked and had fled seven miles before they were overtaken. The galloppers opened on their rear with grape, while a half-squadron took ground on each flank of the retreating column, which maintained an unsteady matchlock fire. When the half squadron came in contact with the enemy, the guns limbered up, and followed as a reserve with the remaining half squadron and Duli Khan's horse till these likewise and the auxiliary horse joined in the general destruction. Before night put an end to the pursuit on the banks of the Sina the force was completely dispersed. Nearly a thousand men were left dead on the field. Those who remained sought their homes in small parties of ten or fifteen, many of them wounded. The cavalry were back in their lines by ten at night.
After the attack on the town no time was lost in beginning operations against the fort. The southern face was chosen as the most favourable for an approach, as on that side there was considerable cover, and as the ditch there was partially dry. On the 11th a battery of one mortar, one howitzer, and two six-pounders, was established behind the dam of the lake to keep the enemy within the walls, and to cover the working parties and advanced posts. This battery was enlarged on the same evening by three additional mortars which opened on the following morning with some effect. On the 13th an approach was made towards the fort, and under cover of the fire, the beginning of a breaching battery was laid, from the mortars and six-pounders, the practice from which was so admirable as to silence the enemy at many points. An enfilading or raking battery was also marked out for twelve-pounders and six-pounders and was half finished towards evening, while the garrison were busily employed in throwing up retrenchments. This as well as the breaching battery was completed during the night; and both opened on the morning of the 14th with unremitting vigour. By noon the breach of the outer wall was reported practicable; and at the same time the enemy, viewing the rapid progress which had been made, sent to demand terms. They were promised security for themselves and their private property, and on these terms marched on the following morning. The principal officers received passports to proceed to Poona and the troops dispersed to their homes. In the fort were thirty-seven one to forty-two pounders, including eleven field guns. There were also thirty-nine one to three-pounder wall-pieces. The reduction of this important
fort deprived Bajirav's troops of their last rallying-point in the Bombay Karnatak; while the losses they had suffered during the operations completely disheartened all abettors of his cause. The loss of the British troops as of the enemy occurred almost entirely on the 10th and amounted to 102 men including four officers." Peshwa Bajirao II and Chhatragati Prtapsinh of Satara had their camp at Sholapur for two months.
The fall of Sholapur brought the whole district under the British Government and peace returned to the district since 1818.
Though the peace in general prevailed at the place, it was always boiling under the ardent desire for freedom and the place did not lay behind in the freedom struggle of the country. During the very year in which the Indian National Congress was established a popular leader Was elected as the chairman of the municipal council. After the expiry of his term as president no elections were permitted and the president was nominated by the Government. An address was presented by the municipality to the late Mahatma Gandhi on May 26, 1921. It was again given to him in 1925. A hot discussion took place on the address to be presented to the Governor in 1929 and though the address was presented to the Governor it was given in the face of stiff opposition from nine members who then protested by remaining absent at the time of presentation. They even went to the extent of organising public meeting in order to oppose such a move.
On April 4, 1930 a resolution was passed in the meeting of the municipal council that a national flag be hoisted on the municipal building on April 6 and such a flag was hoisted at the hands of the late Shri L. B. alias Annasaheb Bhopatkar. Later Shri Manikchand Ramchand Shah who was the president of the municipality was convicted and was awarded a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for six months and to pay a fine of rupees ten thousand as he refused to lower the flag. The flag was later on lowered by the army personnel after cordoning off the area where was situated the municipal office. Shri Govind Kanhaiyalal, Shri Rambhau Rajwade, Shri Vyankatrao Soni, Seth Manikchand Shah, Dr. K. B. Antrolikar and others were also imprisoned in this connection. Dr. Mule who was the president of the municipality when the flag was hoisted had to lead a life of an exile for a few days as his house was occupied by the military personnel and his name was amongst those who were to be arrested.
There were severe disturbances in the town from May 7 to May 10, 1930 in response to the call of non-co-operation and satyagraha given by Mahatma Gandhi. At last Martial Law was proclaimed in the city. Colonel Page called the municipal president and other members of the municipality and deliberately used insulting language. This happened on May 13.
" The District Magistrate of Sholapur, for the reasons given in the communique of the Bombay Government issued on the 19th May, handed over the control of the situation to the Military authorities at 8-30 p.m. on the 12th of May. He had informed the Bombay Government that afternoon of his intention and the latter, on the same evening, approved of his action. The Government of India received information the next morning and the Sholapur Martial Law Ordinance was promulgated on the 15th May. The casualties at Sholapur on the 8th May were twelve killed and twenty-eight wounded. Firing took place on six separate occasions.
The facts of the matter relating to this extract are as follows: We had an ugly development in Sholapur. The volunteers were maintaining order and regulating the traffic in the streets. This went on day after day. The Police were virtually replaced. The sight was not an enviable one altogether to the authorities. A situation like this was only too likely to develop points of contact and conflict between the volunteers and the Police. There was a clash and four or five policemen were done to death. This led to the proclamation of Martial Law as in the Punjab in 1919, and with all its ugly accompaniments. Four men including a rich Seth, (1) Mallapa Dhanshetti, (2) Shri Kisan Sarada, (3) Jagannath Shinde, and (4) Kuruban Hussain were hanged and a number of prisoners were sentenced under the Martial Law to long terms of imprisonment. The release of these prisoners became one of the bones of contention in the peace negotiations of July and August which ultimately failed and to which we shall presently make reference." [History of the Indian National Congress, Vol. I (1885-1935).]
The membership of many of the councillors of the municipality was suspended by the. Government as they were arrested during the operation of Martial Law. Government was very much against the release of Shri Rambhau Rajwade and he was released from the jail only when Mahatma Gandhi refused to attend the Round Table Conference unless and until Shri Rajwade was released from the jail. Some other councillors including Dr. Antrolikar and Govindlal were released under the orders of the High Court. In the meeting of the municipality held on August 4, 1933, a resolution was passed adjourning the meeting of the municipal council in protest against the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi. This meeting was presided over by Shri Mallikarjunappa Patil in the absence of the president and the vice-president of the municipal council. However, the resolution was declared as against the rules by the president of the municipality in the meeting of the municipal council held on August 10, 1933.
The Congress as a party entered the municipality in 1938 for the
first time and has since then remained as a force in the city inspite of stiff opposition headed by Shri V. R. Patil, the leader of the Hindu Maha Sabha.
When in 1948 the Government of India took Police Action against Hyderabad one contingent of the Indian army was moved into the Hyderabad territory from Sholapur. It may also be noted that many people from the city took part in the Goa Satyagraha.
Objects: Sholapur being a historical place and a place with religious, and industrial and commercial importance, there are a number of objects of interest in the city.
Fort : The first and foremost amongst the objects of interest in the city is its ground fort. The description of the fort is reproduced below from the old Sholapur District Gazetteer published in 1884:-
" On slightly rising ground on the west bank of the Siddheshvar lake, in the south-west corner of the city, is Sholapur fort, an irregular oblong about 320 yards by 176, enclosed by a double line of lofty battlemented and towered walls of rough stone ten to twenty yards apart, and surrounded, except on the east or lake side, by a wet moat 100 to 150 feet broad and fifteen to thirty feet deep. The whole work is Muhammedan the cuter wall dating from the fourteenth, and the inner wall and four great towers from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Except in times of flood two masonry walls at the north-east and southeast ends cut off the waters of the lake from the moat. In many years the moat is dry during the hot months. At other times, except a rocky ridge near the south-west corner, it holds six to ten feet of water. The outer wall, with battlemented curtains and four corner and twenty-three side towers, pierced for musketry and with openings and vaulted chambers for cannon, rises twenty to thirty feet from the edge of the moat. About twenty yards behind, the inner wall, also towered and battlemented, rises five to ten feet above the outer wall, and in the centre and east corner of the north wall and the centre and west corner of the south wall, is crowned by four massive square towers which rise about twenty feet above the rest of the battlements. The east face, whose foundations are sunk about twenty feet below high water level, has in the outer wall eight towers including a large tower that runs out from the south-east corner. The inner wall has seven towers including the great tower at the north-east corner whose name is not known. The south face has, in the outer wall, two corner and four side towers, and six towers in the inner wall, two of which, the Hanuman tower in the centre and an unnamed tower at the west corner, rise about twenty-three feet above the rest of the fortifications. In the west face the outer wall has two corner and four side towers, and the inner wall has two corner and seven side towers, the three to the south with plain and the three to the north with embattled parapets.
In the north face the outer wall has five towers between the west coiner and the gateway, where it stretches out in front with two massive towers joined by a strong two storeyed curtain pierced both for sloping and downright musketry under which is the gateway. To the left of the gateway the wall sweeps to the north, its whole length commanding the approach. The inner wall with five small and two huge square towers runs parallel to the inner wall of the south face. Behind the entrance outwork strong towered and battlemented work crosses diagonally between the outer and the inner walls.
The way from the town to the fort lies through the Revni apparently a corruption of Ravelin also called the Killa or Fort gate, a doorless opening about twelve feet high and eight broad in a white-washed stone wall. Past the Revni gate in a paved enclosure on the left shaded by a giant nim tree, is the tomb of Nabi Shah. Close in front, from the further bank of the broad deep moat, rise the massive double walls of the castle. The moat is crossed by a bridge ninety feet long and fourteen to twenty wide supported on wooden pillars. At the beginning of the bridge are two masonry pillars about eight feet high and four feet round joined by an iron chain which is smeared with red lead and worshipped. [Close to the right hand pillar is a trigonometrical survey stone with these words cut in it, ' 125 feet above datum and 25 feet above Railway Station bench mark'.] About half-way across the bridge is a second pair of stone pillars. In crossing the bridge there is a good view of the moat to the right, and to the left in the bed of the moat, almost hidden when the water is high but useful in the hot weather, is a cross shaped well with flights of steps leading from three sides into the water. Across the bridge the entrance path turns sharp to the right and between two massive towers and under a two-storeyed curtain pierced with slanting and guarded downright loopholes, the path passes through a pointed archway sixteen feet high by ten broad. The gate, formerly known as Bab Khardar and now as Khati Darvaja both meaning the Spike Gate, is slung on stone hinges. It is of wood covered with iron plate about four inches broad and a quarter of an inch thick laid at right angles and kept in their place by strong iron bolts. Between five and six feet from the ground the bolts end in spiked heads. On a small brass plate on the right half of the door is an inscription stating that the Spike Gate was repaired in A.D. 1810 (H. 1225). [The writing runs: The iron nails and bands were given for the repair of the gate by Abaji Ballal, deputy commandant of the fort, during the command of Sadashiv Pandit under the orders of Pandit Pradhan Bajirav in the reign of Shahu II, of Satara 29th Muharram 1225 (that is about A.D. 1810).] This gateway opens on an irregular walled enclosure, about thirty-two yards long by thirty-two broad. Behind are the fortifications of the outer gateway,
on the two sides short portions of the outer and inner walls, and a cross wall in front with a central arched gateway passing between two strong towers and under a two-storeyed curtain loopholed for musketry. The gateway which was formerly called Shahar Darvaja or the City Gate and is now called Madhla Darvaja or the Middle Gate, measures twenty feet high by twelve broad and twenty-three long. On each side of the outer mouth are two small neatly-carved Hindu pilasters. In a stone slab over the outer mouth of the gateway is a Persian writing to the effect that the gate was built by Ali Adil Shah II (1656-1672) of Bijapur. Inside of this gate the entrance formerly turned sharp to the right through a gateway called the Shahar Darvaja or City Gate whose site is still marked by a bank of ruins. The space between the second gate and the inner wall stretches west in an irregular shape gradually growing narrower. On the right are the rough outer walls. To the left in an old Musalman building is the police guard. Behind are the inner walls about thirty-five feet high curtain having been added on the top of the original curtain. Between the guard room and the inner wall there runs to the left a bare belt of grass about fifty feet broad. A closer view of the walls shows that a great number of the stones belong to old Hindu buildings. Most of them are plain dressed stones but a large number have mouldings and tracings and groups of animals and human figures, and a few have Kanarese inscriptions. Passing across this second enclosure the path bends to the left to the third gateway formerly known as the Ali and now as the Mahangkali gate. On the right is the massive wall of the Mahang or Mahakali tower. At the foot of the wall is a rough stone image apparently a human figure with the head bent forward. In front of the image is a brass arch or toran, and close by a small red flag. Seven bells of different sizes hang from the roof, some old carved Hindu stones are laid on one side, and on the other are some tridents and little stone oil vessels. Outside is a broken bull. This image is worshipped with oil and red paint and, according to the common story, is Mahakali, or as they pronounce the name Mahangkali, the Great Mother, who tried to keep the British out of the fort but failing bowed her head as the troops passed in. The gateway is supported with massive side towers and overhead is a two-storeyed building with two slender minarets. The gateway has been twice altered, first probably under the Peshwa by raising the wall about five feet by filling with masonry the original battlements and adding a fresh curtain on the top, and lately under the British the chamber above the gateway has been turned into a dwelling and a large window opened outwards. Below the window, between carved griffins, is an engraved stone slab with an Arabic inscription. The gateway is arched in the pointed or Musalman style and is thirty-two feet high, thirteen
broad, and twenty-one deep. The plain wooden gate has been taken out and lies on the ground to the right. Passing through the third gateway is the main body of the fort a flat about 250 yards long by 141 yards broad with some fine pipal and tamarind trees and a few scattered buildings surrounded by the castle walls fifteen to twenty-one feet high. The walls have a step or terrace ten to fifteen feet broad and a curtain about five feet high in places flat topped and in other places notched with opening for cannon. The large flat towers, one on the north-east, Hanuman in the centre of the south wall, one at the west corner of the north wall, and the Mahakali tower at the centre of the north wall rise about twenty-eight feet above the rest of the parapet. The walls are in fair repair a long stretch in the south-east having been lately renewed. Except the Mahakali tower, whose masonry covering was stripped off about twenty-six years ago, the towers are in good order. Of the 300 buildings, which according to the local story, used to fill the enclosure, there remain in front of the entrance gate on either side two small houses used as a telegraph office, to the left an enclosed building formerly a powder magazine now empty, and in the south-west, along the west and the south wall, a line of small buildings used as stores. About the middle of the east and west faces two low arched passages lead to the belt between the outer and the inner wall.
Besides many old Hindu stones ornamented with mouldings and tracery and a few with old Hindu inscriptions there are four chief objects of interest in the fort, [Three stones have been noticed with old Hindu writing. One with fairly clear letters is in the outer face of the east inner wall about five feet from the ground opposite the small pond in the passage between the outer and inner walls. On the inner face of the west outer wall near the south-west corner about six feet from the ground are two much-worn stones with letters. On the right side of the mouth of an old well in the north-east corner of the fort enclosure is a slab with writing in good preservation. Stones taken from Hindu buildings are found in all parts of the fort. Many of them are plain dressed stones which can easily be known among the rough undressed Musalman masonry. Of carved Hindu stones among the most notable are the prettily carved pilasters on either side of the middle gateway. Passing round the space between the outer and inner walls on the east side in the outer face of the inner wall are many carved stones and pieces of Hindu pillars cut down into square slabs. On the masonry supports of the water-bag on the side of the pond is a snake stone or nagoba with two upright twined cobras, and opposite on the outer face of the inner wall is one of inscribed stones and several stones with moulding and tracery. In the outer wall at the south-east comers are several engraved stones and two broken pillars on the top of a tower. In the inner wall is a Jain pillar and a fragment of
an elephant frieze. In the south side the outer face of the outer wall has many engraved stones one near the middle of the south face with a double row of figures the top row carrying some one in a palanquin, the lower row of fighters. The Assyrian or honeysuckle pattern is carved on a stone a little to the west. On the outer face of the inner wall are also many engraved Hindu stones and on the west side in the inner face of the outer wall are stones with tracery and two old Hindu inscription stones, and on the outer face of the inner wall is a small underfaced stone with people worshipping the ling. In the inner wall on the south in the floor of the Hanuman tower close to the slab with writing is a stone with tracery and an effaced central ornament. In the west parapet of the tower is a stone with some unbroken figures and on the north parapet of the steps leading to the tower are some damaged well-carved figures. Further on is a stone with two small elephants and on the face of one of the steps are cut a row of swans. In the south-west tower the lintel of the gate is a Hindu pillar and there are four more Hindu pillars in the centre of the tower. In the west side in the vaulted gun chamber, which has the stone with Arabic letters, are two short very rich pillars with clear cut chain star and other mouldings.] the Jacha and Mahakali towers, the magazine, and some Hindu pillars under the north wall of the central enclosure. The Jacha or Pregnant Woman's tower is the second tower
from the north-east corner of the east face of the outer wall. At the time of building the fort the foundations of this wall repeatedly gave way. At last Brahmans were consulted and said that the tower would never stand until a pregnant woman was buried alive under it. A Hindu, a Lingayat Vani by caste, offered his brother's wife as a sacrifice and she was buried at the foot of the tower. In reward the Vani was made patil of Sholapur and the office is still held by his descendants. After the woman was buried her ghost haunted the lake, uttered strange noises, and caused much fear and annoyance. To appease her spirit the patil's family offered sacrifices at her tomb, and once a year, on the first day of Chaitra in March-April, the women of the family or the patil himself brings cocoanuts, oil, a robe, or sadi, and a bodice for the woman and a little dhotar and a turban for the child. On that day a fair is held in her honour when people of all castes attend. The Musalmans admit that this sacrifice was offered under Musalman rule. They defend it by saying that it was arranged by the Hindu manager, and that the Musalman minister could not help himself as he had promised his master to finish the fort within a certain time. A similar story is told of the Mahakali or Mahangkali tower in the centre of the north face of the inner wall. It has been noticed that the bowing figure to the right in entering the third or Mahakali gateway is said to be an image of the goddess Mahakali. The true story of this tower and image seems to be that like the Jacha tower its foundations gave way, and according to the Brahmans, the tower would never stand until a munja that is a thread-girt and unmarried Brahman boy was buried alive under it. A Brahman belonging to the Deshmukh family offered his son and was rewarded by a yearly grant of £ 1 10s. (Rs. 15) which is still paid. Once
a year on the bright first of Chaitra in March-April the Hindus come with dates, cocoanuts and betelnuts which are taken by the members of the Deshmukh family. The Brahmans say that the bowing figure is an image of the boy and that the name of the tower is Mahakal or the Great Time or Destroyer and that it has been corrupted into Mahakali by the common people. [Kal, the time spirit, is one of the most dreaded of fiends. The same idea seems to be the cause of the great similarity in the European figures of time and death. It is to prevent Kal seizing the bride or bridegroom that at the wedding moment rice is thrown, hands are clapped, music is played and guns are fired.] The powder magazine, now empty, to the west of the inner entrance gate, is an almost perfect specimen of a Hindu temple turned into a mosque. Except by whitewash the pillars are unchanged and some of them are gracefully and richly carved. At the foot of the north wall between the inner entrance and magazine an opening leads to part of an old Hindu temple richly carved and apparently in place."
The fort is now in a dilapidated condition though the walls and bastions are still standing. The fort is now a protected monument and is under the upkeep of the Government.
Siddheshwar Temple: Another important object of interest in the city is the temple of Siddheshwar in whose honour the Gadda fair is held with great pomp and festivity. It is held to commemorate the marriage of the saint's yogdand (mace) with a female devotee of the saint. Although the fair extends over a period of three weeks of January the most important days of the fair are only five, viz., from 12th January to 16th January, the principal among them being 14th January (Makar Sankrant). Many devotees throng the temple on Mahashivaratra and all Mondays in the month of Shravana.
Following is an account of the fair taken from Census of India, 1961, Volume X, Part VII-B, Fairs and Festivals in Maharashtra:-
" The total congregation is about a lakh and fifty thousand. More than fifty thousand pilgrims attend the fair on the principal day.
Among the many interesting architectural aspects of the city what attracts the visitor to the city more is the temple of Shri Siddheshwar in the lake with a garden and coconut trees and a fort at the west presenting a picturesque background. The Siddheshwar lake occupies an area of five acres and is about 20 feet deep. It is surrounded by a narrow path. To make an approach to the water of the lake easier, ghats or flights of steps have been constructed. The most well-known ghats are Hatti, Pakhali and Dhobi. Although some portions of the flights of steps are not used now, their utility to the people was immense in the by-gone days. The water of the lake is being used for drinking since its inception.
A straight east-west main road connecting revenue offices and the South-Central Railway station, leads to the place of the fair comprising the homa maidan along the southern side of the road; sammati katta (an open place for performing gangapuja and akshata programmes), a high school, main gate (mahadwar) of the temple with a garden along its northern side and Gadda Maidan adjacent thereto, through which the road leads further to the Victoria market.
In the centre of the homa maidan there is homakund, a pit for lighting sacrificial fire, on a raised platform. There are also two lingas without shrine in the homa maidan. The eastern portion of the homa maidan is used for letting off fireworks and the northern portion for cattle bazar and parking bullock-carts at the time of the fair.
To the north-east of the homa maidan there is a high-levelled ground called gadda maidan. In this maidan grocery stalls are installed during the fair.
To the north-west of the homa maidan and adjacent to the east-west main road, there is an open ground called sammati katta. This ground is used for the performance of gangapuja and akshata programmes during the fair. In the north-east corner of this ground there is a linga (Someshwar Linga) on an altar without shrine. This ground is bounded by the bank of the Siddheshwar lake at its north.
To the north of the east-west main road there is a main stone gate (mahadwar) with flight of steps leading to the open place bounded by the bank of the lake at its north. The gate is about 20 feet high and ten feet wide with a depth of about ten feet. On the top of the gate arrangement for keeping search light is made. To the west of the flight is a cloister with arches resting on stone pillars. Near the mahadwar some arches are filled to form rooms. The remaining portion of the cloister is used as dharmashala. In the dharmashala there are two samadhis of the devotees of saint Shri Siddheshwar, viz., Shri Bhimashankar (Dhulyappa) who had gifted the silver plate placed behind the deity and the other of Ambubai, a female devotee. On one of the steps of the flight and at its east end there is a linga (Nandikeshwar) without a shrine. Further north from the linga there is a stone shrine of Adilingeshwar. There is another linga (Shikhareshwar) without a shrine on one of the steps of the flight.
From the open place, the temple of Siddheshwar situated in the south-west portion of the Siddheshwar lake can be reached by a stone bridge (causeway), about 60 feet long and 18 feet broad. On both the sides of the bridge there is a fencing of iron bars and at its both ends there are two semi-circular constructions resembling towers. Lighting arrangements on poles are made at both the sides of the causeway.
The temple which is surrounded by the lake waters has two parts.
One at the west, viz., the courtyard contains garden, shrines of devotees, and the samadhi of the saint Shri Siddheshwar with a cloister and the other, at the east, comprises the shrine of the saint, an antechamber, a sabhamandap, etc., without a cloister. The courtyard which has a cloister is encircled by a road about 18 feet to 20 feet broad. The road is however cut off for a short distance at the north. The inner side of the road touches the backwall of the cloister while the outer side of the road has a continuous flight of steps leading down to the water of the lake. Three gates are provided in the cloister for reaching the inner side of the courtyard from the road. The main gate faces the west and has a stone platform towards its west known as Amritling ghat. The stone platform admeasures 20' X 20' and is surrounded by lake water at its north, south and west. It contains two square stone altars each, one having two lingas without a shrine and another containing four lingas without a shrine and at the centre, there is the shrine of Amritlinga. The other gate of the cloister is called dakshin darwaja. To the south of this gate there is an island semi-circular in shape. The third gate of the cloister called uttar darwaja opens into a well.
The cloister is constructed in stone and lime and is said to have been built during 1836 to 1917 A.D. by many devotees. The courtyard is divided by a narrow path which leads from the main gate of the cloister to the temple of saint Shri Siddheshwar. The southern part has no garden but has a linga on an altar without a shrine near the cloister. Just near this linga there is a shrine with plain stones containing the samadhi of Billesh Bammayya. In the centre of this portion of the courtyard and near the path there is a samadhi of Shri Siddheshwar. This is the place where the great saint immolated himself. This samadhi is at the south-east of the temple and is fenced by wire and bushes. A quadrangular stone platform admeasuring 15' X 15' is constructed 3 feet above the ground. Another stone platform of 12' X 12' X 2' is constructed on this platform. On the surface of this platform there is a raised platform containing two lingas called " Yoginath". The raised platform admeasures 8' X 8' X 4'. Arrangement is made for pouring water continuously on the lingas from a pot kept hanging from an iron bar.
The other part of the courtyard has a well-planned garden with alleys. In the centre of the garden there is a shrine of saint Nalavatvad. To the south-east of this shrine near the cloister, there is the shrine of god Vithoba and goddess Rukhmini.
The main temple which faces the east can be approached by a path from the western gate of the cloister or by this road around the cloister. The main temple comprises a sabhagriha, the pharashi mandap, the ante-chamber and the shrine.
The sabhagriha is surrounded on three sides, viz., the south, east and north by a path 10 feet wide. This path is fenced with iron bars about ten feet high with iron arches with arrangements for decorations with lights and lamps. Four steps from the path lead down to the holy water of the lake.
The sabhagriha is divided into equal parts with four east-west rows each having nine iron pillars. The hall admeasures 80' X 100' X 25' and is floored with plain stones. The hall without walls is shaded with conical tin sheds resting on horizontal iron plates fixed on pillars.
The pharashi mandap, a hall admeasuring 30' X 20' X 25' is built by the devotees during 1900 to 1910. A brass-plated wooden beam separates the pharashi mandap and the ante-chamber. The lower portion of the beam is occupied by brass latticed plates with brass bars. The ante-chamber is known as nandicha gabhara and in it stands the silver-plated image of the sacred bull, the favourite conveyance of god Mahadeo, facing the west.
The back wall of the ante-chamber has only one gate which opens into the shrine. The shrine has an area of 15' X 15' with a stone roof in cut corner style. The entire construction is of stone. In the centre of the back wall there is a niche. It is the place where the saint Siddheshwar used to meditate. The entire niche is plated with silver as is the seat or sinhasan of the deity. On both the sides of the niche there are pillars plated with silver and a spiked arch rests on the pillars. The upper portion of the pillars and the arch are decorated with leaves and the entire decoration is plated with silver. The back portion of the niche has silver plating with floral designs. A five-headed cobra made of silver is in the centre.
On the shrine is a spire. It has four tiers with niches having images of gods and goddesses. It has also a dome surmounted by a gold-plated pinnacle. It is said that the shrine was built 600 to 700 years back by the Habbus who were disciples of saint Siddheshwar.
The objects of worship in the shrine are the gadi of the saint and the saint's mask mounted on it in the niche in the back wall. The niche which is 3 feet above ground is converted into a sinhasan by two pillars on either side with an arch resting on them. In the centre of the niche there is a square platform made of black stone admeasuring 1' X 1' X 4½' to hold the mask with an image of five-hooded cobra with silver cover. This platform is called the gadi or the seat of the saint. The silver cover on the gadi has a silver cylinder fixed in its centre to hold the mask with an image of five-hooded cobra of silver shading it. Both the mask and the cobra image are gold-plated. A gold-coated silver crown with a diamond in the centre and fish-shaped ear-rings on either side is put on the head of the mask.
The deity is worshipped thrice a day at about 8-00 a.m., 4-00 p.m. and 8-00 p.m. The gadi is worshipped after removing the silver cover. It is cleaned with water. Five nectars are then poured on it to the accompaniment of mantras or holy verses. The gadi is then rubbed with lemon and sugar. It is then cleaned with water and scented oil, and argaja is applied to it. It is then washed with hot water. A sandalwood paste is then applied to the gadi and offering of flowers and bel leaves are made to it. Incense sticks are waved and cooked meals are offered. The last item of the puja is waving of lights. The puja is performed by the priests who are Habbus. The abhishek or the pouring of five nectars is performed during the morning and evening pujas. Naivedya is offered thrice a day. During the fair and on every Monday in the month of Shravana, the afternoon puja is not performed. After the puja is over the mask and the cobra are put on the cover. Sandalwood paste and vibhuti are applied to the mask and flowers and garlands are offered. Silver foot-prints are kept in front of the mask and a gold-coated silver umbrella is put on the heads of the cobra. Extremely valuable mukut or crown with diamonds adorns the divine head of the mask on festival occasions. A necklace of rudraksha beads partly covered with gold and with golden chain is put on ceremonial days. On every Monday, the favourite day of the saint, the deity is worshipped thrice a day with shodashopachar worship. Before the worship of the deity, the samadhi in the courtyard is worshipped. This worship includes pouring of water (abhishek), offering of bel
leaves, chanting of ^^ß
** mantras for 108 times, offering of food and waving of camphor arati.
The priests of the deity belong to the Veershaiv Lingayat caste. There are eight households of these priests which change their turn on every Tuesday after the morning puja.
It is believed that the inhabitants of this city became prosperous since the birth of the saint Siddheshwar. It is also said that the deity is capable of bestowing blessings on the devotees. The pilgrims, therefore, make promises for getting a child or removal of body pain, gaining prosperity in business, etc. On the fulfilment of their vows they offer pujas, etc. For getting a child they make a vow to remove the first hair of the child in the premises of the temple. Some pilgrims cover the distance between their houses and the temple by falling prostrate on the ground. Some pilgrims offer a pan-puja wherein the deity is decorated with betel leaves. Some offer garlands of dried coconuts or flowers. Another offering is of seven cereals. The mixture of seven cereals measuring eleven seers is kept on the gadi in the shape of a linga. A bunch of flowers or copra or lemon is offered to the mask. Some pilgrims perform the worship with the rudra, laghu rudra, maha rudra, etc.
The fair is celebrated from 12th to 16th January. The principal day of the fair is 14th January on which day the saint had allowed one of his female devotees to marry his mace (yogdand). One Ganga-bai of Kumbhar caste desired to marry the saint who would not allow it. He, however, allowed her to marry his yogdand (mace), which she did and committed suicide afterwards by burning herself. The fair commemorates the marriage ceremony and devotion of the girl.
Due to great attraction of the fair and the faith in the deity, people from far and near flock to the place. Nearly one and a half lakh of people visit the place during the fair. The largest number of pilgrims, i.e., about fifty thousand, attend on 14th January.
Lodging arrangement of the pilgrims is made in the arcade surrounding the courtyard. The pilgrims also use the cloister for lodging purposes. The city has many lodging and boarding houses and
dharmashalas. Unlike many holy places, there are no professional upadhyayas or pandyas or hosts to make arrangements for the pilgrims. Some pujaris, however, make arrangements for accommodation of the pilgrims who come from Bijapur, Hubli, Dharwar, Bangalore, Mysore and also from the district itself. Large number of pilgrims come from southern India. Besides the pilgrims of Lingayat caste, the fair is also attended by pilgrims belonging to other castes amongst Hindus.
12th January: This day is treated as the first day of the marriage known for application of turmeric powder and oil. The ceremony is locally known as yenimajjan. On this day seven poles are taken in procession. The principal pole is called " Nandidhvaj " and revered as the yogdand of the saint. The second is of Deshmukh families. The third belongs to Lingayat, Mali, etc. communities. The fourth belongs to blacksmiths (Jade families). The fifth belongs to blacksmiths (Lohar families). The sixth and seventh poles belong to the Scheduled Castes from Shukrawar Peth and Kasaba Peth, respectively. All the poles are about 30 feet high. These are kept with oil filled in them throughout the year. The principal pole is brought from the house of Shri Habbu into the Mallikarjun temple. It is washed with water and after rubbing butter and turmeric powder it is again washed with hot water. A woollen blanket locally called tudup, 1½ feet wide and about 30 feet long, is wrapped around the pole and at equal distance twelve silver plates and thirteen silver rings are fixed. A dome made of bamboo strips and decorated with coloured papers is tied on the top of the pole with a flag (Jari Patka) about five feet long. A flag of cotton cloth of ochre colour is tied to the pole just below the dome. A silver pinnacle is surmounted on the top of the dome. These poles are made ready before 12 in the night of 11th January. Other poles are also brought by this time in the Mallikarjun temple. All the dignitaries are
invited by a person called chalawadi who also brings the bell. After the persons and Government officials, etc., have gathered, the poles are worshipped. They are then taken in procession by the persons of the respective families one by one by 8 a.m. The principal pole is carried by Shri Hire Habbu who is a pujari and belongs to the family of the disciples of saint Siddheshwar. A handloom chaddar is tied around the stomach of the holder and a woven jute cloth with an arrangement to hold the pole is fixed on it. This is locally called " Patode ". The principal pole-bearers who are Habbus are decked with traditional uniforms. Their heads are shaven and they put on their heads an ochre-coloured turban. They wear a coat of the same colour with a necklace of rudraksha beads and a blanket on their shoulder. They have to lead the life of a sanyasi during the five days of the fair. In a palanquin made of silver with silver thread embroidered cloth, silver plate containing the silver foot-prints of the saint is kept. The palanquin is accompanied by the insignia of royalty such as chhatra (umbrella), abdagiri, chawari, etc., made of silver with silver pinnacles.
The huge procession starts from the Mallikarjun temple. Nearly two thousand persons accompany the procession who offer to the poles garlands of copra, flowers, rings or cotton flags according to their vows.
A band of scheduled caste persons (Mangs) beating the drum (halagya) follows, followed next by musicians of Kaikadi caste. They play on pipe and drums (chaughada) are beaten. A large contingent of musicians follows them playing on the band. Bearers of flags follow next. Other dignitaries proceed after the band discharging their assigned duties. An ochre coloured flag of scheduled caste persons then follows accompanied by two persons with drums (sambul). Next to the drum-players a kawad of two copper pots with holy water used for bathing 68 lingas is carried. There are two persons bearing the light (diwati), one accompanies the pujaris and the other the poles. One of the pujaris bears the yogdand made of silver about two feet in length. The palanquin then follows with the mace-bearers along the route which is fixed. The procession which starts at 8 a.m. reaches the temple at about 11 p.m. The poles are kept on the platform called Amritlinga ghat. During the procession and after the distribution of prepared pan all the 68 lingas are worshipped and oil and turmeric powder is applied to them. A diwati and a burning camphor are waved and betelnuts, etc., are offered. The music is played continuously during the procession. The Amritlinga is worshipped and then the prepared pan including betelnuts, dry betel leaves, dry dates, copra, carrot, sugarcane pieces and berries are distributed amongst mankaris including Deshmukh, Deshpande, Kulkarni and others. The vidas are
given to all these persons as a mark of honour for all the co-operation given by them during the fair.
The Amritlinga is worshipped first, then the deity and then the 68 lingas. On the return journey of the procession fireworks are let off.
13th January: This day is treated as ' Bhogi' and ' Sammati'. Akshatas are distributed among the pilgrims. The poles are taken out in procession at about 8 a.m. from the Mallikarjun temple in the same way as on the earlier day. The procession reaches the temple of Siddheshwar at about 11 a.m. The poles are kept near the lingas at sammati katta. Here the poles and the sammati linga are worshipped with holy water of the lake. The water kept in thirteen earthen pots is worshipped and vidas offered. Then the holy book written by saint Siddheshwar is worshipped with the holy water. It is then read and after the completion of every page akshatas are thrown. This is called samanti-puja. After the programmes are over, prepared pans are distributed. The poles are brought to the Mallikarjun temple in procession.
14th January: All the poles are taken out in procession as on the previous day from the Mallikarjun temple at about 8 a.m. The procession reaches sammati katta where the dome and the flags of the poles are removed. Mixture of sesamum and turmeric powder with water is applied to the poles which are then washed in the holy water of the lake. The mixture is applied to the palms and feet of Shri Hire Habbu who worships the poles. The poles are brought near the Amritlinga where Ganga puja is performed. A stone supposed to be ' Ganda ' is kept in a basket, and worshipped by Shri Hire Habbu. Silk cloth, gold beads, mangalsutra, etc., are offered to her and turmeric powder, kumkum, etc., are applied. Flowers, banana, lemon, copra, betelnut and cocoanut are also offered and lastly cooked food is offered by females from Deshmukh families. Light is also waved. Then the Amritlinga is worshipped and a prepared pan is given to Shri Deshmukh. A winnowing fan is kept on the basket and tied with a thread. The basket is then drowned in the lake with some money by Shri Deshmukh. Prepared pan is then distributed amongst reputable persons. The deity is worshipped and the procession returns with the palanquin and poles. It reaches the temple at about 2 p.m.
The poles are again taken out in procession at 4 p.m. and kept near the house of a Rajput. A decorated bashing or paper crown with five-headed paper cobra is tied to the top of the principal pole and small paper crowns are tied to other poles. The procession starts and reaches the Panchkatta. The poles are then brought near the homa kunda on the homa ground and kept to the west of the kunda.
A shelter of straw is constructed on the homa kunda and is
decorated with flowers, mango leaves and copra garlands. In the kunda five bundles of bajra-straw are kept vertically. This is supposed to be the bride Kumari Gangabai. Shri Hire Habbu offers silk sari to the bride which is wrapped around the straw bundles, beads, mangalsutra, flowers, bangles, turmeric powder and kumkum, banana, lemon, dates, betelnuts, rice and a cloth for bodice and food prepared are offered to her. A thread is bound eleven times around the straw bundles. Then ghee is poured on the image (bride) and camphor arati and diwati (torch) are waved. All these things are then burnt by Shri Hire Habbu. The palanquin accompanying the procession takes five rounds around the kunda. The principal pole with the paper crown decked on it is held by one person. While the poles are making rounds fireworks are let off. The pilgrims throw fruits, money, etc., in the kunda. The poles with the palanquin are then brought towards the south where mixture of sesamum and gur is distributed. The next programme is of forecasting. A she-calf which is not fed throughout the day is brought and worshipped, then a mixture of seven cereals is thrown on the calf. If the calf excretes or urinates the indication is supposed to be favourable. If the calf eats the cereals it indicates scarcity. If it stands on its four feet that also is supposed to indicate a prosperous future. If some calamities are to befall, the calf does not allow to be worshipped. After this programme the poles and palanquin are brought to the temple of Mallikarjun at about 12 O'clock at night.
15th January: At about 5 p.m. the procession of the poles with the palanquin is taken out which halts at the house of a Rajput. The paper crown, etc., are repaired if broken or damaged and after sunset the procession arrives at the homa ground. Fireworks are let off. This continues for about an hour and a half after which the poles are brought to the Siddheshwar temple. After making five holy rounds around the temple and bowing to the deity the procession sets on its return journey. The procession reaches the Mallikarjun temple at about midnight when a feast is given to respectable persons. The poles are then carried back to their respective places.
16th January: This is the last day of the fair. Shri Deshmukh, going along with the palanquin procession, invites all the priests to meals. In the afternoon a feast is arranged and in the evening all the seven poles are again collected at the Mallikarjun temple where they are worshipped. The decked ornaments and other things are then given to respectable persons and the poles are carried back to their respective places. In the evening wrestling bouts are arranged in the Siddheshwar Gymkhana and prizes distributed to the winners.
During the entire period of the fair discourses on mythological stories (kathas) are held and bhajans are also arranged in the
temple. The procession of the poles follows different routes everyday according to schedule.
One of the attractions of the fair is fireworks and wrestling bouts.
Besides the general taps in the city, three stand posts are erected at the homa ground for drinking water supply during the fair. The water of the lake is used for cattle and bathing purposes. The Corporation makes elaborate arrangements regarding water-supply and sanitation.
The management of the fair is with the devasthan committee which comprises thirty life-members. The committee selects members for different sub-committees. Fair committee is one of them which is responsible for the management of the fair. The devasthan committee looks after the worship, construction and repairs of the temples, buying and selling of immovable properties, receiving gifts, etc., and also the fair. The committee receives donations and has also some rented property.
The birth and life of saint Siddheshwar have been referred to in many texts. ' Shri Siddheshwar Puran ' was written by the great poet of Lingayat caste, Shri Raghavan. Some inscriptions regarding
the devasthan have been found during excavations. There is an inscription dating back to 1264 A.D. in Haveri taluka of Mysore State indicating that a king named Deoraj visited Sonnalagi (a hamlet of Sholapur) and gifted a village named Sangur to the devasthan. Another inscription is found at Shimoga dating 1265 A.D. wherein the importance of the place Sonnalagi is mentioned. It is stated that the wife of the chief of Sholapur, Chamaladevi, also gave lands to the saint Siddheshwar to build a lake and instal sixty-eight lingas.
According to the Puranas two saints named ' Adrishir' and ' Urdhvashir' while going to pray God mocked at another saint Shri Bringishwar who cursed that they would take birth on the earth. The saints prayed to God begging for the removal of the curse. The God then promised that the curse of the saint will be cured by birth of a child. Accordingly the saints took birth in the hamlet Sonnalagi of Sholapur, one as a chief or Patel named Mordi Muddaya, and another as a female named Suggaldevi. They were born in the Kundvakkya (distributors of alms from the fields) caste of Lingayat sect. When they came of age they married. They had no son for a long time. At that time Shri Revansiddheshwar, a great saint and follower of Lingayat sect, was roaming for the spread of the sect. During his tour he arrived at Sonnalagi and blessed the old couple that a son will be born to them as desired. Accordingly the couple gave birth to a son named as Dhuli Mahankal. It is stated in the Purana that the boy was born after five months of conception without any signs of delivery and named as Siddheshwar by goddess Parvati herself. The boyhood of Siddharam or Siddheshwar was full
of strange events. His parents were greatly distressed to see that he was dumb. He could, however, hear if called by the name Siddharam. Due to the silent nature of the boy people took him to be a dunce. He was assigned the work of rearing cattle in his father's field. One day a very curious phenomenon occurred which completely changed the life of Siddharam (Dhuli Mahankal). While he was rearing the cattle, god Mahadeo personifying as a Jangam with venerable appearance met the boy and asked for hurada (fried jowar) which Siddharam gave him. Then the Jangam, named Mallaya, who was no other than Shri Shaila himself (one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in the south), asked for rice mixed with curds. As Siddharam was one of the worshippers of Jangams he ran to his house and asked his mother for the food. The mother was very much astonished with the speech of her son and handed over the food. Siddharam returned to the place in his field which is still recognised as gurubhet near the compound of the Collector's bungalow at Sholapur. He could not, however, see the Jangam who had by then disappeared. He searched for the Jangam and in his quest he determined to go to Shri Shaila to offer the food and propitiate the Jangam. He inquired about the whereabouts of the saint but failed. In severe grief, he decided to commit suicide by falling from a precipitous cliff of the mountain. But as he was about to do it, he saw a vision all of a sudden, which dissuaded him from the folly of committing suicide. The place is still known as Siddheshwar Kamari. He was told to return to Sonnalagi to undertake the work of his mission. Shri Siddharam was also told that the Mallaya himself will appear in the form of a Shivalinga under a Mandar tree at Sonnalagi. The saint returned from Shri Shaila and found a self-created Shivalinga under a Mandar tree where he built a temple. The temple was buried under the walls of the fort. Now another temple is built in the city with the Shivalinga. One Nannappa was the ruler at that time. His wife Chamunda Devi had given a land of 5 kosia (10 miles) as commanded by a vision to Siddharam to consecrate 68 lingas in that area and make it a kshetra (holy place). Shri Siddheshwar, after knowing the scarcity of water, constructed a lake in about 1136 A.D. The people devoted a good deal of attention and donated money to the construction of the lake. Its renovation and deepening was undertaken in 1940. Siddheshwar performed many miracles and the people were convinced of his supernatural powers. He built 16 temples in the city and was always busy practising penance and used to sit where the present huge structure of the temple stands. He had gained the siddhis due to penance. He was very kind to human beings and all the other creatures. He performed many sacrifices to propitiate the God for the welfare of the mankind.
The saint Siddharam, later known as Siddheshwar, entombed himself alive in 1167 A.D. at Sholapur as requested by saint Allamprabhu." In what follows is reproduced the information about the temple of Siddheshwar as it appears in the old Sholapur District Gazetteer, 1884, as it presents some interesting details:-
" Close to the water in the north-east corner of the island in the Siddheshwar lake is the temple of Siddheshwar, a small stone building with a timber front or entrance hall and in the temple over a tomb the bust of a man. On its north and east sides the island is surrounded by a stone pavement with two steps. The committee of Lingayat traders in the city have built a row of flat-roofed arched cloisters round the east and south sides of the island. In the centre of the island on a stone platform are a pair of stone lingas and in the north of the island are a few enclosures and small rest-houses. In honour of Siddheshwar a yearly fair is held on the south-east bank of the lake where about 400 booths are set up. The priests of the temple are Lingayats who are known as Habus and marry with Panchamsali Lingayats. The women of the priests' family wear the usual movable ling, but the men instead of a ling wear a heavy necklace of rudraksha beads. The boys, when between seven and ten years old, on the full-moon day of Jyeshtha or May-June in a leap year or dhanda sal, are initiated as priests by their head teacher or guru who is also a Habu. After a boy has been shaved he and the teacher together climb to the raised stone platform in the centre of the island and sit, the teacher to the south and the novice to the north of the double ling, while the teacher repeats texts and a Jangam or secular priest winds strands of cotton yarn round the teacher and the novice. The teacher chants and prays all the time. The ceremony is completed by an offering to the ling and by giving a dinner to the Habu families. The Habus of Siddheshwar's temple are also the ministrants of a Nagoba or cobra-god who in the form of a pair of twined snakes, has a small shrine on the left of the raised way that joins the island with the bank of the lake.
" Mallikarjuna temple: The Mallikarjuna temple is a huge structure. The tower of the temple is covered with small images and polished brass knobs and is still seen in good condition. The temple management is looked after by the Siddheshwar panch committee. A week of kirtana is held at this temple on the occasion of Mahashivratra.
Parasnath temple: The Jain temple of Parasnath is located in Bhusar lane. It is a replica of the Jain temple at Baramati in Pune district and is said to have been built about 1850 at an estimated cost of Rs. 1,50,000. The temple is in an enclosure surrounded by domes. The temple has short clustered pillars and the roof and tower are covered with thick-set mortar figures and ornaments. There are two images of Parasnath, one with and one without clothes, both made
of stone brought from Jaipur. Every year a festival is held at the temple in the month of Bhadrapada.
Adinath temple: Adinath temple was constructed by Seth Haribhai Devkaran in Vikram year 1905. It is a spacious and solid structure. Every year a festival is held in the month of Bhadrapada. The management of the temple vests in a panch committee.
Shubharai Math: Shubharai was a saint-poet who flourished during the last days of the Peshwas. He was well-versed in Vedas. Born at Malur in Mysore State he soon rose to become the Deputy Diwan of the Tipu Sultan of Mysore. However, later to avoid forced conversion to Muhammedanism he escaped from Mysore State and made his way to Sholapur. He had a fairly good knowledge of Telugu which was his mother-tongue, Kannada the language of the State where he was born and brought up and Urdu and Marathi which were the official languages at the courts of the Tipu Sultan and of the Peshwa, respectively. Abhangas compiled by him gave him a place among the saint-poets of Maharashtra. Besides being a saint-poet, he successfully tried his hands at fine arts like music, dancing and painting. His stencil-cutting on the paper known as Junnari paper is considered to be among the best of this type.
When he settled at Sholapur he did not enter politics and religion was the field where he showed interest. He withdrew his attention from worldly matters. He established an idol of Vithoba whose devotee he was. Every year the ratha procession is taken out on Shuddha 11th of the months of Ashadha and Kartika, which is attended by a large number of people. Shubharai took samadhi on Bhadrapada Vadya 10 in the Shaka era 1742.
Indrabhuvan: The building in which the offices of the Sholapur Municipal Corporation are located was purchased by the municipality a few years back. The building was formerly owned by the late Shri Appasaheb Varad, a wealthy social worker of Sholapur. It is a fine structure with domes and minars at the front. The building contains specimens of different types of architecture with a well-maintained garden at the front. The architecture contains replicas not only from the ancient and mediaeval history of this city but also specimens of architecture from countries like Japan, China and other European countries known for their ancient and modern preserves. Situated at a slightly rising ground in the heart of the city the building forms a prominent object even from a distance of four to five miles.
Masjids: Of a number of mosques in the city mention must be made of Jumma Masjid and Kali Masjid. Both the Masjids are pretty old, having been constructed at a time when the city formed part of the Bijapur kingdom. The Jumma Masjid is the biggest of all the Masjids in the city. The management of both these Masjids is looked after by
a separate panch committee. The Jumma Masjid is maintained from the income realised from an old land grant.
Churches: There are three churches in the city. One belongs to Roman Catholics, the other to the Protestants and the third to the American Mission. Attached to the Roman Catholic church is a school known as Saint Joseph School.
Agyari: There is also a Parsi agyari or a Parsi fire-temple in the city. The affairs of the agyari are looked after by the Parsi community in the city through their panchas.