Solapur ( Marathi : सोलापुर ) is a city and a municipal corporation in South Western Maharashtra, India near the Karnataka border and is the administrative headquarters of Solapur District. Solapur is one of the four districts that form the region of Western Maharashtra (the other three districts are Satara, Kolhapur and Sangli. It is the fourth largest district in Maharashtra in terms of land area (behind Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur) and seventh largest in terms of population. Solapur is a melting point with a confluence of Marathi, Telugu and Kannada cultures. It is an important junction on the Central railway line. Solapur is a city with an array of small and medium scale industries. It has been a leading center for cotton mills and power looms, though recent times have seen these industries relocate elsewhere. Bedding accessories made in Solapur ('chaddars') have earned fame and reputation for their novel designs and durability. The chief deity of the city is Shri Siddeshwar. The "Nandidhwaj" procession on Makar Sankranti fair is attended by millions of devotees.
Solapur is transport hub connecting Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and also Tamil Nadu. It is well connected by Road and Rail to major districts and cities. Akkalkot is the site of Akkalkot Swami Maharaj Math, visited yearly by huge number of people from Maharashtra and neighbouring Karnataka. Also an annual fair is held in the month of January wherein huge crowd comes from various parts of country, which is called as Gadda Fair in vernacular language.
The Solapur District was ruled by various dynasties such as Andhrabhratyas, Chalukyas, Rashtrkutas, Yadavas and Bahamanis. 'Solapur' is believed to be derived from two words 'Sola' meaning sixteen and 'pur' meaning village. The present city of Solapur was considered to be spread over sixteen villages viz. Aadilpur, Ahmedpur, Chapaldev, Fatehpur, Jamdarwadi, Kalajapur, Khadarpur, Khandervkiwadi, Muhammadpur, Ranapur, Sandalpur, Shaikpur, Solapur, Sonalagi, Sonapur and Vaidakwadi. Recent research work however shows that the name SOLAPUR is derived not from the congregation of sixteen villages.It is evident from the inscriptions of Shivayogi Shri. Siddheshwar of the time of the Kalachuristis of Kalyani, that the town was called Sonnalage which came to be pronounced as Sonnalagi. The town was known as Sonnalagi even up to the times of Yadavas. A Sanskrit inscription dated Shake 1238, after the downfall of the Yadavas found at Kamati in Mohol shows that the town was known as Sonalipur. One of the inscriptions found in Solapur fort shows that the town was called Sonalpur while another inscription on the well in the fort shows that it was known as Sandalpur.
The present Solapur district was previously part of Ahmednagar, Pune and Satara districts. In 1838 it became the Sub-district of Ahmednagar. It included Barshi, Mohol, Madha, Karmala, Indi, Hippargi and Muddebihal Sub-divisions. In 1864 this Sub-district was abolished. In 1871 this district was reformed joining the Sub-divisions viz. Solapur, Barshi, Mohol, Madha and Karmala and two Sub-divisions of Satara district viz. Pandharpur, Sangola and in 1875 Malshiras Sub-division was also attached. After the State reorganisation in 1956 Solapur was included in Mumbai State and it became a full fledged district of Maharashtra State in 1960.
The importance of Solapur is unique in the history of India in the sense that this district enjoyed the freedom even before independence. The citizens of Solapur enjoyed the independence for three days from 9th to 11 May 1930. The brief history runs like this. After the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi in May 1930, protests and demonstrations against British rule were held throughout the India. Large scale rallies and protests were done at Solapur also. Many citizens lost their lives in the police firings. Due to this the irate mob attacked the police stations. Out of fear the police and other officers ran out of Solapur. During this period the responsibility of law, order and security of citizens was on the shoulders of Congress Party leaders. Then city congress leader Tulsidad Jadhav 'with his other congressmen maintained the law and order for a period of three days from 9 to 11 May 1930.In February 2009 a statue was erected of Shri Tulsidas Jadhav to acknowledge his bravery act at Mechanic chowk. The unvieling ceremony was done by Shri Sharad Pawar.
Secondly, the Solapur Municipal Council was the first Municipal Council of India to host the national flag on the Municipal Council building (Now Municipal Corporation) Solapur in 1930. The brief history runs like this. Taking the spirit of Dandi March from Mahatma Gandhi, the freedom fighters of Solapur decided to host the national flag on the Solapur Municipal Council. Accordingly, senior freedom fighter from Pune Shri. Annasaheb Bhopatkar hoisted the National Flag on 6 April 1930 on Municipal Council. This was the first and the unique incidence of such kind throughout the country. The British rulers, due to irritation declared martial law at Solapur and arrested many leaders and innocent citizens on false charges. The freedom fighters Shri. Mallappa Dhanshetti, Shri. Kurban Hussain, Shri. Jagnnath Shinde and Shri. Kisan Sarda were arrested on charges of killing two policemen of Mangalwar police station. The lower court sentenced the punishment of hanging till death for these freedom fighters. The High Court also confirmed the same decision and these four freedom fighters were hanged till death on 12 January 1931. As a mark of respect to these freedom fighters, the statues of these freedom fighters have been installed in the heart of the city and the location has been named as Hutatma Chowk.
Solapur is one of the biggest cities in Maharashtra, situated near the borders with Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It is an ancient historical and religious place with Shri Siddharameshwar as its "Gramadaiwata". Shri Siddharameshwar was a historical figure of the 12th century whose "Karmayoga" on his own native land-Solapur, turned him into a God-figure over the course of time.There was a great saint Shri.Siddarama,who preached the teachings of Shri.Basaweshwara. A young girl, inspired by the teachings of this saint wished to marry the saint. Shri. Siddaram being a brahamachari denied to marry her and gave permission to marry with his Yogadanda. The same marriage function is celebrated every year on the Makar Sankranti for three days on Bhogi, Sankrant and Kinkrant. The Nandi Dhwajas are presumed as Bride and Groom for the marriage. This festival falls around 14th Jan every year. A fare popularly known as Gadda Jatra is arranged for fifteen days during this period
Siddharama was a great conributor to Lingayata(veershaivism) religion and he is considered as one of the five prophets of Lingayat(veershaivism) religion. He had gained the "Siddhi". As Solapur was a drought prone area, Shri Siddharameshwar dug a lake with the help of 4000 "Sharanas" to solve the problem of potable water. He entombed himself alive (Shivyogsamadhi) at Solapur.
Solapur has been famous for its Textile Industries, Solapur Chaddars and Towels are famous not only in India but also in other countries.
During the Indian independence movement, the people of Solapur enjoyed full freedom on 9th, 10th and 11 May 1930. However, this resulted in the executions of Shri Mallappa Dhanshetti, Shri Kurban Hussein, Shri Jagannath Shinde and Shri Kisan Sarda who were hanged on 12 January 1931, in the prison at Pune. This resulted in the city becoming recognized as "The City of Hutatmas".
Nanaj 18 km from Solapur is the habitat of the Great Indian Bustard, locally called Maldhok. The GIB was discovered by Shri B.S.Kulkarni in 1978, and Nanaj is now an international eco destination. Mr Kulkarni has taken immense efforts for the conservation of the great Indian bustard and the lakes in and around solapur. The world bustard population is just in hundreds a nanaj hosts arounnd 23 bustards.
Pandharpur, one of the holiest places in Maharashtra for Hindus, with its Vitthal-Rakhumai temple on the banks of the Chandrabhaga river, is only 70 km from Solapur. Akkalkot, just 38 km from Solapur is a holy place due to the shrine of Akkalkot Swami. Across the border in Gulbarga District of Karnataka, is Ganagapur, another place of pilgrimage. The city of Bijapur in Karnataka, 109 km from Solapur, is widely known for its 'Gol-Gumbaj', a highly regarded piece of architecture.