Shaktipītha, literally meaning – the seat of power, in Indian subcontinent stand testament to the essence of this civilization, the civilization which put mother over God, this civilization where the mortal remains of a woman have been enshrined for ages, to remind every woman that within her lies a goddess too. The Shaktipīthas take us to a time that is beyond our comprehension; on the walls of each shaktipītha temple stories from every age are etched; and on its sacred earth sādhakas fulfill their Sādhanā till date. Shaktipīthas unify our country and diversify our culture. They’ve contributed immensely to the society that has bloomed around them and the propagation and perpetuation of different branches of philosophy within Hinduism. Shāktism has subsequently, through these Shaktipīthas, contributed immensely to the emancipation and upliftment of women.
According to Hindu Purānas, the 51 Shaktipīthas were consecrated around the mortal remains of Sati, Shiva’s wife. According to oral traditions and written lore, Sati was the daughter of Daksha Prajāpati, who considered Shiva his rival. Sati being an incarnation of Ādi Shakti, despite Her father’s disagreement, married Shiva. To spite Shiva, Daksha organized a grand yajña, and invited all devatas, Brahma, Vishnu and other celestial beings, deliberately leaving out the invitations to His daughter and Shiva. Sati, being wilful and affectionate of Her father, insisted on attending the yajña, despite Shiva’s urging to not go. The result, as anticipated, was disastrous: Daksha Prajāpati, drunk on his arrogance, humiliated Sati in front of all present, by viciously insulting Shiva and disowning Sati. Sati’s indignant and enraged response to this grave offence was the sacrifice of Her own mortal coil by self immolating through Her yogic powers; what followed was the unleashing of Mahādeva’s rage: a dance of terror which spared none in its path. Shiva danced the terrible tandav, holding Sati’s charred body in his arms, which caused great cosmic chaos and forced Vishnu to intervene by blowing a discus into her body, and severing it into 51 pieces. Wherever a part of her body fell, the land became blessed and sacred. And Shiva retreated into the icy caves of his abode, awaiting the return of his beloved. Once an asura named Kolhāsura wreaked havoc on the earth by disturbing yajñas & penance of rishis and by torturing the common people. To annihilate the asura and establish harmony, Devī Mahālakshmī of Prādhānika Rahasya, manifested and destroyed the asura. During his last moments, the asura realised his mistakes and found no way to escape the wrath of Devī, so before being killed he asked for a boon that this place shall be known after his name & Devī would stay there to grace Her devotees. Thus the name of place came to be known as Kolhāpura – after the name of asura Kolhāsura.
The grand temple structure as we see it today was first built by the Chalukya rulers in 7th century. Further the temple was also visited and renovated under the guidance of Ādi Shankarāchārya. The famous king of Mahārashtra – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj also frequently visited the temple. His son, Sambhaji Maharaj was an ardent Shākta and sincere devotee of Devi Mahālakshmī. The temple was renovated from time to time by the Maratha rulers onward the 17th century.