Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj was the first king of Kolhapur. He was born on June 26, 1984. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj was born in a Ghatge Maratha family, of Kagal village in Kolhapur and was named Yeshwantrao.
His father Jaisingrao Ghatge was a village chief, while his mother Radhabhai hailed from the royal family of Mudhol. He lost his mother when he was just three years old. By the time Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj turned 10, he was adopted by Queen Anandibai, who was the widow of King Shivaji IV.
Yeshwantrao was heavily influenced by social reformers like Jyotiba Phule, Shahu Maharaj. In order to complete his formal education, Yeshwantrao went to Rajkumar College, Rajkot. Besides this, he also took lessons in administrative affairs from Sir Stuart Fraser, who was a representative of the Indian Civil Services.
He took over the throne in 1894 at the age of 28. It was during this time that he was renamed Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj. It is said that he had worked extensively for the welfare of the backward castes. One of his priorities was the introduction of primary education for all. He had also implemented several progressive schemes for the state.
Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj had married Lakshmibai Khanvilkar, who was the daughter of a nobleman from Baroda. They tied the knot in 1891 and went on to have four children – two sons and two daughters. The able ruler passed away on May 6, 1922.