History of Khopoli
Khopoli, the small but developed industrial town in the Khalapur Taluka of Raigad district of Maharashtra, is a beautiful valley at the base of Sahyadri mountain ranges. In the earlier days, Khopoli was a small place with local villagers and tribal societies residing. During the Maratha rule, Khopoli region got some prominence. The uneven and rocky terrain of Bor Ghat or the Bhore Ghat which is adjacent to Khopoli had made the region difficult for the British rule to dominate for quite a long time.
Origin of Name KhopoliKholpoli or Khalapur Peta was earlier named as “Campolee” by the British Empire. With India getting its independence, Campolee came under the state of Maharashtra and was renamed as Khopoli. This is a Marathi name which is derived from two separate words, Khopi (which means a hut) and Awali (which means a row). This is due to the presence of many huts of the then locals in a row.
Historical Aspects of KhopoliDuring the 18th century, Khopoli or Campolee was under the great Maratha rule. This region was specifically under the able administration of Nana Phadnavis, who was considered to be one of the top Peshwa (Prime Minister) and states craftsman of the Marathas. During his reign, he built an oval shaped water reservoir for the people of the region. This reservoir was made of solid black rock and stretches over an area of 3/4th of a mile. This water pool had surrounding walls of stone, which were of 5’ to 6’ thick. Stone steps were made inside the reservoir to help the people reach the water level. During monsoon, rain water used to fill up this tank thus holding the water reserve for the entire year.
During recent times this huge water body came to be known as the Shankar Mandir Talao. It is still the main source of water supply for the entire region. Many legends and myths surround this lake. It is believed that in ancient times, once the Khopoli region was draught stricken with almost the whole water body drying up. The then queen had to sell of her diamond bangles as a sacrifice to the God for rain. Finally rain came and the whole Talao got filled up with water. Thus due to some this lake is also known as Kakan Talao. This water body was very deep and is believed to hold a secret passage underneath it. As story goes that this passage was the escape route of Maharaj Shivaji when he lost his empire to the British.
Nana Phadnavis also built the oldest Mahadev temple of the region. This was known as the Temple of Viresvar. The temple was of stone built with a huge idol of Lord Shiva inside. Near to this temple he built an Annachatra or a free feeding house for all the devotees of the temple. Unfortunately during the year 1882, the huge temple was crumbled to a pile of stone due to lack of maintenance. In recent times a new Mahadev Temple complex dons the same place in honour of the great Peshwa.
Being a very small and unimportant region for a long period in history, not much had been uncovered about the past of the place. The then population was also very less and mostly village people. Only in few writings of the British explorers of the land can we find certain details of this picturesque valley. In 1825 Bishop Heber and in 1831 Mrs. Wilson had described in their journals Khopoli as a finely situated picturesque view of the Poona (modern day Pune) road.
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