Kolhapur State, together with its jagirs or feudatories, covered an area of 3,165 square miles (8,200 km²). According to the 1901 census, the state population was 910,011, of which 54,373 resided in Kolhapur Town. In 1901, the state enjoyed an estimated revenue of £300,000.
The Maharajas of Kolhapur have a common ancestry with the Bhonsle dynasties of Tanjore and Satara, claiming descent from the Maratha royal clan Bhonslà. The states of Satara and Kolhapur came into being in 1707, because of the succession dispute over the Maratha kingship. Shahuji, the heir apparent to the Maratha kingdom, captured by the Mughals at the age of nine, remained their prisoner at the death of his father Sambhaji, the elder son of Shivaji Maharaj the founder of the Maratha Empire in 1689. The Dowager Maharani Tarabai (a widow of Rajaram Chhatrapati, younger son of Shivaji Maharaj) proclaimed her son Shivaji I, as Chhatrapati Maharaj under her regency. The Mughals released Shahu under certain conditions in 1707, and he returned to claim his inheritance. He defeated the regent at the Battle of Khed and established himself at Satara, forcing her to retire with her son to Kolhapur. By 1710 two separate principalities had become an established fact, eventually confirmed by the Treaty of Warana in 1731. The British sent expeditions against Kolhapur in 1765 and 1792; Kolhapur entered into treaty relations with the British, after the collapse of the Maratha confederacy in 1812. In the early years of the 19th century the British invaded again, and appointed a political officer to temporarily manage the state.
The last ruler of Kolhapur was HH Maharaja Chhatrapati Shahaji II Puar. After India's independence in 1947, the Maharaja of Kolhapur acceded to the Dominion of India on 14 August 1947 and merged with Bombay State on 1 March 1949. In 1960 Bombay state was divided into the linguistic states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The boundaries of former Kolhapur state correspond very closely with those of modern-day Kolhapur district.