Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj (Second):

Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj was born on 13th April 1850. He ascended the throne, when he was just 16 years of age, on 18th August 1866. He was the Raja of Kolhapur for only four years till he passed away on 30th November 1870, aged 20, in Florence, Italy.

Before him, Shivaji IV or Babasaheb Maharaj was the King of Kolhapur from 1837 to 1866. Babasaheb Maharaj had health problems and had already lost is only son. Hence, Nagojirao Patankar, his nephew, was called to the palace to stay with the king. Nagojirao was the son of Babasaheb Maharaj’s eldest sister Aubai Rajesaheb, who was married to Ramchandrarao Patankar. Nagojirao was intelligent, well mannered, well behaved and had good work ethics. Hence Babasaheb Maharaj held a darbar on 30th September 1865, handed over the Royal Clothes and awarded the title of “Mansub Bahadur” to Nagojirao.

The health of Babasaheb Maharaj started deteriorating further. Babasaheb Maharaj had already lost his son, hence Nagojirao was adopted and was named Rajaram. Babasaheb Maharaj breathed his last on 4th August 1866. The then British Governer Sir Walter Priyar held a darbar in Pune and declared that Rajaram would be the next ruler of Kolhapur. Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj II ascended the throne on 18th August 1866.

Rajaram Maharaj was intelligent and it was decided to educate and train him under the guidance of a guardian Edward W. West and a Parsi graduate Jamshedji Unwalla of the Bombay University. The Maharaj studied English and English literature and law under their able guidance. Being of a very amiable disposition and most anxious to improve himself, he appeared in public creating a most favourable impression. He expressed a strong wish to visit Europe. It was decided that he proceed immediately before attaining his majority.

Rajaram Maharaj left Bombay for London on 22nd May 1870, accompanied by his guardian Lieutenant Colonel Edward W. West, his tutor and a few native servants. He was presented to the Queen on arrival in London. He spent 5 months seeing the wonders of London and other cities. He made trips to Scotland and Ireland. ( Details of his visit are well documented in “Dairy of the Late Rajah of Kolhapur[ during his visit to Europe in 1870 ] – edited by Capt. E.W. West )

On 2nd November 1870, he left England for the European Continent en route to India. Unfortunately, he had to face very cold weather while proceeding from Munich to Innsbruik. He was taken to Florence in Italy, where the best medical treatment was procured for him. However, there was a sudden collapse in his health on 30th November and he breathed his last on the same day.

The last rites were performed on 1st December 1870, according to Hindu Religion, on the banks of river Arno, at a spot beyond the Cascini, now marked by a Cupola and Bust of Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj. The Ashes were taken back to India and immersed in river Ganges. ( Reference : Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency Volume XXIV ( 1886 ) )

Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj was responsible for laying the foundation of Higher Education in the Princely state of Kolhapur. It was his idea to have a beautiful school building near the palace itself in Bhavani Mandap area. He conveyed his thoughts to the then Political agent Anderson. The British government accepted the proposal and the stone laying foundation ceremony was done by the auspicious hands of Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj on 15th February 1870. In his speech, he said, “Spreading Education for one and all,according to me is the most important thing and Education should reach each and everyone. For that I will try my best and will never fall short.” Immediately, afterwards, on 22nd May1870, Rajaram Maharaj left for London. He had clear and new ideas regarding Education and that was the main reason he travelled to the European countries.

A condolence meeting was held in Kolhapur on 18th December 1870. In the meeting the Principal of Kolhapur English High School, Shri Mahadev Moreshwar Kunthe proposed that the school be renamed after Rajaram Maharaj. The proposal was accepted and the school was renamed “Rajaram High School”. The building was completed in 1874. Classes of the college were held in this building from 1880.

Rajaram College where it all started (Bhavani Mandap) 

Rajaram College (Science College) 

Florence, Italy Rajaram Memorial on Bank of River Arno
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