Little or nothing is known of the history of the Marathas before the Christian era. In the first century of the Christian era they rose to prominence under their King Shalivahana.
There is a difference of 135 years between the eras of Shalivahana and Vikrama, and Grant Duff founds on this difference the remark that the eras themselves refute this story, unless we suppose that Vikramajit had prior claims to sovereignty and that the era was reckoned from the time of some of his forefathers; but to this it is to be replied, first, that there are two eras of Vikrama, one current in India north of the Nerbudda, and the other in Kashmir, and, secondly, that the name Vikrama denotes not an individual but a dynasty, like Pharaoh, or Tudor, or Stuart. The Rajatarangini (a history of the kings of Kashmir), a work admitted by such scholars as Colebrooke and Turnour to be an authentic record of historical events, establishes the fact that the Vikrama who conqueredKashmir, and established his power and era there, was a contemporary of Shalivahana, the Maratha king.
The birth and career of Shalivahana are of course to some extent mythical. He is variously spoken of as the son of a Kunbi or husbandman, and of a Koombar or potter. But there is no dispute as to his being a Maratha. He was called Satavahana as well as Shalivahana. After defeating Vikrama he made Paithan his capital. According to Jinaprabhu, a Jain writer, during the reign of Satavahana the city of Pratishthan (Paithan) became very rich, having wide roads, large temples and houses, brilliantly white markets, strong walls and wide ditches, and Satavahana having freed all the people of Dakshanipatha (Maharashtra) from debt, and conquered the country as far as the Tapti, introduced his era into it.