Shakti Peeth of Mahalakshmi and
the Gateway to Karnataka and Goa
Kolhapur is famous for its Mahalakshmi Temple which devout Hindus believe will fulfill all their wishes.
There are plenty of places to see around. And, you can stay in a real lake side palace without making a big hole in your pocket.
Kolhapur is an ancient city, to the extreme south of Maharashtra, famous for its really spicy food which will make your mouth burn; headwear, footwear, jewellery; religious connections; its association with wrestling and with the film industry.
Kolhapur is the historical capital of the Marathi film industry.
Some legendary film personalities, like V. Shantaram, started their career here.
Raja Harishchandra, the first feature film produced in India in 1913, was conceptualized here.
Kolhapur still hosts several film festivals and provides good location for shooting.
Famous wrestlers are groomed and trained here.
Some of the Maharajahs of Kolhapur have been very good wrestlers.
Kolhapur is also the entrance to Karnataka and Goa.
According to mythology, when Goddess Mahalakshmi killed Kolhasur, a demon who was troubling the local people, Kolhasur expressed the desire that the city be named after him.
Mahalakshmi fulfilled his last wish, and named the city after him.
History of Kolhapur
The states of Satara and Kolhapur came into existence in 1707, because of the succession dispute over the Maratha kingship.
Shahu Sambhaji, heir to the Maratha kingdom, captured by the Mughals at the age of nine, was their prisoner at the time of the death of his father Sambhaji (the elder son of Shivaji Maharaj – founder of the Maratha Empire) in 1700.
Maharani Tara Bai proclaimed his cousin Rajaram, as the king under her regency.
In 1707, the Mughals set Shahu Sambhaji free under certain conditions and he returned to claim his inheritance.
He defeated the regent at the Battle of Khed and established himself at Satara, forcing Maharani Tara Bai and her son to retire to Kolhapur.
The British sent expeditions against Kolhapur in 1765 and 1792.
After the collapse of the Maratha confederacy in 1812, Kolhapur entered into treaty with the British.
In the early years of the 19th century, the British again invaded Kolhapur, and for some time even appointed a political officer to temporarily manage the state.
The last ruler of Kolhapur was HH Maharaja Chhatrapati Shahaji II Puar.
Kolhapur was one of the four Marattha States of British India – the other three being Baroda, Gwalior and Indore.
After India attained independence in 1947, Kolhapur ceded to the Dominion of India on 14 August 1947 and merged with Bombay state on 1 March 1949.
The boundaries of the present Kolhapur district approximately correspond with those of former Kolhapur kingdom.
This is the must see place.
The puranas have listed 108 sites where Shakti (the goddess of power) is manifest.
Of these, 6 are Shakti Peethas – abode of Shakti, where one can achieve fulfillment of all desires as well as salvation.
Of these six, the Karveer area (the area where Kolhapur is located), is most important.
It is believed that Mahalakshmi and Vishnu reside in this area.
Because of its special significance, Kolhapur is also known as “Dakshin Kashi”.
The temple, built around 700 A.D. during the Chalukyan rule, is mounted on a stone platform.
The image of Mahalakshmi is made of gemstone and weighs about 40 kilograms.
She has four arms and wears a crown.
The crown has an image of Shesh Nag – the serpent of Vishnu.
A stone lion, the vahana of Mahalakshmi, stands behind the statue.
In most Hindu temples, the images face north or east.
But in Kolhapur, Mahalakshmi faces the west (Pashchim).
There are beautiful statues all around the temple.
The Jotiba Temple is situated to the north of Kolhapur deep in the forests, surrounded by mountains and dangerous precipices.
According to mythology, Jotiba helped Mahalakshmi in her fight with the demons.
The original temple was built in 1730 by Navajisaya.
This temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and is also called Kedarnath of the South.
The present Maharaja’s family lives on the first floor of this magnificent Palace.
This palace, designed by Charles Mant, a British architect, was completed in 1881.
It is a mix of a Victorian railway station and the Addams Family mansion.
The ground floor has been converted into the Shahaji Chhatrapati Museum which contains a large number of memoralia worth seeing – animal trophies, weapons, paintings, etc.
The town hall, built by Mant between 1872-76, is a small museum containing pottery and bronze artefacts unearthed during archaeological excavations on nearby Brahmapuri Hill. One of the interesting exhibits is a small bronze statue of the Greek God Poseidon holding a Siva- like trident.
Panhala Hill Station
Panhala is a little visited hill station 18 km northwest of Kolhapur.
The formidable fort on the hilltop has a long and interesting history.
You can also visit the nearby Pawala Caves and a couple of Buddhist cave temples.
Kolhapur is well connected to Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Miraj by rail.
Kolhapur to Mumbai – 396 kms.
Kolhapur to Pune – 240 kms.
Kolhapur to Bangalore – 600 kms.
Kolhapur lies on National Highway 4 (NH4) which connects Mumbai to Bangalore.
Mumbai to Kolhapur is about 7 hours drive by road.
The road is very good.
Kolhapur is a nice, cozy place.
Surprisingly, it has one of the highest per capita income in India.
And a large contingent of Mercedes cars.
You can visit the sacred ghats on the Panchganga River or the Lake Rankala, five kms from the railway station.
If you wish to stay in a real palace at an affordable rate, stay at Hotel Shalini Palace, the Maharaja’s old summer palace, by Lake Rankala.
You will never forget your stay.
You can visit Goa and several other places.