Kolhapur

 
 
Kolhapur_Palace.jpgLand of Velour

Arts, aristocracy and graciousness. A legacy of velour combined with a culture steeped in spiritualism, education and modernism. Kolhapur with its myriad images emerges as a city with a multifaceted persona and a rich cultural, historical and mythical past. Ancient texts such as the Padmapurana and the Skandapurana speak in glowing terms of Karveer or Dakshin Kashi which is, in fact modern-day Kolhapur on the banks of river Panchaganga nestling among the Sahyadri ranges.

A journey through the past reveals that Kolhapur has lived through the regimes of various rulers from the mythical past to the modern age. The Hindu era lasted till 1347, followed by the Muslim rule which was from 1347-1700. The magnificent temples of Kolhapur were built during the glorious periods of the Satavahana kings and the Shilaharas. The Marathas controlled this area from 1700 to 1849. In 1849, the British took over and Chhatrapati Sahu Maharaj was installed as the ruler of Kolhapur.

Chhatrapati Sahu Maharaj's reign lent a progressive spirit to the city and he extended his patronage to theater, films, music, painting, sculpture, wrestling and crafts. As result, the city has a rich cultural ethos. In 1945, archaeological excavations close to a hill named Brahmagiri on the banks of the river Panchaganga revealed the existence of an ancient town dating back to the Roman times. Today, Kolhapur combines its artistic past with a dynamic present and is a modern, industrial city.
 
Places to See

Mahalaxmi Temple
This exquisitely carved temple draws millions of pilgrims from all over India and is an important spiritual center. Over the years, members of several royal families have sought the blessings of the goddess -- Mahalaxmi or Amba Bai. The temple complex has artistically sculpted structures and houses the temples of other deities such as Kashi Vishweshwar, Kartikaswami, Sheshashayi, Siddhivinayak, Mahaswaraswati, Mahakali, Shree Dutta and Shree Ram.

In the seventh century AD, the Chalukya ruler, Karandev initiated the construction of this temple and later on in the ninth century, the Shilahara Yadavas beautified it further. The sanctum sanctorum houses the revered idol of the goddess weighing 40 kgs. The idol has not been fashioned by any human being but exists in its natural form -- a primeval monolith of uncut diamonds and precious stones. This is known as Swayambhu.
Besides the 'Palkhi' ritual performed on every Friday, there are enthusiastic celebrations on the Hindu festivals of Chaitra Poornima and Navratri. The temple also holds music concerts wherein renowned artistes perform during festivals.
Timings: The temple is open from 4 pm to 11pm.
Accommodation: Devotees can stay at the nearby dharamshala (boarding house) for a nominal fee.

The New Palace (Chhatrapati Sahu Museum)
A royal palace partly converted into an unforgettable museum, the New Palace has lush green parks, a zoo and a picturesque lake to soothe tired souls.

The museum houses rare paintings and artifacts used by the royal family. Royal weapons and a tableau depicting court life of the last century create an aristocratic ambiance.

The Town Hall Museum
Antiques found during the excavations at Brahmagiri, old sculptures, filigree work in sandal wood and ivory, old coins and paintings of master artists of the region are all displayed here.

The Old Palace
Located behind the temple of Mahalaxmi, this magnificent structure has an impressive marquee with filigree work in stone. It also houses a temple of the goddess Bhawani.

Binkhambi Ganesh Mandir
Students of architecture will enjoy visiting this place as this unique temple does not have any pillars.

Rankala Lake
This wide and spacious lake is so called because at its center. lies the temple of Rankabhairav. Legend has it that a golden temple is submerged under the temple of Rankabhairav. The Shalini Palace stands on the west bank of the lake. It is built of intricately carved black stone and Italian marble. Recently, the palace was converted into a hotel.
 
Excursions

Panhala                                        
The history of Panhala is also the history of Marathas. There are innumerable places of interest , each with its share of haunting anecdotes. Sajja Kothi, where Sambhaji was imprisoned. Ambabai Temple, where Shivaji used to seek blessings before venturing on expeditions. Pavankhind, where Baji Prabhu laid down his life to cover Shivaji's escape.
In addition to history, Panhala at an altitude of 977 m offers some inspiring scenery and a soothing climate.

Weather: An average temperature of 25 C.

Getting There: The nearest railhead Kolhapur on SCR is 18 kms. From Mumbai, the journey by road is 428 kms. There is no dearth of ST buses and taxis to take you to Panhala from Kolhapur.

Vishalgad
The name Vishalgad itself connotes grandeur and magnificence. This picturesque fort contains the Amriteshwar Temple, Takmak Tok, Sati Vrindavan and the dargah or tomb of Hazrat Malikdhyan Baba, visited by hundreds of devotees.

Getting There : Vishalgad is 76 kms  northwest of Kolhapur.

Saamaangad
This fort has inspiring fables woven around it. Situated in the Gadhinglaj taluka or district the fort has secret passages and strong bastions.

Bhudargad
This fort is situated on a huge vertical rock amidst mountain ranges. It is said to resemble from a distance, the crescent moon in the matted hair of the god Shiva.

Getting There: Located about 50 kms south of Kolhapur.

Paargad
Surrounded by lush greenery and a picturesque forest, the fort has exquisite bronze statues of Shivaji and a temple of Bhagawati Bhawani.

Getting There: Paargad lies to the south of Kolhapur, 28 kms from Chandgad.

Narasimha Wadi
This holy place is situated on the confluence of the rivers Krishna and Panchaganga. It is well known for the holy padukas or slippers of Dattaguru ( an incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh). Narasimha Saraswati, considered an incarnation of Dattaguru lived here for 12 years.

Getting There: Narasimha Wadi is 45 kms from Kolhapur.

Jyotiba
Situated at a height of 3100 feet, this holy site nestles in the mountains near Wadi Ratnagiri. Jyotiba is supposed to be an incarnation of three gods -- Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and the seer Jamadagni. A mammoth colorful fair takes place on the full moon night of the Hindu months of Chaitra and Vaishakh

Getting There: Jyotiba lies 17 kms northwest of Kolhapur.

Bahubali of Kumbhojgiri
This site is revered by both Hindus and Jains. Devotees flock here to pay respect to the 28 feet tall marble statue of Bahubali and visit the temples of the 24 tirthankaras or saints. A Durgamata temple on the hill nearby is another place of pilgrimage.

Getting There : This site is 27 kms to the south of Kolhapur.

Khidrapur
The artistic temple of Kopeshwar or Mahadev at Khidrapur is a treasure-house of beautifully carved sculptures and a rare architectural marvel. The entire temple rests on a gajapeeth which is a semicircular platform resting on the back of 92 carved elephants.

Giroli Tourist Park
Tropical flora and fauna, the wild cry of the peacock, the chirp of the forest birds and then a well-planned visit to Panhala, Jyotiba, Warnanagar and the carvings of Pohale, make for a complete holiday experience. The restaurant in the park offers delectable food from Kolhapur, Goa, karnataka and the Konkan region.

Dajipur Bison Sanctuary

Ramteerth
A scenic picnic spot in Ajra taluka, with ancient temples, a river, an old coffee plantation and an orchard, lend a quaint charm to this place. According to legend, the place is so named because Rama stayed here during his vanvaas or exile in the forest. It is well known for its breathtaking natural beauty.

Amba
Amba is situated on the tip of the Western Ghats and is a wonderful new holiday spot. With plenty of stunning scenery and forested area around, Amba is as yet not cluttered with tourists. There is a beautiful two-hour long trek that starts from the forest leading up to the hill, to reveal a stunning view of the Konkan and Deccan plateau.

Getting There: Amba is about 65 kms from Kolhapur on the Kolhapur-Ratnagiri highway.
 
Sports and Entertainment

There are a few places that you can visit to unwind and enjoy yourself. Around Rankala Lake, there is enough to keep you occupied. You can enjoy Marathi, Hindi and English movies. Try to catch a stage show at Keshavrao Bhosale Theatre or a tamasha, which is a wonderful musical drama.

Wrestling
Traditional wrestling or kusti has been patronized by the people of Kolhapur since many years. The Rajarshi Shahu Khasbag Maidan or wrestling ground can seat thousands of spectators and is popular with both locals and outsiders. The main wrestling season is between June and September.

Hotels and Restaurants

Hotel Panchshil
Profile : Hotel situated at a distance of 1 Km providing multi cuisine's. Money exchange, travel agents, conference hall, credit cards etc. facilities available
Address : 517 A/2 , Shivaji Park, Kolhapur 416 001, India

Hotel Pearl
Profile : Govt. approved 2 star hotel with multi cuisines . facilities of currency exchange, travel agents , foreign telecast , credit cards etc.
Address : New Shahupuri, Kolhapur 416 001, India

Hotel Shalini Palace
Profile : Hotel with 42 rooms with Indian, chinese, continental cuisines .Money exchange, travel agents, conference hall, credit cards etc. facilities available
Address : Rankala Award, Kolhapur 416 010, India

Hotel Tourist
Profile : Just 0.5 km from station with all modern facilities
Address : 204/E New Shahupuri, Kolhapur 416 001, India

Hotel Woodlands
Profile : Just 0.5 km from station with conference/banquet halls. Sight seeing arrangements, credit cards accepted
Address : 204 B-EWard , Tarabai Park, Kolhapur 416 010, India

Accessibility

Kolhapur is well connected to the rest of the state and country. By air, you can reach Kolhapur from Mumbai by a one-hour plane journey. Ujalaiwadi Airport is 10 kms from the main city of Kolhapur.
By train, it is a 10 to 11 hour journey from Mumbai or Bangalore. There are several day and night trains that leave Dadar or Chhtrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai for Kolhapur.
By road, Kolhapur can be reached easily from Mumbai, Pune and other places. There are regular State and private buses that ply between Kolhapur and Mumbai/Pune. Kolhapur is 395 kms from Mumbai and 225 kms from Pune.

General Information

Weather
Since the western part of Kolhapur is at a height and hilly, the overall climate of this area is cool. However it does tend to get hot and dry during summer. The monsoon season is from June to September.

Getting Around
Auto-rickshaws are the most common mode of transport along with the bus service run by the municipal corporation. Taxis are available but not that common.

Tourist Offices
The MTDC tourist office is a five minute walk from the station, on Station Road, and is open from 10 am to 6 pm on weekdays and 8.30 am to noon and 4 to 6 PM on weekends.

Shopping
kolhapur is well known for its textiles and cottons, in particular Kolhapuri saris. But it is of course most famous for its jewelry and leather sandals or Kolhapuri chappals. You could easily get five pairs of sandals for less than Rs. 500. The jewelry from Kolhapur is known to dazzle the beholder and is beautifully crafted with delicate embossing and workmanship.

Mahadwar and Shivaji Roads are good places to shop. You can find a good variety of Kolhapuri chappals and other leather goods on Bhausinji Road. There are a few good buys around the bus station in the Rajarampuri area. Shetkaari Bazaar is the cheapest place to shop and is popular amongst the villagers from surrounding areas.

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