The industrial centre of Kolhapur in the south of Maharashta is an interesting city. It was conquered in the 17th century by the Maratha chied Shivaji whose descendants, the Chhatrapatis, ruled the city until Independence.

In the late 19th century the architect Major Charles Mant, under the auspices of the Maharajas, constructed numerous buildings in Kolhapur whereby he mixed Western styles with Islamic, Jain and Hindu ones, resulting in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. One of the main buildings designed by Mant is the Maharaja’s New Palace which now houses the Shahaji Chhatrapati Museum, an extraordinary collection of royal memorabilia, including a staggeringly large collection of stuffed animals.

The nearby small hill town at Panhala has a hilltop fort with a fascinating history dating back to the 12th century, including a period when it served as the home of the great Maratha warrior Shivaji.

What to see

  1. Mahalaxmi Temple: This exquisitely carved temple draws millions of pilgrims from all over India and is an important spiritual centre. 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 0400 hrs to 2300 hrs).

  2. 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 ambience. (Timings: 0930 hrs-1130 hrs & 1430-1730 hrs (Monday closed)

  3. 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.

  4. The Old Palace: Located behind the temple of Mahalaxmi, this magnificent structure has an impressive marqee 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.

  5. Rankala Lake: This wide and spacious lake is so called because at its centre 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.

  6. Ambabai Temple ;

  7. Kotheerth ;

  8. Old and New Palace ;

  9. Panchganga ;

  10. Shalini Palace - converted into a hotel ;

  11. Town Hall-(Timings: 1030 hrs-1300 hrs & 1330 -1730 hrs).

Getting There

Rail: Kolhapur is a railway station on the Pune-Miraj-Kolhapur section of the South Central Railway.

Road: Kolhapur is on the Pune - Bangelore highway. It is connected by motorable roads with important cities Belgaum 105 Km, Mumbai 395 Km, Pune 225 Km, Ratnagiri 128 Km, Sangli 96 Km, Satara 128 Km & Sholapur 254 Km.

General information

Area: 66.82 Sq.Km.
Altitude: 550 metres. Temperature: Summer - Max: 38.1 Deg.C Min: 22 Deg.C Winter - Max: 32.0 Deg.C Min: 15.6 Deg.C Rainfall: 93.0 cm.
Season: October to May.
STD Code: 0231.

Excursions

  1. Jyotiba Hills (12 Km): A pilgrim centre.

  2. Panhala (23 Km): -. A fortified town in the Sahyadri ranges. The places of interest here are Sajja Kothi, Ambabai temple and Pavankhind.

  3. Bahubali (38 Km): A pilgrim centre for Jains.

  4. Adumbur (50 Km): Famous for the temple of Dattatraya and the’ Brahmanand Swami Math’.

  5. Narsobachi Wadi (35 Km): A pilgrim centre for the Hindus with a temple of Dattatraya.

  6. Battis Shirala (60 Km):This village comes to life on Nag Panchami day when Snakes and poisonous Cobras are caught and worshipped.

  7. Raghanagari Wildlife Sanctuary (70 Km): Established as a Bison sanctuary.

  8. Dajipur Sanctuary (80 Km): The evergreen forest of Dajipur has a profusion of thick foliage sprawling trees and abounds in medicinal herbs.

  9. Vishalgarh Fort (140 Km): This fort lies on the Gagapur Hills.

  10. Vijaydurg (140 Km): Vijaydurg or Fort of Victory lies testimony to the Maratha’s martial supremacy during Shivaji’s reign.

  11. Jaigad (54 Km) : About 33 Km from Ratnagiri, it is a small fort, part of which is now converted into a traveller’s bungalow.

  12. Malvan(161 Km): The rocky terrain here holds two forts, Sindhudurg and Padmagad.

  13. Vanguria (198 Km): A beach with a stretch of white sands and hills.