KOLHAPUR TOURISM GUIDE:
Location: 120 Km From Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Popularly Known As: Kodai
Famous Festival: Summer Festival
Best Time To Visit: April To June And September To October
A Kolhapur is situated along the banks of the river Panchaganga to the east of Sahyadri mountain ranges, and forms a part of southwestern Maharashtra. This city is surrounded from all directions by rivers, to the east Krishna Ganiki, to the west Shiva and Mayuri, the south Veda and Yaksha and to the north Krishna and Warana. Kolhapur is also known as “The Varanasi Of The South”.
It was the capital of the former Princely State – the Kolhapur branch of the ‘Chhatrapatis’ – and the seat of the British residency for the Deccan States. Its antiquity is revealed by the Brahmapuri knoll overlooking the Panchganga River and by the ancient artifacts and Roman coins discovered there. It was an early center of Buddhism.
Impact of Hinduism
However, the Hindu influence is strongly visible in its 9th century Mahalakshmi temple. Other important places known for their specialization in the district are: Ichalkaranji for hand and power looms, Hupari for silver ornaments, and Kapshi for leather goods.
Narsinh Wadi, Wadi Ratnagiri, and Bahubali town are places of religious importance. In 1945, archaeological excavations near a hill in Kolhapur revealed the ruins of an ancient town dating back to the Roman civilization.
People And Culture in Kolhapur
The major religion – Hinduism is represented in Kolhapur, and this plays a vital part in the daily lives of the population. The Hindu temples provide a focus for social as well as a devotional life. Hinduism is a product of several millennia of evolution and assimilation; Hinduism is the major religion in Kolhapur.
Marathi is the mother tongue of Kolhapuri people. As Kolhapur is on the border of Karnataka state, many people speak the “Kannada” language also. Today, Kolhapur is slowly becoming a cosmopolitan city and as a result, different languages like Gujarati, Kannada, Punjabi, Konkani, etc. are spoken in small pockets.
History of Kolhapur:
This history of Kolhapur can be roughly divided into three periods: Hindu period up to 1300 AD, Muslim period from 1300 AD to 1700 AD and Maratha period from 1700 AD onwards. The early Hindu period can be further divided into rules by various dynasties, viz. Mauryas, Kadambs, Chalukyas, Satwahans, Rashtrakuts, Devgiri Yadavs & Shilahars.
The city is believed to have flourished in art and trade during the regime of Satwahan dynasty. Unfortunately, the city was devastated due to earthquakes later in 8th century AD. The Rashtrakuts and Shilahars, who re-established the city, did much of the subsequent restoration.
Archaeological excavations conducted in and around Kolhapur in the year 1945 (especially the Bramhapuri area), revealed the ruins of a prosperous ancient township. Coins, Earthen Utensils, remains of houses built during the regimes of Satwahans, Shilahars and Bahamanis were found. Interestingly, a statue of Roman Poseidon was also found in this excavation, thus bringing into light the advanced Trade relations of this town with the European Romans.
Focussing on relatively recent history, during the British regime, Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj has crowned the King of Kolhapur in the year 1894. Historically, Kolhapur was capital of the former Princely State of Kolhapur, which later on merged with India, after gaining independence in 1947 from the British rule. The Princely State earlier was a stronghold of the Hindu people known as Marathas. Even today, Kolhapur has abundant examples of stunning Indo-British architectural masterpieces and its Gardens attract many tourists.
Best Places to Visit in Kolhapur
Mahalaxmi Temple located near Kolhapur is a famous spiritual center of Maharashtra. Over the years, members of several royal families have sought the blessings of the goddess-Mahalaxmi or Amba Bai. This temple draws a large number of devotees from all over the country.
The New Palace (Chhatrapati Sahu Museum)
The New Palace in Kolhapur houses the Shahaji Chhatrapati Museum- a weird array of the former Maharaja’s possessions, who recently died in 1983. British architect Charles Mant designed the New Palace in 1881 in the Indo-Saracenic style.
The Town Hall Museum
Antiques found during the excavations at Brahmagiri, such as old sculptures, filigree work in sandalwood and ivory, old coins and paintings of master artists of the region are all displayed here.
The Old Palace/ Bhavani Mandap
The Old Palace is 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. In 1813 the Muslim King Sadat Khan invaded the palace and a part of it was burnt. It has fine and sound construction with 14 squares but after the repairs, only 7 squares survived.
Binkhambi Ganesh Mandir
Binkhambi Ganesh Mandir is another famous temple dedicated to Lord Ganesh. Students of architecture will enjoy visiting this place, as this is a unique temple, which does not have any pillars.
Rankala Lake is located at a distance of half a kilometer from the famous Mahalakshmi temple in Kolhapur with a circumference of 2.5 miles. This was an extensive mine of black stone that has witnessed many historical events. The earthquakes during 800-900 AD transformed the mine into big holes where the underground water is collected.
Shalini palace standing on the West Bank of the picturesque Rankala Lake was built in 1932-34. It is named after Princess Shrimant Shalini Raje of Kolhapur. Towering Palm trees, lush greenery, and lovely gardens surround it. The Palace is built of intricately carved black stone and Italian marble. Rich decorative wooden doorways fitted with etched Belgium glasses bearing the crest of the Maharaja of Kolhapur add to the regal grandeur. The majestic black stone arches forming the verandah and the porch are breathtakingly beautiful. Later on, in 1987 it was converted into a hotel, the only Palace hotel in Maharashtra.
The temple of Tryambuli Devi is located on a lofty hill to the east of Karveer. There was a tank named ‘Tarka Teertha’ (also spelled as Tirtha) near the temple, which is available to some extent even now and is called “Takala”. It is believed that the idol is self-created. The idol has four hands and is made of black stone. The idol poses with back turned to Mahalakshmi (also spelled as Mahalaxmi) Mandir. She is also called “Trayamali”. In every Ashadha the religious ceremony of pouring water on the steps of the Mandir is celebrated on a grand scale.
Shringeri is one of the 4 ‘Mathas’ founded by Jagatguru Shankaracharya. Shri Vidya Shankar Bharati, the ruling Shankaracharya founded this ‘Math’ at Kolhapur in 13th Century AD. The main reason was the religious importance Kolhapur had assumed then.
Excursions from Kolhapur
Panhala fort is located 18-km northwest to Kolhapur. Although it has a legendary connection with God Parashurama, this fort was probably founded by King Raja Bhoja in the late 12th century. Carrying a rich heritage, Panhala forms the largest of all the Deccan forts, built between the 1178-1209 A.D, this is the only fort where the great ruler himself, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is believed to have spent more than 500 days.
Vishalgad is a picturesque fort located 76-km northwest of Kolhapur, which is separated by a deep narrow river. Its vastness is big as per its name Vishal. Steep cliffs separate it from adjoining land, making difficult to enter except the existing entrance. One can find only the ruins of old buildings. Today, the fort is known to people as a place of Malik Raihan Dargah.
Bhudargad fort is situated about 50-km south of Kolhapur, 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.
Paargad fort lies to the south of Kolhapur, 28-km from Chandgad, which is surrounded by lush greenery and picturesque forest, it also houses bronze statues of Shivaji and a temple of Bhagawati Bhawani.
Narsobawadi is a small village located close to Kolhapur, which attracts tourists in quite a large number. It is popularly known as “Narsobachi Wadi”. Narasimha Wadi has a great archaeological significance and is situated at the confluence of river Krishna and PanchGanga.
Bahubali Of Kumbhojgiri
Bahubali hill temples are located 27-km south of Kolhapur on Bahubali Hills, which are popularly known as “Kumbhojgiri”. It is a popular site revered by both Hindus and Jains. A Celibacy Resort was established over here in 1935 and named after the sage Bahubali who meditated here about 300 years before.
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 semi-circular platform resting on the back of 92 carved elephants.
Dajipur Bison Sanctuary
The Dajipur Bison Sanctuary is situated on the border of Kolhapur and Sindhudurg districts near the backwaters of the Radhanagari dam. Rugged mountains and thick forests abundant in wildlife surround this jungle resort. The sanctuary is completely cut-off from human habitat.
Amba is situated about 65-km from Kolhapur, 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.
Snuggling coyly, in the southern ranges of the Sahyadri hills, Amboli at an altitude of 690m is the last mountain resort before the coastal highlands settle, with a sigh, to form flat beaches. Visit numerous viewpoints for a pleasant view of the lush hills and fertile plain. Sea View Point offers a rare view of the land all the way to the golden Konkan coast. One can spend hours angling for a fish at Hiranya Keshi or picnic at Nagata Falls, Mahadev Gad, and Narayan Gad. Another pleasant and different expedition is a visit to the Bauxite Mines, 10-km away from Amboli. For a few days of isolation, Amboli is an ideal resort.
Jotiba is a temple where one of the 12 Jyotirlingas is housed. This is also another temple called Kedarnath and Wadi Ratnagiri over here. Jyotiba temple is located to the north of Kolhapur, surrounded by green mountains. Navajisaya built the original temple in 1730. It is 330′ high from sea level. The interior is ancient and the idol is four-handed.
According to the legend Jotiba who belonged to the Nath cult helped Mahalaxmi in her fight with the demons. He founded his kingdom on this mountain. He was born in the hands of Vimalmbuja, the wife of the sage Pougand, on Chaitra Shu. On Chaitra Poornima a big fair is held, when lakhs of devotees come with tall (‘Sasan’) sticks. Due to scattering of ‘Gulal,’ the whole mountain is turned pink.
GENERAL TRAVEL INFORMATION ABOUT KOLHAPUR
Best Places for Shopping in Kolhapur
Kolhapur is well known for its textiles and cotton, in particular, Kolhapuri sarees (also spelled as saris). But it is, of course, most famous for its jewelry and leather sandals or Kolhapuri Chappals. One 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. One can find a good variety of Kolhapuri chappals and other leather goods on Bhausinji Road. There are a few goods 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.
Kolhapuri Chappals (footwear)
The age of the old Leather and Footwear Industry in Kolhapur is a unique identity of Kolhapur in India. Apart from exporting Leather raw material in a big way, the traditional Chappals made here have a unique ethnic look and have been equally popular in India and abroad. These Chappals are still mainly prepared by hand, which helps them retain their unique appearance. Places like Kapashi, Kurundwad, and Airoli in Kolhapur district have roughly 500-700 Small and Large scale Industries where these Chappals are prepared.
Silver Jewelry Art
Another town, Hupri, which is situated just 16-km away from Kolhapur is a place where people are skilled in the art of making Jewelry and Show items out of Silver. This traditional business has expanded throughout the Maharashtra State and notably through entire India, Nepal, Belgium, Romania and America.
Best Hotels in Kolhapur
Kolhapur is well equipped with excellent accommodation facilities in its hotels. Most of the Kolhapur hotels are centered around Station Road and the options vary from five-star luxury hotels to reasonable budget hotels and tourist lodges.
Other Useful Information About Kolhapur:
State Bank of India
Udyamnagar Industrial Estate
Kolhapur General Information
Temperature Range (Deg °c) Maximum Minimum
Summer: 34° C 24° C
Winter: 27° C 21° C
Rainfall: 1,932 mm
Clothing: Light woolen required during November to February
STD Code: 0231
Population: 406,370 (1991)
Nearby Cities of Kolhapur
How to Reach Kolhapur By Air, Rail & Road ?
Air: It is a one-hour journey from Bombay to Kolhapur by air. The Ujalaiwadi airport is 10-km away from Kolhapur Main City. One can also travel from Kolhapur to the nearest Airport Pune, which is 238-Km away.
Rail: Kolhapur has a railway station and it’s an 11-hour journey from Mumbai or Bangalore to Kolhapur.
Road: Kolhapur is about 450-km south of Mumbai and it’s a ten to eleven-hour journey from Mumbai or Banglore to Kolhapur by road. Maharashtra State Transport Corporation (MSTC) has regular service in this route with semi-luxury and regular buses. Even private bus service is available to reach here from Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Solapur (also spelled as Sholapur) and Bangalore.
Auto-rickshaws are the most common mode of transport along with the bus service run by the municipal corporation. Taxis are available too, but not that common.