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Kolhapur... a land of art & excellence

Mandar Vaidya's Blog
Published by in Kolhapur ·
Tags: Kolhapur
Comeā€¦ join us. Enjoy a day tour of Kolhapur city.
"The high point of everybody's visit to Kolhapur is invariably the offering of prayers to the resident goddess Mahalaxmi (Ambabai) & seeking her benevolent blessings for a peaceful, prosperous & contented life. The ancient Mahalaxmi Temple, steeped in history & mythology, is situated a mere 3 Km away from both the Central Bus Stand & the Railway Station.
Behind the Mahalaxmi Temple, one finds the Old Palace, commonly known as Juna Rajwada. In the premises of the Juna Rajwada nestles a beautiful temple of the goddess Tuljabhawani, the beloved deity of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The architecture & sculptures of this temple are worth going miles to see.
The Town Hall Museum is another stellar attraction close to Juna Rajwada. The museum showcases the mercantile & cultural tradition of Kolhapur. Stone sculptures excavated in & around Kolhapur district are displayed here. A small statue of Poseidon, the Greek Sea God, which is a major attraction of this museum, is an astounding 3000 years old. It was found during the excavations of Brahmapuri hill near Kolhapur. This small statue goes a long way to illustrate the trade relations of Kolhapur with the legendary merchants from the Far East. A separate gallery has many paintings by famous artists from Kolhapur.
Next is Khasbaug Maidan. This jewel of Karveer Nagari was built by Chh. Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur specially to promote wrestling, one of the stalwart traditions of Kolhapur. The Palace Theatre (popularly known as Keshavrao Bhosale Natyagruh) is situated in the same premises. Kailasgadchi Swari Mandir is close to Khasbaug Maidan, where you will see marvelous paintings by the famous artist G. Kamble. This temple has been maintained in spick & span condition to this day.
No narration of Kolhapur would ever be complete without a mention of what is perhaps the rarest sports monument in the world; Saathmaari Maidan. Saathmaari is a glorious example of Royal Sports; distilling the essence of bravery. Here, players used to joust with angry elephants. This type of arena can be found only in Kolhapur & nowhere else around the world. Definitely a must-visit on any visitor's list!
Our next destination is Lake Rankala. Situated a stone's throw away (merely a kilometer) from Mahalaxmi Mandir, the lake has it's own glorious history. The beauty of this lake has inspired (& continues to inspire) countless artists. Shalini Palace, situated on the distaff side of the lake, adds to the lake's beauty. The Kolhapur Municipal Corporation has developed a beautifully landscaped garden around Lake Rankala, with all the attractions worthy of a pier & promenade. Our next destination would have to be Panchaganga Ghat & the Brahmapuri Picnic Point. A beautiful panoramic view of the River Panchaganga can be seen from this point.
Now Bhalji Pendharkar Cultural Center & Museum beckons us. A priceless collection of rare photographs of Bhalji Pendharkar, the doyen of Marathi movies, is displayed here. The museum instantly transports us back in time to the golden days of the Marathi film industry. Our next stopover is the New Palace Museum. A heritage collection, painstakingly put together over the years by the royal dynasty of Kolhapur, can be seen here. The Darbar Hall has been maintained beautifully, with exceptional care & attention to detail. In the premises of the New Palace, myriad species of birds & animals can be seen in their natural habitat. A miniature lake in the premises of New Palace attracts hundreds of migratory birds every year. Now we shall backtrack across the breadth of Kolhapur City to Kotiteerth Talaav. This is an ancient lake, with a temple of Lord Mahadev near it. The newly-built Swamy Samarth Mandir nearby is an added attraction. From Kotiteerth Talaav, one can drop in at the Chandrakant Mandre Art Gallery. A famous Marathi thespian & master-wielder of the artist's paintbrush, Chandrakant Mandre donated all his paintings, along with his own home, to the Government of Maharashtra to create an unmatched shrine to art. Here you can also see paintings by Abalal Rehman, Baburao Painter & many other artists from Kolhapur. The next attraction is Shivaji University. Two more must-see destinations, albeit not within city limits but close to Kolhapur, are both situated on the Pune-Bangalore highway. One is Chinmay Ganadhish - an awe-inspiring Ganesha statue 66 feet tall & a mind-numbing 90 feet from ground level - perhaps the world's tallest of it's kind! All this a mere 8 Km from the Central Bus Stand, towards Pune. Near Chinmay Ganadhish is Toap Sambhapur, a small town close to the Shiroli MIDC area. One can even visit the Chinmay Ganadhish after finishing a tour of New Palace. The other attraction is Siddhagiri Gramjeevan Museum; 9 Km from the Central Bus Stand, towards Bangalore. The town near Siddhagiri is Kaneri, close to the Gokul Shirgaon MIDC area. Ideally, one should visit Siddhagiri after visiting Shivaji University, as it is hardly 7 Km away from Shivaji University. Established in 1962, Shivaji University is home to the quaint V. S. Khandekar Museum, named after the noted Marathi literature, first-ever Marathi winner of the prestigious Jnanpith Award."
Touring in Kolhapur district
Kolhapur is a district with a variety of tourist destinations. During your stay in Kolhapur City, you can cover these destinations within a couple of days; an ideal recipe for a memorable weekend. We'll start with some standard routes you can cover:
Route1: Kolhapur-Sangli: On this route, 'Chinmay Ganadhish' is our first destination. Situated on the Pune-Bangalore highway, it is just 8 Km away from Kolhapur. You will see a huge Ganesha statue surrounded by a well-maintained garden. Bahubali is next, where a huge statue of Bhagwan Bahubali is the major attraction. A newly built 'Jahaj ('Ship' in Marathi) Mandir' is another crowd-puller. Then we proceed to Narsobawadi, a place of religious importance, dedicated to Shri Gurudev Datta. The ancient temple of Khidrapur is close to Narsobawadi. You can even visit the Sangli Ganesh & a museum at the historical  Rajwada in Sangli. Audumbar, another famous place for Gurudev Datta is nearby. This round trip can easily be completed in a single day. Sagareshwar, a man-made Deer Sanctuary is a further attraction.
Route2: Kolhapur-Ratnagiri: Enroute this section Prayag, Jotiba, Panhala & Paijarwadi are the most easily accessible destinations. Prayag is a 'Holy Sangam' (confluence) of three rivers. Jotiba, also known as Wadi Ratnagiri, is famous for Lord Jotiba's temple. Panhala is a famous hill fort, which has played a landmark role in the history of the Maratha Kingdom. Paijarwadi is famous for a 'Samadhi Mandir' of Chilay Maharaj, a widely revered Sadhu. The temple is very attractively structured in the likeness of a tortoise. Proceeding onwards, we reach Amba, a famous destination on the Kolhapur-Ratnagiri Highway. Within an hour's drive from Amba, you can reach Pawankhind & Vishalgad, both hallowed places in the history of the Marathas. After returning to Amba, you can drive towards Ratnagiri to visit Marleshwar, Ganpatipule, Pawas & many idyllic beaches in the Konkan.  
Route3: Kolhapur-Gaganbawda: To discover nature at it's most lush, you must visit fort Gagangad. On your way to Gaganbawada, you can visit Palsamba, a serene place with fresh air akin to a natural oxygen bar, which you thirst for in towns. The Barki waterfall nearby is a seasonal attraction in the monsoons. Fort Mudagad is also nearby. Chh. Shahu Maharaj specially developed a natural habitat for elephants at Mudaga
Route4: Kolhapur-Phonda Ghat: Kalammawadi Dam & Radhanagari Dam are the two major attractions on this route. Dajipur, an hour's drive from Radhanagari, is a bison sanctuary. Once upon a time the jungles of Dajipur were reserved for the royal hunts. In the present day, after having been declared a sanctuary, myriad species of flora & fauna flourish here. It is especially famous for the Indian Gaur (bison). Come prepared to revel in the lush forests and immerse yourself in the beauty of Nature at it's best. Here at Dajipur, you will carry away many golden memories. From Dajipur, you can drive to Phonda, enroute to visiting Sindhudurga or Goa.   
Rute5: Kolhapur-Amboli: While travelling to Amboli via Gargoti, you can visit Admapur, a religious place for many people. Temple of Shree Balumama is a major attraction. On your way to Ajra, you can visit the Ramteerth Waterfall, also famous for an ancient temple of Lord Shiva. At Nesari you can visit Senapati Prataprao Gujar Smarak. Then you can proceed to Amboli. Amboli is an all-season destination worth visiting especially in the monsoon; countless numbers of waterfalls rolling down the emerald hills welcome you to enjoy the rains here. The winding green ghat highway carries you down into Sawantwadi, approximately 30 Kms from Amboli.

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