Situated on the banks of the Panchaganga river, Kolhapur is quite a well-known religious city in south-west part of Maharashtra. The city also holds several historical glimpses. The name Kolhapur is derived from a popular mythological story of a demon, Kolhasur who was killed by Mahalakshmi Goddess. Thus, in the honour of Mahalakshmi goddess, . Mahalakshmi Temple is built in the heart of Kolhapur city and is a major tourist attraction here. Lying peacefully on the laps of mighty Sahyadri ranges, Kolhapur is archaeologically stunning and a culturally gifted destination and hence, there are many interesting things to do in Kolhapur.
Kolhapur is a famous and tourist friendly city. The kolhapuri people are very warm hearted, loving and inviting. Also, unlike other tourist cities, Kolhapur is comparatively cheap and hence food and accommodation is not a big problem here. Kolhapur has several popular monuments which are continuously visited by number of visitors all around the year and a visit to some of these historical monuments sometimes takes us to the ancient and royal lifestyle and culture of the city.
Here is a list of top exciting things to do in Kolhapur
- Boating at Rankala
One of the attraction of Kolhapur is Rankala lake. The lake derived its name from the Rankabhairav temple, which is located at centre of the lake. Rankala lake has interesting history. It is said that, the king of Kolhapur constructed this lake which covers an area of almost around 107 hectares and 4.5 miles of circumference and it is not a natural lake. Whereas, many consider that before 8th century AD, the lake Rankala was just a stone pit and during 9th century AD, a big earthquake took place and then natural changes occurred. It is said that, because of the earthquake, water automatically started gathering in the quarry which then lead to this stunning lake. On your visit to Rankala lake, learn about some more interesting and mythological stories about this lake.
The lake has two ghats, namely Marathghat and Rajgath. The lake is surrounded by Padma Raje garden on one side and the royal Shalini palace on the other. The lake is perfectly marked by its natural beauty as well as peaceful environment. The best time to visit the lake is mainly during evening to night. Enjoy the stunning and serene view of the lake. The area surrounded by lake has all the hustle bustle of food vendors. Try some famous street food of Kolhapur or one can even go for boating in the lake to enjoy a picturesque view. You can even spot some different endemic birds nearby. Take a leisurely walk around the lake, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the tranquillity of this lake.
- Trekking at Panhala Fort
Located at around 20 km from Kolhapur, Panhala fort is a hill station in the area rather than high-core trekking destination. This 13th centuries fortified structure is built on the elevated Sahyadri Mountains and is one of the biggest fortification around the Deccan hills. The fort has perimeter around 14 km wide. Panhala which literally means as ‘home of serpents’ has seen numerous wars between Marathas and Mughals including the renowned Battle of Pavan Khind. The queen regent of Kolhapur, Tarabai spent huge span of her formative years at Panhala fort. While your visit to Panhala, ask for guided tour and learn more about great Maratha empire and get to know several interesting facts related to main battles between various royal families who ruled Kolhapur, that time. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water during the tour. Because of the location, lot of sight-seeing spots and interesting history, Panhala Fort gets a lot of tourists throughout the year. Additionally, for most of the time in the year, weather is absolutely perfect which makes Panhala a favourite destination among the travellers.
- Seek blessings
The beautiful Mahalakshmi temple, devoted to goddess Mahalakshmi was built by by Chalukya rulers during 7th century. The temple is an abode to one of the 6 abodes of Goddess of power i.e. ‘Shakti’ from where one can achieve fulfilment and salvation of wishes. Mahalakshmi is a revered Hindu Goddess and also called as Goddess Amba bai. This more than 1000 years old temple is adorned with several beautiful pillars and elaborate stone carvings. This temple was build in a way that when sun rises, sun rays gets sprinkle on the face of Goddess and gives a distinctive golden glow. The idol of the goddess is in beautiful black stone and this holy structure calls thousands of pilgrims to seek blessings from the deity.
The temple remains open every day from 4 am to 10.30 pm
Situated at a height of around 3000 m in Kolhapur, Jyotiba temple is one of the prominent and famous temples in Kolhapur. It is also known by name, Kedarnath as the temple holds one of the 12 existing Jyotirlingas. The temple is also called as Wada Ratnagiri because three prominent Hindu deity, namely Brahma, Vishnu and Shankar killed the devil Ratnasur and hence temple has an embodiment of these 3 deities. The Jyotiba Temple is situated near Ratnagiri village in Maharashtra and has an elegant interior. The exterior part of the temple has around 100 stairs that needs to be climbed by pilgrims so as to get at the main temple. Pilgrims offers gulal (pink colour) to Lord as a gesture of sincerity. The panoramic view from here is stunning and breathtaking. The peaceful surrounding and the spirituality of the temple invites several tourists as well as pilgrims to this temple. As per the locals, Mahalakshmi Temple should be visited before this temple.
The temple remains open every day from 5 am to 9.30 pm
- Visit Shree Chhatrapati Shahu Museum
The New palace, is an architectural wonder that have been accomplished during the period from 1877 – 1884 , constructed exclusively in black and polished stones. It is a historic building, located on the Kasaba -Bavda road of Bahvani Mandap and it was once the main residence of then rulers, shree Chatrapati. The palace is an eight-angled complex and has a clock tower at the centre. Several small towers are put up at specific distances and beautiful paintings which depicts several events in great Shivaji’s life beautify every glass.
Situated at the centre of old town, the palace is still a home to Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj who is descendent of Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the ruler and founder of great Maratha Empire. At the entrance of the palace, one can come across beautiful temple devoted to goddess Bhavani Mata. The ground storey of the palace is transformed in to a museum which has artefacts from the several kings belonging and possessions. The museum of great Chhatrapati Shahaji has all the details of several rulers who ruled here and their history.
- Go shopping spree
One more things makes Kolhapur a very popular city and that is the Kolhapuri Chappals. These footwear’s are made mainly from wood and leather and are demand in almost all over the world. Along with these sandals, Kolhapuri Saaj or jewellery is a unique type of jewellery is also very famous from Kolhapur. Then, traditional turbans from Kolhapur, known as Kolhapuri Pheta is also very common during weddings and traditional occasions. So, when you are in Kolhapur, don’t forget to shop these things. One more thing you can buy from Kolhapur and that is jaggery. SO, don’t miss the chance and shop a lot.
- Eat, Eat and Eat
Kolhapuri food is said to be very hot and spicy. Kolhapuri spices are in huge demand in all over the country. It is even said that, though kolhapuri people eats lot of hot and spicy food, yet they are very warm and sweet hearted. Kolhapuri Misal is very famous amongst the state, especially the one from Chorage Misal, which is just near to Mahalakshmi temple in the city. The shop is here since 1963 and is said to be the spiciest misal in the city. Next famous eatery in Kolhapur is Dehati and the famous dish is famous Kolhapuri Dehati thali. Meal comes with different types of mutton, chicken as well as veg options are available. The colourful curries and the spiced-up daal are mouth watering. The famous spicy red mutton curry i.e. tambda rassa and the white curry, known as Pandhara Rassa is a must try.