Kolhapur is a small town located in the south western part of Maharashtra and boasts of several tourist attractions. The city bears tremendous historical significance and therefore a highly-frequented tourist spot. The city also houses myriad important temples, dating back to the medieval era. Besides holding considerable historical significance, Kolhapur also has mythological importance due to the numerous mentions it has in several religious Hindu scriptures.
Apart from its cultural and historical aspect, Kolhapur is considerably industrialised. The place is famous for Kolhapuri Chappals and Kolhapuri necklaces, central to the region’s economy, as they are manufactured exclusively in the area and sold worldwide. The art of Kolhapuri sandals involves handmade leather slippers that are dyed locally with vegetable dyes. Whereas, the Kolhapuri necklace, also called the Kolhapuri Saaj is a traditionally handcrafted necklace made of 21 pendants resembling leaves. The design motifs are rich, with idols, holy plants, good luck charms, and icons carrying some spiritual significance. Some of the places to visit in Kolhapur that briefly cover in this blog are Mahalaxmi Temple, Panhala Fort, Maharaja’s Palace and many more. Trust us Kolhapur have lots more to explore.
During your stay, do not miss out on tasting the local cuisine and flavours of Kolhapur. The place is famous for its rare spices and many mouth-watering mutton delicacies.
Top 9 Places To Visit In Kolhapur
- Mahalaxmi Temple
- Rankala Lake
- Chhatrapati Shahu Museum
- Maharaja’s Palace
- Kopeshwar Temple
- Binkhambi Ganesh Temple
- Jyotiba Temple
- Bhavani Mandap
- Panhala Fort
1. Mahalaxmi Temple
One of the greatest tourist attractions in the city is the Mahalaxmi Temple. The temple is devoted to the goddess of wealth, Goddess Lakshmi or Goddess Ambabai, the idol of which is elegantly adorned with diamonds and precious stones. The Mahalaxmi Temple in Kolhapur holds tremendous cultural and historical significance as it dates back to the 7th century Chalukya dynasty, built by the ruler Karandev.
The architecture of this temple is exceptional. It is one of those temples of India which is known for it’s unique style called the Hemadpanthi Sculpture architectural style. It is named after its creator, Hemadpant, who was a prime minister in the royal court during the 13th century. This particular style incorporates lime and black stone, which was abundantly available in the region. The temple walls hold beautiful carvings and sculptures which included Hindu deities such as Shiva, Ganesha, and Vishnu.
2. Rankala Lake
Rankala Lake dates back to the 19th century and was constructed by the Chhatrapati king, Shivaji. It is one of the oldest lakes in India. It is a serene spot, full of greenery and gusts of cool breezes, ideal for witnessing a gorgeous sunset. The lake has derived its name from the Rankabhairav temple, an ancient temple made in the middle of the lake. It is also one of the favourite tourist attractions for fun and adventure activities such as horse riding and boating.
3. Chhatrapati Sahu Museum
One of the excellent places to visit in Kolhapur city is the Chhatrapati Sahuji Museum, one of the oldest museums of India which is built in the year 1883. The museum attracts uncountable tourists and travellers for its splendid collection of ancient sculptures, war artefacts and weaponry, paintings depicting the court life, jewellery and garments of the famous king, Shivaji- are all in a splendid display. The architecture of the museum is also magnificent, encircled by lakes and lovely parks, along with a zoo- which is very popular among tourists.
4. Maharaja’s Palace
During your visit to the Chhatrapati Museum, take a stroll around the Maharaja’s Palace, popularly known as the New Palace that was constructed in the 19th century by architect Major Mant. The present king of Kolhapur resides on this palace’s first floor.
The Palace is famous for its unique mix of architectural styles, drawing inspiration from Rajasthani and Gujarati designs. Moreover, the palace also showcases the Rajwada architectural style. Watching the sunset from this location is a mesmerising feeling. The castle remains open to visitors every day of the week from 9:30 AM to 6:00 p.m. and entry to the palace is free of cost.
5. Kopeshwar Temple
The Kopeshwar Temple is an epitome of beautiful ancient architecture and sculptures. It dates back to the 12th century, and was constructed by the ruler of the Shilahara dynasty. The Kopeshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and also hosts an idol of Vishnu. The magnificent temple is one of the best places to see in Kolhapur and lies on the banks of the river Krishna.
The temple has four different sections such as the Sabha mandapam, Swarga mandapam, Garbha griha and Antaral kaksha. The temple is matchless in its beauty with the splendid engravings of dancing idols, gods and goddesses. The temple has 108 stone pillars, and the elephant carvings at the base of the statue sustain the weight of the monument. You will find multiple street-side eateries and public washrooms around the place for the comfort of tourists.
6. Binkhambi Ganesh Temple
The Binkhambi Ganesh Mandir, also called Joshirao Ganapati temple by the locals was constructed in the year 1882. The temple is dedicated to the worship of Lord Ganesha and is located within a distance of 1 km from the Mahalaxmi temple. Popular folklore says that the temple was discovered by the people in the vicinity of a well, and also that the idol of Ganesha worshipped dated a long time before it was found and installed inside the temple. The temple’s resplendent architecture astounds and attracts tourists and architects, famous for its stone carvings of tortoises, flowers, and deities. The most significant feature of this temple is that the entire structure is constructed without the support of any pillar, which is also the meaning of the word ‘Binkhambi’.
The temple doors open to visitors and tourists every day at 6 am, every day of the week. Although a small temple, it is worth every visit during your trip to Kolhapur. It ideally takes an hour to see the place, and you can avail of lockers, food and beverage items.
7. Jyotiba Temple
If you want to see places a little distant from the city, then located at a distance of 16 km from Kolhapur is the Jyotiba Temple. This temple holds the most mythological and religious importance among the worshippers and locals. The temple was made in the year 1730, and dedicated to the deity Jyotiba. Jyotiba is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva, and one of the three main embodiments of God- Mahesh, Vishnu, and Brahma. Indian Mythology bespeaks of Jyotiba as the one deity who helped Mahalaxmi in her fight against Ratnasur, a demon. The temple stands high at a height over 3000 feet above the sea level. Each year on the two full moon days (namely, Vaishakh and Chaitra) a big fair is held near the temple which attracts hordes of locals and outsiders who travel to Kolhapur. You can easily reach the temple by hiring a local auto. It is open on all days of the week and does not charge anything.
8. Bhavani Mandap
Bhavani Mandap is a small quaint monument nestled inside the walled city of Kolhapur. The place has rich historical significance and was built a long time ago. The Mandap is also referred to as “the glory” of Kolhapur, constructed during the reign of the king Shivaji Maharaja II. Bhavani Mandap used to belong to the king of Kolhapur as one of his palaces and was also used as a durbar. The king conducted important meetings, litigations, and celebrations inside this building. The place also had living quarters for many of its court officials. A colossal statue is placed right in front of the Mandap, of the most loved king of Kolhapur, Shahu Maharaj, who was practically under the British Raj all throughout his reign.
There are many interesting artefacts on display here, such as the stuffed trophies of deer and panthers, which were hunted by the King. One such piece is a giant stuffed bison on which, many threads of saffron are generously spread. Given the amount of saffron associated with the bison, it has attained some spiritual significance among the local people. A wooden throne is also on display and it is believed to be one that was used by the ruler Shivaji during his visits to Kolhapur. The Mandap was divided into 14 squares, but after major attacks by the British army, 7 of them got destroyed.
Presently, the Bhavani Mandap is used as a collective tomb of the royalty of Kolhapur.
9. Panhala Fort
Panhala Fort, also known as Panhalgad, is a fortress located 21 km to the northwest of Kolhapur, and one of the major tourist attractions. The construction of the fort was finished in the 13th century and was built by Raja Bhoja II. The geographical location of this place was ideal for the purpose of fortification as it oversaw the Sahyadri pass which served as an important trade route of Bijapur. Because of its strategic location in the Deccan, many conflicts and skirmishes took place here in history between the British, Marathas, and Mughals. The famous queen ruler, Tarabai, spent years in this ancient fort.
The Panhala Fort is one of the most massive forts in the Deccan land, its perimeter stretching to 15 km, and the fort stands at an altitude of over 2700 feet above sea level. Several underground tunnels run from underneath the fortress, many of which are over a kilometre long.
The biggest attractions of the fort are the Teen Darwaza, Amber Khana, Sajja Kothi, Dharma Kothi, along with several temples and mausoleums. The architecture of the place resembles the typical Bijapuri style. You will be taken aback to see the Andar Bavadi (translates to hidden well). It consists of 3 stories with winding stairways concealing the well that acted as the primary source of water for the warriors. This is because whenever an outside force besieged a fort, they poisoned the water. Besides its brilliant design, it also houses many hidden exit routes. The Andar Bavadi is, therefore, a fort within a fortress that has its own source of water, quarters and escape routes. No wonder, it is one of the special places to see in Kolhapur.
Being an inland city in the south, Kolhapur is a great place to visit for a perfect weekend getaway. It is easily accessible from major cities like Hyderabad, Sangli, Kagal etc. Situated in the Western Ghats, popularly referred to as ‘Sahyadri Mountains’ the weather of Kolhapur remains moderate and pleasant throughout the year. The temperature ranges from 15 to 35 degrees Celsius on an average. However, the summers are humid. The region receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon months.
Other extremely important handicrafts that have originated from Kolhapur include hand block printed garments, oxidised silver jewellery and artwork. Lace and embroidery are also famous in Kolhapur.
Famous for its cuisine as well, try the Kolhapuri Misal and Kolhapuri Bhel. Some favourite local spices include the Kolhapuri Mirchi or chilli, a spice mixture of Kolhapur, and jaggery.
Sparsely population, and dotted with beautiful ancient monuments of historical importance, places to visit in Kolhapur always have some special memories in your mind. So book a hotel in advance and plan a fun trip.