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Kolhapur Roadtrip (contd)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

We had the itinerary planned for the next day.

Following breakfast, we said, Kolhapur, here we come.

We boarded the city bus which would take us the Old Palace in Kolhapur.
Rankala Lake
On the way to the Old Palace is the Rankala Lake. The lake is a famous tourist spot and is particularly crowded in the evening. This lake was built by one of the Chatrapatis. There are many food vendors here who sell chaat items like raagda patties, bhel puris. These are local Indian fast foods. It’s a nice way to spend an evening here, having fast food and enjoying the view of the city.

Another view of Rankala Lake

We later headed to the Shalini Palace, which is next to Rankala Lake. This has now been converted into a hotel. The garden around the palace is beautiful and the view of the lake from the palace is amazing. The palace had palm trees and gulmohur trees all around.

The Shalini Palace was built between 1931 to 1934 at a cost of around Rs 8 lakh. It was named after Princess Shrimant Shalini Raje of Kolhapur. The palace is built out of carved black stone and Italian marble. The palace has stained glasses and a huge tower.

Structure at Rankala Lake
It is a good thing that this palace has been converted into a hotel. At least the life of this palace will increase or else it would be in ruins like most of the historical places in India.

We later had some sugarcane juice at a street vendor and asked him for directions to Talim. He told us that in the rains the water from the lake used to overflow onto the road and that the consequent bad roads aggravated the problems faced by the residents.  
That's Me again
We decided to visit the Talim as I am very fond of wrestling. I like to watch WWE on TV, even though everything is staged.

When we reached the talim, it was already afternoon. We decided to have our lunch there. The talim was shut between 1 and 4 pm. 
Shalini Palace
We decided to utilize this time to have our afternoon lunch, a vegetarian lunch at a local eatery.

Later, we reached right in time to watch the young wrestlers in action. The talim was not very well maintained where hygiene was concerned. The hostels for the wrestlers were poorly kept but the wrestlers were enthusiastic about their profession all the same.

Another view of Shalini Palace
The talim is a two-storey building. The ground floor is for those who want to get caked in mud, and the first floor allows mat wrestling.

The wrestlers, dressed in their undies and soaked in mud and sweat, perform warm up exercises and then wrestle among themselves.
Bird's next in a lamp post near Shalini Palace
The lighting conditions were so poor that I could not get good photos. I asked two of the wrestlers to stage a dummy fight so that I could take a few snaps and they actually started wrestling and continued even after the photo session was over. Later they asked me to join them in wrestling, and I said NO, as I didn’t want to injure myself on a road trip.

Mucky Roads
On second thoughts, I should have joined them, would have been one hell of an experience. No use regretting now. Maybe if I get another chance in the future, I will wrestle.

We then moved on to the first floor, where the wrestlers were playing football. We watched them for some time and then headed back. We met a wrestler there. He was huge; his looks were very South East Asian. We took a few photos of him there. He told us that wrestlers stay there for 7 to 8 years to become perfect at the game.
Checkout the size of this Kolhapuri Chappel
Some of them even participate in interstate wrestling and international wrestling competitions. Good to see that these guys have won awards for our state and country.

Very close to the talim is a ground where wrestling matches are held with the general public in full attendance. It is a huge ground, caked with red mud, with the wrestlers wrestling right in the middle in a circular enclosure, and the seating arrangement all around. There was also a grand stand from where the King and noblemen could see this event.
Checkout the size of this one too
Unfortunately we visited Kolhapur in the rains and wrestling is closed in the rainy season.

Later in the evening, we inquired at the ST bus stand at Central for a bus to take us to Narsobawadi. As guided by the conductors, we boarded the bus the very next morning.
The next day we headed off to see Narsobawadi a small village located close to Kolhapur City. It took us around three hours to reach this place, which is a confluence of the rivers Krishna and Panchaganga.
Wrestlers exercising
This place is of historical importance. It is said that Shri Dattatreya lived here after his reincarnation for around 12 hours. There are no idols of him here but his slippers (padukas) were found here as per the locals.

Outside the temple there are sweet marts and shops selling Datta souvenirs. The temple was filled with devotees.
Wrestlers wrestling
We came outside and had limbu pani with goti soda. We had heard of it but had never had it before.

We had a few glasses and then moved on. Limbu pani is lemon juice and goti soda is soda which is packed in a glass bottle with a marble as the cork. You need to press the marble and then it opens the vent for the soda to poor out. There is a way or trick to open this bottle or it might just burst in the hands of the opener.
Checkout this wrestler
After refreshing ourselves we headed off to see the place. Hindi film Mangal Pandey was shot here. On the way, we encountered fields growing sugarcane. Kolhapur is famous for sugarcane and for the Kolhapuri chappals.
The wreslting arena
We finally arrived at the confluence of Rivers Krishna and Panchaganga. There is a temple on the side of the river and steps that take you down to the river. There was a kingfisher bird there. It took me around 45 minutes just to take a photograph of it as it refused to sit in one location. In the rainy season, this entire area is submerged under water. Water levels have been identified and marked on the walls.
We spent all of the following day shopping for Kolhapuri chappals near the Mahalaxmi temple. There are around 50 shops selling these chappals. The type of chappals sold differs from shop to shop. Nelson and I had made up our minds to buy these chappals.

I bargained for a pair, bringing the price down from Rs 1700 to Rs 600. The design, I was told, was adapted from that of the chappal that Chatrapathi Shahu used to wear. Sorryo no photograph available as I don’t remember where I kept them L
Structure at Narsobawadi
Kolhapur is also famous for the Kolhapuri Misal, a snack. Its non-vegetarian cuisine boasts of specialities like Tambda Rassa and Pandhara Rassa, literally red gravy and white gravy.
We later bought ourselves some Kolhapuri masalas and then headed to our guesthouse to pack our bags. That very night we headed for Mumbai by the 9.30 pm bus.
lake view
This trip, though hectic and unplanned, was enjoyable and we saw a number of things. I was thoroughly satisfied with this experience of a road trip.


gruhkhoj said...

your blog is informative i likes most....

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