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Kolhapur Roadtrip

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kolhapur is located in south west Maharashtra. Kolhapur has many temples mainly Mahalaxmi Temple, Jyotiba Temple, Narsobawadi, Lakes like Rankala Lake, Kalamba Lake, Panchganga, Forts like Vishalgad, Panhala and Palaces like New Palace, Shalini Palace

I had been planning to go on a road trip for years, but had not managed it so far. I had applied for leave without any specific plan in mind about what I was going to do on those days. 
New Palace
I asked two of my friends, Nelson and Nimish, whether they would be interested in a road trip. Both agreed.

By-the-way this trip happened in the month of July 2011.

Footloose and fancy free – that’s how we were on this trip. We had neither tickets nor accommodation. Nothing had been planned.  

Birds and Animals in the enclosure opposite the New Palace
We ended up booking bus tickets just two days prior, thanks to my colleague, Gururaj.

We were lucky to get bus tickets at such short notice. But now we faced another problem – that of not having return tickets. They could not be arranged. So we took our chances and went ahead with the trip anyway. The tickets for the three of us had cost us just Rs 750. That was a good deal to start with on our journey.  
Sugarcane

Now we had three tickets to Kolhapur, but no accommodation. But what was more important for people like us with rucksacks on our backs and hope in our hearts was that we had an itinerary with places to see in Kolhapur.

We decided to board the 9.30 pm bus from Andheri (east). It promised to drop us at Kolhapur Central Stand the next morning. 

Photo taken on the way to Panhala
It was raining very heavily that day and there was a shortage of rickshaws, taxis and buses on the streets. By the time we got to the bus stand, it was already nearing 11 pm. We were terribly late. The conductor kept calling us and threatening us that he would leave and that he could not hold the bus back for just three passengers.

We were totally soaked on account of the unseasonal rains, and we pleaded with him. We finally ended up boarding the bus at 11 pm. Tired and exhausted and battered by the rain, we were stunned further when a busload of people gave us the most hostile stares.  

Sunny and Rainy clouds seen from Panhala
They were playing an extremely old Hindi movie in the bus. The sound was screechy and grated on my already frazzled nerves, in the mood I was in. But there was no help for it.

The bus journey was smooth. At 7.30 the next morning, we were at Central Bus Stop in Kolhapur City. 
Jyotiba Temple
Now we had to get a place to stay for the next four days. So we started on our guesthouse hunt. We checked out many hotels and guesthouses for accommodation and the quality of the rooms and finally ended up in a south Indian guesthouse with vegetarian food. It was a good deal as regards accommodation. Hotel Ayodhya charged us Rs 700 for the day. So with no second thoughts, we took the offer.

Now it was around 10 am. We decided to have some south Indian snacks and then go freshen up. We had spoken to a tourist driver who would show us in and around Kolhapur City. We negotiated the price and got ourselves a good deal for Rs 900, disregarding the fact that it was 11.30 and half the day was over.   

Lantern

The driver took us to New Palace, the Palace of Chatrapathi Shahu Maharaj. I was under the impression that Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj and Shahu Maharaj had been related but it was not so. Apparently, there is no relation between the two, not even a distant one.

The Palace is divided into two halves. One part of it is converted into a museum for people to view and the other is the residential place of the 4th descendant of Chatrapathi Shahu.

Strucutre in Panhala

Nava Rajwada or New Palace was constructed between 1877 and 1884 and is located on the Bhavani Mandap-Kasba Bavada Road. The Palace is built of black stone.

The Palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens, fountains, ponds and (surprise!) a wrestling ground.

No photography is allowed in the museum. But there was a lot to occupy our minds for a while. The museum was full of the exotic finds of Maharaj Shahu. The furniture used the robes and the armour that he used. Shahu Maharaj loved to hunt animals. The heads of many animals are put up for display there. The museum also displays the swords, daggers and spears used by him in war.


Pillars of Panhala

It took us around an hour to view the entire palace. The area around the enclosed lake on the premises was home to peacocks, deer and emu in there. It was an amazing sight.
We immediately moved on to see Panhala Fort which is on the outskirts of Kolhapur Fort.

We then visited the Jyotiba Temple. Jyotiba Temple is also located on the Panhala range at a height of 3100 feet above sea level. The deity is formed from the souls of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Jyotiba was formed to kill the demon Ratnasur. This temple was again flocked by Hindus. This is another pilgrimage site for Hindus. Nelson tasted sweets at all the shops near the temple, with the intention of buying the same and had his full there. :)


That's Me

It took us around one hour to reach Panhala Fort, also called Panhalgad. Panalla means home of serpents and is located 20 km from Kolhapur.

At the entrance there is a statue of Baji Prabhu Deshpande. As per our driver and guide, he fought battles with two swords weighing 25 kg each in each hand without a shield.
Baji and Shiva Kashid, who looked like Shivaji, helped Shivaji escape from there, but in the bargain Baji and Shiva lost their lives. Memorials have been built at the spot where they were killed.


Structure in Panhala

Since it was a rainy day, we could not shoot too many pictures. The entire place was foggy due to the rains. For a moment, I felt as if I was walking in the clouds. The sight was truly out of this world.

We ate pithla, bhakri and a green chilli thecha served along with raw onion. A fabulous combination, this is called a poor man’s meal or a farmer's meal in Maharashtra. Pithla is made from besan/chickpea flour and tastes best when eaten with bhakri, an unleavened flatbread which is prepared using Jowar (sorghum) flour. This dish is simply amazing and I loved it a lot. Oops I was so hungry that I forgot to take a picture of it. My bad

The fort itself is very huge. We were unable to cover it in its entirety on account of time constraints. So we just checked out the most important points on the fort.


Structure in Panhala

Shivaji had imprisoned his son, Sambhaji, on this fort. Besides this, there are many historic monuments to be found everywhere on the fort. There is a temple dedicated to both Shivaji and Sambhaji. This is the only one of its kind in Maharashtra.

There is also an old church on this fort along with other monuments. It reminded me of my trip to Srirangapatna where the entire place had a tale to tell. People reside on this fort, we were told. We did not see many that day but they may have stayed indoors on account of the rains.

We visited historic monuments like Konkan Darwaja, Andar Bavadi, Kalavanticha Mahal, Ambarkhana, Dharma Kothi and Sajja Kothi on the fort.  
Statue of Bajirao
We finished the entire city in a haphazard manner. When you go to Kolhapur, I would advise you to set aside one day to see Panhala Fort. It’s worth the time.

We then headed to the city. On our way back the driver told us that Shahu Maharaj was very fond of wrestlers (Indian name: pehelwan). He had therefore built a wrestling ground (Indian name: akhada) so that youngsters could wrestle there. Wrestling was certainly a famous sport and pastime in that era. Shahu Maharaj also built a training school called Talim where young wrestlers were trained to be professional wrestlers.

The royal court is located right outside the Mahalaxmi Temple. The building was neatly done up with stone and had balconies and minarets and was neatly carved. In fact, the area around the temple has many historic buildings which now house temples and other government offices. It also houses a music school.


Entrance ot Mahalaxmi Temple

The old Palace is very close to the beautiful Mahalaxmi temple. The old Palace complex also houses the famous Bhawani temple, which is not as famous as the Mahalaxmi temple.  

Court nearby Mahalaxmi Temple
Later we visited the famous Mahalaxmi temple. This temple is visited by devotees all the year around. People were standing in a line just to gain the blessings of the deity. Since it is a famous pilgrimage site, the security had been tightened.  
Mahalaxmi Temple

Later, we went back to our guesthouse as it was around 8 pm. We had vegetarian food that night as there are not many non-vegetarian food eateries around and then called it a day.

Stay tuned to my blog to view the next half of Kolhapur roadtrip

6 comments:

ahmedabadonnet said...

Amazing posts...
ahmedabadonnet.com

R Niranjan Das said...

Nice post about a beautiful place. Are you sure you went in July 2012? :)

merwynsrucksack said...

Thanks ahmedabadonnet.com and R Niranjan Das, 2011 is the year

Waman Parulekar said...

Kolhapur is beautiful city founded by Chatrpati Shahu Maharaj who was secular, progressive King of Kolhapur. Nice pics..


My photo blog

new simple live said...

nice article .....
nice pictures
I like it...

merwynsrucksack said...

Thanks Waman and New Simple Life

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