Best Kolhapur Visiting Places: Temples, Lakes, Forts and Other Must Visit Tourist Spots

Get yourself ready for Kolhapur trip! Here are the best places to visit in Kolhapur, which include temples, lakes, forts, museum and more.

best places to visit in kolhapur

Riding on a rearing warhorse, which stands on its hind legs and whose front hooves are high up in the air; is the gallant Maratha Queen shielded by protective armour whilst wielding a long sword in her right hand – Maharani Tarabai’s august statue welcomes you into Kolhapur, a city although industrialized is still graced with religious, historic and natural wonderments.

Mahalaxmi Temple

mahalaxmi temple kolhapur

When a 7th century Chalukya king Karnadeva decided to build a Temple for Goddess Mahalaxmi in the heart of ancient Kolhapur {which is also counted as a Shakti Peeth}; he specially made one, which could be called as one of the most beautiful temples that has managed to pull heavy crowds of people into its courtyards every year, not just in the past but even now in the present.

The main idol of Goddess Durga carved out of black stone is studded with diamonds and gemstones, besides which exclusively carved ceilings, pillars, outer walls and arches are the reasons for the huge draw!

Kirnotsav’ is the finest time of the year (celebrated thrice) when it is said that the sun’s rays fall directly on the deity; and that’s also when the entire Temple, whose base has been erected with thick black stones and topped with light yellow conical towers, glows in the highest of spirits!

The Mahalaxmi Temple has become such a vital landmark over the years that it would not be wrong to say that it is synonymous with the very name ‘Kolhapur’ itself! With a nice line-up of stalls outside the temple premise, the entire zone looks abuzz with animated activities throughout the day.

Rankala Lake

Rankala Lake Kolhapur

“The lake with a calmness from its core to the ripples that danced, reflected the blue sky as the most sincere of smiles” – Angela Abraham.

Constructed by Shri Chhatrapati Sahu Maharaj, Rankala Lake has become a ‘sine qua non’ hangout spot for the people of Kolhapur. Adjoined by gardens and fast food joints, a long walk around the halcyon lake is the perfect way to ‘unwind’ with family or catch up with some old pals.

Shri Chatrapati Shahu Museum (New Palace)

Shri Chatrapati Shahu Museum

An imposing stately property that was constructed with black polished stone between 1877 & 1884, the New Palace Museum stands as a testimony to the fact that the royal family of Kolhapur {descendents of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (founder of Maratha Empire)} led their lives filled with remarkable interests and accomplishments.

  • The ground floor which is the museum has an excellent collection of costumes, jewellery, paintings, photographs, furniture, trophies and weapons including a sword of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
  • Their hunting prowess is showcased by stuffed animals like Himalayan black bears, wild dogs, panthers, tigers, lions, deers, and wild buffalos.
  • The Durbar hall in the middle of the palace is colonnaded with temple-like brackets; it has Italian stained-glass paintings on the arches on side walls which depict scenes from the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
  • Shahu Gallery dedicated to Rajarshi Shahu, displays letters exchanged with the British generals and viceroys.
  • Exhibits of elephant saddles and howdahs made of silver; royal palanquins and crib; embroidery and beadwork contributed by the queens; charts of family trees.

The Palace which even now houses the present King of Kolhapur in its first floor has been beautified all around with gardens, lake, a mini-zoo and a fountain!

Bhavani Mandap

Bhavani Mandap Kolhapur

Located very close to the Mahalaxmi Temple; Bhavani Mandap which was built between 1785 & 1800, under British influence, is one of the oldest heritage palacial buildings in Kolhapur which used to serve as the official court and residence of Chhatrapati Maharaj.

A life-size statue of the fondest ruler of Kolhapur, Shahu Maharaj, is placed at the entrance; and also a Temple of Goddess Tuljha Bhavani is found at the centre of the Mandap.

Panhala Fort

Panhala Fort Kolhapur

The largest fort in the Deccan!

20 km away from the main city of Kolhapur, the elephantine fortification that runs for 14 km at 845 m above sea level on the Sahyadri hills is famous not just about for its size but also for the significant weight of history it carries within its strong ramparts. Founded by Raja Bhoja in the late 12th century, only to be later on modified by the Marathas, it served as the protective living quarters for the great Shivaji Maharaj, and also for Maharani Tarabai (queen regent of Kolhapur), during times of political crisis in the Empire.

The incomparable points of attraction at Panhala fort include:

  • Ambar Khana – Three large granaries at the centre of the fort which has been built in Bijapuri style.
  • Kalavanticha Mahal – The courtesans’ terrace room which has ornamental works of inscriptions on its walls and ceilings.
  • Andhar Bhavadi – A three storeyed structure designed like a fort within the main fort; it had a ‘hidden well’ that was the main source of water, to be hidden from the enemies in case of an attack.
  • Teen Darwaza – One of the three ‘double gateways’ considered to be the main entrance of the fort on its western side. The ‘double gate’ with a court in-between has decorated arcades and finely carved motifs.
  • Rajdindi bastion – A secret exit out of the fort used for escape by Shivaji.

Jyotiba Temple

Jyotiba Temple Kolhapur

20 km away from Kolhapur, in the village of Ratnagiri stands a sacred complex dedicated to Lord Jyotiba – a reincarnate of three deities together – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who is said to have taken up this form to assist Goddess Mahalakshmi to rid off the menace created by some demons in Her presiding area.

Cruising through the greeny mountainous circuit of Wadi Ratnagiri leads to a height of 3124 feet above sea level. Surrounded by ancient fortified walls, there stands a Temple in dark natural stone and whitish-yellow triangular-shaped domes.

A peculiar aspect of this temple is that oodles and oodles of pink powder {gulaal} is strewn all over – on the floors, walls, temple towers… it is said that ‘the holy pink powder’ is fondly presented to Lord Jyotiba by his worshippers and they celebrate His Divinity by throwing it all around his enclave such that some people even have their clothes and faces smeared in ‘pink’.

While moving from chamber to chamber inside the temple to see the main deity who is seated like a king on his throne, one can feel like as if being taken back to the royal past of the 18th century when this structure was made. Yet another distinct quality about this temple is the presence of a decorated life-size statue of “Kamadhenu” or the wish-cow designed such that devotees can collect sanctified water in their palms from its udder!

Siddhagiri Museum

Siddhagiri Museum Kolhapur

Siddhagiri Gramjivan Sangrahalaya or Kaneri Math is quite a laudable setup on the self-sufficient rural (grameen) lifestyle that existed in India before the Mughal period. About 300 wax statues depicting 80 different scenes of day-to-day activities in a village like domestic, agriculture, shops, rituals and nursing have been very well expressed and brought to life through these accurately made sculptures.

Kopeshwar Temple

Kopeshwar Temple Kolhapur

Strong stone walls and pillars made of basalt, filled with stunning designs carved to the minutest precision that speak of a thousand secrets and stories beyond anyone’s belief; draw, kindle and provoke the inquisitiveness of people towards the superb Kopeshwar Temple!

A dream project started by Badami Chalukyas in the 7th century and later completed by the Shilahara Kings in the 12th century, the architectural intelligence displayed by our ancient builders in this temple is awe-inspiring.

Divided into four main parts – Swarg Mandap, Sabha Mandap, Antarala, and Garbhagriha; the Swarg Mandap is the most extraordinary of them all which is supported by 48 pillars with intricate engravings and has a large circular stone disk with an open roof. Another special note is that the main sanctum sanctorum of this temple is conical in shape.

Other than that, there are elephant statues at the base of the temple, idols of deities, semi-circular ceiling, and various mythical characters carved out in different poses.

This is said to be the only temple in India where Lord Shiva resides with Lord Vishnu!

Sagareshwar Deer Sanctuary

Sagareshwar Deer Sanctuary Kolhapur

Those who ache for a wildlife retreat will find their much needed respite about 64 km from Kolhapur in the manmade Sagareshwar sanctuary {named after an ancient Shiva temple present there}. ‘Green’ activist D.M. Mohite left no stone unturned to raise a cultivated area over 11 km2 where ‘forest’ hikers can now engage themselves with an interesting lot of species among the flora (southern mixed dry deciduous {Neem, Nilgiri, Tamarind, Acacia, Agave} & thorn) as well as the fauna (peafowls, boars, foxes, rabbits, insects, reptiles & a good variety of deer – Sambhar, Blackbucks, Chital).

Kolhapuri Chappals

kolhapuri chappals things to do in kolhapur

Trying on a pair of Kolhapuri sandals on your feet is a must when you visit Kolhapur! These footwears are carefully handcrafted with leather and other local materials that look stylish and also go well with any kind of outfit. Just walk into any of the ‘chappal’ shops {very easy to spot with the customary ‘giant-sized’ chappal placed in the front of every shop to lure visitors} where the sellers will only be too glad to show you a wide range of sandals made with traditional motif designs, available for men, women & children!

No doubt, anybody roaming in Kolhapur can smell, touch, and feel the ancient aura of the Maratha reign that still looms over the city!!

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