The Ashtadasa Shakti Peethas are 18 important pilgrim centers in India where the Divine Feminine Power is worshipped. These 18 places were listed by Sri Adi Sankara. The Kolhapur Mahalaxmi Temple is one such Shakti Peetha. Kolhapur is itself a very ancient city, going back to the Puranic times. Up until we realised we had to pass through Kolhapur on our way to Malvan, we had no idea about the importance of this place, again goes to show how little we know of our own land.
Goddess Mahalaxmi’s abode
We were up as early as we could and went to visit the temple. From Solanki Guest House, where we were put up, the temple is a short distance, you could even walk up if you wish. Enroute, we came across a fort wall, there is a statue of Shivaji in front of the fort wall.
Maharashtra Day celebrations began as early as 6 AM and the loud festivities made us a little cautious, you don’t want to get into trouble in a new place !
Vehicles are not allowed near the temple, you have to find some place to park and then walk up. When you reach the temple, the first thing that that grabs your attention is the grand entrance archway.
The short walk from the entrance to the main temple takes you through the shopping area, shops are lined up on either side, a typical scene of a pilgrim centre. It was early in the morning, there wasn’t much crowd around, the fresh air and the pleasant surroundings were simply blissful.
We didn’t take our camera along because photography is not allowed near or inside the temple. We could only take a picture of the temple from outside.
Going by the view from outside, we had expected a small temple but once we stepped inside, the ancient temple stood before us in its grandeur ! It is not a massive temple but the architecture and the sculpture is amazingly beautiful.
The temple’s history dates back to the 5th Century A.D, the present structure, according to the information on the internet, was built between the 10th-13th Centuries A.D. Either way, the temple that stands today is atleast a 1000 years old. We do not have photos to show you but the internet has some nice pictures and details of the temple. Even better, visit Kolhapur and see this ancient marvel for yourself !
Inside the Garbha Griha is the small, big eyed and charmingly “cute” idol of Goddess Mahalaxmi. There are shrines for other deities around the temple. We had a darshan of the Goddess and went around the temple. We went inside again for another round of darshan. It was time for the morning Aarthi and as we stood watching the event amidst chantings and people praying in total sincerity, it felt like the most peaceful place to be. Such is the power of positive energies of people when they come together, that is why, probably temples were built, it is that positive energy that is the real Divine Power inside a temple.
We walked around the temple one more time, we had no idea that Kolhapur had such an architectural and spiritual treasure and when we discovered it, we just couldn’t have enough of it !
The forgotten sporting hero
GK Question – Who was the first sportsman from India to win an individual medal at the Olympics? Here is the answer:
Shri K.D.Jadhav, Bronze Medal in Wrestling at Helsinki Olympics, 1952. Until Leander Paes won a Bronze Medal in Tennis at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, he was the only Indian to have won an individual medal at the Olympics.
Very few of us might have heard of K.D.Jadhav, we didn’t until we saw his statue in the middle of the road leading to the temple at Kolhapur.
Initially, it looked like some Roman statue, it was only when we read the above plaque that we learnt about this great sportsman. The plaque also lists other wrestling champions from India.
When we come across things like this, we feel ashamed at how little we know about our country. Indian sportspersons outside of Cricket don’t seem to even exist for us. Even the Government of India seems to have taken its own time to recognise him, he was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2000 posthumously, 16 years after his death and 44 years after his win at Olympics ! And, we complain about how badly our sportsmen perform at international events ! Atleast Kolhapur seems to take pride in their heroes.
Kolhapur turned out to be a surprise package for us and we drove back to our hotel wondering if this one lifetime would be enough to learn about India.
Back at our hotel, we had to wait for our group while they visited the temple, some people couldn’t wake up early and they were left behind when we went to the temple.
We went to the terrace of the hotel for a view of the city, as it woke up to Maharashtra Day.
On the road below us, celebrations were in full progress. Young men drove around on motorbikes beating drums and shouting slogans, people were out on processions carrying swords and fire torches.
It looked more like warriors marching out to war, the pride in their Maratha legacy was heartening. It also got us thinking how important it is to teach the common youngster the difference between pride and fanaticism. When the lines blur between the two, things take an ugly turn, as is it happens in so many cases in India.
By the time our group assembled after visits to the temple, it was time to leave Kolhapur. We couldn’t leave without checking out the local breakfast. We found a roadside eatery, the famous Vada Pav was going to take sometime, so we our fill of Poha, another famous item on a Marathi breakfast menu.
It was time to take leave of Kolhapur and continue our journey towards the Konkan coast.
– Kolhapur is around 230 kms from Pune, 380 kms from Mumbai and 560 kms from Hyderabad. Being an important city, you will find buses and trains to reach Kolhapur.
– The Mahalaxmi Temple is open from 5 AM to around 9-10 PM. For more details about the temple and sevas check the temple’s official website http://www.mahalaxmikolhapur.com
– There are several other temples and places to visit in and around Kolhapur. The temple website lists those places. We did not have the time so we only visited the Mahalaxmi Temple.
– If you want to visit all the places around Kolhapur, you might need 2 days.
– Finding accommodation at Kolhapur is easy, there are many hotels and guest houses. Solanki Guest House, where we stayed is a budget hotel. It is decent enough for quick stopover, especially if you are not very particular about state of art facilities.
– Buy the famous Kolhapur Chappals, while you are there. We were there very early in the morning and most shops were closed, so we couldn’t get to do some chappal shopping !
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