Kolhapur, the abode of Devi Mahalakshmi, the Goddess of health & wealth and peace & prosperity is thronged by thousands of devotees all round the year. Acclaimed as Dakshin Kashi, Kolhapur is regarded as one of the most apotheosized pilgrim destinations of the state of Maharashtra. The city has earned a worldwide reputation due to its celebrated Kolhapuri Chappals, Kolhapuri Saaj, Kolhapuri Lavangi Mirchi, Kolhapuri Gul, Kolhapuri Masala and delectable Kolhapuri non vegetarian cuisine such as Tambada Rassa and Pandhara Rassa.
Kolhapur city is chiefly inhabited by Marathas who are followed in the count by Brahmins, Gujaratis, Marwadis, Buddhists, Maharashtrian Jains, Lingayat Kannadigas, Sindhis and Muslims. Apart form the thriving tourism industry, the economy of Kolhapur is supported by the cultivation of sugarcane which is used in large amount in the production of the famous Kolhapuri Jaggery. Metal, textile and mining are other prominent industries flourishing at Kolhapur. Kolhapur is ranked second after Mumbai for having the highest number of Mercedes cars in the state of Maharashtra. Turban known as ‘Pheta’ or ‘Feta’ in Marathi is the specialty of Kolhapur culture. Offering a Pheta is a traditional gesture of respect and greeting executed at the time of welcoming a guest in Kolhapur.
Kolhapuri Kusti (the game of wrestling) is a very popular sport much indulged in and enjoyed at Kolhapur. This ancient game patronized by the Maratha Chhatrapatis is still preserved by Kolhapur. The city houses more than 40 training institutes called ‘Talim’. The Wrestlers of Kolhapur are famous far and wide. Various wrestling competitions are organized throughout the year when wrestlers earn tremendous amount of fame and money. Khasbhag Maidan is the major location of Kolhapur widely reckoned for hosting Home, District and Zonal Levels Kusti.
Yet another noteworthy feature of Kolhapuri Culture is Lavani; a traditional form of Marathi folk dance focusing on eroticism. The erstwhile kings of Kolhapur used to entertain themselves with Lavani performances. Today this art form is preserved by only some families and dancer groups. Stage performances of Lavani are often organized in and around Kolhapur. Predominantly performed by women wearing beautiful Nav Wari Saris and heavy ethnic jewellery, Lavani involves the presentation of seductive and sensuous body movements.
Kolhapur is also famous for its Boat Rowing Competitions held in the after months of rainy season. The rivers flowing in profusion after monsoon serve as the perfect venue for such sports. Presently, Boat Rowing Competitions are arranged in Krishna River & Panchganga River near Narsobachiwadi and Rankala Lake.