The holy abode of Ambabai
|Type of Tourism||: Pilgrimage|
|Area||: 7685 Sq. Km. (District)|
|Population||: 549283 (As per Indian census- 2011)|
|Altitude||: 569 meters|
|Best Tourist Season||: October to March|
|Clothing recommended||: Light cotton in summer, light woolen in winter|
|Languages spoken||: Marathi, Hindi, English|
|Telephone Code||: India (0231), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 416001|
|What to buy||: Kolhapuri Chappals, Kolhapuri Saris, Kolhapuri Saaj (Necklace), Other Jewellery Items, Kolhapuri Lavangi Mirchi, Kolhapuri Gul (Jaggery), Bhadang, Kolhapuri Lasun Masala Chutney, Kolhapuri Masala.|
|Food Specialties||: Tambada Rassa (Red Curry), Pandhara Rassa (White Curry), Sukaa Mutton (Dry Meat), Golyachi Biryani (Kheema Balls Rice), Mutton Pickle, Kolhapuri Misal, Wada Pav, Kolhapuri Kakavi, Kandi Pedhe, Bhel, Akkha Masur.|
|Local transportation||: On foot, Auto Rickshaw, City Buses|
As soon as you heed the word Kolhapur, the very first thing that springs to your mind is the ‘Kolhapur chi Ambabai’ or the Goddess Mahalakshmi of Kolhapur. Much venerated amongst the Hindus as ‘Dakshin Kashi', this seat of Mahalakshmi is regarded to be one of the 51 mythological Shaktipeethas scattered across the Indian Peninsula. Kolhapur, nestled on the banks of the river Panchganga in extreme south western Maharashtra, is a municipal corporation and the administrative headquarters of Kolhapur District. The city has acquired worldwide fame owing to its name being associated with some of the most popular and ‘in demand’ items such as Kolhapuri Chappals, Kolhapuri Saaj, Kolhapuri Gul, Kolhapuri Masala, Kolhapuri Misal and not to forget, Veg Kolhapuri.
The etymology of the word ‘Kolhapur’ lies in a prevalent myth that Goddess Ambabai killed a demon named Kolhasur here. This civic, earlier known as Karveer was rechristened as ‘Kolhapur’ commemorating the last wish of Kolhasur of being immortal in this way. Kolhapur, the blessed land of temples, forts, palaces, historical sites, lakes, reservoirs, beautiful gardens and shopping junctures is the religious and spiritual pivot of Maharashtra and the archaeological and cultural epitome of bygone era. Nestled in the soothing cradle of Sahyadri Mountain Ranges of Western Ghats, Kolhapur is the potpourri of history, culture, spirituality and nature. Every year, millions of devotees from different parts of the country as well as the globe alight at Kolhapur to receive the graceful blessings of the Mother Goddess and enjoy the mouth watering cuisine of Kolhapur.
Acknowledged as the ‘Capital of the Marathi Film Industry’, Kolhapur, the home to a number of legendary personalities of Marathi Silver Screen is also honored to be the venue where the first Indian feature film Raja Harishchandra was conceptualized. Kolhapur still hosts several film festivals and also provides the backdrop for shooting. The latest award winning Marathi big screen ‘Natrang’ and various other movies were shot in Kolhapur. The present day Kolhapur is emerging as one of the rapidly progressing cities and a new throbbing IT hub. Nicknamed as the ‘sugar bowl of India’ due to its famous Jaggery production, Kolhapur has today become the 2nd highest per capita income II tier city. Numerous large scale industries including Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd, Raymond Textiles, Manugraph India Ltd and Menon Group of Companies are placed here.
History Of Kolhapur
The mythological genesis of Kolhapur suggests that this civic was originally established by a demon king named Kolhasur. After he was killed by Goddess Mahalakshmi here, the city previously known as Karveer was renamed as Kolhapur in the honor of Kolhasur. Kolhapur finds a citation in a Hindu Scripture ‘Devi Bhagawatam’ wherein the Goddess herself proclaims that she will always dwell in Kolhapur for the protection and well being of her devotees. Kolhapur flourished as a Buddhist cultural center in 6th century BC. In 8th century AD, Kolhapur is said to have visited by the famous Rashtrakuta king Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I who offered his finger to the goddess Mahalakshmi of Kolhapur as a sacrifice to save his kingdom from a certain calamity.
Kolhapur furnished as the capital of the Shilahara Kingdom from 940 to 1212 AD. The roots of Jainism in Kolhapur are traced from the inscriptions found at Teradal that mention the King Gonka being healed by a Jain Monk from snake bite. Out of his gratitude, King Gonka constructed a temple of Lord Neminath here. Subsequently, many Jain Temples set up here in next two centuries came to be known as ‘Gonka Jinalayas’ after him. During the domain of King Bhoja I, an educational institute at Rupanarayana-Basadi was established by Acharya Maghanandi. Around 9th century AD, Kolhapur functioned as the battleground of Western Chalukyas and the Chola kings. At the time of the Battle of Koppam in 1052 AD Rajendra Chola II advanced to Kolhapur and erected the victory pillar, the famous Jayastambha here. The Kopeshwar Temple of Kolhapur dedicated to Lord Shiva is believed to be built by Shilahara Kings Gandaraditya, Vijayaditya and Bhoj-II between 1109 and 1178 AD.
The Princely State of Kolhapur, regarded to be one of the most important Maratha principalities of British East India Company was formed in 1707 AD. Kolhapur State spread over an extensive area of about 3,165 square miles earned the revenue of £300,000 and it was ruled by the sovereigns of the Bhonsle dynasty. As the Bhonsles were entitled the honor of 19-gun salute, Kolhapur was known as a 19-gun State. The most worth mentioning epoch in the history of the Princely State of Kolhapur is the governance of Maharani Tarabai and Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj. Tarabai, the Daughter in Law of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the wife of Chhatrapati Rajaram established Kolhapur as the then capital of Maratha Kingdom.
Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj on his homecoming from the captivity of the Mughals took over the reigns from the hands of Tarabai. During his rule Kolhapur enjoyed its hey day of all round development. The state successfully stood against the British Expeditions of the year 1765 and 1792, but with the decline of Maratha Empire in 1812, Kolhapur signed a treaty with the British East India Co. The last monarch of the princely state of Kolhapur was HH Maharaja Chhatrapati Shahaji II Puar. After the independence of 1947, the then Maharaja of Kolhapur merged it with Bombay State on 1st March 1949. The idols of the Greek God of Sea found at the excavation site near Kolhapur testify that the erstwhile Kolhapur had established trade relations with the kingdoms of Greece and Rome.