Situated in the southwest region of Maharashtra, Kolhapur is a city of very high cultural and historical significance. A culmination of daily lives infused with the multiple forts and huge temples is evidence to the same. Currently, the city is the administrative head of the Kolhapur district and boasts one of the best, and arguably the most fulfilling, experiences any place can offer.
We’d love to go on and tell you about all the marvels this city holds. However, that would take much more than one article. So, here are the 7 places to visit in Kolhapur. Don’t miss out on them!
Kolhapur was ruled by the great Maratha rulers for almost three decades. It’s also where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj spent almost fifty years of his life. It comes as no surprise that Kolhapur has a collection of forts that have a huge collection of stories. The most famous one of which has to be Panhala.
The fort of Panhala lies about 20 km to the northwest of Kolhapur. It was taken over by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj by a Bijapuri general called Afzal Khan in 1659. Since then, due to its strategic importance, the Adil Shahi dynasty and the Mughals, both tried to raid the fort and take it over. However, Panhala, being the fortress that it is, remained under Maratha rule.
The Indo-Islamic style of infrastructure is evident the very moment you step foot into the famous three gateway entrance, known as ‘Teen Darwaza’.
Other forts like Vishalgad, Shivgad, and Gandharvagad tell similar stories of bravery, valiance and the glory that these places held in their heydays.
Not just the forts, but the areas built within the forts are also must-sees. Ambarkhana and Teen Darwaza are within Panhala itself, while Vishalgad has spots like Takmak Tok, the Samadhi of Baji Prabhu Deshpande, Dargah of Raihan and Sati’s Vrindavan.
Gandharvagad, known for the antiquated well that still has fresh water and the Chaloba temple, is mostly in pieces now. However, the defenses on the south side and the view from the top are two things that attract tourists all the time.
Intrigued by the forts and want to explore more of them? Check out 6 Of The Best Forts In Pune!
Kolhapur is a very culture-heavy place. Some might even say that it is the epitome of Maratha culture and all its glory. The presence of six huge temples in Kolhapur confirms that statement. Out of the six temples, there are two that top the list when it comes to the history and religious significance: the Jyotiba Temple and the Mahalaxmi Temple.
The Mahalaxmi Temple is the oldest in Kolhapur, Constructed in the 7th century, it is known for its intricate carvings on the walls. The statue of Amba Devi has been the same since the temple was constructed. It is said that the goddess, after having a dispute with Tirupati Balaji, moved to Kolhapur and has lived there ever since. One thing that makes this temple unique is that, unlike most Hindu deities, the goddess faces west instead of east.
The Jyotiba Temple, built by the then ruler Ranoji Shinde, has stood tall since the 17th century. The temple requires you to climb approximately 100 stairs and welcomes you into a field of pink. This is because gulal is used as a holy offering to Jyotiba. On many festivals of the temple, you’ll get to see devotees smearing gulal on each other's foreheads and chanting ‘Jyotiba Cha Naavane Chaangbhala’.
Other than these two temples, NrusinhaWadi, Bhavani Mandap, Kopeshwar Temple, and Bahubali Temple are places that will tell you a lifetime of stories. Each temple is adorned with beautiful statues of deities and has different decorations, depending upon the era they were built in. For example, Nrusinhawadi was built by Adil Shah when he was ruling Kolhapur and has a lot of influence of the Indo-Islamic style.
Rankala is a beautiful lake in the heart of the city which has the once-magnificent Shalini Palace in the background. The lake itself is the result of multiple earthquakes in a black stone mine that was in the same place in the 9th century. Shri Shahu Chhatrapati, the then ruler, built around the lake and turned it into a place of beauty.
The lake also has a temple of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. Local Hindu beliefs state that the statue of Nandi here moves a minuscule distance ahead and back every day. But the day Nandi reaches the lake, the apocalypse will begin. Hope it’s not anytime soon!
The lake now boasts a chaupati and a few other gardens/parks. It’s a great spot for an early-evening picnic with local street food being easily available.
Also Read: Exploring All The Pretty Lakes in Udaipur
Built in 1884, this palace in Kolhapur made out of polished black stone is a great insight to the life of the many rulers here.
The compound of the palace boasts a zoo, a ground lake, a garden and even a wrestling ground, which in Marathi is known as a ‘Taleem’.
Inside, the ground floor has been converted into a museum which shows a lot of outfits and equipment used by the rulers themselves and everyone around them. You can also see some toys, embroidery, jewelry, and weapons in the museum.
The Darbar Hall is a high-ceiling room and has stained glass on the sides showing the events of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s life.
However, you won’t get to run wild and free through every nook and cranny of New Palace. All other areas of the palace are closed off for the tourists as the descendants of the Chhatrapati Bhosales still live there.
Also read: Exploring The Forts And Palaces In Jaipur
Built in 1909, the Radhanagari Dam is famous for being the only dam in Maharashtra with automatic gates to control water. The few of the gates that are automatic do not require any electrical or mechanical force to operate.
The construction of this dam was funded by Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj and the location offers a panoramic view of Kolhapur’s natural beauty. The century-old dam is also known for its naturally evolved ecosystems with a variety of flora and fauna adding to the view.
The dam is accompanied by a wildlife sanctuary as well. Located about 45 km from the Kolhapur railway station (Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Terminus Kolhapur), Radhanagari Dam is a great spot away from the city’s hustle and bustle. We recommend a one-day trip to this place so that you get enough time to explore and relax.
Wrestling is a huge part of Kolhapuri culture and ever since India received fame internationally after Sushil Kumar’s victory, wrestling is picking back up in Kolhapur too. However, wrestling centers here are called ‘taleems’ instead of ‘akhadas’ and Motibag is one of the city’s most iconic taleems.
The sport has such a firm hold on the culture that wrestlers coming from mostly agrarian families make huge sacrifices to practice and compete. Some of these wrestlers make an annual trek to Warananagar to compete in the tournaments as well.
Another iconic taleem in Kolhapur is Khasbaug. Built by Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, it is inspired by the Roman Colosseum and remains one of the most famous taleems to date.
Interestingly, the cultural diversity of Kolhapur can be seen in this sport too, which has roots in Persia. Even the terms Kushti, Taleem and Pehelwan come from the same place.
Exploring these two taleems, along with the many that the city boasts, will give you first-hand experience of the discipline and sportsmanship that even the beefiest wrestlers from Kolhapur hold.
After going out and about town, we figured you might want to splurge a little. Buy some souvenirs, eat some of the specialties and the likes. When it comes to shopping, Mahadwar Road and Shivaji road are the places to visit in Kolhapur!
Mahadwar Road, located just south of the city center, is known as one of the oldest markets in Kolhapur and the shopkeepers are always happy to tell you about the history of that place. You can look for the famed Kolhapuri chappals, which are handmade footwear made out of leather and sometimes even wood! You can also look for Nauvari sarees, Saaj necklaces, and even some forms of delicate, gold or silver plated jewelry. These are easily the things you must have on your mind when shopping in Kolhapur. After all, they’re the specialty of this place.
While Shivaji Road and Mahadwar Road share a lot of things in terms of the items being sold, Shivaji Road is also known for the gob-smacking street food like the zan-zanit misal pav, the tikhat vada, and the ever-famous red meat dishes with the tambda rassa and pandhara rassa, available at the thelas and restaurants there.
Both of these places are priced moderately. However, you’ll have products at a higher price available too. A stroll through the streets on both these locations would give you a sufficient idea of what you want to check out and the locals will happily recommend the best option available.
Another speciality of Kolhapur is the handmade, organic jaggery that is produced there. You’ll find stores selling a large variety of jaggery, from light golden to dark brown, in stores selling jaggery, exclusively.
Now that you know which places to visit in Kolhapur, it’s time that you add it to your bucket list. Whether it’s the rich history, spirituality, culture, or lip-smacking food, Kolhapur has them all! To cover a place that is culturally and historically rich is next to impossible, let alone in a single article. We have tried our best to include the spots that a majority of travelers will find interesting. If we missed out on your favourite one, please let us know! Cheers!
What Is Kolhapur Known For?
Kolhapur is known for its heritage, culture and the way it still shapes lives there. A lot of products like the Saaj necklaces, the Kolhapuri chappals, the Kamarbands and the phetas are famous, along with the spicy food that encompasses Kolhapuri cuisine.
Is Kolhapur safe to visit?
In short, yes. Kolhapur is known to be safe for tourists and locals alike.
Does Kolhapur Have A King?
Yes. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaja II is the current head of state of Kolhapur. However, the king does not have any administrative or judicial power under the kingship.
How To Get To Kolhapur?
Kolhapur is very well connected to the rest of the country. One can drive, fly or take a train into the district.
By Air: The Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj Airport is approximately 9 km outside the city and has frequent flights coming from Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi.
By Road: Kolhapur lies on the NH-4, which connects it to Mumbai and Bangalore. It’s about 380 km away from Mumbai and about 615 km from Bangalore.
By Train: Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Terminus is the closest railway station to Kolhapur and is well connected to all major cities in the country.
What Is The Famous Food Of Kolhapur?
Kolhapur is famous for its mutton thali which comprises of the popular Kolhapuri Tambda rassa and Kolhapuri Pandhara rassa mutton curry, fried mutton, and mutton pickle.
What Is Famous In Kolhapur For Shopping?
Kolhapur is famous for its Kolhapuri chappal, Kolhapuri saaj and jewelry, Kolhapuri masalas, Kolhapuri sarees and pheta are popular items that are shopped for in Kolhapur.
What Language Is Spoken In Kolhapur?
Marathi is the widely spoken language in Kolhapur. Other than Marathi, people here also speak in Hindi or English at times.
How Many Days Are Enough For Kolhapur?
2 days are quite sufficient to explore all the sights, attractions, and go shopping in Kolhapur.