Decrepit, Dull, Dirty , Dusty….these were the adjectives that sprung to my mind when i learn that we had to make a weekend trip to Kolhapur. But little did i know that the city had so many little gems to offer that at the end of a marvelous weekend i would leave promising to be back for more…..
A Mac Donalds in Kolhapur? Boy! was i surprised. Located on the NH4 highway(and my what a highway….absolutely a thrill to ride on) this huge outlet was a good way to start the holiday . the kids had a blast and so did we.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the city. Kolhapur is popular for its cotton textiles, in particular Kolhapuri sarees. This city is also popular for its jewellery and leather sandals or Kolhapuri chappals. Here chappals of good quality are available at extremely cheap rates. Its jewellery is also distinct. The Kolapur Saaj, putlihar, chaplahar, bormal and the popular chokar thushi are the various types of distinctively kolhapuri designs with beautiful workmanship. We trekked the Mahadwar and Shivaji Roads roads and checked a variety of Kolhapuri chappals and other leather goods on Bhausinji Road. One can also shop around the bus station in the Rajarampuri area.
The early evening found us admiring the breathtaking view at the popular Panhala Fort. Although 20km away from kolhapur, the drive was lovely and the fort an enchanting hill station that reminded us of the historical splendour of the place.
Thanks to marvellous friends we had an out-of-this-world kolhapuri meal . The cuisine is outstanding.The Tambra Rassa,Pandra Rassa ,the mouth watering mutton preparation’s all make the food to-die-for!!!Ice creams and the ‘Cold drink’ at solankis , a popular chain of ice cream joints was another high point of the great day. the cold drink available at the solanki opposite the railway stations is a definite must-have.
Early the next morning we offered our prayers at the Mahalakshmi Temple , some 5 km from the Central Bus stand. The idol, weighing about 40 kg exists in its natural form- a primeval monolith of uncut diamonds and precious stones. The Goddess known as Amba Bai is the presiding deity of this temple. Chalukya ruler Karandev begun construction of this beautiful and large temple and it was later taken over by shilahara and Yadavas in the 9Th century.
Another tourist attraction is the Rankala lake, said to be the oldest of all lakes in Maharashtra.This wide and spacious lake lies at the center of the temple of Rankabhairav where one can admire the intricately carved black stone and Italian marbles.
When we left Kolhapur was with a feeling of elation at having experienced the magical amalgamation of Nature, History, Culture and Spirituality all in one place.