Monday, December 10, 2018

A trip to Kolhapur

After  Having darshan in Pandharpur ,we proceed toKolhapur Mahalaxmi temple. The Shri Mahalakshmi Temple of Kolhapur in Maharashtra, India, is one of the Shakti Peethas also called Dakshin Kashi, listed in various puranas of Hinduism.

A shakti peetha is a place associated with Shakti, the goddess of power. The Kolhapur peetha is of special religious significance, being one of the six places where it is believed one can either obtain salvation from desires or have them fulfilled. The temple's actual name is Ambabai Temple.The temple takes its name from Mahalakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, and it is believed that the divine couple reside in the area.

Mahalaxmi or Ambabai temple as it is locally known is situated in the heart of the Kolhapur city in South Maharashtra. The temple was constructed sometime in 6-7th cen. AD. The temple belongs, architecturally, to the Kannada Chalukya empire, and may have been first built circa 700 AD. Mounted on a stone platform, the image of the four armed and crowned goddess is made of gemstone and weighs about 40 kilograms. The image of Mahalakshmi carved in black stone is 3 feet in height. The Shri yantra is carved on one of the walls in the temple. A stone lion, the vahana of the goddess, stands behind the statue. The temple has been patronised over the years by various ruling dynasties like the Marathas, Yadavas, Silharas etc. The sabhamandapa appears to have been built during the maratha period and has a wooden construction typical to that period. The temple walls are ornate with several motifs and figurines of Gods, Goddesses, Apsaras, Gandharvas, Yakshas etc.
Visit the temple at 5am so as to get good "darshan"., there was no queue and we could complete the darshan of Goddess Mahalaxmi in less than 15 minutes with reasonable time to spend in sanctum sanctorum. . The inner soul get purified by the simple darshan of ambadevi/ Goddess Mahalaxmi. We have experienced the "kripa" of Goddess Mahalaxmi and get a lot of positive vibes and immense peace of mind inside in front of the Goddess, something that only a few can experience and cannot be expressed in words.
There are a number of deity around the temple complex and make sure from which side you have entered as there are 4 entrances and from inside all looks similar. With peaceful internal surrounding embedded in beautifully crafted pillars Maa lakshmi temple brings in the old age Indian sculpture art at its best.
Jyotibha temple
After visiting to Mahalaxmi temple we started journey to Jyotiba temple which is one of ancient temple in India & belongs to Nath Sampradaya people. 
Temple is situated in Sahyadri mountain ranges. It's 3000metre above sea level. Situated at north west of Kolhapur city about 20 km. Better to travel by car as bus frequency not much. As location on mountain so road is zig-zag / Ghat section. After reaching there when getting into temple we saw 'Gulal' everywhere. Piligrims fly red Gulal - Auspicious powder, the floor of temple looking all pink and beautiful need to experience it once.
Maharaja's Palace
The New Palace is a stunning example of the royal architecture of the time. Even today it's a residence to Chhatrapati Shahu, Shivaji's direct descendent. 

It was constructed between 1877–1884. They took 35 rs entry fee at the gate. While  entering the museum There is a small lake with deers and peacocks and good raised staircase for viewing the animals better. 

New Palace Museum has a great collection of historical photos, paintings, furniture and other valuable things. One section has all the animals likes stuffed Tigers, Tiger heads, Sloth Bear, Black Panther, Wild Boar, etc. Darbar hall is a really beautiful place in this palace. Taxidermy facilitated the mounting of several heads of Wild Animals as well as on display were full bodied stuffed wild animals in their original skin chemically treated for preservation… Awesome !…. 
 Darbar hall occupies double height and raised throne at the end of the hall. We can see so many weapons like swards , arrows , & so many other weapons. Weapons that included Spears, Pistols, Cannons, Guns, Rifles, Swords, Knives, Axes and many others T he building was neatly done up with stone and had balconies and minarets and was neatly carved.
Important Documents and Parchments, Photographs and oil Paintings that captured the grandeur of the Royal Family… there is one document from the Governor General of the British Empire in India bestowing the Title of Maharaja to the Head of the Royal Family of Kolhapur at the time …. Hunting was a passionate Royal activity….  One of the best preserved Heritage places in Maharashtra as well as India. The palace is well maintained to its prehistoric conditions while converting it into a museum. history lovers may find this place a treasure tomb.. It will take 1 to 2 hrs to cover the museum . Overall very beautiful New Palace in the heart of City.
The Binkhambi Ganesh Mandir is a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha located very close to the Mahalaxmi temple. The temple is not crowded and we got our Darshan very quickly. The unique aspect about this temple is that there are no pillars used for supporting the roof of the temple.
Preparation of Jaggery:
As you step into a jaggery plant you will be cordially greeted with a refreshing welcome drink. You can also sip on fresh sugarcane juice that is heavenly nectar for tired travelers.
Jaggery is prepared by a very simple method using simple machines and few large and small vessels. It also does not require a large space as well. The cut and cleaned sugarcane brought from fields are stored in the premises. These canes are put into the power driven crusher (earlier it used to be done through oxen driven crushers). The extracted sugarcane juice gets directly stored in a concrete storage tank. The remaining wood pulp is scattered near the unit for drying. After that, the juice is transferred to a large iron vessel for heating on a furnace through a motor driven machine.

The vessel is heated for about one hour and the dried wood pulp from the crushed sugarcane is used as fuel for the furnace. It’s amazing to know that every part of the cane is used in the process. During boiling process all the wood particles are cleared by skimming of the froth from the vessel. By constant boiling the juice gets significantly reduced and gets thickened up and becomes golden in colour. It is stirred continuously and lifted with a spatula to check its thickness. If it forms many threads, it has completely thickened. after cooling down the jaggery becomes a soft solid which is now pressed into the desired shape for selling at the market.

Before pressing the semi solid into the vessel for desired shape a cloth is put in it so that jaggery can be easily pulled out after it gets converted into solid state. The fresh aroma of jaggery was very tempting. The quality of the jaggery is judged by its colour, brown means it is higher in impurities and golden-yellow implies it is relatively pure. The owner informed us that there are malpractices of adding colour or harmful chemicals to simulate the golden colour. Finally, we got a taste of fresh jaggery and it was pure, fresh and amazing.
Nothing compares to the warm, sugary deliciousness of freshly prepared jaggery. This is some of the purest jaggery that you will taste in your lifetime.

Uttareshwar Mahadev Temple:

Rankala Lake:

The Rankala Lake is a very famous tourist attraction for people from all over the world. Marked by the natural beauty and peaceful environment. The lake was constructed by Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, the then king of Kolhapur.
Its a cool place and is very near to Mahalaxmi Temple. especially in evening beautiful sunset is seen at evening is lake is speciality of kolhapur and also available food at evening time...most beautiful place

In one day we visited so many places.What a great place Kolhapur really enjoyed a lot! The journey was truly very memorable and had amazing experience. Still Many places to visit yet. Waiting for one more trip!