Kolhapur city situated in the south-west corner of Maharashtra, India. Kolhapur, or as it seems to have been formerly called Karvir, is probably one of the oldest religious and trade centres in western India. In the Karavir or Kolhapur Mahatmya or account of the greatness of Kolhapur, Kolhapur is mentioned as the Kasi or Benares of the South. City situated on the banks of river Panchganga. Kolhapur is a blend of ancient tradition and modern influences. In 1945, excavations on the Brahmapuri in Kolhapur revealed the existence of an ancient town dating back to the Roman era. Kolhapur had different dynasties ruling it in the past, but it was under the rule of the Marathas that it became a cultural hub. Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaja is an architect and founder of modern Kolhapur. Chhattrapati Shahu Maharaja's reign lent a progressive spirit to the city and the king extended his patronage to arts like theater, film making, music, painting, sculpture, wrestling and crafts like tanning and jewellery's making. Of late, Kolhapur has become a prominent center for the Marathi film industry.
People of Kolhapur are generally referred to as 'Kolhapuri' or 'Kolhapurkar'. The main language spoken here is Marathi, apart from that Hindi, Urdu , Gujarati, Kananda is used. Kolhapur city is on the banks of River Panchganga and reflects a rich heritage along with a fast growing industrial town. Its importance as a commercial center is well known. Kolhapur is a big market for jaggery (Gul) of which the district is a very large producer. This jaggery is supplied to various parts of India and is exported to different countries. Kolhapur District is one of the shining examples in the Co-operative Movement of India. No doubt, the district has the highest per capita income in the Maharashtra State and one of the highest in the country.A Historical Background can been easily noticed in the culture and the architecture of the city making it an Historical Tourist spot. Also various temples and religious places in and around the city make it an important destination for Religious Tourism. Apart from that Numerous Lakes and River Panchganga add to the beauty of the city thus also attracting Leisure Tourism.
The famous temple of Goddess 'Mahalaxmi' / 'Ambabai' blesses the city and guards all evil. Also Old Palace , New Palace , Rankala Lake, Shalani Palace, Town Hall, Panchaganga Ghat, Shivaji Pool etc. are the places a tourist cannot afford to miss. .Kolhapur city is famous for Kolhapuri Chappal , Kolhapuri Lavangi Mirchi, Kolhapuri Gur(Gul), Kolhapuri Tambada & Pandara Rassa (Red & White curry), Kolhapuri Suke Mutton (Dry Meat), Kolhapuri Misal, Kolhapuri Saaj, Kolhapuri Pheta, Kohapuri Dudh Katta, Kusti (wristeling).
Kolhapur is one of the oldest civilizations of the country. Kolhapur's cultural history is dated back to 17th Century. Situated at the banks of River Panchganga, Kolhapur is called as DAKSHIN KASHI.. Kolhapur has also seen and gone under the various regimes and since the emergence of the Marathas, the place was being
ruled by the Bhonsle dynasty. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj was not among the male ancestor of this dynasty as he was born as the eldest son of Appasahed Ghatge [Chief of Kagal(Senior)] on 26th June 1874 and was named as Yashwatrao Ghatge. Those were the days around the Holi [an Indian Festival related with colour and usually celebrated in the months of March – April] in the year 1884, when Rani Shrimant Anandibai Raje Saheb decided to adopt him and made him Chhatrapati of the princely state of Kolhapur.
Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj ascended the throne of Kolhapur in 1894, bringing an end to the 50 year old regency administration. His reign of 28 years from 1894 to 1922 ushered A new era of social, cultural and economic reforms for which he is remembered as one of the greatest rulers in Maharashtra.The most benevolent and progressive rule of only 28 years from 1894 to 1922 of Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur was a distinct epoch and an important landmark in the history of modern Maharashtra as it engendered a number of socio-religious movements of a revolutionary nature like the Vedokta Movement, the Satya Shodhak Movement. These movements were mainly responsible for effecting social change on a large scale and for helping the rise of new social leadership in Maharashtra. It is pertinent to note that as Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj was the prominent central figure and the powerful moving force of these movements, he exerted tremendous influence on planning a social revival and on changing the course of social history in Maharashtra.After the Regin of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, the Bhosale Dynasty has continued on the Throne of Kolhapur. Post Independence Princely State of Kolhapur became an integral part of Union of INDIA. However the royal family is still held with High Respect amongst the people of Kolhapur. Shrimant Maharaja Shahu II Chhatrapati Maharaj ascended the royal throne on 9th May 1983 and is the current Head of Royal House.
New Palace or Shree Chhatrapati Shahu Museum
The New Palace is on the Bavada road near the Residency. The Palace is designed with an exquisite grace of outline which characterises the mixed Hindu style of architecture and is ornamented with a profusion of elaborate detail which presents itself to the utmost advantage. It designed by Charles Mant in 1881 and has an impressive marquee with filigree work in stone. A royal palace partly converted into an unforgettable museum. The building faces south and has an octagonal tower in the centre, commonly known as the clock tower. The main building is two-storeyed with a terraced roof and numerous turrets and domes. The end rooms of the Palace are octagonal in shape both in front and at back, and it has a grand Darbar hall and billiard room on one side and two reception rooms on the other. At the back is an open chauck (square) with a fountain at the centre and an enclosed verandah arcade and rooms on all sides of the chauck. The Darbar Hall is particularly grand. It has very beautiful stained windows depicting various episodes in the life of Shivaji the Great, which is the work of an Italian artist. It houses rare paintings and artifacts owned by the royal family. Other displays are weapons, swords and guns, including a sword belonging to Aurangzeb, jewellery, embroidery and clothes. The museum houses rare paintings, artifacts used by the royal family, variety of daggers, swords, pistols and Dan Patta, a type of sword. Among curious artifacts on display are sundry stuffed creatures like Leopards.
The palace has beautiful grounds and surrounded by a large lush green park. There is also a small zoo and picturesque lake specially created for this zoo.
The old palace, is still occupied by members of the Chhatrapati family. After crossing the entrance hall, inside, overlooked by the private apartments, a large courtyard contains a shrine of the family deity, Tulaja Bhavani. Among curious artifacts on display are sundry stuffed creatures like Gava ( Wild Buffalo) and Leopards. The hall also has a statue of the late Maharaja and Shri Shahu Chhatrapati.
Town Hall museum
This beautiful building is situated near the Civil Hospital on the Bhausingji Road. The building is surrounded by a beautiful garden .The garden is a really coolest spot in Kolhapur on account of the shade of many old trees and some special varieties of plants. There is a beautiful fountain in front of the building with a pool of water and marble bust of Shivaji. The Town Hall garden was constructed in 1870. The building at present houses a museum. There is a glass house and a band stand. The hall contains glass cases in which displayed various antiques found during the excavations at Brahmapuri such as earthern vessels, beads and so on. Some cases display coins of different periods. There are tamrapats also. There are many figures carved in stone found in the different parts of the city . In the southern wing there is an armory where old weapons are displayed. In the northern wing there is an Art gallery where paintings of noted local artists are displayed. There is also a small collection of busts and statues.
The Salini Palace stands on the northern bank of the Rankala lake. It is a modern construction in Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. It is a rectangular double-storeyed structure with four square towers surmounted by domes at the corners. On the front side above the main entrance another square tower rises above the corner towers. The Palace is richly decorated inside and is lavishly furnished.
A square in the heart of the town. Place for public meetings. This place is placed and fenced and has a specially built dias at one end. It has a historic background of the only remaining bastions of the old city wall and on the south is the only remaining gate viz., All major public meetings are held at this place.
To the north-west of the city, there is an extensive ghat on the Panchganga river. There are numerous temples here including some in the river itself. The biggest and best is the temple of Shivaji III. It was built in 1815 and contains some beautiful carvings. It is, however, an ill-assorted combination of large Muslim Hall and a lofty Hindu spire covered with stucco formed into mouldings and with a few ornaments. The ghat consists of long stone flights of steps reaching down to the river. The ghat is used for bathing and washing.
Rankala lake is a famous spot for residents of Kolhapur to spend the weekends. Rankala Lake is a beautiful lake in the Kolhapur. Rankala is perhaps the most popular. It is a place where people throng in the evening for a stroll. It is sometimes referred to as the mackbay or Marine Drive of Kolhapur. It is surrounded by chowpati, other gardens and pathway. The area surrounding the lake has been converted into a garden where people sell Bhel-Puri, Ragda Patis and various mouth-watering snacks like roasted corns etc. Kolhapur Municipal corporation has built "Padpath Udyan" for a lakeside walk.
Kolhapur as a Military Centre
Kolhapur has been a military centre since old days. The Chatrapati had his own army before the British came. The British maintained their infantry and it was quartered at Infantry Lines near Line Bazar, but when the British units withdrew and the Maharaja was allowed to have his own army, the 'Raiaram Rifles' were formed. They were quartered in barracks specially built on a hillock near the 'Tramboli Hill'. This continued to be the head quarters of the 'Raiaram Rifles' until the merger of the 'Kolhapur State' when this infantry was disbanded. Now a 'Territorial Army Artillery' unit is stationed at Kolhapur and it uses the barracks built for the 'Rajaram Rifles'.
Shivaji University, established in 1962, is named after the Great Maratha Warrior and founder of the Maratha empire Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It was inaugurated on 18th November, 1962 by Dr. Radhakrishnan, the then President of India. One of the major objectives behind foundation of this University was to cater to the regional needs of South Maharashtra. The jurisdiction of the University is spread over three districts viz. Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara. This region of Maharashtra boasts of rich and varied socio-cultural heritage. Under the innovative and socially reformist leadership of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, the princely ruler of Kolhapur, the city had become at the beginning of this century, a focal point of educational opportunities for all classes and communities of South-Western Maharashtra, and northern parts of neighbouring Karnataka
Kolhapuri Kusti (Wrestling)
'Kusti' wrestling is a very popular game in Kolhapur and wrestlers of Kolhapur are famous around the world. Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaja, being himself a good wrestler was constructed the 'Khasbaug Maidan' in Kolhapur. 'Khasbaug Maidan' is unique in India. Over 60000 people can see the 'Kusti' at the central 'Houda' clearly without any disturbance. It is a circular open place with a pavilion at one end and circular sloping ground all round. The ring is in the middle. The arena is now owned by Government and has been leased out to the Kolhapur Sports Association which arranges wrestling bouts periodically.
Young rural boys enroll in wrestling arena. They are trained by Masters which are called as 'Vastad'. There is a great convention of this wrestling arena. More than 40 wrestling arenas called as 'Talims' are functioning in the city. Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaja of Kolhapur gave patronship to many such institutions. Now a day many of these training activities are growing up. State government has also given a wider scope to these activities. Some sugar factories are also provided help for wrestlers by giving them honorarium & offer scholarships. A Government aided wrestling training camp is also situated at Kolhapur. Corporate sector and charitable trusts and some noble persons offer scholarships for wrestlers and the training activities. Various competitions are conducted every year in which the wrestlers participate and win huge sum of money, name & fame for the 'Talim' they belong to. Khasbhag Maidan of Kolhapur is famous for hosting such 'Kusti Matches' at home, district and zonal level as well. This ancient sport is still preserved in heart of Kolhapur.
Kolhapuri Chappals are world famous. There are three major varieties of Kolhapuri Chappals 1) Kolhapuri 2) Kapashi 3) Dongari. First type of chappals is made in Kolhapur. These chapppals are made from processed leather. For thisBuffalo leather is used. These chappals are stout, sturdy, day long usable. These chappals are very popular in near rural areas. A leather foot-wear made out of specially chrome tanned leather, its straps made with minutely woven leather threads, decorated with beautiful tassels made out of leather and some coloured artific threads, easy to wear, light and leasureous in wearing this foot- wear are world famous. Some other qualities of Kolhapuri chappals are also available, but these are fashionable varieties. Upper part of shoe is made by attractive processed leather. But lower part i.e. sole is made from rubber sheets. This type of chappal is given to customers as Kolhapuri chappals is not actual Kolhapuri chappal.
Kolhapur is known for its art and handicrafts. One of its sovereign gift to the world is spotless Kolhapuri Chappals (Slippers), which are manufactured by skilled and subtle persons who live only on art. Any creation of these artisans turns into exceptional and captivating product. Their devotion and hard work made this handicraft recognized by whole world and each Chappal produced is the replica of their mind and culture.
Kolhapuri chappal are durable, smooth to use and sober in colours. It made form 100% Buffalow or Cow calf leathers. It also available in all sizes and three colours oil, natural and polish. Free from all allergic properties. So light, so soft, so silky, so trim , that you will want to wear them anywhere. Special leather hand stitching and handmade punching. It enhances the beauty of your feet by means of highly elaborated designs. It will protect your feet and will provide relief instead of scatheing. Decent dexterity and elegant look of the work on the leather has made it one of the best.
Kolhapuri Pheta and Kolhapuri Saaj
Pheta is a specialty in Kolhapur. Wearing a Pheta is high respect. It is a customary honor to guest who comes from other place is welcomed by the offering him to wear the traditional Pheta. The Pheta is a cloth off 3.5 to 6 meters long and 1 meters wide cotton or silk cloth. It is the specific Saffron color is most choice for Kolhapuri Pheta. Except this many other varieties are also. Some of lined varieties of the Pheta called as Lahiri Pheta. In previous period it was customary. Forefathers from many families where using Pheta in their costume. And it was a part of the Male costume. Wearing Pheta is an art. Pheta It is folded in six or seven folds in width after which an end of one-fourth meter is given as tail which is known as Shemala. The Pheta is wrapped on Head with a special style. Last tend of Pheta is portion of Michael.
Saaj is a special type of neckless which is very famous with Maharastrain women. The Kolhapuri Saaj is famous ornament worn by Kolhapuri women since long. Kolhapuri Saaj is the artistically made jewellery due to its specific design and pattern looks tremendously beautiful which odds the glory to the person wearing it. The saaj is designed in all over Maharashtra but the Kolhapuri Saaj is very famous. The Jewelers at Gujri Market design and make these ornament.
The hot and Spicy Kolhapuri Misal is one of the famous and deliceous dishes ofKolhapur. This delicious dish is not a snack but a medium diet. For preparation of the dish Moog or Mataki (a mixture of different beans) & confectonery items like Chivada, Shev,Papadi & Gaathiya are the indigents of the dish. A thin spicy soup or curry covers for all confectionary items. For making it tasty ginger, garlic, mint is also used. Some chopped onion, coriander along with lime makes this dish even more mouth-watering. This dish is accompanied by a slice of bread. Tasting it with the bread and enjoying the 'kat' (Curry) is a craze in Kolhapur. In Kolhapurcity in every hotel this dish is available but a few places in city are renowned.
Kolhapuri Non Veg. Tambada / Pandra Rassa
Kolhapur has some good traditional Non-Veg dishes which are tasty and delightful prepared from 'Mutton' (goat meat). Tambada Rassa' is a curry prepared by using red chilly powder to make it appear 'Tambada' redish. A soup like dish of water used to boil the 'Mutton' along with spices as coriander, ginger, garlic & red chilly powder. 'Tambada Rassa' is more famous in the rural area of Kolhapur. 'Tambada Rassa is generally spicy and too hot for drinking.
'Pandra Rassa' white curry, is a soup like dish water used to boil the 'Mutton' along with spices such as ginger, garlic & cordiander etc. In Kolhapur 'pandra Rassa' prepared by using white coconut milk and hot spices without chilly. 'Pandra Rassa' can be brank without any troubles.
'Tambada Rassa' and 'Pandra Rassa' a produce of Kolhapur is famour in non vegeterians. In Kolhapuri Taat 'Roasted Mutton' is a special variety of non-veg dish which is extensively prepared at Kolhapur. The special recipe of this 'Mutton' makes it a unique dish attributed to Kolhapur. Kheema Balls or Pulav Balls Rice are used in preparing a special dish known as 'Golyachi Biryani'. These various dishes along with 'Bhakari' or 'Chapaati' are the main manu of Kolhapuri Taat. In Kolhapur city in every hotel this dish is available but a few places in city are renowned.
Kolhapuri Gud (Gul) Jaggary
Kolhapur district has been producing sugarcane and jaggery (gul) since long. Jaggery is sold by brokers on behalf of agriculturists and is bought by traders who sold it to Bombay, Gujarat, Karnatak and other parts of India. It is also exported to Africa, Malaya and other countries. While preparing jaggery, the coloured impurity is easily removed to maximum extent. The traditional jaggery blenders are specialized in the blending it to light red-brown colour as required. This light coloured and rich in sweetness jaggery is very famous. The place where jaggery is made is called Gurahla.
Kolhapur has given a numerous artists to film Industry. Like Bhalji Pendharkar, Baburao Painter,V.Shantaram, Suryakant Mandare, Chandrakant Mandare, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosale, Suresh Wadkar, Arun Sarnaik. The city has 14 Cinema Theaters and two Drama Theaters.
Famous personalities from Kolhapur
- Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaja
- Bhalji Pendharkar, Father of Indian film industry
- Baburao Painter, (Baburao Krishnarao Mestri), Well known Director
- V. Shantaram, Marathi & Hindi movie producer & director
- Suryakant Mandare, Marathi movie actor
- Chandrakant Mandare, Marathi movie actor
- Lata Mangeshkar, Well known Indian singer
- Asha Bhonsle, noted Indian singer and sister of Lata Mangeshkar
- Suresh Wadkar, noted Indian singer
- Arun Sarniak, Marath movie actor
- Khashba Jadhav, Wrestler India's first individual Olympic medalist won the wrestling bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki Games
- Shreepati Khanchnale, First Hind kesari
- Dadu Chougule, Hind kesari
- Vinod Chougule, Maharashtra kesari
- Jayant Narlikar, Astrophysicits
- Dr. vasant Gowarikar, Scientist
- Ranjit Desai, Marathi author (Sriman Yogi, Swami)
- Shivaji Sawant, Marathi author (Mruthunjay)