(Last Updated on : 23/01/2009)
Bhavani Mandap is located near the famous and mammoth Mahalakshmi Temple on the west. It is a temple of Goddess Tulija Bhavani (also known as Bhavani) who, according to mythology is the guest sister in her elder sister Mahalakshmi's city Kolhapur. Bhavani Mandap was an important meeting venue in the yesteryears, housing the offices of various court officials and the centre of many celebrations. It also witnessed a famous murder in its central courtyard. Controversy surrounds around the Bhavani idol worshipped at the temple.
The Kolhapur city claims that it is the very statue that Shivaji Maharaj used to pray, rescued from Tulijapur during the siege by Aurangzeb. However, the clergies of Tulijapur do not agree with the statement and say that the idol is genuine. Like most other buildings, Bhavani Mandap has its own share of rumors and myths related to it. It is said that there is an underground tunnel leading to Bhavani Mandap from Panhala, the hillside fort about 20 km away from Kolhapurm built as an escape route, for the warring Maratha soldiers. However, attempts have never been made to discover the tunnel.
When Kolhapur became self-governed, the temple was built. The temple is quite intelligently constructed with 14 squares. In about 1813, The Muslim knight Sadakan invaded the palace and parts of the temple were burnt. After careful repairs, only 7 squares survived. At the centre there is the temple of Kulswamini Tulja Bhavani. History speaks that Shambhu alias, Abasaheb Maharaj was killed in this very Mandap, and therefore a body-built statue stands nearby to commemorate Shahu Maharaj.
A stuffed tiger and buffalo are kept in his memory of his hunting. Opposite to Bhavani temple is a grand hall-pendal that was erected in 1918 AD when Shreemant Akkasaheb Maharaj, daughter of Shahu Maharaj was married. Further in 1926-30 Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj gave a new look to it. Taking away the original wooden arches, the hall was rebuild tall and splendid. Within the compound walls of the mandap, Motibag Gymnasium, Rajwada Police Station, Maharashtra Battalion is working on a marvellous entrance gate.