Kolhapur, Maharashtra (20 km)
Kolhapur owes everything to Shahuji Maharaj, the man behind the altering topography of the rather bland region. It predominates as a religious place in Maharashtra, with venerations being offered in loads. However, Kolhapur now is a thriving place, celebrated for its leather chappals and other varied leather items.
Now a big, thriving city, Kolhapur's conversion began during Shahu Maharaj's sovereignty (1884-1922). Popular as 'Dakshin Kashi', exclusively because of the Mahalaxmi Temple, which houses an exquisite 40-kg idol of Goddess Laxmi embellished with valued stones, Kolhapur is at the heartland of Maratha culture.
Like Panhala, Kolhapur's colourful ancestors are intimately associated with Shivaji's clan. It is thus advised not to fail to visit the stunning Indo-Saracenic residence of Shivaji's descendants, the New Palace, which houses the Shahuji Chhatrapati Museum. Erected between 1877 and 1884, the widespread premises have a picturesque garden and a lake for sambar and chital. The Darbar Hall houses the beautiful stained-glass panels, detailing significant events from Shivaji's life. The museum owns sculptures, filigree work in sandalwood, ivory and old coins, among other things.
Timings for every visitor is between 9.30 a.m. -1 p.m. and then again between 2.15 p.m. -6 p.m. The museum stays open everyday.
Kolhapur, as is known, is legendary for its leather slippers, the Kolhapuris, but it is advised to also spare some time also for those bedazzling cotton or silk Nawari saris (two colours woven together with a thin border and a narrow pallu) and the Kolhapuri jewellery, embossed gold with stones and soft filigree threads.
In case one decides to stay in Kolhapur, Hotel Shalini Palace, the summer palace of the Kolhapur royalty is the most premier choice to spend in luxury. It is situated on the west bank of the picturesque Ranakala Lake. Opulent ornamental wooden doors, fitted with engraved Belgium glass bearing the crest of the Maharaja of Kolhapur, add to its splendour. The black stone arches forming the verandah and the porch are also dainty. Another option is the centrally located Victor Palace, near to the bus and rail stations, which has a swimming pool, a 24-hour poolside coffee shop, and sumptuous Kolhapuri food on offer.
Bahubali of Kumbhojgiri (47 km)
Approximately 27 km to the south of Kolhapur lies this holy place, venerated by Hindus and Jains, who come here to pay their homages to the 28-ft high marble statue of Bahubali. Taxi rides are available to reach the shrine.