Kolhapur Katha

The year 2019 for me did not see much of travel, owing to family commitments. However, I did get to unexpectedly visit some places that have been on my list of places to visit since a long time. One such place is the Mahalakshmi Temple at Kolhapur.
Inner walls of the fort
For a very long time, this temple had been there on my mind, more so after learning the story behind why Goddess Mahalakshmi resides here. The temple lies in the heart of Kolhapur city, within the rumbling walls of a fortress. The traffic outside and the parking area is pure chaos, and could be better managed.
We reach quite early and hence the rush is less than expected. Also, the May heat is already beginning to bite, but the authorities are thoughtful enough to put up some shelters. We realise we have underestimated the queue. Once we enter the temple premises, we realise the queue is serpentine. 
The first view of the temple amazes me. It's a very old temple, right from the 12th century! Photography being prohibited, not many pictures are available online. It was first built in the Chalukya period (7th century), and subsequently had suffered due to natural calamities. And as expected, attacks of the invaders have left their ugly marks on the temple walls. The idol was even hidden away to avoid desecration by fanatic invaders. Sad.
 A variety of people are waiting for darshan, from very simple and village folk to seemingly posh city folks. The queue moves at a very very slow pace. And finally we enter.
What a sight. She radiates energy. She radiates power. She radiates wisdom. The serene expression on her face is something that will stay with me, always. She is Ma Shakti. I'm so mesmerised by her beauty, I forget to pray. We are lucky that an Aarti is going on, and we get held up in the sanctum for a considerably long time. Blessed.
(Below are some pictures sourced from Temple Connect page on FB)
(Follow this link to read the Goddess' connection to Lord Balaji of Tirumala, and why people visit Kolhapur after Tirupati visit, to complete the circuit.)

Once we come out, we spend a short time looking around, but the sun is now directly overhead burning down our necks. The surroundings are worth a look, as some of the buildings seem to be quite old. I'm tempted to buy some imitation jewellery in typical Maharashtrian designs (saaj, etc.) but Dad has no patience. However, I do manage to buy some masalas! 
We end the day's trip with a heavy lunch of bhakris, super soft phulkas, thambda rasa and pandara rasa!


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