Kolhapur is around 10 hours distance from Bangalore, Mahalakshmi Temple is one among the shaktipeetas, a divine destination in India.
We were planning t visit Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple for a long time and finally one fine day of November, we started our journey towards Kolhapur. We planned for one-day drip, leave from Bangalore on Saturday night, visit the temple, and back to Bangalore on Sunday night.
We always opt for KSRTC bus services. Moreover, these days as we get to hear many fire accidents in the private bus services, it is on a safer side to travel in government transport services. We were supposed to board the bus at 08:30 PM, and we reached bus stop well in advance by 08:00 PM. This year Bangalore witnessed high November rains and it was raining on that day too. Bus arrived before time, we boarded the bus, we were anxious as what time the bus would reach Kolhapur. When I asked the Driver, he was a bit irate and the conductor responded that we would reach safe no matter what time. 😀 Anyways, we reached Kolhapur at 08:00 AM. Yes, we reached late, as it was raining heavily, it took time for us to leave Bangalore.
Kolhapur city to Mahalakshmi Temple:
As we got down from the Kolhapur bus stop, few agents started lingering around us, asking if we looking for taxi, rooms, breakfast, what not… We avoided all of them, and walked towards the city bus stop. We waited there for some time and dint find any buses which goes to Mahalakshmi Temple. So we enquired with one of the localite and got to know there is no bus which goes to Mahalakshmi Temple, but we can go through some route buses which goes via Mahalakshmi Temple road. We caught one such bus, in just 5 minutes we reached our destination, as suggested we got down near the Shivaji Statue stop.
When we got down, on the opposite side of the road we saw a fort wall. We walked past the Fort walls; it was around 5 to 10 minutes walk towards the temple and it was a refreshing walk. On either side of the road, there were shops, which was not yet opened for the day, people were cleaning, and they were sweeping even the roads too. I liked the way people considered cleaning their surroundings.
As we reached the temple premises, there was another agent lingering around us. At last, we thought we will take his help and we knew it was a bad idea. Anyways, we dint have enough time, so went for his OFFER. The place which the agent took us, was very shabby looked us not cleaned since the time they started the place. We just wanted to refresh, keep our luggage for some time. We refreshed and headed towards the temple.
It always better to take the darshan as early as possible. Reason, the temple would not be crowded as much it will be during the later time of the day. We did the same thing. We took the pooja thali and a Sari for the Goddess Lakshmi. As we were not supposed to carry and camera or backpacks inside the temple, we left the bag along with the camera with the vendor who was selling pooja materials (Out of trust). We left our sandals at the footwear counter, walked through the security. There was different queue system for male and female. The male queue was bigger than the female queue. 😛 With devotion, we joined the queue, while walking in the queue we got time to admire the temple architecture. Salute to the creators of 18th century, and thanks for people for conserving what our ancestors have created. Sad, we do not get to witness such artistic work these days.
We got a peaceful darshan, when we came out we were surprised to see the crowd as it was an auspicious day; it was a full moon day of auspicious Karthika month. Luckily, we reached the temple at the right time and got a quick darshan.
We had our breakfast at one of the hotels near the temple, which was not that great. We wanted to explore the city in the few hours we had, before leaving to Bangalore. We knew there is a place around Kolhapur, Jyotiba, which is an hour’s distance on a hilltop. We thought we would explore the city first and then plan to visit Jyotiba if we were left with some time. In our list, we had buying authentic Kolhapuri sandals, masala, and so on…
Kolhapur is very famous for its leather sandals, very prominently known as Kolhapuri Sandals. We asked one of the local about where we get these sandals. If you look around, everywhere in the city, you will find these shops but we wanted to explore that street where you find array of these shops. We found this street, which is near the Shivaji statue. I got a sandal, which was authentic and I was very happy with what I got.
Kolhapur is known for its spicy cuisine. Padma Guest House is one such place where you get authentic Kolhapuri cuisine. The authentic Mutton curry, the chicken-mutton stalks which is prominently called Pandra rassa (white soup) and Tamda rassa (red soup). When we went to Padma Guest House, we were on waiting, when we got our table. We ordered for the Mutton, chicken thali, and the food was mind blowing. The Pandra rassa and the mutton curry, was awesome, mind-blowing. This place is recommended, Thumbs UP!
You get variety of Kolhapuri masala’s in the shops in Market. Especially on Sunday, there will be Sunday Market, where you get unadulterated masala. Kolhapuri Masala is a must buy, if you like spice.
The lake is around 10 minutes drive from the Mahalakshmi Temple. We had little time before leaving Kolhapur. Rankala Lake is a very peaceful lake, most important, it is huge, unpolluted, and protected lake. I liked the feel at the Lake, serene and peaceful. I could connect with myself, sitting there, watching the people around, the cool evening breeze, the ripples on the lake, birds flying back home, watching sun setting, and so on. 🙂
Way back to Bangalore:
I like the city and we were back with good memories. The choice we had for the return journey was not that great. We booked the 06:00 PM KSRTC service, which was a not good choice. First thing, there is no information about this bus when we checked at the enquiry counter inside the bus stop. When we got the bus details, I called the conductor and he says that the bus is outside the bus stop. We came outside the bus stop; still we did not see any bus. Again, on calling the Conductor, he’s not even clear in directing us towards the bus, after roaming here and there we finally found the bus near the circle.
We boarded the bus, seated and the bus started, after some time; we see the bus stopping and filling passengers from stop to stop. We felt like we were traveling in a Sarige bus and not Volvo service. Moreover, I got very irritated when the bus halted for dinner at a very worst bus stop, that too at 11:30 night. KSRTC never does this; it always halts for refreshment at a hygienic place. My honest suggestion is, do not opt for 06:30 PM service if you opt for KSRTC.