Mahalakshmi Temple is situated on the outskirts of Kolhapur
city in Maharashtra
. This ancient temple is dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi
, the goddess of prosperity. She is also referred to as Amba Bai by the local population. Other deities enshrined in the temple complex include Kashi Vishweshwar, Lord Kartikeya
, Sheshashayi, Lord Ganesh
, Goddess Saraswati
, Goddess Kali
, Shri Dutta and Lord Ram
. This place of worship, which received the patronage and veneration of numerous royal families of yore, is a major attraction.
Mahalakshmi Temple was built during the 7th century by the erstwhile ruler named Karandev, who belonged to the Chalukya dynasty. Later additions to the building were made in the 9th century by the members of a clan called Shilahara Yadav. The architecture conforms to a style called ‘Hemandpanthi’. It has a total of 5 towers. There is a large hall, called ‘Garud-Pendal,’ attached to the main complex. The complex features some of the finest carvings and sculptures.
Apart from the majestic complex and exquisite artistry of the temple, the idol of the goddess enshrined inside deserves special mention. It is a very ancient one, dating back 5-6 thousand years. Weighing 40 kg, this idol is not carved in the usual manner. It is a natural monolithic structure embedded with uncut diamonds and precious stones. The antique nature and uniqueness of the idol is the major reason for the heavy influx of devotees. The idol stands on a square shaped stone, giving it a resemblance of a Shivling. The goddess has 4 hands. The upper arms hold a cane sword and shield, while the lower right arm bears a fruit named ‘mhalung’ and the left holds a dish containing betel-leaves. The head is adorned with a crown. ‘Sheshani’, a majestic hood of a mythological cobra belonging to Lord Vishnu, looms over the head of the goddess. There is a statue of a lion behind it, with a natural formation resembling a ‘Padma-ragini’ (lotus) in between.
The daily rituals and worship start in the early morning at 04:30 hrs and continue till 10:00 hrs. A host of rich offerings are made to the goddess amidst chants from various ancient scriptures. The temple is known for a special festival called ‘
Kirnotsav’ (festival of rays) celebrated from 31st January to 2nd February and again from 9th to 11th November. Other festivals include the Chaitra Poornima and Navaratri. Regular concerts, featuring some of the finest artists in the field of music, are held during the festivals.
Kolhapur is on the Bangalore-Pune highway. Kolhapur Airport and
Kolhapur Railway Station are the nearby access points.