Whenever you think of Kolhapur, the first two things that come to your mind are spicy food and leather accessories. Well, I used to think the same for many years. After the lockdown was lifted, I wanted to travel somewhere. But when traveling outside the state became a challenge, I needed good alternatives. My sister, who was staying with me through the lockdown suggested why don’t we go to Kolhapur? It’s not far from Pune where we live, and it would be a refreshing change. After a little research, we found out very interesting alternatives.
Beyond cuisine, leather craft and its famous footwear, the ancient town of Kolhapur is also known for its rich heritage of art, architecture, and culture, something I looked forward to.
We managed to book a safe and sanitized Pune to Kolhapur cab. We both were really glad that the cab service ensured all safety measures and kept sanitation level to the best. That’s a must at this point. It was only a four-hour drive through Satara. And with tourism traffic being at its lowest at this time, we, in fact, reached earlier than expected.
On the way we wanted to stop at the Kaneri Math – an open-air museum sort of with models of rustic Maharashtrian depicted through wax figures of people, houses, farmlands, etc. But sadly it was closed. I remember visiting this with our family as a kid once or twice.
Nevertheless, we headed to the Panhala Fort. For those who aren’t aware, there are four popular forts in Kolhapur – Panhala, Prachitgad, Teen Darwaza, and Pratapgarh. A couple of them are in Sangli and in Karad, which are all within 100 km from the town. All these structures hold the legacy of Maratha history and portray the art and culture of ancient times.
The Panhala Fort sits on a mountain ridge, overlooking the Sahyadri Range on one side and the mountain pass on the other. It was quite a trek up the hills to catch the vantage point and enjoy the rain-soaked views. Unexpectedly, we found only a few stray tourists, around the fort area, so no risk of being in close contact.
Because we had the car with us, it was easy to move around. The cabbie said we could go to the Kopeshwar Temple if we wanted. Surprisingly, there was not a single visitor there when we reached. The structure is an epitome of ancient Maratha architecture and probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in Kolhapur. The giant pillars with engraved figures and stone statues on the premise made me forget that I was living in a pandemic period in the 21st century.
We didn’t want to stay back, so we could manage to cover only a few places that day. And yet, it felt like a good change from the same wake up-work-eat-sleep routine. Had the current times not been the way they turned out, I would have never known of the artistic side to Kolhapur.