The historic and sacred city of Kolhapur is home to a famed temple, dedicated to the Goddess Mahalakshmi. The Mahalakshmi temple Kolhapur has the distinction of being a Hindu as well as a Jain temple. With a rich mythological history, this ancient temple is a must visit for all devotees going on a pilgrimage in Maharashtra.
The Mahalakshmi Temple Kolhapur History
The Mahalakshmi temple Kolhapur has a vast history and dates back to the 7th century. The rulers of the Chalukya dynasty first built this temple. Over the course of time, rulers from various other dynasties such as the Shilahar, Yadavs and Sind, and the Konkan king Kamadeo expanded the temple. According to historical evidence, King Kamadeo had cleared the jungle to reveal the temple. The temple sank as a result of an earthquake in the 8th century. In the 9th century, King Gandavadiksh built the Mahakali mandir as part of the temple’s expansion.
The Jain Shilahara rulers built the Maha Saraswati mandir. They also carved and installed 64 idols. During the reign of the Maratha empire, this temple underwent several repairs. Sambhaji found the temple’s missing idols.
Mythology Of The Temple
There is a connection between the temple’s mythology and the history of Kolhapur and its etymology. According to popular belief, the three forms of Shakti- Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Maha Saraswati are present in Kolhapur as this is the most divine and prosperous place. The story goes that Lord Brahma had three sons- Gay, Lavan and Kolhasur. Gay passed away in Gaya and Lavan passed away in Vidarbh near lake Lonar. However, Kolhasur went to Rakshalaya (Kolhapur) to destroy the demon Keshi. Kolhasur won this battle and thereafter ruled the region.
However, his four sons wreaked havoc on the people and tormented them, which led to Lord Shankar killing them in retaliation. Upon hearing news of his sons’ deaths, Kolhasur who was living as an ascetic in the forest returned. He prayed to Goddess Mahalakshmi and asked her to leave his region for 100 years. She granted him this boon and left the region. In those 100 years, Kolhasru repeated his sons’ actions, causing pain to the people. All the gods appealed to Goddess Mahalakshmi to put an end to Kolhasur’s troubles.
After 100 years had passed, there was a great battle between the gods and Kolhasur. Impressed with Kolhasur’s fighting skills, Lord Shankar granted him a boon. Kolhasur wished to be killed by Goddess Mahalakshmi in her avatar with 18 hands. After the fulfilment of this wish, Kolhasur asked for three dying wishes. Firstly, he wanted the Rakshalaya region to be named after him. Secondly, Kolhapur should become a holy place. Lastly, he should be offered a pumpkin every year.
Accordingly, Kolhapur was named after him and is one of the holiest places. Every year on
Ashwin Shuddha Panchami, a pumpkin is offered. The pumpkin represents Kolhasur.
The Temple’s Architecture
The temple has 7 main portions. The main temple houses the sanctum sanctorum of Goddess Mahalakshmi. Other gods have separate shrines dedicated to them. They are Goddess Saraswati, Mahakali, Lord Shiva, Vishnu and the Navagrahas. There are also 3 mandap areas – for Lord Ganesha, Lord Garuda and the Madhya mandap. The sun’s rays fall directly on the main idol twice a year, i.e., January-February and November.
Goddess Mahalakshmi’s idol made of black stone holds a citrus fruit, the mace of Lord Vishnu, a shield and a bowl in her four hands. The temple’s structure and the ornately jewelled deity can be seen in the Mahalakshmi temple Kolhapur images.
Important Rituals And Festivals At Sri Mahalakshmi Kolhapur
The Mahalakshmi temple opens at 4:00 am everyday; shortly followed by the padhyapooja and kakadarti. At 9:00 am the first mahabhisheka and aarti takes place followed by offering of shankatirth. This is repeated at 12:00 am along with an offering of maha neivaidya (holy food) and salankrut pooja (decorating of deity’s idol). At night, the devotees witness the repetition of the rituals, followed by the removal of the salankrut pooja ornaments. Sejarati and tirth offering takes place before the temple closes.
The devotees also witness the celebration of other festivals at this temple. The Navratri festival celebrations go on for ten days during which there are processions and rituals. The 5th, 8th and the 9th days of this festival are very auspicious and have special rituals along with the regular ones.
Every Friday, there is a palanquin procession (Palakhee Sohala) of Mahalakshmi in the temple. Also, every year there is a chariot festival called Rathotsav. A chariot made from silver (donated by devotees) takes the Goddess’ idol on a procession.
Mahalakshmi temple Kolhapur live darshan is accessible on the temple’s official website at www.mahalaxmikolhapur.com.
How To Reach Mahalakshmi Temple of Kolhapur
One can reach Kolhapur via road, railways as well as by air transport. Trains from the Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Terminus connected Kolhapur to major cities. Kolhapur also has a domestic airport known as Chhatrapti Rajaram Maharaj Airport. You can avail state transport buses from the Central Bus Stand, Rankala Bus Stand and Sambhajinagar Bus Stand.