Tulja Bhavani

Tulja Bhavani Temple – Ferocious Goddess Parvati

Tulja Bhavani Temple is a Hindu Temple which is situated in the hills of “Bala Ghat” in Osmanabad district in Maharashtra. Earlier Tuljapur was known as Chinchpur. This temple worships Goddess Bhavani which is a ferocious form of Goddess Parvati. The word Bhavani means “life giver”. Apart from being a ferocious form of Goddess Parvati, she is also known as Karunaswaroopi which means “filled with mercy”. Tulja Bhavani Temple is located approximately 45km from Solapur which is located in Maharashtra.

There are three Tulja Bhavani Temples located in India. It is said that the first temple was built in Tulja in the 12th century. The second and the third temples were built in 1537-1543 CE in Chittorgarh and Patnakuva Gandhinagar respectively. Tulja Bhavani of Tuljapur stands second among the Shakti Pithas. Lord Tuljabhavani is considered as family deity of many families like Bhosale Royal Family, the Yadavs and many more belonging to different castes all over India.

It is believed that Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of Maratha Kingdom always seeked her blessings as a result of which she gave him “the Bhawani Sword” for success in his quest.

tulja bhavani

History and legend of Tulja Bhavani Temple

  • The history of Tulja Bhavani Temple can be found in the Skand Puran. The story says that there was a knowledgeable man known as Kardabh. Afer his death his wife Anubhuti performed a penace at the banks of river Mandakini.
  • Anubhuti performed this ritual so that Goddess Bhavani could look after her infant child. While she was performing the ritual, a demon known as Kukur tried disturbing her. Mata bhavani came to her rescue and killed the demon. Since then Mata Bhavani is known as Tulja Bhavani.
  • During the 1920s, there were around 5000 people that lived in Tuljapur. The place where this incident took place is now known as Tuljapur. Mata Bhavani’s idol is known as “Swayambhu” idol
  • This Goddess is worshiped in a granite image which is 3 feet high. She has eight arms and each holding weapons and bearing the head of the demon Mahishasura. Her other names are Tulaja, Turaja, Tvarita, and Amba.
  • It is also said that a demon named Matanga created destruction upon devas and humans who went to Brahma for help. On Brahma’s advice, they went to Goddess Shakti after which she took the form of destroyer and killed him bringing back peace in the reign. She was powered by other seven goddesses also known as Sapta Maataas. They included Varaahi, Brahmi, Vaishnavi, Kaumaari, Indraani and Saambhavi.
  • Legend also potrayed that the Goddess killed the demon named Mahishasura who was disguised as a wild buffalo and, therefore, she is also named as Mahishasura Mardhini which means “Murderess of Mahishasura”.

Significance of the Tulja Bhavani Temple

  • Tulja Bhavani Temple’s entrance is known as Sardar Nimbalkar. The next two entrances are named after Shivaji Maharaj’s parents, Raja Shahji and Rajmata Jijaju respectively. Upon entering the main enterance, we can find a temple dedicated to Markandeya Rishi. This temple is found on the right side of the main enterance. After coming down the stairs one can see the main temple, the Tulja Temple.
  • Infront of the temple, there is a Holy fire pit located. Raja Shahaji Mahadwar and Rajmata Jijavu Mahadwar has two libraries named Shree Dnyaneshwar Dharmik library and Shree Tukaram Dharmik library.
  • After descending from the stairs one can see “Gomukh Theerth” and “Kalakh” on the right and left side respectively. Kalakh is also known as “Kallol Theerth”. The devotees first take a holy dip in these shallow tanks of holy water known as Theerth.
  • We can find many other temples in the premises like Amruth Kund and Datta Temple. We can also find Siddhi Vinayak Temple on the left side of the main entrance and Aadishakti and Aadimata Matangadevi temple on the right. Goddess Annapurna temple is also located on the premises.

Tulja Bhavani Temple Timings

  • Before the morning prayer, a large drum is played loudly to call all the devotees for prayers. This drum is played in the drum house of Tulja Bhavani temple at 5 a.m. The drum is played three times in a day.
  • At 5:30 am the prayer is performed by the Mahant. Tukoji Bua is the present Mahant of Tulja Bhavani Temple.There is a presence of the Karvir Princely state durng the Charantirtha Puja.
  • The Mahanta first washes Idol’s mouth and feet from hot water, aromatic oil, dudhkhir, and pan. After which all the devotees sing the holy songs know as Arti.
  • After Arti, the Goddess is offered Nevaidya of Bhaji Bhakri. This Nevaidya is offered by the descent represenattive of the devotee, Uparkar. Later Nevaidya of kheer is offered by the representative of the former princely state Karvir.
  • At 9 am, the Goddess is bathed with Panchamrut and curd. Goddess is also offered honey, sugar, and banana. After this Goddess is bathed in Gomukh water. Devotees also bathe the holy throne of Goddess by mango, sreekhand, and curd. After the bath, big holy meal known as Mahanevaidya is offered to the Goddess.
  • At noon, the devotees again sing Arti and lights Dhup and Camphor.
  • At 6 pm Goddess is again bathed and pooja is offered. This time, all the arrangements are done by Karvir.
  • At night, the holy water from Gomukh and Nevaidya of Ghee and cooked rice is offered. This ritual is known as Prakkshal.
  • Musical instruments like tal, zanj, and dimdi are played in every Arti.

Festivals celebrated at the Tulja Bhavani Temple

  • Tuljapur Bhavani Festival– This festival is celebrated for four days and four nights. Devotees pray and worship Goddess throughout the festival. Tulja Bhavani festival is celebrated twice in a year. This festival includes rituals like Sasthi, Bhavani Ashthami. On Bhavani Ashthami, the devotees fast until they offer flowers to the deity. On the next day, girls who have not reached puberty yet are fed and offered presents. These girls are represented as the young form of the Goddess. The last of this festival is known as Vijaydashmi. On this day, the Goddess is carried to the river and immersed in the water. There is a distribution of sweets and the devotees enjoy that this festival will again be celebrated next year. This festival is known as Durga Puja in West Bengal and is celebrated almost same. This festival symbolizes win of good over evils. This festival is also known as Navratri.
  • Ganesh Chaturthi- Ganesh Chaurthi is another very important and famous festival. This festival is celebrated with great pomp and show in the town of Tuljapur. This festival is held in the months of August and September. This festival is celebrated in the honor of Lord Ganesha. Ganesh Chatirthi is traditionally celebrated on Shukla Chaturthi in the months of Bhaadrapada according to the Hindu calender.
  • Diwali– Diwali is one of the important festivals of Hindus. This festival is celebrated in the months of October and November and is also known as “Festival of Lights”. People of Tuljapur celebrate this festival with great pomp and show. During this festival, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are worshipped.
  • Holi- Holi is another imporatnt festival for the natives of Tuljapur. This is a “Festival of Colors”. This festival is celebrated with great pomp and show in India. This festival charges the atmosphere. Holi celebration is started by Holika Dahan where people gather and sing and dance.

 How to reach: Road, Rail, and Air

  • By Air- Tulja Bhavani Temple has its nearest airport in Osmanabad which is approximately 15km away from the temple.
  • By Train- There is no railway station in Tuljapur so the nearest option is Osmanabad.
  • By Bus– One can easily get buses to Tuljapur from various cities in the country.

 Mumbai to Tuljapur

  • By Air– There is no direct flight service from Mumbai. The aerial distance from Mumbai to Tuljapur is 354km. To go to Tuljapur from Mumbai you can take a flight from Air India till Hyderabad and then reach Tuljapur by taking Indica.
  • By Train– There is no direct connectivity through the train as well. You can reach Osmanabad from the train and then reach Tuljapur hiring a taxi.
  • By Bus-There is no direct route for Tuljapur from Mumbai but there is nearly 1 or more direct bus service between Mumbai and Tuljapur. They are known as Raja Travels.

Pune to Tuljapur

  • By Air– There is no direct flight service from Pune to Tuljapur.
  • By Bus– There is few regular bus service that that help you in reaching Tuljapur. There are services like Sana Travels-Azeem which take passengers from Pune to Tuljapur directly.

Hotels in Tuljapur: Where to stay

There are accomodation facilities provided by the Temple trust for its pilgrims. They have started a Dharamshala for the pilgrims where they can stay free of cost. There are many private organizations who provide accomodation facilities to the pilgrims. They have a very nominal charges. These private oraganization has many facilities like hygienic environment, internet facilities, homely food etc.

Where to eat

Apart from the food that we get in Tulja Bahvani Temple, there are many restaurants nearly who offer food at very reasonable rate. They provide food in a very hygienic condition.

Nearby Places to visit

  • ChintamaniThis is avery beautifully stone structured temple situated out the main Tuljabahvani Temple.It is believed that the Goddess Chintamani has guided its devotees to take right decisions in their life. This temple is surrounded by many shrines like Yamai Devi, Narsimha, Khandoba, and Matangi. This play is mostly visited on Tuesday, Fridays and Sundays. On full moon days, devotees come to Chintamani Temple to take blessings.
  • Kallola Tirth- Kallola is huge water tank situated in the Prakara Temple. This temple is located in Tuljabhavani Temple. Kallola Tirth is around 40ft by 20ft in dimension. It is walled on all the sides. Legends say that the Kallol contains sacred water from river Ganga which flowed from the mountain ranges of Himalayas. It is also said that while merging in the tank, the water made a great noise because of which it was named Kallola Tirth.
  • Vishnu Tirth– This Tirth is situated in the north-eastern part of the main temple. Vishnu Tirth has three entrance. All the three entrances are connected through stone steps. It is believed that after taking a dip from this tirth, all the sin done by a person is washed away.
  • Gomukh Tirth- Gomukh is a very famous and sacred waterfall. The water comes out from the stone structure that looks like the mouth of a cow. The holy water from which the Goddess’s idol is bathed comes from Gomukh Tirth.
  • Ghatshila Temple– Ghatshila Temple is situated in Tuljapur. It has a devotional and mythological story behind it. It is said that Lord Ram and Lord Laxman went by ghats and rocks of Tuljapur in search of Sita. Legends also say that Goddess Bhawani stood on the rocks of Lord Rama to guide him to reach Lanka and rescue Sita. Devotees come all way from India to pay offering to Lord Rama. Pilgrims visits this rock temple which was built in the medieval period.

Pandharpur Vitthal Temple

Pandharpur Vitthal Temple

The Vitthal or the Vithoba Temple located in Pandharpur in the Solapur district of Maharashtra is one of the most visited pilgrim sites in India. Statistically, it receives the largest amount of devotees in Maharashtra. The holy shrine is dedicated to Lord Vitthal or Vithoba along with his consort Rakhumai or Rukmini, as popularly known, who is worshiped as a form of Lord Krishna. Pandharpur Vitthal Temple is one of the most important and oldest pilgrimage sites in Maharashtra. The Temple is located on the banks of the Chandrabhaga River, another name of the River Bhima.

The legend of Lord Vitthal or Vithoba is disputed but historic and legendary. Lord Vitthal is the focal point of devotion especially among the followers of the Varkari philosophy or Sampradaya of Hinduism as well as the Haridasa sect of Karnataka. He is more popularly worshiped in regions of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. As per the Varkari tradition, “Vitthal” is composed of two words in Sanskrit – Vit meaning Brick and Thal that originated from the Sanskrit word “Sthala” meaning standing. That gives the meaning of “Standing on the brick” to the word “Vitthal”. Hence, the God is depicted as a figure of a young boy standing on a brick. There are, however, other interpretations of the meaning as well. The Varkari Saint Tukaram proposed that Vittha means ignorance and La means one who accepts, creating the word “Vitthala” meaning “God who accepts ignorant people”. Another possible meaning was put forward by historian Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar stating that Vitthu is a Kannada version of Vishnu in Marathi. The suffixes La and Ba are added as a mark of respect creating the names as Vitthala or Vithoba.

The Pandharpur Vitthal Temple is huge with six entrances. The eastern entrance is called the Namdev gate or the Mahadwaara. The Samadhi of Saint Namdev and Saint Chokoba is situated here. The famed “Namdev Chi Payari” step is the first step out of 12 steps that one must climb to reach the Samadhi. The Pandharpur Vitthal Temple has a Mandap in the beginning consisting of a Nagarkhana where various musical instruments are placed. Two Deepmalas can be seen in the west that is lit during festive occasions. The Chowk is lined on both sides with rooms for resident devotees. The Mandap also has shrines dedicated to Garuda and Hanuman. The chowk leads to the Solakhambi Mandap meaning a Mandap with sixteen pillars. The beautiful chamber is engraved with Krishna Lilas and the Avatars of Lord Vishnu. The entrance to the shrine is through a silver door named as the Rupyacha Darwaja.

The idol of the deity Vitthala or Vithoba is made of black stone three and a half feet tall. The idol has a Shivalinga on his head and the Kaustubha Mani around the neck. The idol is placed in front of a Prabhaval, a silver plate in the sanctum.

Several smaller shrines dedicated to Lord Ganapathi, Garuda, Lord Krishna’s consorts Rukmini, Sathyabama and Radha, Kashi Vishwanath, Lord Rama and Lakshman, Kalabhairav, Dattatreya, and Narsoba are present inside the Temple Complex.

Pandharpur Vitthal Temple

Pandharpur Vitthal Temple History

  • The exact date or year of construction of the Pandharpur Vitthal Temple is debatable but the earliest inscriptions on the oldest structures of the Temple belong to the era of the Yadava dynasty in the 12th and 13th century. However, the name Pandaranga which is another name for Vitthala can be found on a Rashtrakuta Copper plate inscription dated 516 AD postulating that worship of Vitthal started as early as the 6th century.
  • Several inscriptions can be found in the Pandharpur Vitthal Temple as well as surrounding areas that imply the fact that the Temple existed in the 12th and the 13th century. An inscription in Alandi referring to Vitthal and Rakhumai can be found dating back to 1209. A stone slab dated 1237 AD states that the Hoysala king Someshwara donated a village for expenses incurred during Annadanam in the Temple premises. Besides these, several inscriptions related to Lord Krishna and the Yadava kingdom can be found in and around Temples that date back to 1249 AD and 1277 AD.
  • Krishnadevaraya, king of the Vijayanagara Empire safely took away the idol of Vitthal during the invasion of Muslim rulers. The Pandharpur Vitthal Temple remained closed for worship for a few years. The idol was then restored by Bhanudas Maharaj in the 14th century and worship restarted.
  • Before independence, the untouchables, and other backward classes were not allowed to enter the Pandharpur Vitthal Temple premises. Freedom fighter Sane Guruji went on Fast-unto-death to change this custom. He was supported by other Gandhians. Eventually as a result, of this movement, the gates of the Temple were opened for the untouchables and other castes.
  • The legends associated with Lord Vitthala in Pandharpur have been mentioned in the Skanda Puranam, Sthala Puranam, Padma Puranam and the Panduranga Mahatmya. All these legends are centered on one individual named as Pundalik. There are several versions of legends associated with Pundalik and Lord Vitthala.
  • According to the first legend, Pundalik was a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu. He dedicated his life to the service of his parents. Impressed by his devotion, Lord Gopala Krishna visits him from Govardhan in his Digambar form. Pundalik requests Lord Krishna to remain beside the banks of the River Bhima making it a Tirtha Kshetra. The region described resembles the modern city of Pandharpur.
  • The second legend states that Pundalik was a greedy man who did not take care of his old and ailing parents. When he drove them out, they set out on a pilgrimage to Varanasi on foot with other groups of devotees. Pundalik also eventually decided to go to Varanasi and on his way, stopped for rest on the banks of River Bhima. He observed that three ugly women: Ganga, Yamuna and Godavari went to the house of a poor cobbler after taking the bath. On asking their credentials, they informed that they have to bear the sins of people and got cleansed when they visit the cobbler’s house who treated everyone especially his parents with love. Realization dawned on Pundalik and he immediately asked for forgiveness from his parents and started treating them well.
  • Meanwhile, Radha who loved Lord Krishna visited Dwarka, his kingdom and sat on his lap. Radha ignored Rukmini, Lord Krishna’s queen. Angered by the occurrence, Rukmini left Krishna and left to Dindivana near Pandharpur. Lord Krishna searched for her and eventually landed in Pandharpur where he came across Pundalik’s home. Lord Krishna was impressed with his devotion to the parents and called on Pundalik. But Pundalik asked him to wait as he was busy with his parents and threw a brick outside for the Lord to sit and wait. After finishing his work, Pundalik came out and on seeing Lord Krishna, asked for forgiveness. He asked him to settle here with Rukmini and bless them forever.
  • A small but an interesting legend associated with the Pandharpur Vitthal Temple is related to the naming of the first step of the Temple as “Namdev Chi Payari”. Once a child named Namdev was asked by his mother to offer the Naivedyam to Lord Vitthal. Namdev went to the Temple and performed Naivedyam but waited to see the God eat the offering. He keeps waiting and becomes disheartened when the God does not appear. In his disappointment, he started banging his head on the feet of the Lord. Seeing his innocence and devotion, Lord Vitthal appears before him, eats the offering and blesses him. Namdev requests Lord Vitthal to name the first step of the Temple after him so that all the devotees will touch and pass through him to have the Lord’s darshan. Since then, the Temple’s first step is named as “Namdev Chi Payari”. The child became a highly revered Saint in the future.
  • The Rukmini or the Rakhumai Temple has been built separately from Lord Vitthal’s shrine. There is a legend behind the separate shrines for both of them instead of one. Vitthal’s wife was fondly called Padubai and was mostly busy doing the household chores. One day, she was too tired and refused to serve a guest of her husband Vitthal named Maliraya. Vitthal became angry and cursed Padubai that she will become mad and be separated from him. Padubai eventually became mad and left him to the jungle where she died under a Tamarind tree. Her parents Janakoji and Kamalaja came to visit her after the death but were blocked by Vitthal who turned into a snake. He did not allow anyone near the corpse. He created a shower which washed Padubai’s remains into the sea. Maliraya felt guilty as he believed that he had caused this instance and took up penance. The Sea-god granted his wish and returned the bones which he immersed in a proper ritual at the Padmatirtha Lake. Meanwhile, Vitthal was unable to bear the separation from Padubai and wandered in search of her. Eventually, he reached Padmatirtha and found a beautiful Lotus on the bank. As soon as he plucked the flower, it turned into Padubai. However, Vitthal who by the time was free of all materialistic desires decided that both of them will take abode in Pandharpur but in separate shrines to bless their devotees.

Significance of the Temple

  • The Pandharpur Vitthal Temple receives the highest number of pilgrims in Maharashtra every year.
  • The Pandharpur Vitthal Temple is considered extremely ancient and sacred. It is praised in several Puranas and the famed Saint Sri Adi Shankaracharya even wrote the Pandurangashtakam Stotram praising God Vitthal whose other name is Panduranga in the 8th century.
  • The deity Vitthala has been associated with several Gods in the past. He is worshiped as an avatar of Lord Shiva by strict Shaivites, as the supreme Lord Vishnu by Vaishnavites, as the supreme avatar of Lord Krishna by his sect, as the avatar of Buddha by Buddhists and as a Jain god by the followers of Jainism.
  • It is believed that Lord Vitthala and Rakhumai signify non-attachment to materialistic desires. They symbolize a life of duty, forgiveness and devotion.
  • The Dindi Yatra is a unique feature of the Temple. Thousands of Varkaris, people who worship Lord Vitthal religiously march from their homes in areas like Karnataka and Maharashtra to reach the Temple on foot. This Yatra is called the Dindi Yatra and takes place in June – July.
  • It is widely believed that a holy dip in the Chandrabhaga River washes away all your sins and blesses the devotees with prosperity.
  • In May 2014, the Pandharpur Vitthal Temple became the first Temple in India to invite women and people from backward classes to assume the responsibilities of Priests.
  • The Kaustubha Mani that is hung around the neck of the deity’s idol is supposed to be one of the precious gems obtained during the mythical tale of the churning of the ocean episode in mythology.

Pandharpur Vitthal Temple Timings

  • The Pandharpur Vitthal Temple opens at 4 AM and closes at 11 PM.
  • The Mukha Darshan (Darshan of the face) can be had any time without waiting in the queue.
  • The Sparsh Darshan (Touching of the feet) can be had only by standing in a separate queue.

Dress code

The Pandharpur Vitthal Temple does not impose any strict dress code but it is advised to wear decent dresses for the visit. It is recommended that Shorts, Bermuda shorts, and miniskirts are to be avoided.

Festivals celebrated at the Temple

  • Ashadi Ekadasi or the Shayani Ekadasi – The grand religious procession is celebrated in the month of Ashadha (June – July). The festivities begin on the eleventh day of the month. It is believed that Lord Vishnu falls asleep on the day in the Ksheersagar while lying on the back of the Shesha Naga on this day. The Ksheersagar is the Ocean of Milk that denotes the Milky way that surrounds the directional space. It is also the place where Lord Vishnu reclines over the Shesha Naga and plans to churn the ocean to reveal its Amrit and other miracles. Hundreds of devotees from Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh walk from their homes to the Temple carrying a Palkhi with the “Padukas” or the “Feet” of the Lord. They do so amidst singing bhajans and songs in the praise of Lord. This journey is called the Dindi Yatra. During the Yatra, the devotees perform charity work for the poor and the needy like Annadanam, repair work, medical help, and building work.
  • Prabodhini Ekadasi – The Varkaris offer Poojas at the Pandharpur Vitthal Temple on the 11th day of the Kartik month (November – December), exactly four months after the Shayani Ekadasi. It is believed that Lord Vishnu wakes up from his slumber on this day in the Ksheersagar during the Samudra Manthan episode in mythology.
  • The Magha Ekadasi and the Chaithra Ekadasi are also celebrated by the Varkaris especially. They arrive at the Temple in large numbers during these days and receive the blessings of their beloved Lord.
  • Besides the Ekadasis, Holi, Deepavali, and Dussehra are also celebrated with great pomp and fare. The Pandharpur Vitthal Temple is decorated and special Poojas are performed for the Lord on these days.

Poojas and Rituals

  • Kakad Aarti – The Aarti is performed for the Lord at 4:30 AM every day. The Kakad Aarti is a form of morning Mangal Aarti which is performed to wake up the deity. Several chants and stotrams are recited to create a holy environment conducive to the waking up of the Lord.
  • Nitya Pooja – The regular Pooja begins with a ritualistic bathing of the Lord with Panchamrit which are Milk, Curd, Honey, Sugar, and Ghee. Then the Lord is decorated and dressed up in the regional attire for the morning darshan. This Pooja is performed between 5 AM to 6 AM.
  • Mahapuja – This Pooja can be performed by the devotees by paying the requisite amount. Several Poojas and shlokas are recited on behalf of the devotee. These rituals are performed between 7 AM to 8 AM.
  • Mahanaivedyam – The Lord is offered food of different varieties mainly consisting of rice, daal, and sweets. This takes place between 11 AM to 11:15 AM.
  • The Poshakh Pooja – The ornaments and the attire of the Lord are changed again for the evening darshan.
  • Dhoop Aarti – The evening Aarti takes place between 7 PM to 7:30 PM. The Lord is offered with Naivedyam afterward as dinner.
  • Shej Aarti – The Night Aarti or the Shej Aarti is performed at 10 PM. The ornaments are removed from the deity and milk and sugar is offered. The Lord is allowed to sleep amidst the chants of the priests.

How to reach: Road, Rail and Air

  • By Air – The nearest airport to Pandharpur is the Lohegaon airport in Pune which is situated at a distance of 205 km from the city. One can board a bus or hire a taxi from Pune to reach Pandharpur.
  • By Train – The Pandharpur railway station connects various cities and towns in Maharashtra like Pune, Nagpur, Solapur, Latur, and Kopergaon. The Kurduvadi station located about 50 km from Pandharpur caters to devotees from several major cities in India like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Mysore, Pune, and Jaipur.
  • By Road – The Maharashtra State Transport Corporation operates regular buses from cities like Mumbai, Bijapur, Belgaum, Pune, Solapur and Khandala. Private buses also operate on the route.

Where to stay

Pandharpur offers a wide range of hotels and ashrams for a stay to the devotees. The prices are reasonable. The MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) has constructed a few lodges that can be booked for a stay.

Where to eat

A large number of private restaurants are available that serve delicious local cuisine as well as North Indian and South Indian cuisine.

Nearby Temples

  • Takpitya Vithoba – The small shrine dedicated to Takpitya Vithoba. As per a legend, a woman who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vitthal used to offer buttermilk (tak) and ground lahi (parched Jowar, wheat or rice) daily at the Temple. If unable to reach the Temple, she offered it to Lord Vitthala at home. The Lord was impressed with her devotion and would sometimes come to her home to relish the offerings. The shrine dedicated to the Lord and the woman was built by a widow named Radhabai in 1540 CE. The stone bowl can still be visited that was used to offer food to the Lord himself.
  • Pundalik Temple – The small Temple is situated beside the Chandrabhaga river, just a few kilometers away from the Vitthal Rukmini Temple. This Temple marks the resting place of Pundalik who is credited with the arrival of Lord Vitthal to Pandharpur.
  • Kaikadi Maharaj Math – The Math is situated just 2 km away from the Temple. The complex depicts several mythological occurrences in Hinduism and their significance. The concept of the place is that all the Gods in Hinduism are placed under one roof and their significance explained to the devotees.
  • Vishnupad Temple – The Temple is situated 5 km away from the city. It is believed that one can visit Lord Krishna’s footprints and hoof prints of a cow on a stone slab near the banks of the river. As per the local beliefs, Lord Krishna comes for lunch here every day.
  • Mangalwedha – The land of Mangalwedha is called the “Land of Saints”. The city is the birthplace of several saints like Saint Damaji, Saint Kanhopatra, Saint Basaveshwara, and Saint Chokhamela.

Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple

Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple

The Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple, also known as the Amba Bai Temple is located in Kolhapur, Maharashtra. The Temple is extremely sacred, especially to the followers of the Shakta sect who worship Adi Parashakti as their main deity. The Goddess Adi Parashakti is considered as the “Supreme Being”.  She is the original creator, observer and the destroyer of the Universe. She created the trinity of Lord Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva along with Goddess Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. She is believed to be the Goddess of Nature itself. The Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple is believed to be one of the eighteen Maha Shakti Peethas as described in the Ashta Dasa Shakti Peetha Stotram written by Sri Adi Shankaracharya.

As per the beliefs of the Shaktism sect, in the Srimad Devi Bhagwat Purana, Adi Parashakti addresses herself as the “owner of the universe, absolute reality, dynamic in feminine form and static in the masculine form”. She anoints Lord Brahma as the generator of the universe. She makes Goddess Saraswati (Adi Parashakti’s avatar) the goddess of wisdom and knowledge and partners her with Lord Brahma. She creates Lord Narayana (Vishnu) and addresses him as the immortal preserver of the universe. She mentions that he will take different avatars to preserve the continuity of life. He will be accompanied by Goddess Mahalakshmi, a form of Adi Parashakti herself. Lord Narayana will be the supreme of deities with form. Lastly, she instructed Lord Rudra to be the personification of time. She anointed the task of destroying and regenerating the universe. She took the form of Mahakali or Parvati as his consort. Mahakali will destroy evils from the universe.

The greatness of Goddess Adi Parashakthi is described in several other sacred ancient manuscripts such as Devi Mahatmyam, Shiva Purana, Vishnu Purana, and the Shakta Purana. At the Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple, the Goddess Adi Parashakti is present in the form of Goddess Mahalakshmi, consort of Lord Vishnu.

The Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple architecture follows the “Hemadpanthi” style. The Temple Complex consists of five huge towers and the main hall. The biggest spire is above the sanctum housing Goddess Mahalakshmi. The North and the South domes house Goddess Mahakali and MahaSaraswati respectively. The Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple also houses a Shree Yantra which geometrically represents the three Goddesses. The Temple has four entrances but the main entrance called the Mahadwaar lies towards the West. It is believed that the Mahadwaar was built by Sri Adi Shankaracharya himself. The Sheshashahi Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Navagraha Temple, Vithal Temple, and Rakhumai Temple are all present in the complex.  Towards the southern side, several shrines dedicated to Kalbhairav, Siddhivinayak, Radhakrishna, Annapurna, Indrasabha and Rameshwar are present.

Above the main sanctum, on the second level, a shrine dedicated to Lord Ganapathi is present. A Shiva Linga called the Matulinga can also be seen along with a stone Nandi.

The form of the Goddess worshiped in the Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple is unique and a sight to behold. Unlike the usual calm representation of Goddess Lakshmi sitting on a Lotus, the idol of Goddess Mahalakshmi is 3 feet tall and weighs 40 kilos. The idol is in a standing posture with four arms. In the lower right hand, she holds a Mhalunga (a kind of Citrus fruit). In the upper right hand, she holds a large mace and in the lower left hand, she holds a bowl. In the upper left hand, she holds a shield, locally called as a Khetaka.  A stone Lion, the Vahana for the Goddess stands behind her. The crown of the Goddess contains the image of a Sheshnag, representing Lord Vishnu. A Shiva Linga is also carved on the crown but is not visible to the devotees as it lies buried under the Goddess’s ornaments.

Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple

Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple History

  • The initial Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple was very small and enshrined only Goddess Mahalakshmi. Successive additions and renovations were done by several dynasties who ruled the area of Kolhapur. The Chalukyas, Shilaharas, and the Yadavas played a major role in the extension and renovation of the Temple Complex.
  • The written records for the Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple history date back to the Chalukya period 550 AD to 660 AD. It is commonly agreed that the original Temple was built during this particular period by the Chalukyas as also evident from the distinctive architecture style. However, an earthquake in the 8th century destroyed most of the ancient structure. Some portions survived and can be seen till date.
  • The Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple was unknown to the world for a long time as it was covered by tall forests. Eventually, the Konkan King Karnadeo discovered the Temple’s existence in 109 AD.
  • King Gandaraditya of the Shilahara dynasty (11th century) built the path on which the devotees circumambulate the main sanctum. He also built the two shrines dedicated to Goddess Mahakali and Maha Saraswati. It is believed that the Matulinga installed on the second level of the main sanctum was installed during the Yadava reign.
  • The Eastern entrance of the Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple Complex has an inscription dating back to the Maratha reign in the 18th century. It states that renovation work was carried out by the Dhabades and the Gaikwads who were ruling the area at that time.
  • In 1941, Shrimant Jahagirdar Babasaheb Ghatge installed the idols of the nine planets in the Navagraha Temple. The five domes or spires were constructed comparatively recently by Sri Shankaracharya of Sankeshwar in the 19th century. The Garud Mandap was built under Daji Pandit between 1838 – 1843. The Kurma Mandap and the Ganapati Chowk is believed to have been built by the Yadava dynasty.
  • There are several legends associated with the Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple. One of the legends mentioned in the Karavira Mahatmya mentions that a demon by the name of Kolha resided at the place which was previously called as Padmavathi Pura. When he went for penance to Lord Brahma, another demon by the name of Sukesi occupied his kingdom. He killed Sukesi and made his son Karaveera as the king. However, Karaveera was killed by Lord Shiva in a battle. In the thirst for revenge, he practiced penance to Goddess Mahalakshmi (another form of Parvati or the Adi Parashakti) and asked her not to enter the city for 100 years. She obliged and left. Kolha terrorized people and other Devas and took up residence in Swarga. The Gods requested Mahalakshmi to return to the city and annihilate the demon. After 100 years, Goddess Mahalakshmi returned and with the help of all the other Gods and Goddesses, killed the demon Kolha. Before his death, Kolha apologized and requested for three boons which the Goddess granted. He wanted to name the city as Kolhapur, the Goddess should stay here and protect the city and lastly the place should become a Siddha Kshetra.
  • Another popular legend associated with the Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple is that of Goddess Mahalakshmi associated with Lord Vishnu. At the onset of the Kaliyuga, Lord Vishnu decided to leave Venkatdri for Vaikuntam. Lord Brahma was saddened and asked Narada to convince Vishnu to return. Narada went to the banks of Ganga where he saw Rishi Bhrigu performing a Yagna. Rishi Bhrigu was unable to decide the benefactor of the Yagna. He went to Satyalokam and found that Lord Brahma was busy chanting Vedas, uttering names of Narayana and looking at Saraswati. He went to Kailasam and found that Lord Shiva was busy sporting with Goddess Parvathi. He went to Vaikuntam and found that Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi were reclining unmindful of his visit. He grew angry and kicked Vishnu on his chest. Lord Vishnu immediately got up and massaged Rishi’s foot all the while enquiring whether he was hurt. Rishi was impressed by his composure and decided to dedicate the Yagna to Lord Vishnu. However, Goddess Lakshmi was very angry over what occurred and left Vaikuntam to Karavirapura (Kolhapur).

Significance of the Temple

  • The Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple is considered to be one of the sacred eighteen Maha Shakti Peethams that are situated in the Indian peninsula. The Temple is an important pilgrimage site especially for believers of the Shaktism sect. These Temples or the Peethams are mentioned and praised in the Ashta Dasa Peetha Stotram by Adi Shankaracharya.  It is believed that worshiping at the Peethams will provide protection to the devotee forever against all evils along with abundant good health and fortune.
  • It is believed that Lord Dattatreya comes and visits Goddess Mahalakshmi every noon to seek her blessings.
  • It is a belief that the darshan of Sri Balaji at the Tirumala Devasthanam in Andhra Pradesh is incomplete without visiting Goddess Mahalakshmi at Kolhapur.
  • The idol of the deity Goddess Mahalakshmi is believed to be made of precious gemstones and dates back by 5000 years. The idol is carved out of a single stone and weighs abut 40 kilos.
  • The idol of the deity faces west, unlike most temples where the main deity faces either the east or the north. A window is present on the west wall of the sanctum, through which the rays of the setting sun illuminates the deity’s face, body and feet twice every year. The occasion is considered to be extremely auspicious and lasts for three days each time.
  • The region of Karveer, the ancient name of Kolhapur is mentioned in the Puranas as Avimuktakshetra. It means that the region is eternally blessed by Lord Vishnu and Goddess Mahalakshmi who will reside here even during the Mahaprayakala or the Pralayam.
  • The Sheshashahi shrine located inside the Temple Complex has figures of the 60 Jain Tirthankaras on the dome. The shrine is believed to be dedicated to the Jain Tirthankara Neminath. However currently, an idol of Lord Vishnu reclining on the Shesha Nag is worshiped here. It is believed that this Temple s also sacred to the followers of Jainism.

Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple Timings

  • The Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple opens at 4 AM and closes at 11 PM.
  • The general darshan begins at 4:30 AM and ends at 11 PM.
  • The Timings of the Temple might differ in the months of Karthik (November) and on the Tripuri Poornima.

Dress Code

The Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple does not impose any strict dress code but it is advised to wear decent dresses for the visit. It is recommended that Shorts, Bermuda shorts, and miniskirts are to be avoided.

Poojas and Rituals

The daily schedule of the Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple is as below:

  • Ghantanaad – The ringing of the Temple bells starts at 4 AM daily, signalling the beginning of the day and time to wake up.
  • Kakad Aarti – The Kakad Aarti is a form of morning Mangal Aarti which is performed to wake up the deity. Several chants and stotrams are recited to create a holy environment conducive to the waking up of the Goddess. The Kakad Aarti can be witnessed at 4:30 AM in the morning. The Aarti is then performed for The Matulinga, Lord Ganapati, Goddess Mahakali, Goddess Maha Saraswati and to the Shree Yantra.
  • Morning Mahapuja – The bells ring again at 8 AM signaling the beginning of the morning Mahapuja. The Goddess is first bathed with holy water and then decorated with Chandan and flowers. The Golden crown and the Golden footwear are placed on the Goddess amidst the chants of the devotees.
  • Naivaidyam – The process of feeding the Goddess with holy food prepared in the Temple Kitchen starts at 9:30 AM. Preparations of Rice, pulses, fruits and vegetables are decorated around the deity’s feet and worshiped reverently.
  • Afternoon Mahapuja – The ringing of the bells at 11:30 AM indicate the start of the afternoon Mahapuja. Naivedyam is offered to the Goddess mainly consisting of Puranpoli, Rice, Dal, Vegetable, and Koshimbir. Special Poojas are performed in the afternoon with flowers and Kumkum. Panchamrit Abhishekam is performed for the Goddess.
  • Alankar Pooja – The idol of the deity is decorated with Gold Jewellery, Chandan, Kumkum, and Flowers. A traditional Saree is wrapped around the deity and then ornaments like Kundal, Mangalsutra, Kirit, Chains, Kolhapuri Saaj and Tikhar are placed on the deity.
  • Dhup Aarti or the Bhog Aarti – At 7:30 PM, the bell rings again indicating the beginning of the Dhup Aarti. The Goddess is offered holy Naivedyam and evening Aarti is performed. On Friday evenings, Mahanaivedyam is offered to the Goddess.
  • Shej Aarti – The Night Aarti or the Shej Aarti is performed at 10 PM. The ornaments are removed from the deity and milk and sugar is offered. The Goddess is allowed to sleep amidst the chants of the priests.

Festivals celebrated at the Temple

  • Navaratri Mahotsav – The festival is celebrated in a grand manner for a period of ten days in the Hindu month of Ashwini which usually falls in October. A special Abhishekam along with Mahanaivedyam and Aarti is performed every day at 8:30 AM and 11:30 AM. At 9:30 PM every night during the festival, a procession is taken out in a Ratha decorated with lights and flowers. The whole Temple is lit and decorated with thousands of lamps. The Military bands perform music at the start of the procession. The idol of the deity returns to the Garuda Mandap where a one canon salute is performed signaling the end of the day. Several cultural programs are organized by the Temple administration during these days.
  • Lalitha Panchami – The fifth day of Navarathri is celebrated as the Lalitha Panchami in dedication to Goddess Lalitha. She is worshiped as a form of Goddess Shakti. The Goddess is believed to be a form representing the five elements of Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Space. On the special day, after special Abhishekam at 7 AM and 10 AM, the Goddess is given one canon salute. The procession begins at the Temple and moves to the Goddess Tryambuli’s Temple situated at a short distance. The Chhatrapati, royalty of Kolhapur performs the ceremony of Kushmandabali. It involves breaking a Pumpkin into two with a sword symbolizing the destruction of the enemy. The procession returns to the Temple at around 2 PM.
  • Kirnotsav – The unique festive tradition of the Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple takes place twice in a year, once on January 31 and next on November 9. Each time, the celebrations last for three days. These days signify the Sun God paying respect to Goddess Mahalakshmi by bowing to her feet. On January 31, February 1 and February 2, the rays of the setting sun fall on the feet, chest and the entire body respectively. The occurrence repeats on 99, 10, and 11 November. Thousands of devotees visit the Temple in the evening to view this phenomenon and get the blessings of the Goddess.
  • Rathotsav – The grand celebration occurs in April every year. The silver figure of the Goddess is taken around in a procession around the Temple between 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM. After giving a one canon salute to the Goddess, the procession moves out of the Temple at 9:30 PM. This is the time for devotees to present their offerings to the Goddess. A Police and a Military band play the music and escort the Ratha which is beautifully decorated with flowers and lights. Rangolis are drawn around the Temple Complex.
  • Deepavali – The grand festival of lights is celebrated in the Temple with great religious pomp. The Temple is decorated with hundreds of lamps and several cultural programs are performed for the devotees in the complex.

How to reach: Road, Rail and Air

  • By Air – The nearest airport is the Kolhapur Domestic Airport located 10 km away from the Mahalakshmi Temple Complex. The flights to the airport are limited to Belgaum and Pune. However, the Belgaum airport and the Dabolim airport (Panaji, Goa) are located approximately 100 and 140 km away respectively. Buses and Trains are available from these places that connect Kolhapur.
  • By Train – The nearest Railway station is the Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Terminus, located about 5 km away from the Temple. The city is well connected to all the major cities in India. Several trains halt at the junction and connect cities like Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Bengaluru, Tirupati, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Dhanbad, and Solapur.
  • By Road – The Maharashtra State Transport Corporation (MSTC) operates regular buses from all major Maharashtrian cities like Mumbai, Pune, and Sholapur to Kolhapur. Buses are also available from Goa and Bengaluru. Several private bus operators also ply buses to Kolhapur from major cities like Bengaluru and Pune.

Where to stay

Several guest houses are available for a stay near the Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple complex as well as in other parts of the city. The prices are reasonable. One can book rooms from a wide range of options. Most of the hotels provide decent and hygienic accommodation along with the restaurant facilities. Some of the popular hotels are the Padma Guest House near the Temple, Hotel Jyotiba, Hotel Pearl and the Heritage resort.

Where to eat

A large number of private restaurants are present around the Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple Complex that serves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine. The Kolhapuri cuisine is quite spicy and popular here and a must for every visitor to try.

One must taste the Kolhapuri Misal dish that is a delightful, authentic and indigenous vegetarian dish eaten with bread. The Tambada Rassa, Roasted Mutton and the Pandra Rassa are must have nonvegetarian dishes in Kolhapur. Besides these delicacies, sweets, especially the Pethas, are very popular in Kolhapur.

Nearby Temples

  • Jyotiba – The Temple is located 17 km from Kolhapur city near Wadi Ratnagiri. It is believed that after defeating Kolhasura, Goddess Mahalakshmi decided to settle in Kolhapur. For the protection of the city, she appointed four guards in the four cardinal directions to protect the region of Kolhapur. The Jyotiba Temple is located on the Northern side. The deity is believed to be the incarnation of the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva as well as Jamadagni. It is believed that Jyotiba helped Mahalakshmi in her fight against Kolhasura and the demons.
  • Bhavani Mandap – The small shrine dedicated to Goddess Bhavani is located just a few meters away from the Mahalakshmi Temple. It is a belief that Goddess Bhavani is the sister of Goddess Mahalakshmi and is a guest of Kolhapur. Several Poojas and rituals are performed for the Goddess and it is believed that a visit to the Mahalakshmi Temple is incomplete without visiting Goddess Bhavani.
  • Narsinhwadi or the Narsobachi Wadi – This shrine is located at a distance of 55 km from Kolhapur. Lord Dattatreya, believed to be an incarnation of the holy trinity of Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is worshiped here in the form of Shri Narsinh Saraswati. This is also the site of the confluence of two rivers, Panchganga, and Krishna.
  • Bahubali Hill Temple – The shrine dedicated to the Jain Digambara Bahubali is situated 27 km from Kolhapur. The hills are popularly called as Kumbhojgiri. The statue of Bahubali is 28 feet tall and surrounded by shrines dedicated to the 24 Tirthankaras of Jainism. A flight of 400 steps needs to be climbed to reach the main shrine.
  • Kopeshwar Temple – The artistic and sacred Temple is located at a distance of 60 km from Kolhapur. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. A shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu can also be visited inside the Temple complex. Both the deities face north. On the outer circumference of the Temple, the complete “Shiva Leelamrit” is carved in stone. The Temple statues are exquisitely carved. The vestibule of the Temple is called Swarga Graham and is open at the top.