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The city of Kolhapur got its name after a demon. The myth goes that a demon named “Kolhasur” was killed by a goddess and his dying wish was to name the place after him, where he dies.
The earliest mention of Kolhapur is in the final chapter of Devi-Bhagavata Purana, a text on Shaktism.
The Shilahara family are the earliest known families who resided in Kolhapur during the downfall of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. The Shilahara dynasty ruled over this place from 940 – 1212 CE. There are a number of Jain temples in this region built under the influence of Jain monks who lived here in the period of around 1050 – 1055 CE.
Kolhapur was also a battleground for the rulers of the Chalukya and the Chola empire.
Today’s state of Kolhapur was established by Tarabai in 1707, because of the succession dispute over the Maratha kingdom. Tarabai worked for the welfare and development of this region; she promoted cost-free education to the people of all caste.
The city of Kolhapur is located in the southwestern part of the Maharashtra state. It is around 373 km south of Mumbai and 228 km south of Pune. The city is well connected by roadways (lies on NH 4), railways (connects India to the west coast), and airway (Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj domestic airport).
Kolhapur is an important gateway to access the Konkan coast. Kolhapur is also drained by the Panchganga river that originates in the western ghats; the river is fed by Bhogavati, Dhamani, Kumbh, Kesari, and Tulsi rivers. Warna is another major river in this region.
The climate of Kolhapur is a combination of coastal and inland climate of Maharashtra. The winters and summers are mild, but the summers are more humid comparatively. The region receives plenty of rainfall due to the nearby Western ghats. The heavy rainfall had lead to floods a few times.
The months from October to April are ideal to visit Kolhapur.
Kolhapur is also an industrial city with some of the major players having their plants here – Kirloskar oil engines and Raymonds. The famous “Kolhapuri Chappal” – a handcrafted buffalo leather chappal, dyed with local vegetable dyes, has got a GI tag.
Other handicrafts include hand block printing on textiles, pottery, wood carvings, brass sheet work, lace, and embroidery making. The people of Kolhapur have modernized in many ways, but are still deeply rooted in their culture.
The language used here is a distinct dialect of Marathi and is limited to Kolhapuri people. One can see a slight touch of the Kannada language due to its border sharing with the state of Karnataka. Kolhapuri cuisine is unique in its own way and is popular for its mutton dishes, bhel and misal.
Kolhapur is the only place in Maharashtra where the misal is served with a slice of bread and not pav. Jaggery and types of jaggeries is also another major industry in Kolhapur.
The Kolhapuri lavangi (chilly) and Kolhapuri masala (spice mixture) are real hot and spicy which are used in most of the dishes, giving the cuisine a different identity. One cannot miss the “Tambada Rassa” (a soup-like red-curry made out of mutton stock and various spices) and “Pandhara Rasaa” (a soup-like white-curry made out of mutton stock, coconut milk, and different spices; considered very healthy for bones).
The districts very own Shivaji University is located in the city of Kolhapur. Kolhapur is also a primary hub and hotspot for the Marathi film industry.
The two primary lakes located in the city - Rankala and Kalamba serves the domestic water needs of the city. Shri Mahalakshmi temple and Jyotiba temple are the most visited religious places here. Other religious places include Temblabai temple, Kopeshwar temple (built by Shilahara kings between 1109 -1178 CE), Narsobachi wadi.
Other tourist destinations include Panhala fort (the only living fort), Vishalgad, Shalini Palace, New Palace Museum, Ramtirth and Rautwadi waterfalls, dams like Radhanagari, Kalambwadi and Tambraparni; and the Dajipur Wildlife Sanctuary.
Since culture is a very rich and integral part of the people here, Tamasha and Lavani are the important folklore that are performed here frequently.
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