Kaneri Math and the Siddhagiri Gram Jeevan Museum
It was 31st of December, my last day in Kolhapur. And the day was earmarked for a visit to two important sites.. One was a spiritual center and another a palace. Even though I was tired from the previous days outing, I wanted to make the most of the day. So I woke up early and after a heavy and tasty breakfast, I set off to my first destination – Kaneri Math.
Kaneri Math or Shri Kshetra Siddhagiri Math is around 10 kms from Kolhapur and 4 kms away from NH 4 connecting Pune to Bangalore. This is an important pilgrimage site and contains a Shiva temple, a 125 feet deep and a huge statue of Nandi Bull
This place is easily accessible by buses or private transport. For this adventure, I took the city bus from Kolhapur CBS and got off at Gokul MIDC stop. From there, a 15 minutes rickshaw ride took me to the Math.
As soon as you enter the premises, you are hit by the visual beauty of this place. There are statues depicting ancient sages and culture of India. I guess when I visited, some work was going on because I could see some unfinished statues lying around. Wonder how this place looks now…
The steps leading to the math are adorned with statues on both the sides. I am not sure of what exactly is being depicted here, but I assume that these 12 statues represent the 12 zodiac signs of Astrology.
The temple premises is calm and serene. The structure is a architectural beauty. No photography is permitted inside the temple premises. These photos have been taken from the internet so that you can admire the beauty of this temple and the statue of Lord Shiva.
After spending some peaceful moments inside the temple and its surroundings, it was time to move on to the next destination within the premises of the math.. a unique museum that is one of its kind in India.
The Siddhagiri Gramjeevan Musuem
Perhaps the only one of its kind, the Gramjeevan (Village Life) Museum in Siddhagri Math, depicts a model self sufficient village life before the invasions of Mughals in Maharashtra. The project is a dream village of Mahatma Gandhi visually and symbolically created through the vision and efforts of the 27th Mathadhipati H.H. Adrushya Kadsiddheshwar Swamiji.
Spread over 7 acres, this museum depicts an ideal village in the form of statues. You wont believe that these are statues as they appear so real. The entire village scene depicts how the people of those days lived together and helped each other in times of need. No adulteration, no cut thought practice, no mad Rat Race, No pollution, but Caring, and delightful atmosphere, no bitter feeling, but fertile land, clean water, clean air, quality food, maximum use of natural resources, cattle field, livestock, job satisfaction. All these things are reflecting the beauty, Joy, satisfaction of human race and oneness with nature. It advises us to get back to nature, without disturbing the equilibrium of nature and many other things which are beyond our imagination.
Unfortunately, photography is banned inside the museum. I have never understood the logic of banning photography inside a museum or places of public visit. I can understand the restrictions inside the temple. First of all you create a world so beautiful and then stop the people from creating memories. Very bad I would say. You can start charging for photography which will be an additional income source. Hope the authorities make a note of this.
Anyways, entry fee was Rs 50 and it takes around 2 hours to cover the entire museum complex. You will never realize how time flies and in the end you never want to come out of the place. Since I could not take photos inside, I have just included some photos from the web (wonder how they landed up there with a no photography rule). These photos are the copyrights of their respective owners and do not belong to me. I just wanted to show you the beauty of this place. Have a look
After roaming around for almost 3 hours and a quick pit stop for refreshments ( I did not realise that I had not eaten until warning bells sounded in my stomach 🙂 🙂 ), it was time to move on to my next destination. I reached the main gate waiting for the bus. Transportation in this area is a bit of a challenge as there are no regular buses. Luckily, I got a share auto and headed off to Kolhapur City.
One of the best things that I liked about the people of this city. is that they are so humble and always ready to help. And they are proud of their history and know all about it. Our rickshaw driver was no different and on the way I got to know a lot about the history of the city and important tourist places. After a 30 mins ride, we reached Kolhapur CBS and dropped off our co passengers. And then in the same rickshaw, I headed off to the last destination on my list.
New Palace Museum
From one museum to another, I was just trying to make the most of my last few hours in Kolhapur. It felt like Kolhapur was a city of museums. In the short time that I had, I visited 3 of them. This shows how much the people of Kolhapur are interested in preserving their heritage and history.
Situated on the outskirts of the city, the New Palace is the residence of Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj, the direct descendant of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The ground floor of the palace is accommodates the Shahaji Chatrapati Museum which has a collection of belongings of the erstwhile rulers of Kolhapur.
Inside the museum.
It is dedicated to a fine collection of possessions of Chhatrapatis of Kolhapur like costumes, weapons, games, jewellery, embroidery and paraphernalia such as silver elephant saddles. A letter from the British Viceroy and Governor General of India is the other memorabilia. There is also one of Aurangzeb’s swords at the Shahaji Chhatrapati Museum. One section has stuffed Tigers, Tiger heads, Wild Dog, Sloth Bear, staring Wild Buffalo, Lion, Black Panther, Wild Boar, Black Buck, a number of other Deer varieties, and a Himalayan Black Bear.
The Darbar Hall occupies a double-height space in middle of the Palace. The side walls display lobed arches filled with stained glass illustrating scenes from the life of Shivaji; carved columns with temple-like brackets support the cast iron balcony above. A raised throne is placed at one end of the Hall. Photos include one of the Maharajah with his hundredth dead tiger, elephant hunts and a series detailing how to train a cheetah.
The entry fee is nominal and photography is not allowed inside the museum. It’s truly a wonderful feeling as you browse through the amazing collection of memorabilia which transport you back in time .
The Palace Premises
While photos are not allowed inside the museum, you can click as much as you like outside. The palace is an imposing structure that stands over vast tracts of land. The Palace took 7 years to complete, from 1877 to 1884, costing about seven lakhs of rupees. Being an excellent specimen of Indian architecture built in black polished stone, it has been an attraction for tourists. It has extensive premises with a garden, fountain and wrestling ground. The whole building is eight-angled and has a tower in the middle. The clock on it was fixed in 1877. At separate distances there are small towers. On every glass are painted the events in Chhatrapati Shivaji’s life. There is a zoo and a ground lake. I managed to click a lot of pictures from the palace grounds. It was almost 6 pm and time for the palace museum to close. (The museum is open on all days except Mondays, between 9 am and 1 pm and again between 2.30 pm and 6 pm). It was time for me to head back and get ready to leave for home the next day.
A walk round the city
On my way back, I decided to do a bit of roaming around the Central Bus Stand area. The area is dotted with shops on both side of the roads and vendors selling street food. It was new year’s eve and people were in the festive spirit. I also brought a Kolhapuri Chappal from the market. I also did a bit of walking around the city and could capture some amazing facets of the city. See below
Back at the hotel, it was time to celebrate the new year with other guests and the hotel staff. After spending some time with them, it was time to head back to the room and start packing. I had an early morning train to catch and had not slept well during the duration of this trip due to excitement. I retired early and had a good sleep.
Return to Mumbai by Train and some amazing moments at the Lonavala Ghats
11030 The Koyna Express was scheduled to leave Kolhapur at 7.55 am. I had seat in the AC chair car. Unfortunately, much later in to the journey, I realised that this was not a good choice made by me. Firstly, the train takes almost 12 hours to complete the journey and second was the long journey was made uncomfortable by the chair car. I had a back ache by the time I reached home. There was nothing much of a scenery outside to click. So I decided to take a power nap until Pune. The reason for selecting this train was it would reach Lonavala around evening which would give me some time to capture the amazing Western Ghats. The train reached Pune on time (at 15:40) and it was time for some more clicks.
Some random clicks at the Ghats.
The train reached Lonavala station on time which meant that I had a chance to capture some more pics. Being a AC coach, I could not do so from the windows. So for the next few hours, until the train reached Karjat, I parked myself at the entrance.
A word of caution though. It is not advisable to travel standing at the doors anytime during the journey because of safety reasons. And especially at the ghats. The ghats with all the twist and turns means that the doors can close due to the momentum of the train. This can throw of off the train. Exercise extreme caution while standing near the doors for any reasons.
The train dropped me at Thane at around 8 pm and from here a short ride by the lifeline of Mumbai dropped me at Bhandup. After dinner, I reached home at around 10 pm concluding my first solo journey outside Mumbai. I had an off the next day so it was time to sleep like a log and dream about the beautiful places that I had visited in the past few days.
Kolhapur is a beautiful city that has something to offer to every one. Be it the religious or the history buff or just a backpacker, there is something for everyone. Due to the hectic schedule, I could not visit some other places of importance which I plan to some other time. To know more about the places to visit in Kolhapur and plan a tour, you can visit the Kolhapur Tourism website.
Its good bye for now. Hope you enjoyed being a part of my trip. Please leave your comments and feedbacks. Until next time, good bye, take care and be a Wanderlust