There are times, when one plans to visit a certain destination which, for long has been on their to-do list, but unfortunately never sees the light. We, flatmates had a plan — paying a visit to Kolhapur. The plan would have remained just a plan, had we not been determined to make it work. There were many accounts about the fabulous food, the nature, places of interests that Kolhapur had to offer. And I can say, with great satisfaction, those all those were true!

We were to travel by the public transport to infuse a sense of adventure instead of a comfortable city-visit. With such travel, we get an opportunity not only to explore the city, but also to delve into and understand the people, which add life to the concrete jungle. It is very strange that in a bus, though the destination of every man is the same, his journey till boarding the bus is as unique as the journey of the one besides him.

We reached Kolhapur on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Dark clouds in the sky assured us of a certain downpour. Thankfully, it was not to be! We took a tangaa, horse cart, to reach our accommodation. The last time I had traveled in a tangaa was in my childhood. It is a rare sight to see one in the urban areas. Though, some towns still have them, Kolhapur being one.

An important place of attraction in the itinerary was Siddhagiri museum at Kaneri, a village on the outskirts of Kolhapur. Having heard many wonderful accounts of splendor of the sculptures there. And indeed, they were all so true. Starting from the Vedic age to the modern, life — sized sculptures of the men who shaped India were on display. Noteworthy sculptures also include those representing a typical life in the village. It is hardly believable that such beautiful artwork is hidden in such a tiny village of India.

After experiencing a marvelous artwork, it was time for us to move to Rankala, the lake in the heart of the city. Rankala lake, before taking its form as we see today, was a quarry. Earthquake activities in the 8th and 9th Century AD paved a way for the underground water to come up, thus forming a lake. The lake is named after Rankbhairav, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, whose temple borders the lake from one side. A relatively cool climate and some fresh corn-roast(?) made the walk around the lake very special. The lake though maintained decently, begs more attention for its revival.

In Gulmohor, located in Rajarampuri area, we were given a taste of authentic Kolhapur cuisine. The food turned out to be a myth buster. Traditionally, a Kolhapuri serving is assumed to be very spicy. However, it isn’t so. The food was delicious and unique, without being overly spicy. The masala used in the Kolhapuri serving acquires its unique taste from white sesame seed, which is indigenous to Southern Maharashtra. We returned, stomach being filled by food and mind with the bliss, of having an opportunity to taste such great delicacies.

On the next day’s itinerary were Panhala fort, Jotiba temple and tasting the revered Misal-Pav. Being at the mercy of State Transport bus, we decided to board on the first bus which halts at the stop and go wherever it takes us.

It turned out, we were headed for Jotiba first. It is about 20km North of Kolhapur. Legends have it that the Goddess Mahalaxmi appointed Jotiba, an incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh to guard the northern side of the region. Though the temple was built in 1730, the idols of the three Gods are older. After having the Darshan, we set for Panhala fort.

The unique feature of Panhala is that a complete Taluka headquarter is positioned in the fort. From schools and hospital to the assembly hall, Panhala accommodates everything. The word “Panalla” means the home of serpents. The fort subsequently came to be known as Panhala. It was built in the reign of King Bhoja, second of his name. The fort was under constant turmoil, due to its strategic location. It encompasses an area of 16 sq. km. Shivaji Maharaj escaped to Vishalgad, from the siege laid by Siddhi of Jauhar. It was the bravery of two heroes, Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Shiva Kashid that made the escape possible. They have been deservedly honored at the fort. Recalling such stories of brave men are enough to give us some goosebumps and inspire us to work for our country. Drawing the inspiration, we headed back to Kolhapur, to return to our home.

Every travel enriches us. Many shades of people find visibility in such travels. It is always hard to say good bye after such a wonderful trip. But with those good byes, comes a promise to make many such trips in the future!