Travel time is fun time for me!

The month of September has its unique spell over the city of Mumbai. The rain plays hide and seek with the Mumbaikars. This year on two occasions the city experienced extreme situations where the streets and roads of Mumbai were flooded by rain water. This typically happens when it continuously rains heavily during the high tide timings off the Arabian Sea that touches the Mumbai shore. This year the quantity of rainfall that has occurred in and around Mumbai is good enough to fill all the lakes and artificial reservoirs that provides water to the city till the next year’s monsoon arrive. But the flip side of this year’s monsoon was the two unfortunate heavy rainfall episodes created havoc in the city thus resulting loss of property and lives too.

Just about to seek blessing of Goddess Ambabai. My mom, brother Siddhesh and me.

When the city undergoes stress, its citizens too experiences the brunt of the stressful episode. Therefore, I believe, it is important to detox oneself from time to time to bounce back and move on with life in a positive manner. The best thing I can think of to detox is to travel out of Mumbai, either solo or with people who I can connect and am comfortable with.  Hence I worked out a travel plan, along with my brother, to go for a family outing.

Lobby of Hotel Sayaji, Kolhapur

The destination zeroed was Kolhapur, which is 6 and half hours drive from Mumbai. The main reason for me and my brother to plan a road trip to Kolhapur was to gift a vacation for our mom, which she so much deserved. The three of us started our journey at 8am in the morning. The new Mumbai-Pune Highway route is simply awesome and is certainly a dream drive if one loves driving at fast speed. I never get an opportunity to drive at a speed of 100-120 Km/hour in Mumbai due to speed limits and 24/7 traffic chaos that exists on the construction crazy roads of the city! Thus driving on the new Mumbai-Pune Highway was a dream come true!

External view of Hotel Sayaji, Kolhapur

Pune is 150 kms away from Mumbai and is a city which has a unique blend of both traditional and modern lifestyle embedded in its cultural fabric. We halted at Pune for lunch and did a good amount of shopping, as we cut through the Pune traffic to catch up with the Pune-Bangalore Highway for continuing our journey to Kolhapur.

Sharing the photograph with the bust of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj.

On the way to Kolhapur we stopped at homes of a couple of relatives and finally reached Kolhapur at 8pm at night. We checked in at Kolhapur’s only five star hotel named ‘Hotel Sayaji’. It’s a luxury hotel build by the D.Y Patil industrial group. The architecture and décor of the hotel reflects good aesthetic sense, especially with the light systems and artefacts that adds classy glamour to the premise.

New palace of Kolhapur in the background

During our stay at Kolhapur we visited the Ambabai temple, Narsoba chi wadi, Nawa Rajwada of Shahu Maharaj and Panhala fort.

Queue to the Ambabai Temple.

Ambabai temple is a Hindu temple of Goddess Mahalaxmi (the Goddess of Wealth & Prosperity) It also happens to be our family’s ‘kuldevi’ (the Goddess who is believed to protect the family). All these years my mom desired to visit our ‘kuldevi’ and take her blessings, which finally got accomplished with the three of us seeking blessings at the temple. The Ambabai temple is situated in the heart of the Kolhapur city and the temple is made of black stone.

The trio after seeking blessings of Goddess Ambabai.

The shops surrounding the temple sell religious trivia, traditional Kolhapuri footwear, garment (traditional saree) shops etc. It was a divine experience for me to visit the temple and pray for empowerment and prosperity for me and also for those who are a part of my life.

At Narsoba-chi-wadi temple.

Narsoba-chi-wadi is yet another temple situated 50 kms away from Kolhapur city. The temple is situated on the confluence of two rivers namely Panchaganga and Krishna. The temple nurtures Lord Datttatreya’s idol and the spiritual presence of Narsimha Saraswati Maharaj who is believed to the reincarnation of Lord Dattatreya.

The new palace premise, Kolhapur.

As the sun started setting in the Kolhapur sky, we headed to the New Palace premise in Kolhapur city. The palace is open to public as it hosts a museum inside it. The life and antiques of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, one of the rulers of the princely state of Kolhapur, has been showcased in the museum in form of photographs, artefacts, documents, hunted animals mounted on walls, weapons and original trivia which the popular Maharaja used in his times.

Twilight sun-set skies at Pune on our return journey to Mumbai.

Besides being a noble ruler of his state, Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj was a social reformer and was known to be a true nationalist and would compassionately strive to uplift the downtrodden population who were his subjects. I always wanted to visit the palace because I am a huge fan of palaces and forts irrespective of its location on the world map!

With my Maratha history hero, Baji Prabhu Deshpande!

Next day morning after having quality ‘sibling time’ together at the hotel’s swimming pool, we headed to Panhala fort. I was very excited to visit the fort as one of my favourite historical figure from Maratha history achieved martyrdom at this fort. The warrior from Shivaji Maharaj’s army, Baji Prabhu Deshpande will always stay in my heart for the valour he displayed in protecting his King when the Moghul army attacked Panhala.

One of the many tunnels on the New Mumbai-Pune Highway.

The fort is 20 kms away from Kolhapur and is built on the top of a mountain. The valley view from top is mesmerizing and the climate too is cool there. Before heading to Mumbai we had local food in one of the shacks that were just outside the fort premise. The jowar pancake (Bhakri), Pitla (gravy made of gram) and spicy pickle along with chill butter milk was a relief to our grumbling stomachs.

Granary at Panhala fort.

As we started our return journey, we were relishing the sweet memories which we created at Kolhapur. Just like a car needs maintenance from time to time to fix its wear and tear, I believe we city dwelling busy Mumbai’kar too need a good positive distraction from time to time to re-set our spirit to move on with life.

Was exited to go at 100km-120 km/hr speed on the new Mumbai Pune Highw

My trip to Kolhapur and all the little destinations which I visited with my family, served as my ‘spiritual maintenance’ time, which certainly has sown positive memories for me to cherish for years to come!


Photo Courtesy: Shraddha C. Sankulkar

Eating tasty local food at a shack outside Panhala fort.

‘Quality Sibling time’ at Hotel Sayaji’s swimming pool.