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Mahalakshmi (Kolhapur)

Situated in Kolhapur, or the ancient city of Karaveer, the Mahalakshmi temple is among the major pilgrimages of the four goddesses worshipped by Hindus and figures prominently among the most visited places of pilgrimage in India. This abode of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, is particularly visited by thousands of devotees to witness the ‘luminous miracle’ where nature meets divine power. The goddess stands alone in the holy sanctum, resplendent in her fine robes and jewels. When the sun rises, its rays pierce the darkness and fall on her feet to seek blessings. The next day the rays reach upwards and on the third day the golden rays fall on her face and in moments the sanctum is bathed in luminous sunlight. This spectacle occurs twice every year.

According to folklore, goddess Lakshmi or Amba came to the ancient city to free it from the atrocities of a demon named Kolasura. After a fierce combat the demon was killed. Since then the goddess is said to have made Karveer her home. Though no historical records of the beautiful temple are available, it is widely believed that around the 9th century a temple was built around the statue of the deity by the then ruling dynasties who find mention in the ancient stone inscriptions. All the royal patrons worshipped the goddess and gave away land, jewels and silks to the reigning deity. The Rashtrakuta king Amoghvarsha is said to have even cut his small finger in order to please the goddess.

This temple is an architectural marvel with its exquisitely carved stone pillars and arches.

The beautiful statue of Mahalakshmi carries the symbols of the Shaivas, and the Vaishnavas, and this aspect makes it unique in its design and grace. The statue is carved out of black stone, with a lion standing majestically in the background. The goddess is adorned with priceless jewels and during the Navaratri she is decorated in her nine different manifestations - a sight to behold.

A famous legend proposes that the goddess is the beloved consort of Lord Vishnu or Balaji and that after having a tiff with her husband Balaji, Lakshmi left the famous Tirumala hills of Andhra Pradesh and settled at Kolhapur. In order to mollify her anger, a lovely saree is presented to the goddess by the Balaji temple authorities every year. To this day the pilgrimage to the Balaji temple is not complete till every devotee visits his consort at Kolhapur.

Distance from Mumbai: 380 kms