If ever you go to Kolhapur, the one place that you must include in your travel itinerary is Jyotiba, the holy shrine of Lord Kedarnath up in the hills near the bustling city with its true Maratha flavour. It is not for nothing that Jyotiba is called the ‘The King of the Deccan’. Throughout the year the deity draws devotees in huge numbers. Also, it is known for being the family deity of the Scindias of Gwalior.
Located in Panhala district, the shrine of Lord Kedarnath has its faithful across not just Maharashtra but also Goa and Karnataka. Close to the Panhala Fort, it can be reached within half-an-hour from Kolhapur, situated as it is at a short distance of about 20 kilometers north-west of the Mahalakshmi Temple. The original name of the hill that hosts the shrine is Ratnagiri, which is now called Wadi-Ratnagiri. Ancient as it is, the temple of Jyotiba has been renovated three times till date and the present reconstruction was carried out in 1730 CE by the ancestors of the Scindia family of Gwalior.
The temples within and around the main shrine were reconstructed by the successors of the Scindia and Chavan families and utmost care was taken to ensure that the influence of ancient temple art was kept intact. The original deity is in ‘Shivlinga’ form and known as Kedareshwar. The Bhairav idol, Kedarnath or Jyotiba, was an addition in time. The deities that are important along with that of Jyotiba are those of Yamai and Chopadai. It is said that this shrine was under the control of the Nathpanthis for a long time. Mythology has it that this Bhairav was brought from North India and installed at Wada Ratnagiri by the goddess Mahalakshmi in order to kill Ratnasura, a demon.
Jyotiba is said to be the incarnation of three gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Jyotiba hill has 12 ‘jyotirlingas’ installed around the main Kedareshwar shrine and for many this is one of the main pilgrimage destinations. It is said that these jyotirlingasfrom all over India were installed here by Kedarnath or Jyotiba himself. An annual fair of Jyotiba takes place on the full moon night of the Hindu months of Chaitra.
For accommodation, the MTDC resort is just a few minutes away from the Jyotiba shrine. Alternatively, since Panhala Fort is quite close to the Jyotiba shrine, one can put up at the MTDC resort at Panhala and then visit Jyotiba which is easily accessible by road. The hilly region of Jyotiba also makes for a wonderful picnic spot.
Jyotiba is 18 km north-west of Kolhapur.
Shri Kshetra Jyotiba Dongar,
Dist - Kolhapur
Distance from Mumbai: 377 kms.