Kolhapur, the land of magnificent temples, is the religious pride of Maharashtra. Nested in the tranquil laps of the Sahyadri mountain ranges, it is situated on the banks of the river Panchganga. Also termed as a city of palaces and gardens, it is a historic Maratha city, with the Mahalakshmi temple forming the focus.

The Shri Mahalakshmi (AmbaBai) Temple of Kolhapur in Maharashtra, India, is one of the 108 Shakti Peethas listed in various puranas of Hinduism. The temple is of special religious significance and is considered to be a place where Shakti (goddess of empowerment) manifests and as one of only six sacred houses of Shakti where worshipers can either be freed from or granted their longings.

According to popular legends, Mahalakshmi left Vaikuntha and arrived at Kolhapur on hearing that Lord Venkatesh (Vishnu) her beloved husband failed to take action against sage Bhrigu for his horrific behaviour towards him. An angry Mahalakshmi is said to have observed strict penance in Kolhapur for several years until upon hearing the news of her husband being married to Tirumala Padmavati, another avatar of Mahalaskhmi. The greatness of this region has therefore attracted many sages and devotees, the blessings and affections showered by this region on its devotees are immeasurable. It is believed that Prabhu Shri Dattatreya still comes here every noon to seek alms.

The deity of the Goddess Mahalakshmi is made of gemstone and is considered to be at least 5000 to 6000 years old. It weighs about 40 kilos. The precious stones that adorn the deity indicate the antiquity of the deity. The platform of the Goddess Mahalakshmi is made of stone. The deity of the Goddess has four arms. In the lower right hand she holds the matulinga, (a fruit similar to ordinary lemon but much larger in size). In the upper right hand she holds large mace, kaumodaks, and its head touching the ground. In the upper left hand she holds the shield or khetaka, and while in the lower one she holds a bowl, panpatra. 

On the crown of the Goddess Mahalakshmi are a cobra-hood and a Shiva-ling with a Yoni around it. Standing behind is the Goddess’ vahana-a lion. Almost all the idols of the God face the north or the east directions, whereas here the Idol faces the west. There is a small window on the western wall. Once a year, the rays of the Sun during sunset falls on the face of the image through this window. This period lasts for three days, each time, the 21st, of the months of March and September. This period is considered extremely auspicious, the Devotees throng the temple on all the three evenings the temple for a glimpse of the beautiful image bathing in the golden rays of the setting sun.

The Kolhapureshwari temple is revered as a Shakti Peetha, well known as Shri Peetham. It is said that Sati’s eye’s fell at this place while Shiva was carrying her around.  Like every Shakti Peetha, an associated Kalabhairava Shrine is present in this temple.

The Temple is an important pilgrimage site especially for believers of the Shaktism sect. These Temples or the Peethams are mentioned and praised in the Ashta Dasa Peetha Stotram by Adi Shankaracharya. It is believed that worshiping at the Peethams will provide protection to the devotee forever against all evils along with abundant good health and fortune.

It is believed that Lord Dattatreya comes and visits Goddess Mahalakshmi every noon to seek her blessings. It is a belief that the darshan of Sri Balaji at the Tirumala Devasthanam in Andhra Pradesh is incomplete without visiting Goddess Mahalakshmi at Kolhapur.





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