The Shri Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple is located in the Kolhapur city of Maharashtra on the banks of the Panchganga River, about 156 miles south of Pune. The diety Goddess Mahalakshmi here is also referred to as “Ambabai” by several communities and hence the temple is also known as Shri Kollur Ambabai Temple. The temple is referred to appear in multiple Puranas of Hinduism. The temple is of extreme religious significance and is considered to be the most sacred abode of goddess Lakshmi in the world, making it the one and only, number one pilgrimage centers dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. Let’s explore the temple for its most precious history, traditions and much more.
History of the temple rolls down to a fight between Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi in the Vaikuntha. When a sage named Bhrigumuni kicks Lord Vishnu on his chest, and Lord Vishnu, of course, being the supreme and the eternal controller of all does not retaliate or curse the sage on his wicked gesture but in turn greets him with great hospitality and ensures that his foot is not aching as he had kicked him real hard. Vishnu then tells Bhrigu that his chest is strong but his foot might not be very strong and hence starts pressing his foot to provide comfort to the sage.
Goddess Lakshmi witnessing all of this, unable to bear the insult to her husband, grows extremely furious as Vishnu’s chest is where she resides. In spite of the muni disrespecting her, Lord Vishnu puts up a kind, gentle decorum which was disliked by Lakshmi who then decides to leave Vaikhunta and come down to earth. The place where she came down to earth from Vaikhunta is the very Kolhapur, where she lived and decided to stay forever to bless all her countless devotees who visit her then, now and forever.
The Name – Kolhapur
Goddess Lakshmi being an extremely knowledgable and wife of the supreme did not, just like that, come to this particular town but in fact with a purpose for sure, as Gods and Goddesses do not do anything without the purpose of welfare to devotees or people on earth. A story emerges in the Puranas that there lived a fox-like demon. The word ‘Kolha’ translates to Fox in English. ‘Pur’ translated to a city or town. According to the story, there was this place where a river flowed. Once, there came a demon named ‘Kolhasur’. This demon was sucking away the water of this river. And thus people there were deprived of water. So, they prayed to Goddess Parvati to solve their miseries.
Observing this Goddess Lakshmi made the excuse of a fight with Lord Vishnu and came down to earth just to save her devotees and people of the town. So she came in the form of Mahalakshmi and killed this demon. Before dying, he begged her to forgive him and she did. But his last wish before dying was to name the place he lived after him. Thus the city retains its name ‘Kolhapur’ from ‘Kolha’ or the demon ‘Kolhasur’.
Kolhapur – Holy in Itself!
Kolhapur was previously known as Karvir or Karveer, hence the taluk in which Kolhapur City is situated is named Karveer. It is said that both Lakshmi and Vishnu reside in the Karveer area eternally and shall not leave even at the time of Mahapralayakala(where the whole world is supposed to drown in water). Karveer region is eternally blessed and is believed to be held by Mother Jagadamba in her right hand, and hence the region is protected from all destruction.
Lord Vishnu himself adores this region more than Vaikuntha since it is the home of his consort Lakshmi. 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.
Pranams to the beautiful Goddess!
Having a glimpse of the deity of the temple, Goddess Mahalakshmi ‘s beautiful idol will leave you not taking your eyes off it! yes, just a glimpse because the immense crowd there would not let you watch your heartful. The idol is considered to be at least 5000 to 6000 years old. Mounted on a stone platform, the idol of the crowned goddess is made of gemstone and weighs about 40 kilograms. The image of Mahalakshmi carved in black stone is 3 feet in height. The ‘Shri Yantra’ is carved on one of the walls in the temple. A stone lion (the vahana of the goddess), stands behind the statue. The crown contains an image of the Sheshnag the serpent of Vishnu.
In her four hands, the deity of Mahalakshmi holds objects of symbolic value. The lower right-hand holds a Mhatulinga (a citrus fruit), in the upper right is a large Mace or Gadha called the Kaumodaki – with its head facing the ground, in the upper left hand is a Shield or Khetaka and in the lower left, a bowl called the Panpatra. Unlike most Hindu sacred idols, which face north or east, the deity faces West. There is a small open window on the western wall, through which the light of the setting sun falls on the face of the image for three days every year.
Evolved and Extended
The temple belongs architecturally to the Chalukya empire and was first built in the 7th century. There is evidence to show that the Konkan king Kamadeo, the Chalukyas, Shilaharas, Yadavas of Devagiri dynasties visited this city. History records that Sri Adi Shankaracharya also visited the temple with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj & Sambhaji reigned at this holy place.
Yadav king Tolum built Mahadwar, and offered jewels to Devi. Shilahara being a Jain monk built the Maha Sarasvati Mandir and got 64 Hindu idols carved. Yadav king Tolum built Mahadwar, and offered jewels to Devi. King Gandavadix extended the temple by building the Mahakali Mandir. This way the temple has seen enormous contributions of great men who were even greater devotees.
Kirnotsav (festival of Sun Rays) is celebrated in the Mahalakshmi Temple when the rays of the sun fall directly on the deity at the time of sunset. It is said that the Sun god pays his homage to Mahalakshmi for three days in a year. This will be on the occasion of “RathaSaptami”.
31 January & 9 November – Sun rays fall directly on the feet of the deity.
1 February & 10 November – Sun rays fall directly on the chest of the deity.
2 February & 11 November – Sun rays fall directly on the entire body of the deity.
It is not surprising that even the rays of a setting sun pay homage to the ever powerful Goddess Mahalakshmi to whom the entire universe surrenders. The temple is built in such a way that the rays of the setting Sun, bow at the feet of the Goddess through a window, for a while before vanishing. The architect’s excellence, which was built more than 1000 years ago is certainly to be appreciated. This special event witness thousands of devotees celebrating Kirnotsav with utmost joy and love to the eternal, beautiful Goddess Mahalakshmi.
Mahalakshmi Devi is the Devi of Maharashtra, praised, loved and worshipped by all devotees and made her their sacred Goddess.
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