The Shri Mahalakshmi Temple of Kolhapur in Maharashtra, India, is one of the Shakti Peethas listed in various puranas of Hinduism. According to these writings, a Shakti Peetha is a place associated with Shakti, the goddess of power. The Kolhapur Shakti Peetha is of special religious significance being one of the six places where it is believed that one can either obtain salvation from desires or have them fulfilled. The temple takes its name from Mahalakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, and it is believed that the divine couple reside in the area.
The temple belongs architecturally to the Kannada Chalukya empire and may have been first built in circa 700 AD. Mounted on a stone platform, the image of the four armed and 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 mhalunga (a citrus fruit), in the upper right, a large mace (kaumodaki) with its head touching the ground, in the upper left a shield (khetaka), and in the lower left, a bowl (panpatra). Unlike most Hindu sacred images, which face north or east, the image of this deity looks west (Pashchim). 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 around the 21st of each March and September. There are a number of other shrines in The Courtyard to the Navagrahas, Surya, Mahishasuramardini, Vitthal-Rakhmai, Shiva, Vishnu, Tulja Bhavani and others. Some of these images date back to the 11th century, while some are of recent origin.
Also located in the courtyard is the temple tank Manikarnika Kund, on whose bank is a shrine to Visweshwar Mahadev. Worship Structure: Five worship services are offered each day. The first one is at 5 am, and it involves the waking of the deity with a Kakada - torch, to the accompaniment of hymns. The second worship service at 8 am involves the offeirng of the Shodashopachara pooja consisting of 16 elements. The afternoon and evening services and the Shejaarati pooja constitute the three other services. Special Events: A festival image of the deity is taken out in procession around the temple courtyard each Friday, and on full moon days.
The city is referred to in many Puranas, 500 years back. Research guesses that it was in existence in the times of Parashuram. The time is.considered parallel to that of Mata peeth (Mahurgad), Sapta Shringi (Nasik) and Bhavani Peetha, in the Ramayana times. Karveer washes off great sins. There are many ancient, rich temples, holy places and gardens. There is evidence to show that the Konkan king Kamadeo, Chalukya, Shilahar, Yadav dynasties visited this city. Adya Shankaracharya also visited. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj & Sambhaji reigned. The idol of Mahalaxmi is made of jewel - stone, approximately weighing 40 kg. The size is like Salunki. Sand & diamond are found in it.
It stands on a stony stage with a lion behind it. In the middle there is natural lotus. It is four-handed, having Vetak, shield, Mhalung & Water-Pot. There is crown on the head and a snake holds shade. In 109 A. D. Karnadeo cut off the jungle and brought the temple to light. The existence goes back to 8 th century, according to Dr. Bhandarkar & Mr. Khare. In the 8 th century, the temple sank down due to earthquake. In the 9 th century Gandavadix (King) extended the temple by building Mahakali Mandir. During 1178 -1209, in the reigo of Raja Jaysing & Sindhava, South gate & Atibaleshwar Temple were built. In 1218 Yadav king Tolum built Mahadwar, and offered jewels to Devi.
Further, Shilahar built Maha Sarasvati Mandir. He being a gain, got 64 idols carved. It is possible that new idol called Padmavati was installed at that time. Further, in Chalukya times, Ganapati before the temple was installed. It seems that the original temple was of the Hindus. In the 13 th century, Shankaracharya built Nagar Khana & Office, Deepmalas. During 1712 - 1792 (Sambhaje Reign) Narhar Bhat Shastree had a dream which he told to Sambhajee. In the Mogal reign, the worshippers had hidden the idol for protection. Believing Sangavakar's dream, Sambhajee started a search.
Kirnotsav in Mahalakshmi Temple Kolhapur (festival of Sun rays) is celebrated when the sun rays fall directly on the deity's Mahalakshmi idol at the time of sunset on the following days : 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 Goddess Mahalakshmi as the life of human being revolves around illumination and prosperity. But it is the wonder of wise architects who built the temple of Mahalakshmi at kolhapur that the rays of the setting Sun, bow at the feet of the Goddess through a window, for a while before vanishing. This special event is celebrated by thousands of people as ‘KiranUtsav’. Every year this festival is celebrated on the following days at evening: 31 January 1 February 2 February 9 November 10 November 11 November.
It is said that Sun god gives respect to Mahalaxmi for three days in a year. This will be on the occasion of RathaSaptami (which will be somewhere in January every year). This will be for 3 days. The first day, ray falls on the feet, on second day, on the middle portion of the deity and on the third day on the face. Its the architect's excellence, which is been done more than 1000years ago, can still be observed. Later during the time of Peshwas, the temple was repaired. Though, many invasions over this part of India has caused some damages of the beautiful idols, which are all around the temple.