Mahalaxmi Temple the famous temple of Kolhapur which made a place of pilgrimage for the Hindus from all over India. The massive temple of “Mahalaxmi” has been built over a thousand years ago during the Chalukyas rule which represents the best Hindu architectural model of its kind.
The Shri Mahalakshmi Temple also known as Ambabai Temple is one of the 18 Shakti Peethas listed in various puranas of Hinduism.
The murti of crowned goddess Mahalaxmi is mounted on a stone. Weighs about 40 kilograms and carved of gemstone the statue is 3 feet in height. The crown contains an image of the Sheshnag, the serpent of Vishnu. The vahan of goddess, Lion stands behind the statue.
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).
The murti(Statue) is west(pachim) faced. On the western wall there is a window, through which the light of the setting sun falls on the face of the murti for three days, around the 21st of each March and September.
There are four entrance to Mahalaxmi temple each for one side. East, West, South and North. West entrance known as Mahadwar is the main entrance.
History of Mahalaxmi Temple, Kolhapur
In about 634 AD, the King Karnadeva of Chalukya Dynasty had begun the construction of Mahalaxmi temple but he could not complete it during his lifet ime. Later on Chalukya lost Kolhapur to invaders.
Nearly four century later, Shilahara and Chalukya came together and King Gandharadivya of Shilahar Dynasty finished the construction of temple and dedicated in to the Godess Mahalaxmi in about 9th century.
Legends: Mahalaxmi had a fight with her husband and she settled in Kolhapur. She had no roof over her head, so her loyal servants, who were demons, built her a big temple with beautiful carvings made of stones from the lake Rankala within one night. The people treated her very well, and so she promised that there would be no poverty. No person in Kolhapur will remain poor.
Five worship services are offered each day here. 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.
Worship services are offered each day throughout the year. Daily schedule is as follows
|4.00 a.m.||Opening of the Temple Entrance Gate.|
|4.00 a.m. to 4.30 a.m||Ghantanaad (Ringing of the bell)|
|4.45 a.m.||Opening of Main Door by the High Priest (Hakkadar Pujari) for that day.|
|5.30 a.m.||Padhya Pooja (Washing the feet of the idol Goddess Mahalaxmi by Milk.)|
|5.45 a.m.||Kakada Aarati of the Goddess Mahalaxmi.|
|8.30 a.m.||Ghantanaad (Ringing of the bell) and Snan Abhishek (Bathing of the main idol. Goddess Mahalaxmi)|
|9.30 a.m.||Aarati and Shankh Trith|
|11.30 a.m.||Ghantanaad and Abhishek (Milk Bathing of the main idol. Goddess Mahalaxmi)|
|12.30 to 1.00 p.m.||Aarati and Shankh Tirth|
|1.30 to 2.30 p.m.||Alankar Pooja. Salankruti|
(i.e. Goddess is decorated with beautiful Gold ornaments, Sari and Blouse) This Pooja is kept upto 8.30 p.m. in the evening
|8.00 p.m.||Ghantanaad (Ringing of the bell)|
|8.30 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.||Mantrapushp and removing the Alankar (Gold ornaments.) and simple Pooja is performed|
|10.00 p.m.||Ghantanaad (Ringing of the bell)|
|10.15 p.m.||Shejarati (Last Aarti of the day.)|
|10.30 p.m.||Temple’s Doors are closed.|
Special Events: A festival image of the deity is taken out in procession around the temple courtyard each Friday, and on full moon days.
Other Important Rituals Performed
- Every Friday at 9.30 p.m.- Palakhi (i.e. procession of the idol Goddess Mahalaxmi in Palainquin.)
- On every Chaitra Pratipada – Procession of the idol Goddess Mahalaxmi is carried out in Chariot and Palainquin at 9.30 p.m. known as Nagar Pradakshana.
- Procession of the Idol Goddess Mahalaxmi is carried out in Palainquin on every full Moon (Poornima) of Ashwin, Kartik, Margshirsh, Paush and Magh at 9.30 p.m.
- Palakhi (Procession) of the idol Goddess Mahalaxmi is carried out in Palainquin, daily during Navratri Ashwin pratipada upto Dasara Festival.
- Mahaprasad (Delicious Food) is distributed to thousands of Devoties after 12.00 p.m. on Ashwin Poornima. (full Moon)
- Abhishek and Kumkumarchan (Bathing the idol of Goddess Mahalaxmi with Milk and applying Kumkum on to the feets of the idol), are allowed to perform by male devoties only between 5.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.
Starting from Narakchaturdashi to Kartik Poornima the Temple is opened in early morning at 2.00 a.m. and Kakada Aarati is performed.
i.e. the rays of the Sun fall on the Goddess Mahalaxmi during Sunset.
Kirnostav Dates :
- 31 January & 9 November: Sun rays fall directly on the feet of the murti.
- 1 February & 10 November: Sun rays fall directly on the chest of the murti.
- 2 February & 11 November: Sun rays fall directly on the entire body of the murti.
It is not surprising that even the rays of a setting sun pay homage to Goddess Mahalakshmi Ambabai 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. It is the architect’s excellence, which was done more than 1000 years ago, and can still be observed. This special event is celebrated by thousands of people as Kiranotsav.