Year – 2015
Month – May
Place – Kolhapur
Destination- Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaja Palace (New Palace)
Travel – by Road/ by Railways
Why Kolhapur? Many might wonder.
Sometimes not all of your trips turn out to be best ones, with things worth sharing as an intention of making people visit it. Sometimes you just feel disgusted and utterly helpless, and the best thing I thought can be done by me was writing about it!
Kolhapur is a city in the Panchganga River Basin in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. A visit to this place is always like a “summer break”, may it be any time of the year. Kolhapur has been one of my vacation hangouts, my memories here are mostly associated with summer break, as my Aunt lives here. It goes unsaid that vacation is all about food, entertainment and lazing. You name the dish and it’s there to greet you. You sleep for hours with no one to wake you. It’s 24×7 pampering that you need to experience at least once a year. It often is a fallback place for me when there is too much on my plate. It was an extended weekend of three days which got me to Kolhapur this time. Surprisingly, the rejuvenating part of my agenda was accomplished within the first two days. This left me with a day to fulfill a year-long persuasion of my sister, a visit to palace turned museum, named The New Palace, belonging to ‘His Highness Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaja’ (RSM, as referred later in the article).
Magnificent, gigantic and wonderful!! This is how it looks from the outside.
A visit here isn’t heavy on the pocket. The ticket rates are significantly low, ranging from INR 0 to INR 75!
As is the case with most of the historical places, Mobile phones were not allowed here too, which meant there was no scope to capture photos and no digital communication for a while. Noticeably, the security was near to nothing. There was no screening too while entering.
People need to take the tour of museum barefoot leaving their footwear outside, leaving it to the mercy of God-knows-Who, One of the few things which neither pleased me nor did I get, why. To top it all, if you are a cleanliness freak then your tour wouldn’t last long.
A huge painting of RSM, an “Almari” and an ancient “Doli” welcomed me in tandem, to begin the tour with. The darkness in the room camouflaged its brown and black colors. As you go in through a flimsy door frame you get to see tables, chairs and beds randomly pushed to a side of the room, leaving an aisle on the other side, two portions separated by a fragile rope. Like I said, it’s not well-lit to see the carvings and the wood finish.
We could see the rooms filled with fine-looking antique jewelry, clothing, maps, pictures, lamps (made of hides) and weapons as we walked in. It felt heavy and original just by the look of it. Some exquisitely carved Almaris, doors made of patterned holes, use of precious wood for furniture, metal for weapons and linen for clothing did not go unnoticed. The passages with enclosing walls were covered with maps, paintings and books within bookshelves guarded by locks (probably the only reason why they still seemed to be in a better condition).
“Durbar”, one of the main attractions, a spectacular feature stands tall within the premises. It’s huge, majestic, creative and a stable architecture. Its enormity, the carvings on the walls and the ceiling made me stand still for a while. Chairs were placed facing each other leaving some space in-between. Chairs were robust, made of precious wood with golden carvings on it. A wonderful blend of colors, dynamic yet subtly engraved designs, all steal your heart.
As good as this all seems there are still a lot of things which need attention from the authority. I feel sad to mention this, but all the glory of the past has hidden its vibrancy below the dust, the cobwebs and the mess created by the visitors. Museum should get things to life. Instead, everything here seems to survive on a life support system.
Plenty of “Do Not Touch” signboards can be seen; still the doors of Almaris and other accessible stuff had been broken. Thanks to all those who chose to comfortably ignore the sign boards for their curiosity. It does not end there. Almaris made with a considerable amount of effort can be noticed covered with indecent graffiti made by not-so-sane people. There were hearts around the frame, with names of people written with pencil, pen and chalk in them. I felt heart-broken.
Being an animal lover I completely disliked the collection of hunted animals.
I love the old architecture, the authentic coloring pattern on the wall, the old furniture, especially the Almaris. I was thrilled by the beauty but simultaneously found it hard to digest the state of maintenance of our heritage. This place did not even have the video surveillance. It’s time we take care of it. Value it. Not that we don’t have money!
A few simple things I thought could bring a change –
- Mobiles and Cameras can be left outside.
- Ticket rates can be increased to generate revenue. Once enough revenue is generated, private entrepreneurs can be hired as contractors to maintain the heritage property.
- Volunteers can be engaged to ensure the safety of property thus creating Employment.
It’s an admirable display of art filled with beauty, almost on par with the famous Mysore Palace. It would be a major contributor towards inflow of cash by tourists only if maintained properly.
The beauty of a place can only be savored when it is presentable. For all those people concerned, the authority, the government – These monuments are a treasure and sure should be treated like one. Stop sleeping over the maintenance projects, bring life to these monuments. Visitors, many talented people have put in a lot of efforts to treat you with these great things, enjoy them.
Not all places reap as much as the Louvre, but we can definitely preserve what we already have!
To know more, you can always visit wiki link: