Jyotiba Temple, Kolhapur is situated over 3000 feet above sea level in the Panhala hills of Maharashtra. Jyotiba Temple, Kolhapur is a Jyotirlinga and very popular among devotees from all over India. The Jyotiba Temple is a sight to behold during the full moon days of Vaishakh and Chaitra when hundreds of thousands of devotees visit to participate in the annual temple festival. The whole Jyotiba Temple complex in Kolhapur turns pink from vermillion and the devotees perform a mesmerizing dance using Sasankathi bamboo sticks.
Jyotiba Temple, Kolhapur is just 17 kms northwest of the main city of Kolhapur. Kolhapur lies on National Highway NH4 which connects Mumbai to Bangalore. It is well connected by Rail and Air from major Indian Cities.
Jyotiba was born to Vimalmbuja and the Sage Pougand, on Chaitra Shukla 6. He is supposed to be an incarnation of the holy trinity of Hindu Mythology. Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva took the form of Jyotiba to defeat the evil Ratnasur. Jyotiba also helped Goddess Mahalakshmi in defeating the demon forces. Jyotiba settled down after these wars on the Kolhapur Mountain and the land flourished. The modern day temple was built in 1730 by Navajiyasa.
The best time to visit the Jyotiba Temple, Kolhapur is during Chaitra Purnima which comes in April, when hundreds of thousands of devotees come to Jyotiba to participate in the annual fair. The festival actually celebrates the wedding of Jyotiba’s sister Yammai. Pilgrims perform a dance using Sasankathi which are long and decorated bamboo sticks some as much as 30 feet. In mythology, Sasankathi were erected in the memory of the wives of the demons who were killed by Jyotiba. The whole mountain becomes pink, thanks to the generous pouring of vermillion.
Once the Sasankathi procession is over, preparations start to ready Jyotiba’s horse to take him to his sister’s house. The horse is also bathed in vermillion and is all pink! Amidst drum beats and cannon firings, Jyotiba is ready to move. The ceremony ends late in the evening after he is carried on a Palanquin to his sister Yammai's temple.
A remarkable phenomenon at the Kolhapur Jyotiba Temple is the Langar, or free meal service during the annual fair. It is held at the Gayamukh area under a huge Pandal. Meals are provided round the clock for 4days during this period to all the devotees. What goes into planning the Langar are 10 tons Rice, 1.5 tons Toor Dal, 2.5 tons Rawa, one truck load of Vegetables, 4000 litres of Milk, 200 kg tea, 5 ton Sugar, 1 ton Chana dal and 150 cans of Oil. The volunteers do a fabulous job in keeping the whole affair clean and hygienic.
The Sahajseva Trust also organizes a blood donation camp during the Fair to create awareness of blood donation and help the local community.
If you are newly married, it is advisable to go to Jyotiba Temple, Kolhapur during the annual festival. It is supposed to guarantee a blissful married life!
For a Pilgrim's Diary on the peerless Mahalakshmi Temple of Kolhapur, visit Mahalakshmi Temple.