Friday, 24 August 2018

Inspiring New Palace, Kolhapur, Maharastra - a legacy of Shahuji Maharaj

New_Palace,_Kolhapur   YouTube
New_Palace,_Kolhapur    www.tabor.me.uk
The state of Maharastra, once the powerful seat of Maratha rulers who gave nightmares to the colonial rulers and  to the Mogul rulers earlier, has innumerable, strong forts and fine palaces. Their construction is so sturdy and well planned, they have survived well despite time and vagaries of harsh weather conditions prevailing in the Deccan region.  The New Palace, Kolhapur city is one of the popular palaces in this state. 
New_Palace,_Kolhapur  Touristlink
Constructed between 1877–1884 using locally available stones, the palace  has an  impressive  architecture, a huge  garden with fountain and  a wrestling ground. It was designed by Charles Mant in 1881 and has an beautiful marquee with filigree work in stone.
Octagonal in shape, the tall tower is  in the center with a clock on it. The clock  is believed to have been  fixed in 1877.  South facing, the main two-story building has  a terraced roof and numerous turrets and domes. The end rooms of the Palace are octagonal in shape both in front and at back, and it has a grand Darbar hall and billiard room on one side and two reception rooms on the other. At the back is an open chauck (square) with a fountain at the centre and an enclosed verandah arcade and rooms on all sides of the chauck. The palace's south front's two-story structure has  Neo-Mughal lobed arches beneath and temple-like columns and brackets above. This scheme is interrupted by well-planned trefoil arches capped with curving cornices and small domes. The same elements cap the octagonal corner towers. It is a blend of Hindu and Mogul design
New palace, Kolhapur. steemit.com
The New Palace is made of basaltic rock stones and sand stones blended in a unique fashion. Kolhapur New Palace, even now the residence of Chhatrapati Shahu, the direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of Maratha Empire is 1.5 km further north on Bhausingji Road. 
There is a nice museum on  the ground floor of the New Palace called  the Shahaji Chhatrapati Museum, and here on display are the countless personal collections and  memorabilia of the Kolhapur rulers and they bring out the  rich legacy of Kolhapur ruling dynasty and their varied interests. Included in the collections are the possessions of Chhatrapatis of Kolhapur like costumes, weapons, games, jewelry, embroidery and paraphernalia such as silver elephant saddles. A letter from the British Viceroy and Governor General of India is the other memorabilia. There is also one of Aurangzeb's swords at the  Museum. A section of the museum is dedicated to  stuffed animals such as tigers, tiger heads, wild dog, sloth bear, staring wild buffalo, lion, black panther, wild boar, black buck, a number of other deer varieties, and a Himalayan black bear. It clearly shows that the Kolhapur rulers' major outdoor sport was hunting in the near-by thick jungles and other places.  The museum also houses rare paintings, artifacts used by the royal family, variety of daggers, swords, pistols and Dan Patta, a type of sword.


In the palace, of particular interest is the Durbar Hall  which is twice tall in the middle.  An attractive feature in this palace is the display of stained glass art works. The side walls with lobed arches  display them  illustrating  various episodes from the life of great warrior  Shivaji; The cast-iron balcony above  is supported by carved columns with temple-like brackets. At one end of the hall there is a  raised throne. Here the interesting illustrations include one of the Maharajahs' with his 100th trophy - dead tiger. Other series of pictures include how to train Cheetahs and Elephants.  


This historical palace and the museum in it display a rich heritage of Shahuji Maharaj and his dynasty. The graceful outline of this palace building with  a profusion of ornamental details, the small corner octagonal towers, etc add zest to the beauty of this amazing royal residence of the Kolhapur ruling family and their close links with this city. A surprising fact is the past Maratha rulers of Thanjavur city, Tamil Nadu and the present Maratha Prince there  have close links with the ruling dynasty of Kolhapur. 
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Palace,_Kolhapur