It would stretch anyone's imagination to believe that a maze of dilapidated buildings along the banks of the Panchganga River here was once a magnificent palace, the abode of a famous Maharashtrian king.
The birthplace of the famous Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj who brought the ‘golden period' in Kolhapur from 1884 to 1922 by abolishing untouchability and child marriage, the Lakshmi Vilas Palace is in an advanced state of ruin, its cultural and historical significance overlooked and neglected.
However, this is soon about to change with the state archaeology and tourism departments joining hands to restore it and develop it as a modern tourist facility. “Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj is one of the few kings who used his wealth for the welfare of his subjects. He was an ardent social reformer and is well known for promoting education amongst all castes and women,” Amarja Nimbalkar, core committee member of the state archaeology department told a delegation of visiting journalists.
“Laxmi Vilas Palace will be developed as a museum dedicated to Shahu Maharaj. Each of the six wings will show different aspects of the king's life his fondness for sports and performing arts,” Nimbalkar said.
“People from different parts of the world visit various places of worship here and to see the picturesque forts built by Maratha rulers during the nineteenth century. However, like the palace, the forts are lying in ruins, and temples are built in cramped localities, leaving much to be desired in the tourist experience,” Nimbalkar said. The archaeology department has submitted a proposal to develop the famous Mahalaxmi temple, along the lines of Akshardham in Delhi.PTI