The stunning Kopeshwar temple at Khidrapur, Kolhapur

Located on the banks of Krishna river and right on the border of Maharashtra and Karnataka, Kopeshwar temple at Khidrapur is a beautiful reminder of what our ancestors left back for us as cultural, religious and architectural heritage. I made a completely unplanned visit to the temple and came back impressed and inspired.

Here's my (funny, at times) story to the Kopeshwar temple at Khidrapur.

Kopeshwar Temple at Khidrapur
Entrance to Kopeshwar Temple
Kopeshwar temple from the back side


From mango ice-cream to Temple plans with a don

It was an unusually warm day in Kolhapur and I didn't particularly want to do anything. Trust me it's not uncommon for me to do nothing even in a new city, but walk around aimlessly, sometimes take pictures, sometimes just give my camera some rest. Today my cameras was happy and relaxing back in my room, while I was back to the ice cream shop I had discovered the previous night on a busy intersection in old Kolhapur. It looked like the kind of place locals would love to visit, and their mango Mastani was decent, if not great. But somehow their other mango preparation, freshly cut mangoes with fresh cream, looked really tempting last night when I saw an elderly Muslim couple was relishing it. It was a bit funny, because the woman was wearing a burkha and struggling a bit every time she wanted to take a bite.

So I ordered what they loved so much, and ate it. It was a relief to enjoy something so cold and refreshing when it was so hot outside. As I came out the owner recognised me from last night and asked a little about me. He saw me Instagram page and decided I was a famous photographer, even though I vehemently denied. One thing led to another and I ended up asking if he knew a taxi guy who would take me to Khidrapur (about 2+ hours away) that afternoon and bring me back by night.

Within minutes spoke to the guy sitting opposite us, made a few calls, and the whole place started buzzing with activity. I was a bit surprised and alarmed that everyone was seen keen to get me to the ruins of this old temple. The guy sitting opposite is made a few calls as well, took my number and said he will call back. Long story short, I got a call in the next fifteen minutes and a taxi was arranged for me. This is when the shopkeeper told me that the guy organising it was a well-known local goon, but more like Robin Hood - he loots the the rich, does things for the poor, makes lots of money for himself, is well connected to the politicians and sometimes even organises murders locally. I was even more alarmed by his interest in my temple visit, but it was too late to cancel it. Maybe that could anger him and I could be history.

Sex talks with the driver en-route

I walked to my hotel, picked my camera and walked to the Bhawani Mandap and got into the waiting car. And this is how my momentous journey to Kopeshwar temple in Khidrapur started.

My journey was also rather eventful. My driver and I had the same phone (iPhone 7 Plus), and when he realised it, he wanted to know all about taking pictures and videos through it. My big contribution was to introduce him to the portrait mode on the camera. However, it wasn't just his phone where he was extravagant, and we spent the rest of the trip discussing women, relationships and sex. Yes sex, but since he was doing all the talking I was happy to learn about his sexual fetishes, conquests in bed, and some of the absolutely unbelievable demands women made from him, many of which left his exhausted for long after (no, I can't publish it all here).

For a while I felt he was simply making up his exploits, but maybe he was actually a hit with the women as he was both young and good looking. He wanted some tips to get over heartaches though (he was struggling to get over getting dumped by a girl in Pune), and I gave him some tips from my own life experiences.

So what is Kopeshwar Temple?

Well, Kopeshwar is a 12th century temple dedicated to lord Shiva. Located on the banks of Krishna river, the temple is not yet a very popular tourist destination, which is great as on lucky days you could be the only one here. In fact if you come in the morning, I am quite sure the place would be deserted.

Kopeshwar temple at Khidrapur
Exquisitely carved gate
Kopeshwar temple at sunset

As was the customary those days, the temple is built with locally sourced stones and the walls are beautifully carved. Not just Gods and Goddesses, but the outer walls also show how life used to be back then. There are dancers, war scenes, couples, families and so on - looking at each carving in detail can easily take more than a day!

Another very interesting part is the skylight opening in the swarga-mandap after the entrance to the temple. This is quite unique and very well executed.

Opening in swarga-mandap

The temple is a part of the village and it actually falls in the path of the villagers. This actually gives it a sense of a living temple; maybe that's how temples used to be back in the days - a part of daily life.

Carvings at Kopeshwar Temple

The carvings at the Kopeshwar temple are some of the finest that you will see in the temples in this region and you can easily spend hours gazing at them. From depicting daily life to the lives of the Gods, the shilpakar has done full justice to stone as well as the theme of the temple. Enjoy!

A wall full of carvings
Krishna with a flute
Woman making music
Vishnu
Can someone identify her?
A woman getting ready

Pro-tips:

Tip 1: Narsobawadi or Narsinhwadi is an extremely popular pilgrimage for the followers of Shri Dattaray. The temple is simple, but it's location next to the river Krishna is beautiful.

Unfortunately, there is too much construction around (for the festivals that happen here) and that has certainly spoiled the natural beauty of the place completely.

Tip 2: Just as you enter the village before you turn around towards Kopeshwar temple, look out for an old Jain temple with a tall Shikhar. Do stop by, the architecture is lovely.

Jain Temple
Jain Temple

Practical tips for a visit

Distance from Kolhapur: 60 km (about 1.5 hours)
Distance from Pune: 270 km (about 5 hours)
Entry fee: free
Parking: paid parking available, but you can also park for free in the village
Photography: allowed outside the temple in the compound only

Here's a map for reference:

Travel video of Kopeshwar Temple

While I was at the temple, I also made a short video of the temple complex. It's another experience to see it all in motion :)


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S
Siddhartha Joshi
Last Updated : Oct 06,2020
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