The Rankala Lake is a very famous tourist attraction for people from all over the world. Marked by the natural beauty and peaceful environment it provides, it sure does become one of the must-visits on everyone's list. The lake was constructed by Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, the then king of Kolhapur. Rajgath and Marathghat are the two ghats that the lake has. The lake covers an area of as large as 107 hectares. The lake is generally visited during the evening time.
The Rankala Lake is a place of serene beauty further mystified with various legends. This Lake has a circumference of 4.5 miles. On its west lies the regal Shalini palace and on its east is the Padma Raje gardens. The Rankala lake has a fascinating history dating back to the days of Shri Chhatrapati Sahu Maharaj who was the ruler of Kohlapur. Many believe that the Rankala Lake is not a real natural lake at all and that is was built by Shri Chhatrapati Sahu Maharaj.
Apart from the inherent natural beauty and the regal beauty of the Shalini palace and the Padma Raje gardens, the Lake also offers a host of activities to keep tourists entertained. Tourists can enjoy Horseback riding and boating. There are various food stalls along the lake which serve delicious snacks at reasonable prices. The banks of the lake are well-maintained with seating arrangements and picturesque gardens.
History of Rankala Lake
The Rankala Lake never existed from the very start. It was a stone quarry- unbelievable but true! There is believed to be an earthquake which shook the face of the earth in 9th Century AD due to which there was a shift, and the underground water surfaced up covering the quarry thereby creating the so-called natural lake.
It is also believed by some that the Rankala Lake was constructed by Shri Chhatrapati Sahu Maharaj and is in fact not a natural lake at all. It is said that the stones used for building the Mahalaxmi Temple were taken from here thus forming a depression. Underground water later filled the depression to create the lake. Locals believe that the lake is connected to a well in Panhala fort. It is also said that Shivaji Maharaja used this tunnel to cross over to Panhala fort.
A historical place like this does not go without its own legend. The story of this site stems out from the Rankabhairav temple which is believed to be submerged in the lake. The Rankabhairav temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. A temple at the sides of the Rankala Lake has a statue of Shiva's vehicle Nandi. According to the legend, Lord Shiva uses Nandi for travelling and thus this statue of Nandi moves towards the direction of the lake by the distance of one wheat grain every day and comes back to its original position. It is believed that the world will come to an end when the statue of Nandi reaches up to the lake.
Things To Do at Rankala Lake
The Rankala Lake in itself is quite a sight to see. It is spread over a large area and holds a subtle beauty further mystified by the various stories and legends that surround its origin. The banks of the lake are well-decorated and well-maintained with seating arrangements and small gardens. The lake has boating facilities, and tourists can enjoy horseback riding on land. The banks of this lake have been modified into picturesque pathways with an abundance of various trees. This area is also well-equipped for foodies with multiple food stalls serving foods like Bhel puri, Ragda patis etc.
Tourists can also get an opportunity to witness the shooting of various Bollywood and Marathhi films here. The Shalini Palace and Shantakiran studios can be visited to see shootings with prior permission. On the western side of the lake is the majestic Shalini Palace. This palace was named after the princess Shalini Raje and was built of beautifully carved black stone and Italian marble. On the eastern side of the lake lies the Padma Raje gardens. The mesmerising lake has two ghats named Rajghat and Marathghat.
The Sandhya Math lies on the northern banks of the lake. It is a stone structure in the form of a big hall. However, it mostly remains submerged during the monsoon season.
How to Reach Rankala Lake
Rankala Lake is well connected by roads to all the important cities of Maharashtra. State tourism transports are readily available from any city in Maharashtra to Kolhapur.
Tourists can also take either a train or a flight to Kolhapur. The railway station is 5 km away from the lake. Autorickshaws or cabs are easily available from the station to the Rankala Lake. The airport is situated at a distance of 17 km, and cabs are available from the airport to the lake.