Witnessing the transformation from a magnificent Palace empowering the rulers of the bygone era with its grandeur to serving the quest of present-day humans has been astounding. It feels surreal to behold the traces of rooted history serving the needs of the contemporary world. In general, museums are repositories of historical events frozen in a tangible form. Rather in the case of heritage structures, it acts as a museum of art and architecture by itself. Adaptive Reuse is one of the ways to provide the structure with a prominent function and bring back life.

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Chhatrapati Shahu Palace_©digitalcollections.nypl.org

Chhatrapati Shahu Palace

Chhatrapati Shahu Palace also known as the New Palace, is an exquisite example of a heritage structure adorned with architectural and cultural legacy turned into a museum. It serves as a testimonial to the grandeur of Maratha architecture and the bequest of its patron, Maharaja Shahu Chhatrapati, Kolhapur in Maharashtra, India. 

Dating back to the late 19th century, when the construction of the New Palace was commissioned by Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj in 1877. The Palace was designed by British architect Charles Mant to house the royal family and to host luminaries and other events. In 1884, the construction of the Palace was completed, and served as a residence to the rulers of Kolhapur until the abolition of the princely state came to act in 1947. 

Built Heritage

Built during the regime of Marathas, the Palace ideally portrays the opulence of the past. It is stunning to understand that the layout of the museum caters to the dual purpose of the former Palace converted into a museum. The first sight of the marvel reflects the perfect blend of Indo- Saracenic and Renaissance styles of architecture. Despite numerous features showcasing its eclectic essence of the erstwhile period, Shahu Palace holds a distinct character in the novel blend of Basalt and Sandstone.

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Details of the arch_©https://www.kolhapurtourism.org

The sprawling complex of the palace consists of meticulously designed buildings inculcating courtyards in between and surrounded by a refreshing garden area. The main building is adorned with details of the Indo-Saracenic style of design including ornamental balconies, intricate carvings, and decorative domes. Captivated by the nuances of details, it is impossible to miss the carving of multifoil lobes arched under the temple-like columns. The domes are embellished with trefoil arches, curving cornices and the same design mimicked on the octagonal corner balconies.

The mesmerising sight of the Durbar Hall brings the aura of a Maratha court scene with illusory experience. The interior details of the palace are a testament to the prowess of Maratha architecture. The double-height vista is decked up with minuscule carvings on the columns and temple-like columns supporting the cast iron balconies. The stained glasses and intricate fresco paintings elucidate the visuals from the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.     

The Palace precinct includes

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vDurbar Hall_©https://saibabatravels.com

a small lake and a well-maintained garden around the main building. These lush areas are scattered with pavilions, statues, and fountains, providing a window into the royal way of life and appreciation of art. There are peacocks, emus, and spotted deer offering a tranquil experience amidst the urban landscape.    

Cultural Heritage

Surpassing its architectural supremacy, the Palace acts as a repository of art and cultural heritage of Maharashtra. The ground floor is completely dedicated to the exhibit of paintings and artefacts of the bygone era. The walls of the palace act as a visual narrative of the cultural tapestry of the erstwhile period. The paintings and murals illustrate the historical events and majestic portraits of royalty. It houses numerous artefacts including sculptures of deities and mythological creatures showcasing the craftsmanship of local artisans. 

Shahaji Chhatrapati Museum owns the memorabilia of the Kolhapur rulers depicting the royal lifestyle. It is a collection of exquisite possessions of the Chhatrapati of Kolhapur. It includes coins, weapons, costumes, jewellery, and also letters from the British Viceroy and Governor General of India. One of Aurangzeb’s swords at the Shahaji Chhatrapati Museum is another allure. A separate section is dedicated to animal trophies with tiger heads, Wild dogs, lions, Black Panther and a variety of deers. 

Chhatrapati Shahu Palace is a stunning example of Maratha architecture that captures the majesty of the style while also representing Maharashtra’s cultural past. The palace never fails to enthral and inspire guests with its magnificent architecture, extensive history, and support of the arts and culture, preserving the essence of a bygone era.

Apart from its cultural importance, the palace also acts as a memorial to Maharaja Shahu Chhatrapati’s contributions to Kolhapur’s progress and well-being. His progressive policies, which included social welfare schemes, infrastructural development, and changes in education, turned Kolhapur into a prosperous princely state and made a lasting impression on its history.

The palace is an example of Kolhapur’s rich cultural Heritage and continues to attract tourists from all around the country. It serves as a cultural centre hosting festivals, exhibitions, and other events promoting the craftsmanship of the region.


Sandhya is a dynamic and passionate architect who is also interested in art, music, and movies. As a designer, she endeavors to transform spaces into enduring experience and the same goes with writing. She believes architecture is a perception of life that has the potential to shape one’s mind and thinking. Through the process of writing, she wants to express her impression of architecture in the form of words.