Postcards from Kolhapur (Part 2 - Shopping & Food) | Travel

In Part 1 of 'Postcards from Kolhapur', you saw pictures of the Palace, Zoo and I also told you about the Kolhapuri Misal, Mahalaxmi temple etc. In this post, we will talk about the Famous 'Chappal' galli and the 'Khau Galli' where a bhelpuri stall has earned the title of 'All India Special Bhel'.

After having a great time in the Palace and the Open zoo, we decided to go shopping. Kolhapur has some really amazing book stores. They stock up on rare titles in English, Marathi, Hindi and other languages, which are extremely difficult to find in Mumbai. When there is a bookshop around, my family knows that I will take time out to check out the titles and buy some books. I picked up some Marathi plays and novels, including some by P.L Deshpande.

When in Kolhapur, a trip to the Chappal market is a must! Every girl loves shopping for shoes, so do I. I love stocking up on different kinds of styles instead of sticking to just one. So after buying lots of books, we decided to head towards the 'Chappal' market to indulge in some more retail therapy.

The Chappal market is very popular. An entire lane is dedicated to shops that sell Kolhapuri chappals, mojris, sandals etc. Although the demand for original Kolhapuri chappals is low as they are expensive, these shops have also stocked up on imitations of these chappals, along with fancy mojris, sandals etc. During my last trip, I got myself the authentic Kolhapuri chappal. So this time, I wanted to opt for something different.

You see that 'peek-a-boo' of someone wearing a kolhapuri? That's my sister! She picked up some stuff as well. As for me, I picked 3 pairs. a pair of simple imitation kolhapuri, green flat tie ups and a colorful Mojri. Unfortunately, Monsoon is not the right time to wear them. So, I've kept them in my shoe rack waiting for the rains to end (I already have tons of outfit ideas).

Which one do you like the most?

Later, we picked up some jaggery and spices (Kolhapur is famous for both) and then, I wanted to try the famous Raja Bhau bhelpuri. I was told that each and every individual living in Kolhapur knows Rajabhau. He even has several Facebook pages dedicated to him. From the rickshaw guy to the Local gajra seller, everyone helped us with directions. My family members thought I've gone mad and kept telling me "Stop wasting time for a mere Bhelpuri". But I didn't listen to them, because experimenting is a hobby and I had to taste Rajabhau's bhel before leaving Kolhapur. Finally, we found the popular 'All India Special Bhel' stall in a busy lane called the 'Khau Galli'. You will get anything and everything in this 'Khau Galli'. People park their cars and bikes and enjoy the yummy food with their family and friends.

This shop opens at 4 pm, shuts at 2 am and is always crowded. Raja Bhau, the owner, cooks up  bhel for all the customers with a big smile on his face. He is known not only for his Bhel, but also for his kind nature. Locals say that he is never angry, never makes a grumpy face and is always active. Rajabhau takes care of everything along with his son and a few other family members. You maybe wondering, what's so special about this Bhel! Take a look.

His bhel has a spicy flavour with some tangy twist. You get two varieties, one with farsan and one without it. Unlike the normal bhel, Rajabhau's bhel has a lot of spices and chutneys mixed together. You will see very few vegetables. Those who get a chance to eat it will know why it's different and tasty! They have family packs and special packs for children and another variety for take away. How cool is that? Me and my sister stood there for a good 15mins, after eating the bhel, to find out what keeps Rajabhau going all day long. I remember seeing him on Highway on my Plate (NDTV goodtimes) telling Rocky and Mayur, "Even if a customer comes at 2 am to eat something, he will get fresh bhel with a smile on my face. I am always happy!" I love this guy's attitude, so humble and modest. I wanted to talk to him and tell him that he is really doing a good job (and say thank you for the bhel) but after looking at the impatient crowd and Rajabhau running around doing his work, I decided to come back next time, only to talk to him.
True talent deserves compliments, right?

Just before leaving the 'Khau Galli', I noticed a small tiny room next to this stall. The man sitting inside was surrounded by a zillion onions. We were shocked to see this man cutting onions without shedding a tear or two. When we asked him about it, he said "Mee eka divsaat 30-50 kilo kaande kaapto hya bhel saatthi. Haa mazaa kaam aahe. Aata kay ashru padnaar, savay zhali aahe" (Translation: I cut 30-50 kilo onions everyday for the bhel. It's my job. Tears don't roll down anymore as I've got used to it). He was so happy and content with whatever he had. In this journey called life, you get inspired by so many people and for me, he was definitely one of them. We thanked him as a kind gesture and told him to take care.

 Though we clicked 2-3 pictures, I like this picture the most! It's blurry, but his smile makes up for everything. Shopping, Pictures, Bhel and more.. The Kolhapur trip was wonderful! I had a great time in Kolhapur and all the wonderful moments brought a huge smile on my face. Not only because of the items that I got, but also because I met some wonderful, hardworking people, touched a piece of history and even clicked pictures of some adorable animals.

Now, it's time to announce the winner of our 'Style Icon' contest in collaboration with Golmaal Stores. First, I would like to thank all those who participated in this contest. We got a wonderful response and some fantastic answers. Some entries were considered invalid because they did not follow all the rules. It was difficult for us to choose a winner, but in the end, it's a contest and we have to take a decision.
The winner of the 'Style Icon' contest is.... Tanya Meghnani!

Much Love!

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  1. omg yummmy!! and i love the green ones you got :)

  2. Feeling proudy of being KOLHAPURI after reading this blog. Rajabhau bhel is like our asset. I just want to correct you a bit. These days bhel stalls are run by Rajabhau's sons at two different places. The photograph and description you mentioned is of his elder son.

    I would like to mention one more good thing about Rajabhau. My school is very near to Khau galli. Every year during Navaratri times we celebrated Hadaga/ Bhondla in our school. And on the last day Rajabhau used to offer bhel to all the girls, boys and staff of school and that too free of cost...hats off to Rajabhau. We are proud of you.

  3. lovely blog and posts....


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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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