Kolhapur (Maharashtra): The imposing Hotel Shalini Palace, a heritage structure
steeped in debt, will soon go under an auctioneer's hammer, a top
The palace hotel has been taken over by Mumbai-based Saraswat
Cooperative Bank Ltd, and its operations shut Dec 13, bank
chairman Eknath Thakur confirmed.
"We had given the hotel management time to clear dues, along with
interest and penalties, but they could not do it," Thakur told
Two years ago, the hotel management was similarly threatened with
auction for defaulting on dues which are currently pegged at Rs.35
crore, Thakur revealed.
Spread over 12 acres of lush greenery on the edge of the Rankala
Lake, the structure is currently owned and managed by the Chougule
Group, said an official who requested anonymity.
Saraswat Bank and United Bank of India are understood to have
extended a loan of Rs.60 crore to the hotel management, which has
defaulted on repayment.
Thakur said that the auction proceedings will be initiated within
Hotel Shalini Palace was built by the Chhatrapati clan, who ruled
large parts of Maharashtra. Construction work lasted four years,
and the palace was ready for use in 1932.
The final cost was a king's ransom in those days: Rs.8 lakh.
The palace was named after Princess Shaliniraje, daughter of then
rulers of Kolhapur, Chhatrapati Shahaji II Puar Maharaj and Queen
Princess Shaliniraje was the mother of Chhatrapati (Dilipsinh)
Shahu Maharaj, the present royal resident of the town, which once
served as the capital of the family's erstwhile kingdom.
The four-km long picturesque Rankala Lake was used by tourists for
The palace is marked with breathtaking arches and a prominent
clock tower, all carved black stone.
Its massive wooden doors and windows are decorated with Italian
stained glass, and floor has smooth Italian marble, and there are
chandeliers big and small in the different rooms.
In the 1960s, the erstwhile rulers who owned the palace decided to
hand it over to Mahatma Phule Education Society (MPES) which
started a college. The MPES, with its meagre resources, could
ill-afford the huge maintenance expenses.
In 1971, the Kolhapur Municipal Council (KMC) explored a bail-out
package, including clearing Rs.14 lakh due to the Kolhapur
District Cooperative Bank.
This would have given the KMC control over the palace premises,
plus another three acres of land adjoining the building.
Unfortunately, old timers said that for over a year, there was no
consensus on the proposal. While some groups wanted the palace to
be taken over by the KMC and converted into a museum, others said
it would be a white elephant, eating civic body resources.
In 1972, the KMC was upgraded to a municipal corporation, and the
palace proposal went into cold storage.
In the late 1980s, the well-known Chougule Group of Maharashtra
bought the property and started the state's first - and only -
heritage luxury hotel; the college shifted to a suitably modest
Hotel Shalini Palace, which once offered business travellers a
taste of regal life, now stands at a crossroads.
Kolhapuris wonder what might become of the building. Will it stay
a luxury hotel or will it become private property?
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)