Panhala fort is located 18-km northwest to Kolhapur. Although it has legendary connection with God Parashurama, the fort was probably founded by the King Raja Bhoja in the late 12th century. Carrying a rich heritage, Panhala forms the largest of all the Deccan forts. Built between the 1178-1209 AD, this is the only fort where the great ruler himself, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is believed to have spent more than 500 days.
The fort blankets a vast area and possesses massive
perimeter walls over 7 kilometres in length and a steep slope beneath.
Guarding the entry to the fort are three magnificent double-walled gates.
A strong wall encloses the innermost citadel and is fortified by bastions.
The granary is pretty large too. The "Amberkhana" (granary) is supposed to have the capacity of containing 25,000 'Khandis' of grains. These grains are poured into it from symmetrical gaps in the ceiling. A little walk downwards leads one to the Raj Dindi.
The Teen Darwaza "three door" gate meant successive doors could only be approached at an awkward angle, trapping troops in the inner courtyard and making it impossible to charge. A well in the corner was used to send word to allies; lemons with incised message were dropped into the water, and would float to a lake outside.
history of Panhala Fort is also the history of the Marathas. Though it was
the seat of the Shilahara dynasty since AD 1190, and held successively by
the Yadava and Bahamani kingdoms, it is today redolent with memories of
Over the years it has fallen to the Devagiri Yadavas, various Maratha chieftains and, in 1489 AD, the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur army, who erected the ramparts that still stand. Shivaji took Panhala in 1659 AD only just managing to escape with his life a year later when it was retaken by the Bijapur army.
According to tradition, he was saved because one of his lieutenants posed as the leader and was killed, allowing Shivaji to make a quick exit, and regain it later. After this, the fort fell to the Mughal Aurangzeb (1700), became Maratha state capital under Tarabai until 1782, and went to the British in 1827.
In addition to history, Panhala 20-km from the industrial
city of Kolhapur and at an altitude of 977m
offers some inspiring scenery and a soothing climate, providing the ideal
getaway as a hill station.
There are innumerable places of interest, each with its share of haunting anecdotes. Sajja Kothi - where Sambhaji was imprisoned, Ambabaji temple- where Shivaji used to seek blessings before venturing on expeditions, Pavankhind- where Baji Prabhu laid down his life to cover Shivaji's escape. The nearby Someshwar temple is also worth a visit. The land is an ideal trekking destination too.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Kolhapur,
Road: From Mumbai, the journey by road is 428-km. There is no dearth of State Transport buses and taxis to take one from Kolhapur to Panhala.
For a comfortable stay, check into the MTDC resort or any one of the private hotels.