Panhala is one of the most historically significant places in Maharashtra. It once acted as the capital of the Karveer sansthan (Kolhapur).
It holds the famous Panhalgad fort,which is one of the major tourist attractions in Kolhapur . Panhala is situated 20 kms NW from Kolhapur in Maharashtra.
It was said to have been built in the 12th century by the Silhara ruler Bhoja II. Since then it passed hands with the Yadavas, Bahamani sultanate, Bijapur sultanate , Marathas, Mughals, the English etc.
The Bijapur sultanate built several constructions on the fort and many of which stand till date.
The maratha king Ch.Shivaji maharaj captured the fort in 1659. Later it was beseiged by Siddi Johar a powerful commander in the Bijapur army.
The fort witnessed a miraculous escape by Ch.Shivaji thanks to the valiant efforts of his men Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Shiva Kashid.
Ch.Shivaji had also imprisoned his son and crown prince Sambhaji for a brief time on this very fort after he rebelled against his father.
Ch Shivajis younger son Ch.Rajaram also escaped to Gingee from this very fort after it was beseiged by the Mughals. Ch. Rajarams queen Tarabai also made Panhala her capital .
It later became the seat of power fr her stepson Sambhaji II. In 1827 the fort was handed over to the English after the erstwhile ruler of Kolhapur accepted English vassalage.
The famous locations on the fort are:
Andhar bavdi or the dark well
Kalavantinicha mahal or the courtesans mansion
Ambarkhana or Grainery
Sajja kothi where Ch.Sambhaji maharaj was imprisoned
Dharma kothi where alms were given to the needy.
Ramchandrapant Amatya (minister of Rani Tarabai) samadhi
Kali tower where allegedly human sacrifices were made at the behest of Jijabai the widow of Ch.Sambhaji II and regent queen.
Teen darwaza .
Wagh darwaza .
Way to Tabak udyan bird sanctuary
Raj dindi bastion used by Shivaji for his escape.
Parashar caves where sage Parashar meditated.
Temples like the ones dedicated to Mahakali, Someshwar, Sambhaji II etc
Panahala is also a home for several bird varieties like Orange headed thrush, Paradise flycatcher, Green leafbird, small Minivet etc (including at Tabak udyan near Wagh darwaza).
Pic: Coppersmith barbet
Pic: Black lored yellow tit bird
Panhala is also the summer home for several film, political , business personalities from Kolhapur.
The lodging boarding arrangements on the fort are excellent with several hotels, resorts being located here.
Text and Photographs by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha