There are some of forts around Kolhapur like Panhala, Vishalgad, Mahipalgad, Kalanandigad. Panhala, where you can yet view three large buildings called the Amberkhana – a granary with the capacity to store 50,000 pounds of corn – is now a hill-station.
Panhala is situated 20 km from the industrial city of Kolhapur. Panhala is a charming hill resort Situated at an altitude of 977.2 m. which makes for a complete holiday. With its hoary heritage, Panhala provides the right locale.
It was built by King Bhoja between 1178-1209 and is the largest of all Deccan forts. The innermost citadel is enclosed by a strong wall over 7 Km in length fortified by bastions.
Panhala’s historic fort throws up memories of Chhatrapati Shivaji, It was from here that Shivaji beleaguered for over four months, escaped one rainy night to Vishalgad, while his faithful general Baji Prabhu Deshpande laid down his life holding down the forces of Siddi Johar at a narrow pass, since christened Pavankhind. It was here in the same building, Sajja Kothi, built by Ibrahim Adil-Shah in 1500 AD, that Shivaji imprisoned his errant son Sambhaji who escaped… right into the arms of his father’s foes.
Today it is redolent with memories of Shivaji. Not surprising, though, considering that barring his capitals at Rajgad and later Raigad, and Shivneri, where he spent his childhood, Panhala is the only fort where Shivaji spent more than 500 days. It was Maratha State capital until 1782 and in 1827 it went to the British.Besides, there’s the Sambhaji temple Someshwar temple, Teen Darwaza, Raj Dindi.
This imposing fort, 20km northwest of Kolhapur, is built on an outlying spur of the Sahyadris, rising more than 400m above plain. The strategic importance of Panhala, guarding one of the principal routes through the Western Ghat, can be judged from its long and varied history. After serving as the headquarter of the Shilahara ruler Bhoja II (1178-1209), the site subsequently passed into hands of Yadavas. It was favorite outpost of the Bahamanis of Bidar ; Mahmud Gawan, the powerful Prime Minister, encamped here during the rainy season of 1469. By the beginning of the 16c Panhala was absorbed into the kingdom of Bijapur.The Adil Shahis were responsible for strengthening and rebuilding the ramparts and Gateways.The fort was raided by Shivaji in 1659, but it was not until 1673 that he was able to occupy it permanently.
In 1701 Panhala surrendered to Auragzeb, and it was here that the Mughal Emperor recieved the English Ambassador, Sir WilliamNorris. Within a few months the fort was retaken by the the Maratha forces under Pant Amatya Ramachandra, who asserted his autonomy by founding an independent dynasty.In1782 these rulers shifted their headquarters to Kolhapur. After a local rebellion in 1844, Panhala was taken by the British. More than 7km of Fortifications define the approximently triangular zone of Panhala fort. The walls are protected for long sections by steep escarpments, reinforced by a parapet with slit holes. The remaining sections have 5-9m high ramparts, strengthened by round bastions. Unfortunately, the East Gate called Char Darawaja, through which the road passes on arrival at fort, was demolished by the British.
A green-and-white-painted Dargah overlooking a tank is seen to the left of the entrance. The road continues west about 400m until it arrives at the Tin Darawaja, or Triple Gate. This elaborate example of military architecture is assigned to the Adil Shahi era. The innermost entrance displays an arched recess framing a lobed arch. A nine-domed chamber gives access to an rectangular court lined with arcades. The intermediate entrance is topped with a lintel set within a lobed arch. This frames a plaster composition with lions and an Image of Ganesha, addition of 19c.
The side panels have intricately etched patterns of interlocking battlement and style arabesques. The prominent battlements are seen above. The west side of the court is overlooked by an elevated guardroom with triple arches seperated by decorated jambs. A passageway beneath leads to the outermost entrance. A with Persian inscriptions of Ibrahim Adil Shaha is set into the arched recess over the lintel. A short distance west of the Tin Darawaja a Step-well built into the inner portion of a bastion. The chambers at the upper level are arranged on three sides of the deep well.
The road continues north almost 1km until it arrives at the irregularly shaped Bale Killa in the middle of the comparatively flat top of the Panhala Hill. This fortified zone is defined by high walls with bastions, now much dilapidated and overgrown. Three great rectangular Graneries, capable of provisioning an entire army, stand freely within the walls. The largest , some 40m by 10m, has 16 chambers roofed with flat vaults rising about 8m above the ground, each with a square hole. Steps on the outside gives access to the roof.A domed pavilion is set over the balconied entrance at the east end of the building.Decaying foundations and plinths hidden in the under- growth are all that remain of the surrounding palaces and baracks.
The road continues north for about 500m before arriving at Sajja Kothi, a pleasure pavilion set into the ramparts. This two storied structure has an upper chamber with flatish domes on vaults decorated in the typical Bijapur style.An arcaded balcony on west looks down into the fort. The chamber on the east enjoys fine views of the approach to Panhala from the plains beneath.
How to Reach:
Nearest Air Port in Kolhapur (Ujlaiwadi) at 20 Kms
Nearest Railway station at Kolhapur is at 16 Km
MSRTC bus can react at Panhala