Friday, 21 November 2014

Long drive to Delhi - 28: Panhala Fort, Kolhapur, Maharashtra

In Kolhapur we came to know about Panhal Fort about 20 km away & having number of hotels as well. So we made a dash towards the Fort. About a few thousand families are also resident here some of whom offer home-stay as well.

Panhala  Fort also known as Panhalgad or Panalla is about 20 km northwest of Kolhapur. It is located in Sahyadri mountain range over a pass connecting coastal areas to interior of Maharashtra. This used to be an important trading route & therefore of strategic interest to all nearby kingdoms of Bidar, Kolhapur, Bijapur etc and later on Mughals & Britishers.

The Fort has a periphery of 14 km, 110 watch towers & is 845 above sea level. It is nearly 400 mtr above the surrounding area. The Fort has many tunnels & secret passages, three large granaries called Amberkhana which could feed 20,000 people for five months.  The Fort was built between 1178 to 1209 by King Bhoja II & subsequently fortified by Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur in 1489 & onwards.

Shivaji Maharaj took Panhala after death of Afzal Khan of Bijapur in 1659. In May 1660 army of Adil Shah II laid siege to Fort. Provisions were exhausted & sensing capture Shivaji Maharaj gathered a team of trusted soldiers & escaped to Vishalgad in the dead of the night. Baji Prabhu & barber Shiva Kashid a lookalike of Shivaji, kept fighting with a thousand soldiers but lost to Adil Shah II. In 1673 Shivaji Maharaj fought back & took over Panhala permanently.

Presently it is more of a popular 'hill station' because of hight & continuous cool breeze. Cool place for spending weekend. Some photos:

Fort has strong ramparts, gateways & fortified walls( tatabandi )
One of the entrances having peacock motif of Adil Shah Sultani

Every entrance had accommodation for backup security squad
On second floor of Sajja Kothi

Panoramic view from the balcony

Sajja Kothi or Sadr-e-Mahal- white flagpole is now used for hoisting Tricolour
Teen Darwaza

One of the temples inside the Fort complex

There were three granaries Ganga, Yamuna & Saraswati. This one is ground floor of Ganga where rice was kept. It could hold 25000 khandis rice, each khandi being 650 lbs 

Ruins of courtesans palace  

Another entrance. Stones are large & interlocking. They have been sealed with lead instead of mortar 

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