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Panhala is the most favorite fort of Shiv chhatrapati and Sambhaji Raje. It is situated at north-west direction of Kolhapur city and district. In the later period of Maratha dynasty and during establishment period of Karvir kingdom it was the capital of Maratha. It is a very important fort from historical point of view and for the present day tourists. Many memories of bravery of Shiv Chhatrapati are seen lingering in the shadow of this fort.
In the modern context, this fort is naturally formed tourist place. It is 12 miles on north-west side of Kolhapur, at height of 3127 ft above sea level and 1000 ft above Kolhapur ground level. Information about this fort is available even from 3rd century B.C. as can be corroborated even today by cave stone carvings at Pandavdara and Pohale.The fort was then in the control of Nag community. Due to achievements by Parashar Rushi and fame of Nagas ( Pannag=Serpant, Aalay=House) Pannagalaya name was given to this fort. Remains of Satwahan period can be found here even today. After this period, Rashtrakut, Chalukya, Shilahar, Bhoj, Yadav ruled this fort and in 1052 AD, fort was constructed as we see it today, by Raja Bhoj Second from Shilahar family.The earlier name of this hill was Brahmagiri and in Muslim dynasty it was Shahanbee Durg. Thereafter in the period of Shivray it was once again named as Panhala. Fort Panhala was first built in the period of Bhoj Raja of Shilahar family and Shilahar Nursingh. During the period of Chalukya Vikramaditya - Fifth, his sister Aakkadevi was ruling Kishukat, Turugiri (Torgal) and Mhaswad region and the capital of it was Panhala. Similarly it was western capital of Vijapurkar.
Shivray had initially captured this fort on 28th November 1659. But it went under Vijapur Adilshah's control. However, immediately on 2nd March 1664 Shivray recaptured it. At this time Siddhi Johar surrounded Panhala and Shivray secretly through Rajdindi went to Vishalgad keeping Johar unaware. Shiva Kashid ( Dummy Shivaji) and Baji Prabhu were with Shivaji. On the road enemy was stopped and resisted by Shiva Kashid acting as Dummy Shivaji and Baji Prabhu protected Ghodkhind Both sacrificed their lives in the freedom struggle but were successful in ensuring safe passage of Shivaji to Vishalgad. Panhala became capital of Kolhapur in 1710 AD and remained so till 1772 AD. It then went under control of Ratnakar Pant Diwan of Kolhapur.afterwards in 1884 AD English captured this fort and destroyed famous Char darwaja . Today Panhal is a hill station. All round development efforts are being done of this fort by Panhala municipality and Maharashtra Govt.
There are many historic buildings and remains connected to the life of great personalities of history. Poet Moropant was born here. At his birthplace, there is a modern building of Moropant library. At some distance from the building, there is Kapurkhav well famous for good palatable water and near it is Mahalaxmi temple. The garden surrounding it is sandhya garden (Nehru Uddyan). There is Hotel Rasana for service to the tourists.
It was 'wada' of daughter-in-law of ShivChhatrapati, Tarabai where one can see municipality, Panhala high-school and Military hostel. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj constructed 'Shivmandir'. There is statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji in horse-riding position built by Mr. Sutar from Kagal in 1993. Sajja Kothi stands few meters away. Formerly, it was named as 'Sadar-e-Mahal'. Shivaji had appointed Sambhaji to look after Panhala region. Their last meet happened to be here.
While moving from Bajiprabhu bastion to Tabak garden one need to pass through a peculiar 'Vagh Darvaja'. There is idol of 'Ganapati' wearing hat. Rajdindi is very near from here.Shivaji traveled from by this route from Panhala to Vishalgad while Jauhar attacked surrounding Panhala. 'Pusati' bastion lies on the west. Beyond the bastion there are plains of 'Masai'. Pandav caves built 200 years BC, are about seven miles ahead. There is rush of tourists on this spot to view the sunset. Inside fort, there are historical constructions like large grain stores. It was formerly known as 'Balekilla'.
There is a grand 3-storied building constructed using lead. There are ancient inscriptions. The artwork and is really grand and marvelous. In 1673, Kondaji Farjad captured this fort with help of only 60 soldiers and Shivaji was subsequently given warm welcome with shower of golden flowers. 'Gopalteerth', near Teen-Darwaja is a cool place where tourists take rest. A little dome nearby was the store of ammunition. Near Teen-Darwaja, there is 3 storied well called 'Andharbav'.
It has water near its bottom, a secret escape route in the middle and has some space to stay in the top section. There is a inscription on the sides of it. It was also called as Shrinagar.
Parashar caves, Kali bastion, garden of redeghati and region of Pavangad in the front do have ancient remains. There is a 'Sadhoba' lake which was known as 'Parashar teerth' in the past. One can see the remains of 'Char-darwaja' nearby. English army destroyed it in 1844 while Gadkar revolted. Dancing girls, employed to entertain the king, used to stay in a building nearby called as 'Naykinicha Sajja'. There are temples of Chhatrapati Sambhaji of kolhapur, Jijabai and places of tomb of 'Ramchandra Pant Amatya' and her wife. There is also 'Redemahal' nearby. Cattles were tied here those days where one can see 'Janata Bazzar'. Famous Sobhale Lake is inside the fort with Someshwar temple by its sides. It is mentioned by Jayarapinde in his famous collection of poems, 'Parnalparvat graham akhyan' that Shivaji offered gold flowers with the help of soldiers.
So, Panhala with bounties of natural beauties is a historical hill station. It is specially promoted as tourists spot by the government for middle class people. Government has built 12 holiday homes and 3 cottages. Though it rains heavily in monsoon season with foggy atmosphere, it is very pleasant to visit in October to June.
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