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One Of The Largest Forts In The Deccan Region – Panhala Fort

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Updated: Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 12:31 [IST]
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Kolhapur is not only known for its sacred Lakshmi Temple but also is famous for the Panhala Fort. Panhala Fort is one of the largest Forts in the Deccan region and it is located in the smallest city of Maharashtra, Panhala. Panhala or Panhalagad refers to the home of serpents in Marathi.

The fort once served as a major trade route from Bijapur to the coastal areas due to its strategic position in the Sahyadri ranges. The fort was the centre of all the tiffs in the Deccan region which involved the Marathas, Mughals and British East India Company.

Also Read : Mahalakshmi Temple In Kolhapur

The fort is known for the battle of Pavan Khind fought between the Maratha king, Sardar Baji Prabhu Deshpande and the Mughal emperor, Siddi Masud of Adil Shah.

The fort also has temples of Mahakali, Ambabai, Someshwar and Sambhaji II. The oldest is the Ambabai temple. The fort also has mausoleums of Jijabai and a Marathi poet Moropant along with a Muslim saint Sadhoba.

History Of Panhala Fort

Built between 1178 and 1209 CE by the Shilahara ruler Bhoja II, this fort is one of the largest forts in the Deccan region. Built using stone and lead, this fort has stood the test of time. The fort has been ruled by the Yadavas, Adil Shahis, Bahamani Sultans and Kolhapur Kings.

A copper plate in Satara reveals that Raja Bhoja held court in Panhala between 1191 and 1192 CE. The fort was strengthened extensively when Panhala came under the rule of Bijapur. The fort has a lot inscriptions depicting the reign of Ibrahim Adil Shahi.

Panhala also served as the headquarter of Tarabai, wife of Shivaji II and the residence of Tarabai is still intact inside the fort.

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Features Of Panhala Fort

The fort is 845 m above sea level and has 110 lookout posts. It is one of the largest forts with a perimeter of 14 km and has a lot of tunnels which stretch for more than a kilometre, built underneath the fort.

The fort is evidently built using the Bijapuri style of architecture, with peacock motifs while some parts have the lotus motif showcasing the architectural styles of Bhoja II.

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1. Andhar Bavadi

A three-storey structure commissioned by Adil Shahi known as Andhar Bavadi (hidden well) was built. There are winding staircases that conceal the well which was the main source of water to the fort.

The Bavadi also has a lot of hidden routes to escape that lead the soldiers outside the fort. Andhar Bavadi acted as an emergency shelter and a fort inside the fort.

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2. Kalavanticha Mahal

The building that once served as the residence of the ladies of the court is now completely a wreck. The only remains are the traces of work on the ceiling. This building was also known as Nayakini Sajja, which means "courtesans' terrace room".

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3. Ambharkhana

The three granaries built using the Bijapuri style is known as Ambharkhana. This was the place which was used to store provision in the earlier days. The three granaries here are named Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi Kothis, the largest being the Ganga Kothi.

The Ambharkhana has stairs on either sides which lead to the top of the building. The grains got stored through an opening on the top of the bays which had vaults of their own. Dharma Kothi is an additional granary of Ambharkhana.

Grains to the poor and the needy were distributed through Dharma Kothi.

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4. Sajja Kothi

Another important feature of the fort is the Sajja Kothi. Built by Ibrahim Adil Shahi as a viewing pavilion this place also served as a prison to Shivaji's son Sambhaji.

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5. Teen Darwaza

The most decorative entrance to the fort is the Teen Darwaza which is located to the north of Andhar Bavadi. A double gate with an arcade in between along with an ornate chamber on the top showcases the skills of the artisans of those times.

The inner gate is made of intricate carvings, motifs and Persian inscriptions. There is a motif of Lord Ganesha on the inner gate. The Persian inscriptions on either sides reveal that the gate was built during the rule of Ibrahim Adil Shah I.

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6. Rajdindi Bastion

One of the hidden exits to the fort was Rajdindi Bastion. This was the bastion through which Shivaji Maharaj escaped to Vishalghad during the battle of Pavan Khind.

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Other Attractions In Panhala

Parashar Caves, Jyotiba Temple, Botanical Gardens and Bhairavnath Mandir are the other tourist places that can be visited in Panhala.

How To Reach Panhala Fort
Panhala fort is at a distance of 22.7 km from Kolhapur and takes around 43 minutes to reach.

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