Panhala Fort is in Kolhapur in Maharashtra.
This massive and impressive fort is not only a historic gem but also a perfect spot for a thrilling trek. Located just 20 km away from the city, it boasts 7 kilometers of fortifications, parapets, ramparts, and bastions. And let’s not forget about the three double-walled gates that are so big you could probably fit a few elephants through them!
But what really sets this fort apart are the ingenious intricacies that have been added over the years by different dynasties. From the Marathas to the Bahamas to the Mughals, the fort is adorned with motifs from all of them. And did you know that Shivaji, one of the great Maratha rulers, called this place home?
One of the coolest features of the Panhala Fort is the Andhar Bavadi, or the Hidden Well. This three-storey structure was built to keep the main water source of the fort hidden from enemies and to protect it against poisoning. It also had residential quarters, soldier posting recesses, and escape routes leading outside the fort. It’s like a fort within a fort – talk about a second-level firewall!
Another must-see spot is the Ambarkhana, looming granaries situated at the heart of the fort for storing a large number of khandis (1 Khandi = around 650 LBS). With stairs on each side, numerous bays and holes on top, these buildings are impressive feats of architecture. They were instrumental in helping Shivaji Maharaj withstand a five-month siege by Siddhi Johar before the famous Battle of Pavan Khind.
But wait, there’s more! The Rajdindi Bastion, one of the secret exits out of the fort, is another structure that still stands intact for tourists to see. It was used by Shivaji to escape during the battle of Pavan Khindi!
The Panhala Fort has changed hands multiple times throughout history, with different dynasties adding their own touches. From King Bhoja II of Shilahara to the Adil Shahi Sultanate of Bijapur, this fort has seen it all. And with so many inscriptions on the walls of the fort referring to the rule of Ibrahim Adil Shah, it’s clear that this fort has stood the test of time.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your backpack and head to Panhala Fort for a historic and thrilling adventure. Who knows, you might just find your own secret escape route!
Panahala fort was built between 1178 and 1209 CE, one of 15 forts (others including Bavda, Bhudargad, Satara, and Vishalgad) built by the Shilahara ruler Bhoja II. It is said that aphorism Kahaan Raja Bhoj, kahan Gangu Teli is associated with this fort. A copper plate found in Satara shows that Raja Bhoja held court at Panhala from 1191–1192 CE. About 1209–10, Bhoja Raja was defeated by Singhana (1209–1247), the most powerful of the Devgiri Yadavas, and the fort subsequently passed into the hands of the Yadavas. Apparently it was not well looked after and it passed through several local chiefs. In 1376 inscriptions record the settlement of Nabhapur to the south-east of the fort.
It was an outpost of the Bahamanis of Bidar. Mahmud Gawan, an influential prime minister, encamped here during the rainy season of 1469. On the establishment of the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur in 1489, Panhala came under Bijapur and was fortified extensively. They built the strong ramparts and gateways of the fort which, according to tradition, took a hundred years to build. Numerous inscriptions in the fort refer to the reign of Ibrahim Adil Shah, probably Ibrahim I (1534–1557).