Welcome to the Vishalgad Fort, also known as ‘Khelna’ or ‘Khilna’ by the locals! It is about 76 km north – west of Kolhapur. Here one can see only the walls of fort.
This fort was one of the major strongholds of the Maratha Empire and has a fascinating history to boot. Legend has it that the fort was built by a Shilahara ruler called Marsinh way back in 1058, and was initially known as the ‘Khilgil’ fort. However, over the centuries, it changed hands multiple times and eventually ended up under the control of Adilshah. This made it a prime target for none other than the legendary Maratha ruler Shivaji, who wanted to add it to his already impressive collection of forts.
Now, the terrain of this fort was no joke. It was difficult to conquer, and Shivaji had to come up with a genius plan to take it down. He sent a group of Maratha soldiers up to the fort, pretending to be disgruntled with his rule and wanting to switch sides. The Adilshahi commander was none the wiser and welcomed them with open arms. The next day, the Marathas launched a surprise attack and took over the fort in no time. Talk about a sneaky tactic!
Shivaji then renamed the fort as ‘Vishalgad’, which means ‘grand fort’ in Marathi. And grand it certainly was! The fort covers an area of 1130 m and sits atop a hill in the Sahyadri mountain range, standing tall at a height of 3500 feet above sea level. It’s about 76 km north-west of Kolhapur and is definitely worth the trek.
Now, as with any ancient structure, the fort has seen its fair share of wear and tear. The main doorway has disappeared with time, but there’s a ‘Mundha Darwaja’ to the right side that’s worth checking out.
There are also temples of Amruteshwar and Shri Narsinha, and a Samadhi built in the memory of Bajiprabhu Deshpande and Phulaji Deshpande. But let’s be real, the real attraction here are the monsoon waterfalls! Heavy rainfall during the season gives rise to many splashing waterfalls in the area, and it’s a sight to cheer!
If you’re a history buff or just enjoy a good old-fashioned adventure, the Vishalgad Fort is the place to be. Who knows, you might even come up with your own sneaky plan to conquer it!