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Panhala

 
Place : Kolhapur district, Maharashtra
Altitude : 3177 feet above sea level
Temperature : Summers 22°- 40°C; Winters 12°-33°C
Significance : Famous for its Panhala fort
Best Season : October - February
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Panhala, a tiny scenic hill resort in Maharashtra is situated 18 km northwest of Kolhapur, in Kolhapur district. The smallest city in Maharastra, it is situated at a magnificent height of 3177 feet above sea level. Famous for its Panhala fort and buildings that are symbolic of the Maratha Empire, Panhala stands as one of the principal routes through the Western Ghats.

Lies in the lap of the Sahyadri mountain range, in the extreme southwestern corner of Maharashtra, Panhala commands a panoramic view of the valley below. There are many places of interest and temples in Panhala. It is famous for trekking also. Since Panhala is close to Kolhapur, Panhala also famous for selling Kolhapuri chappals, a speciality in this region.

Not much commercialised, Panhala has a long and varied history. After serving as the headquarters of the Shilahara ruler, Panhala passed into the hands of the Yadavas. The Marathas and Mughals occupied it in turn until the British took it in 1844 after a local rebellion.

Panhala Fort

Panhala is famous for its Panhala fort which has great acquaintance with Maratha Empire. It is where Rajah Bhoj II, whose territory extended to the Mahadeo Hills North of Satara, had his fort. However, the fort is also associated with Maratha King Shivaji who spend more than one and half years of his life (it is said that he never spent too many days at a place).
Built between 1178-1209 AD, the fort is the largest of all the Deccan forts. Almost invincible from outside, the fort is triangular with a 7 km wall. It can be entered through a strong hedge besieges the innermost fortress and three magnificent double-walled gates. To the left of the entrance, one can see a green and white painted Dargha overlooking a tank. The Teen Darwaza (Triple Gate) also known as Konkani Darwaza, to the west, is an imposing and powerful structure has five arches of black basalt and three outer doors. The three doors leading to a central courtyard lined with arcades. One can see carving of Hanuman and a lotus roof in the third gate, Ganesha with two lions in the second gate and a slab with a Persian inscription of Ibrahim Adil Shah in the first gate. There are a number of ruined monuments in the fort. Inside the fort, there is a tree-storeyed building south of the Teen Darwaja with water at the bottom and a secret path running through the middle. Built in the 17th century, it is said that the water would be poisoned when the enemy was at the gates.

Sajja Kothi

To the north of the Panhala fort is a 2 storeyed pleasure pavilion known as Sajja Kothi or Sadar-e-Mahal. Sajja Kothi is situated in the midst of lustrous greenery. Literally means punishment and cell, it is the place where Shivaji had imprisoned his son, Sambhaji for his criminal activities. Built by the Mohammedians in 1008 AD, it was here that Shivaji held meetings. It was from here that he escaped to Vishalgad. From here, one can have a panoramic view of the beautiful Warana valley.

Ambar Khana

Built by Raja Bhoj II, the Ambar Khan includes three buildings titled Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati. The Ganga Kothi being the largest amongst them. It covers an area of around 950 sq m and is 10.7 m in height and enabled Shivaji to withstand a 5 month siege. Inside the complex were an armoury and an underground mint. Near to this is, stands a small Shiva Temple which has a peculiar linga, because it changes colour according to the temperature.

Sunset Point

It is situated on the northern end of the Panhala Fort. From here one can experience stunning views and breathtaking sunsets. Famous among the tourists, this is located on a small tower on the northern portion of the fort wall.

Botanical Gardens

Maintained by the Forest Department of Panhala, the park offers its visitors a refreshing walk. The park also offers boating and horse riding facilities. Opens from 7 am - 7 pm daily.

Jyotiba Temple

Situated at an altitude of 3124 ft above the sea level in the Panhala Range. Located 14 km north-west of Kolhapur , the temple is dedicated to Jyotiba (Dattatreya). The interesting myth behind this holy shrine is that the three gods - Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva took the form of Jyotiba to destroy the evil Ratnasur. A fair conducted here, on the full moon night during the months of Chaithra and Vaishakh.