Panhala is a picturesque hill station about 3177 feet above sea level, situated 18 km northwest of Kolhapur in Kolhapur district in Maharashtra. It is strategically located looking over a pass in the Sahyadri mountain range which was a major trade route from Bijapur in the interior of Maharashtra to the coastal areas.
This charming hill station has both historical and religious significance. Panhala is mostly identified with the Maratha warrior king Shivaji, who captured it in AD 1659. Panhala derived its name from a tribe called Panna, meaning serpent. Pahalla and Panalla literally meant “the home of serpents”.
Panhala is looked at as a pleasing hill station, for weekend getaway with prominent historical monuments, battlements or bastions. The commanding Panhala fort is the major attraction that has survived as a mute witness to numerous seizing’s and rules. Shivaji’s contribution cannot absolutely be denied in this context, who along with his soldiers had valiantly defended and laid down their lives to defend the fort and destruction.
Panhala is not a typical Indian hill station but a small sized town at a strategic location which makes it a favorite place of various dynasties, especially the Marathas ruler Shivaji. Bounded within the four walls of a mighty fort, Panhala stands as a unique hill station.
Major Tourist Attractions
Panhala Fort : One among the protected monuments, Panhala Fort, is considered as the largest of all the forts of Deccan. Situated in Kolhapur District of Maharashtra, this historically important site is constructed by King Raja Bhoj. Built in the late 12th century, Panhala Fort spread over a vast expansion beneath a steep slope. The impregnable fort with gigantic walls looks very inspiring and attractive. This majestic fort is accessible only through the double-walled gate and a sturdy hedge besieges the innermost fortress.
Like all other forts in Maharashtra, Panhala fort also carries malodorous reminiscences of the great Maratha regime. Perhaps this might be the only citadel where Chatrapati Shivaji had spent so many precious years of his great reign. A monument of rich heritage, Panhala fort stands out right there with its impressive, elegant look and attracts thousands of visitors for decades.
Sajja Kothi : is a major attraction at Panhala is the that was built by the Mohammedans in 1008 AD. There is a very interesting anecdote attached to this monument. It is said that when Siddi Johar, a formidable Bijapur General, attacked Panhala, Shivaji tricked the general by escaping from the window of Sajja Kothi while a brave stalwart Shiva Kashid disguised as Shivaji combated the wrath of the general.
Ambarkhana : Built by the Marathas, Ambarkhana housed the administrative section, the palace, the mint, and the granaries. Titled Ganga, Jamuna, and Saraswati, the granaries could store as much as 25,000 khandis of grain. Since the soil of the region was not suitable for agriculture, it was very important for the rulers to stock sufficient provisions for their armies.
Botanical Gardens : The Empress Botanical Gardens in Panhala and its large lawns, tall trees, cool shades and the quite calm ambiance makes this botanical garden a hot spot of the picnickers. The rambling gardens are well maintained by the forest department. The arched gateway of the old fort serves as the entrance to the green lawns of these gardens. A scaled model of the old fort, exhibited near the entrance, is interesting to watch.
The gardens open from 7 am – 7 pm everyday. Mottled with lovely tropical trees and beautiful plant varieties, the botanical gardens of Panhala are the best place to spend the leisure time.
Jyotiba temple : is located on a hilltop at an altitude of 3124ft above sea level. It is said that the holy shrine at the temple is an incarnation of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, fused together in the form of Jyotiba to destroy the wicked Ratnasur. The temple holds a large fair on the full moon nights of the Hindu months of Chaithra and Vaishakh that attracts hordes of devotees.
Teen ( three ) Darwaza : To the left of the entrance, overlooking a tank, is a green and white dargah. Moving ahead from the dargah leads to the Teen darwaza or three gates built during the era of Adil Shahi. Teen Darwaza on the western walls of the fort is a massive entrance consisting of 3 consecutive gates. The gates were designed is such a way that they opened in awkward angles, trapping enemy troops in the inner courtyard making it impossible to charge into the fort. However in 1844 the British troops eventually entered the fort through these gates and captured Panhala. A short distance from the Teen Darwaza is a step well built into the inner portion of a bastion. The step well was used as a medium to send messages to allies outside the fort in times of need. Lemons with incised messages used to be dropped into the water of the step well and would float to the lake outside, bringing the message to the allies outside the fort.
Sun Set Point : Located on the northern end of the magnificent Panhala fort, Sunset Point presents a breath taking view to the visitor. A hot spot of the tourists, this vantage point is located on a small tower on the northern portion of the fort wall.
When the sun sets in the western horizon, it makes a fabulous view on the western wall of the fort and one can see this enchanting vision from the sunset point. Normally one can see the sun sets in the west only on the seashore. But seeing this natural splendor on a historic monument is a wonderful experience and that is what sunset point offers to the tourist.
Shopping in Panhala – Traditional craftsmanship has been honed to perfection in Panhala near Kolhapur. The city also boasts of dazzling jewelry and eye-catching footwear. The Kolhapuri ‘saaz’ is a traditional gold necklace with delicate craftsmanship. The Kolhapuri Chappals (slippers) with their sturdy rustic look are renowned internationally. These Chappals are renowned for their durability and beauty of make. Hundreds of families in Kolhapur are engaged in the production of these Chappals.
Panhala Accommodations – Though choice is restricted, Panhala is better than Kolhapur to stay at. Comfortable accommodation is available at Panhala. Besides some reasonably priced hotels, lodges, cottages and MTDC guestrooms and tents. Also, restaurants and trekking facilities make for an interesting stay.
How to reach Panhala
By Air: The airport closest to Panhala is the airport at Kolhapur airport at a distance of 35 km from Panhala. Panhala is 416 km from Mumbai and about 200 km from Pune.
Road & Rail: State Transport buses ply between Kolhapur and Panhala every 2 hours during the day. The Kolhapur railway station is only 26 km from Panhala.
Panhala Map[mappress mapid=”45″]