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Panhala Fort

Panhala is a quaint and scenic hill station situated at a height of 3200 feet above sea level and is about 20 km northwest of Kolhapur. The little hill town is credited for being the smallest city in the state of Maharashtra and measures about 7 km in circumference. Panhala offers a beautiful view of the picturesque mountains and valleys of the Sahyadri mountain ranges and it allows easy access to the Konkan region.

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History of Panhala Fort

The main attraction here is the historical Panhala Fort which is mostly identified with the Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The fort has an interesting history, built between the period of 1178 and 1209 AD, by King Bhoja II, a Shilahara ruler, Panhala fort then passed on into the hands of many rulers like the Yadavas, the Bahamanis of Bidar, Mahmud Gawan and by the beginning of the 16th century it became a part of the Kingdom of Bijapur. The Adil Shahi's rebuilt most part of the Panhala Fort to give it much of its current look. In the year 1659 Shivaji Maharaj raided the fort and finally captured it in 1673, he lived here for about 1.5 years. Panhala was the state capital of the Marathas until 1782, till it was captured by the British in 1827.

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Attractions at Panhala

Sajja Kothi -

Sajja Kothi built by the Mohammedans in 1008 AD, Sajja Kothi literally means 'Punishment Cell', it is a 2 storied building offering a panoramic view of the Warana valley below.It is here that Shivaji had imprisoned his son, Sambhaji for his errant ways. 

Ambar Khana -

Built by Raja Bhoj II, the Ambar Khana includes three buildings named Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati. The Ganga Kothi is the largest amongst them and it covers an area of around 950 sq. m and is 10.7 m in height.The reason for building the Ambar Khana was 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 during a siege. The granaries can store as much as 25,000 khandis of grain.The complex also has an armoury and an underground mint.Just close to this complex stands a small Shiva temple which has a peculiar linga, which changes its colour according to the temperature. 

Sunset point -

Sunset point is located on the northern end of the Panhala fort, from this point one can  see stunning views of the rays of the setting sun strike against the western walls of the fort.

Botanical Gardens -

The Botanical gardens at Panhala fort, is maintained by the forest department of Panhala.With large lawns, lush greenery and tall trees around, the park offers its visitors a refreshing walk. Furthermore food stalls, boat rides and horse rides make the garden a popular picnic spot.The serene gardens on the banks of the Mund river make it a peaceful and quiet place for tourist to relax and de-stress.

Jyotiba Temple -

Jyotiba temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 3124 feet in the Panhala range. The temple is about 14 km north - west of Kolhapur city, and is dedicated to Jyotiba (Dattatreya). This temple is famous for a fair conducted here, on the full moon night during the months of Chaithra and Vaishakh that attracts hordes of devotees from all over India. 

Teen Darwaza -

Teen Darwaza or three gates were built during the Adil Shahi era, the gates were designed in such a way that they opened in awkward angles, trapping the enemy troops in the inner courtyard making it impossible to charge into the fort. But, in 1844 the British troops eventually entered the fort through these gates and captured the Panhala fort.

Nayakini Sajja -

The Nayakini Sajja exhibits the intelligent warfare strategy used by the Marathas to deceive its enemies. The Nayakini Sajja has been very strategically located at one of the corners of the fort to conceal a deep ravine in between. Whenever the enemy would attack from this corner, they would climb over this make believe corner of the fort and end up falling into the deep ravine below. 

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Best Time To Visit

Panhala being a hill station is an all season destination. The winter season is the best time to visit i.e from October to December (12 to 25 degrees Celsius). Tourists from nearby cities visit Panhala during summer season for weekend trips and is a perfect destination to get away from the heat, the temperature ranges from (25 to 32 degrees Celsius) in summer's and (20 to 24 degrees Celsius) in the rainy season. 

How to Reach

By Road : Panhala is well connected to all cities in Maharashtra.Panhala is about 20 km from Kolhapur city and the best route is  Kolhapur - (Kolhapur - Ratnagiri road) - Panhala, the drive is about 30 minutes from Kolhapur city by car.State transport buses are ply between Kolhapur and Panhala every 2 hours during the day and even an auto rickshaws are available.

By Rail : The nearest rail head is Kolhapur railway station which is 27 km away from Panhala. Kolhapur city is well connected to Pune, Mumbai and other major cities in India.

By Air : The nearest international airport is Mumbai Chhatrapati  Shivaji International airport (420 km away).

Where to stay

Incase you are looking for an extended stay at Panhala you can book with the local lodges and hotels
MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) lodges offer accommodation at nominal rates. There are a few budget hotels and luxury hotels in Panhala which offer better accommodation.Government guest houses are also available, but with prior booking.

Tourist information

MTDC Panhala,
Phone: 02328 - 235048.

Range Forest Officer, Panhala,
Phone: 02328 - 235089.
Website: www.maharashtratourism.gov.in

Else you can get better accommodation at Kolhapur city which has a wide range of hotels from budget, mid-range and even luxury hotels.

Where to eat

Kolhapur is famous for its veg and non - veg cuisines and is a known as a food paradise for spicy food lovers. There is a lot of choice, be it snacks or meals. You can try the local Kolhapuri Misal or Thalipeet for breakfast or as snacks. Sukka Mutton, Pandhara (White) & Tambda(Red) Rassa, Kolhapuri Chicken and many other authentic dishes from Kolhapur are worth trying along with other options of regular Indian fare.

The eateries that dot Panhala are as follows.
  • Hill Top Restaurant.
  • Hotel Diamond Villa.
  • Valley View Grand Restaurant.
  • Swarup Restaurant (Pure Veg Restaurant).
  • Hotel Suvidha.
  • Gouri Dining (A Typical Maharashtrian Restaurant).
  • Hotel Visawa (A Typical Maharashtrian Restaurant).
  • Om Ganesh Restaurant.
  • Anand Resto Bar (Restaurant & Bar).
  • The Retreat Restaurant.
  • Sanjha Chulha Restaurant.
And yes, do not forget to have sugarcane juice during your visit.

Getting Around

It takes about half a day to visit the places of tourist interest so a leisurely walk around the fort in the evening or early morning is wonderful and refreshing.For other sight seeing, walking is ideal or you can hire an auto rickshaw.

Activities & things to do

Rock climbing, Rappelling, Trekking, Landscape photography, Enjoy a leisurely walk around in the fort early morning or evening, Enjoy reading good books while feeling the nature around, visit the sunset point, or just relax and enjoy nature.

A humble request to all travelers

While visiting Panhala fort please keep the nature clean and carry your thrash and dispose it in a decent manner. support nature, as these small actions will help us preserve our beautiful hill stations.

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