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Where is Panhala Fort

Located in the lush green Sahyadri mountain range of Western Maharashtra, around 20 km from Kolhapur city, stands the grand and historically rich Panhala Fort. If you are a history buff or simply love offbeat destinations, Panhala Fort should definitely be on your bucket list.

As someone who loves to explore lesser-known heritage sites, I visited Panhala Fort a few years ago and was completely mesmerized by its scale, architecture, and breathtaking natural backdrop.

Here, let me take you through everything you need to know to plan your own memorable visit to this iconic fort.

Where is Panhala Fort

Getting to Panhala Fort

Panhala is easily accessible by road and rail. If you are coming from Pune or Mumbai, Kolhapur city is the nearest major transit point. From there, you can easily find buses, taxis, and shared cabs to reach Panhala fort in less than an hour.

The drive through the Western Ghats to reach Panhala is half the fun! The scenic mountain roads lined with green fields and quaint villages make for an unforgettable road trip.

Understanding the History

Panhala has a long and turbulent history dating back to the late 3rd century BC when it was built by the Shilahara dynasty. Owing to its strategic hilltop location and impressive fortifications, Panhala was prized by various dynasties including the Rashtrakutas, Yadavas, Bahamanis, and most famously, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

In 1660, a famous battle was fought at Panhala fort where Shivaji's forces defeated the Adilshahi commander. Stories of the young Maratha king's courage and military genius during this battle are now the stuff of legend!

Exploring the Fort Complex

The moment you enter through the imposing ramparts, you realize that Panhala Fort is no ordinary fort but a vast 20 sq km complex with several historical monuments to discover:

Andhar Bavadi - A strange well with a narrow opening but air and light coming in from somewhere.

Ambarkhana - Palace of Shivaji Maharaj housing his famous pet elephant.

Teen Darwaza - A 17th-century triple gate constructed over multiple levels.

Raj Dindi - Palace of Rajas, the oldest structure within the fort.

Sajja Kothi - The spot where Shivaji agreed to the Treaty of Panhala.

And many temples, caves, towers, and ramparts worth exploring.

Best Time to Visit

Since Panhala Fort is located at an altitude of 3,000 ft in Sahyadri hills, it sees pleasant weather throughout the year. Winters (November to February) are cool and sunny - perfect for sightseeing.

Monsoons also have a different charm with the entire landscape covered in misty green foliage. If you love rain, visit between July to September.

Summers can get moderately hot. So best to avoid exploring the vast fort on foot during the peak summer months of April-June.

Where to Stay

While Kolhapur city has plenty of hotel options, for a unique experience, plan an overnight stay within the fort premises in one of the small homestays. Wake up to a magical misty morning amid ruins for company.

MTDC Resort is a convenient and affordable hotel located inside the Fort. Other places like Firefly Adventures offer experiential farm stays.

Making the Most of Your Trip

While the fort itself will easily take up an entire day of exploration, keep aside 2-3 days to fully enjoy Panhala and around:

  • Get enthralled by adventure activities like parasailing, trekking, and camping in the hills around the fort.

  • Visit Kolhapur city famous for ancient temples and spicy Maharashtrian cuisine.

  • Check out the Rankala Lake, Shalini Palace, and Mahalakshmi Temple.

  • Shop for the Kolhapuri sandals, spices, chappals, and handicrafts as souvenirs.

So are you ready now to revel in this lesser-known gem of Maharashtra? With an intriguing history, natural scenic beauty, and ample things to see and do, Panhala Fort makes for the perfect offbeat getaway.

I hope this detailed guide helps you plan your Panhala trip better. Let me know if you need any other information and I'll be happy to help.

Safe travels.


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