Panhala Hill Station

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.

Tourist Attractions in Panhala
The fort in itself is a major tourist attraction. However, the many quaint stories and legends attached to several of the edifices associated with the fort make them equally attractive to visitors to the fort. The Ambabai Temple where Shivaji paid obeisance before going out on his expeditions is said to have miraculous powers. There is also Sajja Kothi the place from where Shivaji Raji had made a miraculous escape and is also the place where Shivaji’s son Sambhaji had been imprisoned for insubordination to his father.

Then there is the huge and cavernous Ambarkhana or the granary where the fort’s rations were stored to wait out long and painful sieges some lasting months on end. It is said that just one of its sections had the capacity to hold 25,000 ‘khandis’ or measures that had one ‘khandi’ equivalent to 650 pounds weight of rations. The Ambarkhana had three distinctive buildings called the Ganga kothi, Yamuna kothi and the Saraswati kothi.

It was the Ganga kothi that could hold more than 25,000 khandis. It covered an area of 950 square meters and was 10.5 meters high. Besides, the three granaries there was a fourth and hidden granary called the Dharma Kothi to be used only in severe emergencies.

The Someshwar Tank and the Andhar Bav or the hidden well as also the Nayakini Sajja are all the special places of the Panhala fort that have a million stories to tell especially the last which is a mere treacherous trick to send the unsuspecting enemy scaling its wall into a deep ravine. The Kalvanticha Mahal or the Rang Mahal which was a immensely decorative ‘terrace Room’ constructed on the East side of the fort was for the courtesans who entertained the Bahmani Sultanate.

Panhala Fort
Carrying a rich heritage, Panhala Fort forms the largest of all the Deccan forts. This fort was built between the 1178-1209 AD.  This is the only fort where the great ruler himself, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is believed to have spent more than 500 days. The fort has another satellite fort visible. The well-known poet Moropant stayed here. Nearby are the Sambhaji temple, Someshwar temple, Teen Darwaza, and Raj Dindi.

Panhala was traditionally considered the residence of Maharishi Parashar. The Karvir or Kolhapur Puran, a modern (1730) compilation, mentions Panhala as Pannagalay (home of serpents). In old inscriptions the name appears as Pranlak and Padmanal. These are supposed to be the caves where the sage Parashar lived. Moropant wrote most of his work in these caves.

Panhala Arboretum
Panhala Arboretum Site is located along famous Teen Darwaja to Mangeshkar bungalow road. Area under plantation is 2.56 hectares. There are more than 3000 species of flowering plants. The planted species include trees (158 sps), shrubs (87 sps), grasses (7 sps), Perennial Herbs (19 sps), bamboos (6 sps), orchids (3 sps), palms (5 sps), climbers (33 sps), ferns (6 sps), pines (9 sps), cycads (2 sps). The activity itself is a Unique Activity in Maharashtra and is a joint venture of Panhala Municipal Council, Forest Department and Social Forestry

. Places around Panhala                                                                                                      

Kolhapur is at a distance of some 20 kms from Panhala. Kolhapur has been long called the sugar bowl of India. It has the maximum amount of Mercedes cars, spinning mills, education centre in Maharashtra.  It is also known for its spicy curries and leather footwear. An international Go- carting track, Hill resorts and Amusement park, multiplexes & the other new entrants in the past few months. This place is growing day by day. Located on the golden quadrangle expressway with the travel time of major cities like Pune, Bangalore and Mumbai reduced considerably. The city is emerging as a new Important IT destination also. There has been a big positive change in and around the city of Kolhapur. It is a must place to visit, while in Panhala. 45-minute journey, accompanied by beautiful landscape, a trip to Kolhapur will surely be a memorable one!

Mahalakshmi temple The puranas, have listed 108 sites where Shakti (the goddess of power) is manifested. Amongst these, the Karveer area (the area where the present town of Kolhapur is located), is of special significance. This is one of the six abodes of Shakti, where one can achieve both fulfilments of desires as well as salvation from them. It is therefore considered to be of greater significance. Shri Mahalakshmi is the consort of Shri Vishnu and it is said that they both reside in the Karveer area. Mahalakshmi also known as Goddess Ambabai enjoys status of one of the important spiritual centres in India. Construction of the temple was initiated in 7th century by Chalukya rulers and further beautified by Yadavas till 9th Century AD. Garuda Mandap used for concerts by renowned artists was built in 1838 AD. During Navratri Festival, the temple is well decorated with lights & flowers and renowned musicians, Kirtankars; artists pay their homage by performing for goddess in front of public at large in temple.

The forest area of dajipur is situated on the border of Kolhapur and sindhudurg districts. Surrounded by rugged mountains and dense forests, this secluded little place is completely cut off from human habitat. Home to bison, wild deer, gava (bison), and many more spectacular wild animals & birds. An excursion in the vicinity to the Gagangiri maharaj s math makes for a pleasant outing. There is a scenic resort near the backwaters of Radhanagari dam, which is highly recommended for wildlife lovers. Dajipur is an exciting and beautiful holiday getaway, situated 1200 meters above sea level.

Temlabai Mandir 

Temlabai hill is a famous spot in Kolhapur. There is a temple of Goddess Temlabai and other small temple on this Hill. In every Ashadha, the religious ceremony of pouring water on the steps of the Mandir is celebrated on a grand scale. There is a Yamai Mandir also on this hill. A statue of Shivaji Maharaj is raised here. A huge Idol of Ganpati is situated at the centre of the hilltop. A small garden is developed for visitors. Every year during the month of Shravan a one-day celebration known as Tryamboli Yatra takes place. People from Kolhapur and all other regions visit this place during the yare. During Navratra Utsav procession of Mahalakshmi is carried from Ambabai Temple to Temlabai Temple.

The climate is delightfully cool at the altitude of 978 m from sea level. October to May is the best time to visit.

Air: Nearest airport is Kolhapur at 20-km.

Rail: Nearest Railway station is Kolhapur at 18-km on South Central Railway. One can take the Sahyadri Express train or the Mahalaxmi Express train on any day from the Mumbai-Victora Terminus to Kolhapur.

Road: Bombay-Panhala 428-km via Kolhapur and Kolhapur-Panhala is just 18-km. There are regular buses and luxury coaches that run between Kolhapur and the Panhala Fort. Panhala is located at a distance of 20-km off the Kolhapur-Ratnagiri highway. A direct drive from Mumbai can get one to Panhala in 8 hours.

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