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Panhala – a hidden hill town of Maharashtra

Thursday, May 11, 2017, 16:22 Hrs  [IST]

During a recent road trip from Mumbai covering Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar, Goa, Hampi, Ganpatipule, I accidentally landed up in Panhala near Kolhapur. In fact, we were looking for an overnight halt in Kolhapur on our way from Hampi to Ganpatipule when we chanced upon Panhala, a quaint hill town.

At a height of approximately 3000 ft above sea level, Panhala is located about 22 km from Kolhapur (380 km from Mumbai and 250 km from Pune). The road to Panhala is metalled though a bit narrow. The main attraction is the Panhala Fort, one of the largest in the Deccan, built in the 13th century. The perimeter is about 15 km. And the width of the fort walls range from 14 to 25 ft with nearly 100 outposts. A few of the posts can still be found intact. The fort was ruled by Maratha Kings including Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his son Sambhaji and later controlled by the Mughals and the East India Company. Though several parts of the fort and the structures are intact, the main attractions are the Andhar Bavdi- Hidden well, Teen Darwaza, the three graineries where they could stock almost 5 lakh bags of grains which would last the garrison for about 5 months during an invasion, The Statue of Baji Prabhu Deshpande, Sambhaji Temple.

For the tourists the weather is very pleasant during November to March. The valley views are excellent from anywhere. The sunset near the Teen Darwaza is just awesome. There are about 8-10 good hotels for stay ranging from 1500-3000 per night. Total number of rooms is limited hence it is better to reserve in advance, weekends can be full. A small market caters to the daily needs. Apart from the restaurants attached to the hotels there are many small but good dhaba like establishments almost at all walking distances from every place. While at Panhala one should only try the maharashtrian dishes, especially the Kolhapuri Chicken, Mutton and vegetables. A small bar also exists which sell beer and liquor across the shelf. So no problem on that aspect! A stay of two nights is recommended. Also a guide is recommended to take you around the fort. The charges are reasonable, about INR 200 for half a day. A petrol pump exists at the foothill from where the road to Panhala starts. Mobile connections are good.

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