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Archive for October, 2009

This was my second visit to Panhalgad a.k.a Panhala. We reached Panhala in the afternoon and still the weather was pleasantly cool on the top. First visit was more of ‘khao-pio-maja karo’ types. I made it a point to hire a guide this time, who could explain and give the historical information about the fort.

To reach Panhalgad (from Kolhapur):

  1. Take Kolhapur-Ratnagiri highway (NH204)
  2. Travel some 20-25 Kms to reach the base of the fort.
  3. Take the road to the top.
  4. Car is allowed inside the fort and you can see different places on this fort by driving your own vehicle.

Teen DarwajaAbout Panhalgad (मराठी: पन्हाळा, पन्हाळगड), also known as ‘Panhala’or ‘Panhalla’ or ‘Panalla’ which literally means ‘home of the serpents’. The Shilahara king Bhoja II between 1178 and 1209 CE built Panhala fort. The Yadavas defeated Raja Bhoja and captured this fort and then through changing hands it came to Adilshah of Bijapur. In 1659, Shivaji Maharaj defeated Bijapur general Afzal Khan and conquered Panhalgad. In May 1660, Adil Shah II sent his uncle Siddi Johar to lay siege to Panhala. Siddi Johar came with huge army and the siege continued for 4 months. At the end of which all provisions in the fort were exhausted and Shivaji Maharj was on the verge of being captured. Also there was no enough force to fight against Johar and his army.

The only option left with Shivaji Maharaj was an escape from the fort. With few trusted soldiers and his commander Baji Prabhu Deshpande, they escaped in the dead of the night to fort Vishalgad on 13 July 1660. Another troop with Shivaji’s barber, Shiva Kashid, who resembled like Shivaji in his looks, kept the enemy engaged, giving them an impression that Shiva Kashid was actually Shivaji. Shiva Kashid was caught and killed immediately after the truth was known. Furious Siddi Johar sent his army to chase Shivaji.

Baji Prabhu Deshpande's statueAt the pass through the mountains, called ‘Ghod Khind’ (‘khind’ means ‘narrow pass in mountainous terrain’, ‘Ghod Khind’ means Horse Pass – literally through which only a single horse could pass) Baji Prabhu let Shivaji Maharaj proceed towards fort Vishalgad and fought a battle with 300 odd men against Siddi Johar’s army in thousands. He fought bravely till he heard the cannon firing from fort Vishalgad, which was signalling that Shivaji has reached safely. Baji Prabhu fought relentlessly, at times with swords in both hands. He breathed his last along with many great men of Shivaji like Sambhaji Jadhav, Bandals, etc.

Ghod Khind was covered with blood of 300 Marathas who willingly gave up their lives and fought to the last man for the cause of freedom. The pass was then renamed as ‘Pavan Khind’ which means ‘Sacred Pass’ and known for sacrifice and bravery of Baji Prabhu Deshpande and his men in Maratha history.

The fort went to Adil Shah. Finally and permanently Shivaji occupied the fort in 1673. Panhala fort housed 15,000 horses and 20,000 soldiers in Shivaji’s rule.

Sajja KothiMuch later, Sambhaji, Shivaji’s son was kept under house arrest in Panhala fort. He escaped from here along with his wife on 13 December 1678 and attacked Bhupalgad. He returned to Panhala, however, on 4 December 1679 to reconcile with his father, just before his father’s death on 4 April, 1680. The fort remained with Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, Chatrapati Rajaram, Tarabai and Chatrapati Shahu until it went to British and now belongs to Government of India.

AmbarkhanaAwesome statue of Baji Prabhu Deshpande is erected at the entrance of the fort. Our guide took us to different places of interest like – Tabak udyan, Andhar Baav (hidden well to protect drinking water from getting poisonated), Someshwar temple, Teen Darwaza, Raj Dindi bastion, Sajja Kothi (where Sambhaji was kept under house arrest), ancient Hanuman temple, Rani Tarabai’s palace, Ambabai temple, Kalavantin Sajja, Ambarkhana (Graineries and commodities storage), Dharmakothi (from where donations were done to poor and needful), Teen Darwaja, Wagh Darwaja, Someshwar temple, etc. The fort is one of the largest forts  in Deccan with perimeter of 14 km, 100+ lookout posts, 2772 feet above sea level and 400m above the surroundings with more than 7 km of fortifications (Tatabandi). Views of Jyotiba, Konkan, Masai Pathar from the top of the fort are amazing.

The replica fort called ‘Pawangad’ lies adjacent to Panhalgad. It has ‘Tupachi Vihir’ (ghee well) i.e. a well built for specially for storing ghee. In olden times, a well was used to store and decompose ghee, which was later used as an antiseptic for injured soliders. Application of this ghee on wounds created intense burning sensation but avoided turning septic and healed faster. Apart from Pawangad only forts Ajinkyatara and Purandar have the remains of such wells and Ranjan (a large earthen water-jar).

Panhalgad and Pawangad forts together stand today depicting magnificent history of India. While descending, I again halted at statues of Baji Prabhu and Shiva Kashid for few moments. Panhalgad once again gave me a chance to experience and remember the history of great Shivaji Maharaj and his men who made Maharashtra.

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Happy Diwali

 

Here  is wishing for all my friends and readers a very Happy Diwali and Prosperous New Year!!! 

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Some places appeal so much to your heart that you get an intense desire to visit them, Khidrapur is one of such places. I came to know about this place some half an year ago and was keen to visit. Each hectic visit to Kolhapur somehow didn’t allow me to do so and this fact made the desire stronger and deep. Finally my latest trip to Kolhapur was fruitful. My sis took out time from her busy schedule and made it so.

We headed for Khidrapur in the morning. We took up road to ‘Narsobachi wadi’. It was pleasant drive through lush green fields of sugar-cane. It rained very heavily which added to the atmosphere. I found some birds like Shrikes, Brahminy Kites and Black-shouldered Kite on the way.

To reach Khidrapur (from Kolhapur):

  1. Take Kolhapur-Miraj Highway.
  2. Cross small villages like Dharma-nagar, Chipri, Shahu Nagar, and Shirol to reach Narsobachi wadi.
  3. From Narsobachi wadi, take road of Kurundwad and then via Sainik Takli reach Khidrapur village.
  4. Ask for ‘Kopeshwar Temple’.
  5. Approx distance is 60-65 Kms.

We reached Khidrapur. It is very small village with farming as primary occupation.

Kopeshwar TempleAs I parked my car, I got few early glimpses from road. This magnificent temple belongs to Lord Shiva, and named as ‘Kopeshwar’. I crossed the old stone entrance which brought us to temple vicinity. Kopeshwar reminded me of wonderful architectural carvings temples of Halebidu and Bellur. It is believed that Kopeshwar temple was built by three generations of kings, the Shilahar kings Gandaraditya, Vijayaditya and Bhoj-2 between 1109 and 1178 AD. There are Devanagri writings in the temple to support this. It’s also one of the few temples where both the Shaivas and Vaishnavas, who are arch rivals, come together in worship.

The mythological story behind the name ‘Kopeshwar’ is – Devi Sati (daughter of King Daksha) was married to lord Shiva. Daksha didn’t like in son-in-law at all. He was about to perform some yagna (hindu ritual performed along with holy fire) and he didn’t invite Sati & Shiva. Devi Sati felt sad and went to meet her father asking the reason behind not inviting her husband. In turn, King Daksha insulted Shiva and it was unbearable for Sati to tolerate her husband’s insult. She jumped in the yajna. Hearing this news, Shiva was furious and he punished Daksha by cutting his head. Later on, due to request of other deities, Shiva took back the curse and granted him life with goat’s head. It is believed that angry Shiva was brought to this place (temple) to cool his anger. Hence the temple got its name i.e. ‘Kop’ means anger and ‘Eshwar’ means lord Shiva.

Swarg MandapTemple stand firm with all its glory of stone carvings of 95 elephants and 108 pillars and hundreds of sculptures depicting scenes about from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Shiva, the twelve astrological signs and flowers, trees, birds, human figures. As you step into the beautiful Swarga Mandap, you can actually feel the coolness. There are 12 superbly carved pillars which support the stone ceiling that is open to the skies. There is a beautiful round black stone slab at the centre which is called the ‘rangshila’. It is an amazing experience to sit on the centre of the stone round open ‘akaash gavaksh’ on the ceiling and look towards the dark inner sanctum of the grabha griha with its beautiful Shiva linga. It is said that all ‘adhyaaya‘ (parts) of ‘Shivlilamrut‘ are carved on the walls of the temple.

Next comes Sabhamandap, Antaral-kaksha and Garbhagriha. The Garbhagriha is more cold and dark. The shiva linga, burning lamps make the atmosphere peaceful and divine.

I was surprised to know that there was no nandi in the temple in spite of the fact that it is Shiva mandir. This is probably one of the unique things about this place. Another unsual thing here is sanctum has lord Vishnu first and then the Shiva linga to protect it. Each visitor first sees lord Vishnu and then Shiva.

It is sad that most of the sculptures are badly damaged by Islamic invaders in the later centuries. There is a story that one of Aurangzeb’s descendants strayed when wandering around on her own and came across this temple. She loved the place so much that she refused to leave the temple complex and go with her attendants. The Mughal Emperor came personally to fetch her. She agreed to leave on the only condition that he will not harm the temple and damage its beauty and so the temple remained untouched from the otherwise merciless Aurangzeb.
 
Khyder Khan, a later invader supposedly mutilated the carvings on the temple and cut almost all the elephants’ trunks. There are no exact historical evidences of ‘who destroyed what’ but it is very painful to see such beauty ruined. Unfortunately, the village of Wadi-Kopeshwar later came to be known as Khidrapur after this cruel invader.

Kopeshwar temple gave me much more than I expected. It gave me peace, joy and an opportunity to appreciate my homeland. Once again I felt proud to be an Indian and lucky that I can see all this. I clicked some snaps. It is really sad that such wonders are still unknown to the tourists. Saddest part is there are no milestones or sign boards about Khidrapur. We had to wait and inquire at several places. Also there is no much information available on internet.

This ancient architectural splendor should be made popular so that more and more people of similar interests can come and visit here. Such place needs to be maintained and conserved.

I decided to take another way while returning just for sake of finding new route and took road to ‘Ichalkaranji’. A fox gave us generous visit on the way and disappeared in sugarcane fields. It rained very heavily and many huge trees were uprooted on the way. I took a bypass through small village. It was messed up too. I could see a huge line of cars in jam for about 2 Kms at least. Paul, our lab doesn’t like it, if the car stops and in few minutes his barking attracted all the kids of the village. Kids gathered around our car and tried to get his glimpses through sun control filmed windows. Whole situation seemed funny and equally irritating as Paul was getting impatient. Finally, when I was about to start my car, I opened the car windows and all kids were very happily to see our handsome black Labrador.

After testing all my patience by worst traffic jam, lengthy waiting hours at railway crossing and narrow roads, I reached Kolhapur at 8:00pm.

Kopeshwar, (yes I prefer to call it just ‘Kopeshwar’ instead of ‘Khidrapur – Kopeshwar’) is strictly no miss-miss place if you are planning a visit to Sangli, Miraj, Kolhapur and alike.

Few more snaps here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/tags/khidrapur/

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