|Fort Name :||Alphabetically||RangeWise||DistrictWise||CategoryWise||GradeWise|
|Vishalgad||FortHeight : 3350|
|Type : Hill forts||Fort Range : Kolhapur|
|District : Kolhaapur||Grade : Medium|
|As described by the name; Vishalgad is truly vast. Disconnected from the main Sahyadri range; this fort is blessed with protection of natural inaccessibility. This ancient fort was built to watch over and protect the road passes; the Anuskura pass and Amba pass connecting Kolhapur marketplace with Konkan ports. Once a witness of the many important historical events and worthy of capital status; the fort is in a miserable state at present. The Hindu and Muslim devotees visiting Malik Rehaan dargah have littered the fort surroundings into rubbish heaps. Let’s hope that one fine day; people will realize that our ancestors have shed blood, have sacrificed their lives for the fort. Visiting the whole fort is a splendid opportunity for history buffs and trek lovers.|
| King Bhoj, the second, shifted his capital from Kolhapur to Panhala around 1190 C.E. Then he built many forts to protect the pass ways. Among them was fort Kishagila (Kishigila – Bhojgad – Khilgila – Khelna or Vishalgad). Later the fort was captured by the Yadavas. After the reign of Yadavas ended; the Bahamanis rose to power in south. In 1453 C.E. Bahamani commander Malik Utujar entered Konkan region to capture forts. He took possession of fort Prachitgad from the Shirkes and put a condition on Shirke to convert to Muslim religion. But the Shirkes offered a counterproposal to first convert his enemy Shankarrao of Khelna Fort first and then only he would convert to be a Muslim to serve the sultan. Not just stopping at putting a proposal he went ahead with promising the Malik to show the way to Fort Khelna. Malik took the bait of this false promise and decided to follow Shirke’s advice. At the start of their journey; some southern and Abyssinian soldiers refused to enter the hill forest area. So, continuing with the remaining army; Malik entered the inroads of Sahyadris. Keeping the promise, the Shirkes led the Malik’s army on a clear and broad road for two days but on the third day he led them into dense forest. Used to the open battlefield surroundings; Muslim soldiers got tired by hardship of Sahyadri geography. The Shirkes led the tired soldiers to such a location, which was surrounded on three sides by tall and steep hills and a creek on the fourth side. It was a dead end and to return back the only way was the same rocky dangerous path that they had travelled; the army hardly had any energy to take that path again. To add to this hardship; Malik Utujar had taken ill and was suffering from severe diarrhoea with the presence of blood; unable to command his army. When the tired army fell asleep; the Shirkes struck a deal with the Mores of Khelna and raided Malik’s army. In the battle that followed; Malik’s entire army was ravished including Malik Utujar himself. Ferista had described this event in detail which one should read from the original writings.
In 1469 CE the Bahamani sultan Babkire sent his commander Malik Rehan to capture fort Khelna. He tried six times but failed. In the seventh try, after nine months of hardship; he succeeded in capturing the fort. There is a dargah named after Malik Rehan on the fort. The description of these battles is found on the stone inscription in the dargah.
After this; for over 175 years it was in the possession of Bahamanis and Adilshahis of Muslim power. On 28 november,1659 Shivaji Maharaj captured fort Panhala. At the same time, he also captured fort Khelna and renamed it as fort Vishalgad. On 3rd march 1660; Siddhi Jauhar led a siege to fort Panhala. At the same time; Jaswantrao Dalvi and Suryarao Surve of Shringarpur had besieged the fort Vishalgad. While escaping the siege of fort panhala; Shivaji Maharaj succeeded in breaking the siege around Vishalgad and safely sought refuge in fort Vishalgad. Before this happened; with a selected of 300 Mavala soldiers; Bajiprabhu retaliated the army of Siddhi Jauhar and lost their lives in the battle. It is mentioned that Shivaji Maharaj spent 5000 hone currency to strengthen fort Vishalgad.
Sambhaji Maharaj built many new fortifications on Vishalgad. In 1686; to suppress the Shirke rebellion, Sambhaji Maharaj sent poet kalash but he got defeated and sought shelter in fort Vishalgad. In 1689 CE while travelling from Vishalgad to Raigad at Sangameshwar in Tulapur, Sambhaji Maharaj got captured and was later killed. In the reign of Rajaram Maharaj, fort Vishalgad was the center for all Maratha activities. Amatya Ramchandrapant made fort Vishalgad; his main headquarters; so, it gained the status of a capital. After the death of Rajaram Maharaj in 1701 CE his widow – the third wife - Ambikabai burned herself to death on the funeral pyre as the custom of the era on Vishalgad. In December of 1701; Aurangzeb himself came to capture fort Vishalgad with a large army. But Fort commander Parshuram Pantpratinidhi held off the enemy for total six months. On 6th June 1702; in exchange of a donation of 2 lakh rupees for swarajya and safe escape; the possession of the fort relinquished to Aurangzeb. He changed the fort’s name to Sarvarlana. After capturing Vishalgad; Aurangzeb’s army headed to fort panhala but they faced the of Sahyadri on their way. After 37 days; the Mughal army finally reached panhala fort; but they were devastated and suffered great losses. These descriptions are written by Mughal historians. In 1707 CE Tararani recaptured Vishalgad. Afterwards; its possession was passed to possession of the Karaveer Maratha reign. They passed the possession to the Pantpratinidhi. Later in 1844; British destroyed the structures on the fort Vishalgad after winning it.
|Fascinating Spots :|
| After a travel by the ST bus or private vehicle when you get off at the parking lot opposite the fort, the majestic sprawled Vishalgad can be seen. There is a small valley between the fort and parking lot. Earlier the fort could be only accessed by crossing the valley but presently an iron bridge is built to cross the valley. Crossing the bridge, at the fort base, two routes can be seen. One route at the front leads to the ladder with a steep climb while the other route on the right has steps and has a less climb. One should take the ladder route while entering the fort and the steps route while returning from the fort; so that all the points and locations gets covered during the visit. After climbing the ladder; before the dargah on the left side; there is a way with stairs leading down that further divides into two roads. The road on the right has new stairs route where Bhagwanteshwar temple, palace and the Takmak point (Tok) can be seen. Whereas on the left side there is a paved road of rocks and pebbles where Amruteshwar temple, the tombstone of Bajiprabhu can be visited. Travelling by the left route; the Amruteshwar temple is reached in about five minutes. The water falling in front of the temple is obstructed by building a tank. There is a Panchanana idol inside the temple. Travel ahead and enter the “Pataal Dari” or the valley where a stream of water is present. On the other side of the stream are the tombstones of Bajiprabhu Deshpande and Phulaji Deshpande under the open sky. After that; visit the hanuman temple on its right side and return to the place where two routes emerge at the dargah.|
Now take the cemented path; one reaches the Bhagwateshwar temple in five minutes. Along with Bhagwateshwar temple, are the Vitthal temple and the newly built Ganpati temple. There is square shaped well in front of the temple. The temple is looked after by Mr. Hardikar whose resides in a house beside the temple. Stay facility can be arranged at the temple. The tortoise at the temple is particularly worth seeing. In front of the tortoise; on the sanctum’s step there is an inscription in Modi script that reads “1707 CE Abaji Jadhav, Vishalgad”. There is a Brahmadev idol in the temple. There are crevices to place lamps in the wall while circling the sanctum. The carved art on the wooden door and arches of Vitthala temple is worth looking.
After visit to the temple; on the way towards mansion (Palace) of Pantpratinidhi; there is a well with square shaped steps. The entry door to the palace is in ruins but on its left is a small basement cellar. With a height of 3 feet it can be entered by crawling. The basement’s exit is at the end where it opens near to the square stepped well. The palace has mostly turned to debris. On exiting through the south doorway of the palace there is a round well. There is an arched entrance with small (Dindi) door to descend the well. It has a small door like the Dindi door. There is a Mahadeva temple inside this well. On the backside of the palace; there is a dry well and the takmak point (Tok) is 5 minutes from there.
After visiting all this; return to the dargah where there are many shops and restaurants that attract large crowds. So, it is better to ask your way around for Mundha doorway (Darwaja). It has an intact bastion and an arch. There is a path along the door that leads to the “Ranamandala” hill that places a 8 feet cannon. After having a good look at the cannon; descend the fort by the stairs. On the way; there is a pair of footprints engraved on a stone platform that is believed to be the tombstone of the third wife Ambikabai of Rajaram Maharaj. Besides all these; caves of Muchkunda, Sati, Taas hill etc. are places to visit.
|Ways To Reach :|
| There is a distance of 80 km between Kolhapur and Vishalgad. There are two ways to reach Vishalgad from Kolhapur.|
1) Kolhapur – Malkapur – Pandharpani (Paavankhind) – Bhaat tali – Gajapur – Vishalgad. This way one gets to visit Paavankhind on the way.
2) Kolhapur – Malkapur – Amba – Gajapur - Vishalgad. There are many ST buses from Kolhapur bus depo to reach Vishalgad.
|Accommodation Facility :|
|There are hotels on the fort for stay (but many of the rooms do not have windows). One can stay at the Bhagwanteshwar or Vithhala temple by obtaining permission from Mr. Hardikar. Those who do not want to stay on the fort; can stay at Pandharpani (15 km) or school at Gajapur(3 km).|
|Food Facility :|
|Available on the fort.|
|Drinking Water Facility :|
|Available on the fort.|
|*Current condition of the fort:-* the current condition of the fort is extremely terrible. Many unauthorised hotels around the Dargah; have been built. Many devotee groups use the hotel rooms to gamble, consume alcohol and to eat meat. The fort is badly littered with chicken feathers and bones. There is no toilet facility on the fort but one can get a mug of water for ₹ 2 for defecation that all the devotees use on the fort. Due to that there is litter spread along with a strong bad stinking smell that lingers around the dargah. Restricting the spread of unauthorised hotels and wrong practices in the premises is the need of the hour.|
|Forts starting with: V||Vairatgad||Vajragad (Vasai)||Vallabhgad(Hargapur)||Vardhangad|
|Vetalgad||Vetalwadi Gad||Vijaydurg||Vilasgad (Mallikarjun)|