India is packed with mysterious centuries-old forts and temples. There are hundreds of forts in India; some so old that no one knows when and who built them.
Let us today talk about one such ancient and historical fort, called the ‘Fort of Snakes’. This fort is more than 800 years old. It is believed to have been built by Shilahara ruler Bhoja II between 1178 and 1209 AD. It is also said that the proverb ‘Kahaan Raja Bhoj, Kahan Gangu Teli’, is associated with this fort.
Here, the queen regent of Kolhapur, Tarabai, spent her formative years. Several parts of the fort and the structures within are still intact.
The name of this fort is Panhala fort (also known as Panhalgad, Panhalla. This fort is located in Panhala, 20 kilometres northwest of Kolhapur in Maharashtra, India. Panhala is a small town and hill station, but its history is linked to Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Panhala fort is called ‘Fort of snakes’ because its structure is like zigzagged i.e. it looks like a snake while moving. It is said that there is a tunnel leading to Bhavani Mandap from Panhala, the hillside fort about 20 km away from Kolhapur built to allow an escape-route for warring Maratha soldiers. Any attempts to discover this tunnel or its discovery have not been heard.
Under this three-storeyed building in this fort is a secret well, known as Andhar Bavadi. There are recesses in the wall so that soldiers can be permanently stationed. It is believed that this well was built by the Mughal ruler Adil Shah. Several hidden escape routes in the Andhar Bavai lead outside the fort.
With its own water sources, living quarters and its own exit routes, this structure was designed like a fort within a fort with the intention of making it an emergency shelter in case the main fort fell.
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