Panhalgad’s neglected neighbor Pawangad
There is seldom a tourist who visits Kolhapur and has not heard of Panhala or for that matters goes back without a visit to the fort, though few venture a visit to the adjacent fort Pawangad built by Shivaji Maharaj.
Area wise this fort is tiny compared to Panhalgad but is strategically important from a military point of view. As per the views of Pant Amatya the great warrior in his book Adyapatra has observed that there should not be two adjacent forts in the same district and if they are then one has to be demolished by blowing it up and fortifying the remaining fort. In case demolition is impossible then this fort too has to be fortified and made invincible. For this reason alone did Chh. Shivaji, an expert in fort architecture create Pawangad originally known as Markandey. Thanks to Shivaji’s foresight, Pawangad like the important Panhalgad became a truly a safe fort.
To reach this fort situated at an altitude of 953 Mts. above sea level one can frequent state transport buses going to Panhala from the Rankala bus stand from Kolhapur. On alighting from the bus at Budhwarpeth just before Panhala one see before ones eyes the verdant and wide spread Pawangad on the left. A fair weather road next to the primary school will carry you towards the top, with nature showing off its abundance on either sides or the non-stop chirping birds keeping you company.
A glimpse of Pahangad assures that you have reached the summit further down one comes across a standing well, dug in the rock face with stone urn carved out on its ledge to store water and with steps leading down to the water level, which unfortunately now is not potable. Opposite the well is a beautiful temple made of black stone from which unfortunately the idol is missing. Beside the temple is a stone dome known as Tupachi Wihir. Where once upon time ghee was stored in this well, today it has been buried with stones. The idea behind storing ghee was to let it decomposes and then used as an antiseptic to treat the wound of soldiers. Application of this ghee on wounds created intense burning sensation but avoided turning septic and healed faster. Apart from Pawangad only Aginkyatara and Purandar forts have the remains of such a Tupachi Wihir and Ranjan (a large earthen water-jar).
A ten minutes walk towards the east from the temple takes you to the summit of the fort where one can see a square watch Buruj tower separately constructed from the fortifying wall of the fort with an arched room. The view from the top of this solid Buruj is extremely scenic. A miniature Buruj, locally named the Chand-Suraj Buruj, next to this has a flight of stairs going up which unfortunately are covered with dense vegetation. If one were to carefully observe the forth row of this Buruj from the inside of the fort, one can perceive the images of the Sun and the moon, hence the name.
From the edge towards the western direction one can reach the other end of this fort where one comes across a similar Buruj but which unlike the other buildings of Pawangad is still intact. On the western side of the fort is a very dense forested valley, inhabited with wide life and having a beautiful lake named the Kala Talav.
A walk around the boundary takes you to a Masjid which also houses a stone plinth with a beautifully carved lotus on it. Just beyond one comes upon the ruins of the main door leading to the fort which was destroyed by the British. In the recess of the side walls is the ancient cave of Markandey Rushi. The area also has a couple of ancient decommissioned cannon buried with their mouths in the ground.
There is a recently constructed water tank near the settlement on this fort. Due to the Muslim settlement of the Mujawars’ on the fort, the central part of the fort is lively. From here leads a fair weather road to Pahalgad with a small Madadeo temple on the right side. On the doorway of this temple one finds the remnants of an intricately carved Hanuman idol crushing a demon under his foot.
The road further down leads to another small temple with a missing idol but the walls of which have been plastered with designed tiles like those found in Masjids, in an effort to convert the shrine. This temple is slightly off this road. Retracing your steps back towards the main thorough fare and continuing ahead one comes to upon a flight of steps leading to a small temple with a small Deepmal in the foreground as well as a defaced Ganesh idol and a Shivling lying outside which may perhaps belonged to the other temples of the fort. The fare weather road eventually leads to the ruins of the main door facing Panhalgad, thus completing a full circle of the fort. From here the road bifurcates, one leading to Pahangad via Redeghati, while the other one going down to Budhwarpeth.
Although it is believed that Pawangad was one amongst the fifteen forts built by Bhojraj II, history proves that the fort came into existence after Chh. Shivaji conquered this fort for the second time in 1673 A.D. mention of which is found in one of the documents dating back to the reign of Tarabai. Another such document in Modi script found with one of the Yadav clan finds mention of the same. Pawangad came to be built under the direct supervision of Chh. Shivaji Maharaj. Impressed by the quality and solid construction of the fort, Shivaji Maharj bestowed upon the builders Hiroji Farjand and Arjoji Yadav a gift of five thousand Hones (Currency introduced by Chh. Shivaji Maharaj) each.
When Aurangzeb the Moghul emperor seized Panhala and Pawangad, one of the Maratha Killedars, Sarjerao Ghatge kept harassing the Moghuls and created such a havoc that at one point, after a well organized mass slaughter all the beheaded heads were prominently displayed on the Buruj. Impressed by his valor Aurangzeb presented him with lavish gifts which this self respecting maratha worrier rejected. Ultimately Aurangzeb succeeded in conquering Pawangad and changed its name to Rasoolgad. Later when the British conquered Panhalgad in 1844 all its residents took refuge on Pawangad and tried to defend it but in vain. The British razed to the ground many of its buildings and demolished the two entrances to this fort.
Unlike the overpopulated, cacophonic atmosphere of Panhala, Pawangad is the epitome of tranquility, surrounded by verdant forest. Evergreen Panhala bound by fog is an ethereal experience which is only offered from Pawangad.
Thank you Ms. Sonal & Mr. Kumar Deshpande for translating it in English for me. You did it in 2008.
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