Bringing alive the patriotic history of Pavankhind 350th centenary – 25 to 27 July 2010

It was the stormy night of 12th July 1660.. torrential rains with thunder & lightening. For 3 months, the Bijapur army of 65000 men led by Siddhi Jouhar laid seige around Fort Panhalgad (nr Kolhapur). With all escape routes, communication channels blocked by the enemy, Shivaji Maharaj and his 1000 mavalas were trapped in Panhalgad.
But, despite the 3 month long siege the enemy had not yet succeeded in breaking the Maratha defence &
capturing the fort. The Marathas were running out of ammunition & food provisions atop Panhalgad & Shivaji Maharaj made a daring plan …
In the stormy night of 12th July, with 600 comrades he descended the fort as heavy rains reduced visibility, crossed the 65000 strong enemy camp and took a difficult route thru dense forests infested with wild animals, dangerous ravines, knee-deep sludge.. with a hope to reach Vishalgad about
60kms away. They took no horses, lest the horses’ hooves should alert the enemy camp… so they ran non-stop all the way ignoring their exhaustion & hunger pangs, undeterred by the dangers en-route .. possessed with only one goal: to see their beloved King reach Vishalgad safely. Barely had they
reached a distance that Siddhi Jouhar’s spies discovered the escape and Siddhi Jouhar immediately dispatched a huge army in their pursuit. Despite their own exhaustion, the mavalas had to take the dangerous routes to elude the enemy horsemen.

By 13th July noon, the mavalas had reached the Gajapur valley when the enemy troops began to close in. Vishalgad was still far & it was pointless for 600 mavalas to defeat 20,000 strong enemy after running tirelessly for 14hrs. So, Bajiprabhu Deshpande, Shivaji’s valiant comrade took upon himself the task of blocking the enemy at a narrow pass called Ghodkhind with 300mavalas, and compelled Shivaji Maharaj to proceed to Vishalgad with the remaining 300men. Bajiprabhu then created history in Ghodkhind !!

Besieged with undying love for Swarajya and his beloved king, Bajiprabhu & his 300 mavalas fought with such divine valour that they blocked the Ghodkhind pass against 20,000 men enemy for 7hours! It was only after they heard the cannon signal from Vishalgad indicating that Shivaji Maharaj had reached Vishalgad, that they dropped dead out of fatigue. It took 21 hours of continuous running over dangerous terrain, in darkness with heavy rains, thunder & lightening, with the enemy in hot pursuit, for Shivaji Maharaj & his comrades to cover the 60kms distance from Panhalgad to Vishalgad.

This year, marks the 350th centenary of this patriotic feat. To pay respects to Veer Bajiprabhu Deshpande & the brave mavalas who laid their lives for Swarajya, a batch of trekkers will embody these great souls,
kindled with the same love for our motherland and carry an idol of our beloved Shivaji Maharaj in a “Palakhi” (palanquin) along the same 60km route from Panhalgad to Vishalgad.

Those interested in joining this palakhi/trek can contact the listed numbers (pls see attached document for details)
Pls note: Only those who meet the required level of physical fitness & bear an ardent devotional desire to carry the holy “Palakhi” will be allowed to be a part of the Palakhi team.

The others can participate in the trek following the Palakhi.

by Deepa Kolwalkar sent via Rajan Mahajan

Pawangad Fort (??????) Coordinates: 16°48’17″N 74°7’38″E

Baji Prabhu Deshpande (Marathi: ???? ????? ????????) (died 1660) was one of the lieutenants (also known as sardar) of Chattrapati Shivaji, founder of the Maratha empire. The well celebrated legend of Baji Prabhu is intricately linked with an important rear guard battle enabling Shivaji’s escape from Panhala fort, he was the hero who sacrificed his life for his king and country.

Battle of Pävankhind was a rear guard battle that took place on July 13, 1660 at a mountain pass in the vicinity of fort Vishalgad, near the city of Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India between the Maratha sardar Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Siddi Masud of Adilshah. The Marathas held the Adilshahi forces till Shivaji Maharaj reached the fort Vishalgad. The Adilshahi forces were 15,000 strong against 300 Maratha light infantry.

Vishalgad (also called Khelna or Khilna) was one of the important forts of Shivaji and Maratha Empire. The name ‘Vishalgad’ meaninggrand fort in Marathi, was given by Shivaji after annexing it for the Maratha Empire in 1659.

The history of Panhala is closely linked with the history of the Maratha empire, and with its founder, Shivaji. Panhala is the only fort where Shivaji spent more than 500 days, other than his childhood homes. It was Maratha State capital until 1782 and in 1827 it became part of the British Empire.
File:Baji Prabhu Deshpande Statue in Panhala Fort.jpg

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