Vishalgad fort, is also called ‘Khelna’ or ‘Khilna’ by locals, and was one of the important forts of the Maratha empire. The name ‘Vishalgad’ means grand fort in Marathi, the name was given by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj after annexing it during 1659. The structure covers an area of 1130 m and was built on a hilltop in the Sahyadri mountain ranges at a height of 3500 feet above sea level, and is about 76 km north – west of Kolhapur.
Vishalgad Fort was built in the year 1058 by a Shilahara ruler ‘Marsinh’ and was initially known as ‘Khilgil’ fort. But down the centuries it passed into the hands of many rulers who ruled around the Deccan region. When the fort was under the control of Adilshah of Shivaji wanted to capture the fort but the terrain of the fort was difficult and conquering appeared a herculean task. Shivaji attacked the fort several times, but the Adilshahi regiment were defending the fort valiantly. So then, Shivaji came up with a strategy. Accordingly, a group of Maratha soldiers went up to the fort and convinced the Adilshahi killedar (commander) of the fort that they were not happy with the rule of Shivaji Maharaj and thus had come to serve the Adilshahi. The Maratha’s were successful with their plan and then on the following day, they revolted and caused total mayhem inside the fort. Simultaneously, Shivaji Maharaj attacked the fort from the outside and in no time conquered the fort. Shivaji then renamed the fort as ‘Vishalgad’.