Sajja Kothi is one of the structures of a well-known fort (Panhala) of Maharashtra; but it has a independent historical identity of its own. Sajja means balcony; this one storied construction has many balconies overlooking the vast vista across the Sahyadri ranges and hence the name Sajja Kothi.
Although the Fort Panhala was built by Raja Bhoj during twelfth century, later on many additions were made to the original fort by the Mughals and Marathas. This Sajja Kothi was built by Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur in 1500. This was used for closed meetings of top circle of ministers, and also for keeping a watch over the valley for any signs of the enemy.
Unlike the wide entrances of royal residences, the entry to this place, which was used for political meetings, is through a narrow door. (The modern age installation for communication purposes looks somewhat out-of-place here). A stone stairway of small width takes us to the chambers on the first floor of this Kothi, which is built in Bijapur style of architecture.
The first thing that strikes us as we reach the first floor is the symmetrical arches over the balconies and the splendid view of the valley floor ahead.
The scene is really beautiful. (I have already used this picture in one of my earlier posts). These balconies hang over the ramparts of the fort and give a good view of the surroundings. Thus it was strategically built to keep an eye over the vast area for any movements of the opponents.
The ceiling of this balcony area is domed and decorated with Mughal style designs in plaster.
At some places this plaster and the designs are breaking off and need restoration. Inside there are a few small chambers or rooms with doors to keep them locked.
This place gained significance in Maratha history because, when this fort was under the power of Chhatrapati Shivaji, his son Sambhaji was kept under house-arrest in this particular building. Sambhaji threatened to defect to Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who was an arch enemy of Raja Shivaji and thus his house-arrest was deemed essential.
At present there are some government offices on the same premises (probably the communication installation on the ancient structure is for these offices) which somewhat takes away the historical aura of the place.
Sajja Kothi and Fort Panhala are 18 km from the city of Kolhapur in Maharashtra.