Baji Prabhu Deshpande (c. 1615-1660) was a Minister/Count (also known as Sardar) and commander for Shivaji, historical 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.
Geography of Pavankhind
9 to 10 km east of Vishalgad in Shahuwadi taluka of Kolhapur district. At a distance between Gajapur, Pandharpani and Yelvan Jugai, at a height of 1711 feet, there is Pavankhind. Pavankhind is a valley of two hills which is seven miles long. The river Kasari originates in this valley. This route is Panhala, Mhalunge, Pandavadari, Dhangarwada, Pandharpani, Ghodkhind.
Siege to Panhala
Bajiprabhu Deshpande, a loyal ally of Shivaraya, with the help of Mavals, stopped Siddi Masood's army in this gorge and gave the kings a chance to go to Vishalgad. The root cause of the struggle in Pavankhindi is Panhalgad! Siddi Johar laid siege to Panhala. Maharaj stuck on the fort. Eventually a plan was drawn up and the kings were told to surrender. Siddi's camp rejoiced and the siege was relaxed.
Here Shivaji Maharaj decided to leave Panhala and along with 600 armed infantry, including Bajiprabhu, escaped from Panhala in the way planned by Maharaj spy. July 12, 1660, Ashadh Pournima, Thursday, around 10 p.m. Lightning was flashing, rain was falling and just then a guard of Siddi saw this and he shouted treason treachery ! As soon as this tea was served, the kings made two palanquins. In one palanquin he sat himself and in the other palanquin sat Shivaji (Shiva Kashid) who looked like Shivaraya, dressed like him. Maharaj left for Vishalgad by a detour. Spy conveyed the news of Maharaj's escape to Siddi Johar. Jauhar told Masood to chase him and finally caught Shivaraya. But when he realized that he was not the real Shivaji, Shiva Kashid, who had been captured as Shivaji, was beheaded.
Shiva Kashid surrendered for freedom, for Swarajya, for Shivaraja.
The Battle of Pavankhind
Here Masood was running towards Ghodkhindi with a thousand infantry. That dawn of July 13! Raje and Baji came to the gorge and the shouts of Masood's army were heard. The big bang of the occasion. Bajiprabhu told Maharaj, go to Vishalgadi, Ganim(enemy) is vast, Ganim will claim, I will stop here. It does not matter. But give the sound of guns as a sign of reaching the fort.
Baji carried out the ganimikawa. As soon as Masood's Hasham came, he started throwing stones at the few people who were sitting on the trees. Hashma's head began to burst like a coconut. Baji fought with hatred at the mouth of the gorge all day long. Many wounds were inflicted, the body was injured, Mavale died. Baji's attention was on Vishalgad! Finally, at six o'clock in the evening, the sound of gunfire came. At the same time, Baji's vermi wound healed and he collapsed. At the last moment he said, 'Sir, I have done my work, come.'
Maharaj was waiting for Vishalgad, a live bet. But with great difficulty, the Mavals took Baji's corpse to the fort. Maharaj was very upset. Rayaji Naik, Badal cremated Baji's body on the orders of the king. That samadhi is neglected. Even today, when we reach this gorge, we remember the battle of July 13, 1960. The gorge is also choked. Swaminishthepayi, sprinkled with blood, Baji sacrificed his life for Swarajya. Our pride in history will be meaningful only if those who talk of loyalty, progressive and history-loving government take care of their samadhi.[ref]