Safely tucked away from the eyes of the mainlanders, there is an oval shaped fort of Murud Janjira on an island off the coastal village of Murud in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, India. The Murud Janjira fort is the only one of its kind and rightfully so.
The fort got its name from the Arabic word “Jazeera”, meaning an island. The name of the village Murud is derived from the word “Morod” in Konkani.
How to reach Murud?
Drive your own car or hire one, to this dream destination next time when you are in Maharashtra.
The nearest airport is Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport of Mumbai, which is 100 km from Murud. Once you land, you can hire a cab to Murud.
Enjoy the breathtaking scenery during your train journey and get down at Roha, the nearest railway station of Murud. It is just 3 hours journey from the railway station to Murud.
History of the Sea Fort
Janjira Jal-Durg (“sea fort”) was constructed by Malik Ambar, an Abyssinian minister in the service of the Sultan of Ahmednagar, who belonged to the Nizamshahi dynasty. Built at the end of the 17th century, the fort is almost entirely intact today. The fort is now approached by sailboats from the Rajapuri jetty. During its heyday, the island fort boasted having 572 cannons, which has not yet rusted.
Despite the repeated attempts, the Portuguese, the British and the Marathas failed to subdue the power of the Siddis, who were themselves allied with the Mughal Empire. The Marathas led by Maharaja Shivaji attempted to scale the 12-meter-high (39 ft) granite walls but failed in all their attempts. Soon the son of Shivaji, Sambhaji also attempted to squeeze his way into the fort but was unsuccessful in all his attempts. He built another sea fort known as Padmadurg or Kasa fort in 1676, to challenge Murud Janjira and station his army but the fort is not quite finished. It is located in the northeast direction of Janjira fort at a distance of about 10 km.
Main features of the Sea Fort
The main gate of the fort faces Rajapuri, a small village on the coast and can be seen only when one is about 40 feet (12 m) away from it. This architectural marvel was the strongest point for this fort to remain unconquered by the Marathas until it became part of Indian Territory after independence from the British in 1947. The fort has 2 doors, one for the king and another one for the common people to enter.
Our guide told us, there are windows of approximately 5 feet height which look much smaller from outside, thus giving the soldiers of Janjira fort an advantage over their enemies. There is a big sweet water pond inside the fort which can hold water for up to 5 years for the residents of the fort.
One of the exciting features of the fort is the well hidden underground tunnel from the fort to the village which was frequented by the fort soldiers. The tunnel is now closed by the Maharashtra government.
Our boat ride to the fort
Our boat ride from Rajapuri jetty to the fort was exciting as well as a little scary. However, on reaching the fort, we were amazed by the enormous fort which has more than what meets the eye. Some of the boats don’t have enough safety measures, especially while entering the fort at the steps. And if you give Rs 100 per person, then the boat drivers will act as your guide telling you interesting stories about the fort. The sea fort of Padmadurg is not as big as Janjira but still, the fort can be visited and enjoyed. To visit Padmadurg fort, permission needs to be taken from the Customs/Navy.
Once, you come back from the fort, you can spend the rest of your day leisurely on the serene beach of Murud. The sunrise and sunset here are mesmerizing and creates the most picture perfect moment in this destination. The Murud Janjira fort in the background just adds another dimension to the beauty of this beach.
I really enjoy visiting old forts and learning about the stories behind them. Many will argue that the journey to visit the Janjira fort is not worth it but I would say otherwise. You need to feel the way it feels when you arrive at the fort via boat and walk around the beaten paths inside the fort which was an important point in Indian history.
Note: All these amazing pictures were captured by my friend Santhosh M V and holds copyrights over them.
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