Janjira Island Fort

Murud is a beach 165 kilometers away from Mumbai. You go to Alibaugh which is also a beach town situated on the Arabian Sea and is halfway between Mumbai and Murud. The scenery of Konkan region is breathtaking after you leave the Alibaug for Murud.

There are coconut palm and areca groves on the way. Sea is everywhere blue and green. Road runs parallel to sea coast. There are small hillocks on the way.

On holidays lots of people visit the beaches here. There are boats available which takes you to the fort. One has to be very careful though while alighting at the landing because the boat rocks with waves and stairs are slippery.

Boat landing

From the beach, lapped by the waves is the fort called Janjira fort. It is situated on a rock of oval shape. Janjira was one of the strongest marine forts of India. The name is derived from Arabic word Zazira which means island. It is most strategically situated fort. The fort is approached by sailboats from Rajapuri jetty. 

The main gate of the fort faces Rajapuri on the shore and can be seen only when one is quite close to it.  It has a small postern gate towards the open sea for escape.  The fort has 19 rounded bastions, still intact. There are many canons of native and European make rusting on the bastions.

Presently the fort is in very bad state, all in the ruins. But in its heyday had all necessary facilities, e.g., palaces, quarters for officers, mosque. It was built by Siddis, who came to India from Africa and served many rulers here. They are master sea people.

They rose to power by dint of hard work. The fort’s residents were Siddis, Marathi, Koli  and people of many other communities. Siddis were very generous towards their populace.

Although it is surrounded from all sides by the briny sea, there was a big fresh water tank which provided the residents with fresh drinking water.

Originally the fort was small wooden structure built by a Koli chief in the late 15th century. It was captured by Pir Khan, a general of Nizamshah of Ahmednagar.  Later the fort was strengthened by Malik Ambar, the Abyssinian Siddi regent of Ahmednagar kings. 

From then onward Siddis became independent, owing allegiance to Adilshah and the Mughals as dictated by the times.  Despite their repeated attempts, the Portuguese, the British and the Marathas failed to subdue the Siddi power. 

Shivaji’s all attempts to capture Janjira fort failed due to one reason or the other.  When Sambhaji also failed, he built another island fort, known as Kansa or Padmadurg, just 9kms north of Janjira.  The Janjira state came to an end after 1947.  The palace of the Nawabs of Janjira at Murud is still in good shape.

Ranjit Singh

I am working as a scientist in the India's premium E&P oil company. Besides the commitment to my job, I read lot of literature especially good fiction, history and science. I belong to Chandigarh and did my Masters in Chemistry from Panjab University Chandigarh specializing in physical chemistry. I am fond of surfing the internet for good articles, social networking and giving vent to writing for which I have aptly chosen the blog in Wordpress. Thanks

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