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About Janjira Fort (Raigad)

Murud-Janjira is a well-known sea fort. This fort is known to stay unconquered in any fight until it was handed over to the Indian region after autonomy from the Britisher.

It is to the credit of those who ruled across Maharashtra that they were able to build forts in the most unlikely places, at times on terrains that would have been virtually impossible to reach or navigate. And so while there are many forts atop almost insurmountable hills, one of the most unique is the one at Janjira. This island fort stands on a rocky outcrop near the mouth of the Rajpuri Creek and never once was it conquered by the enemies of those who ruled here because of its location.

The Janjira island fort is a marvel of architectural achievement, situated deep in the sea about 3 km from the coastal town of Murud. Though the Arabian Sea crashes relentlessly all around the fort, its impregnable walls continue to stand strong and tall at 40 feet high, even at full tide. It is spread over 22 acres and has 19 towers and a huge number of turrets, each of which had a cannon installed on it, some of which have remained intact. Originally the fort was a 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-origin Siddi regent of Ahmednagar kings. From then onward, the Siddis became independent and the fort continued to be occupied by them, undefeated despite many attacks.

All the rounded bastions of the fort are still intact. There are many cannons of native and European make rusting on the bastions. Now in ruins, the fort in its heyday was a full-fledged living fort with all the necessary facilities, as for example palaces, quarters for officers, mosque, two big fresh water tanks, etc. On the outer wall flanking the main gate, there is a sculpture depicting a tiger-like beast holding four elephants in four legs, one elephant held tightly by his tail and the sixth elephant in the jaws.

To visit Janjira, one has to go to the village of Murud, a taluka of the Raigad district. It is about 50 km south of Alibag and about 150 km from Mumbai via Alibag. From Murud, one has to reach the small village of Rajpuri, located at a distance of about 2 km. Except for the rainy season, regular ferry boats ply from Rajpuri to Janjira and back. Another route is from Dive agar-Srivardhan-Harihareshwar that leads to the Dighi port, which is the access point for the to and fro journey of the island fort.

As you enter the fort, the first thing to see is the Nagarkhana which is right at the top of the gate. There is an Arabic inscription on a marble plaque which provides a clue to the time period i.e. Hijri year 1111 or 1694 CE. After entering the gate, you will see the Pir Panchayatan, a holy shrine. From here one can climb steps that lead to the top of the fortification. There are three huge cannons - Kalal Bangdi, Chavari and Landa Kasam. There are other cannons too, spread over the nine bastions and it is estimated that there are about 80 in all. From here one can see a five-storied building in a dilapidated condition. This was the palace of Nawab Siddi Surul Khan. If one continues towards the north fortification wall, there is a second entrance gate after the ninth bastion, locally called the Chor Darwaza. In the centre of this island fort is a small hill of about 80 meters high. A flight of steps leads to the top from where one can see the ruins of the buildings in the fort. These include two big water tanks and the entire fortification with its bastions and two mosques. Towards the east one can get a picturesque view of the sea coast. Towards the north is another island fort – the Padmadurga or Pradurga, commonly called the Kansa Fort, which was built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's.

Distance from Mumbai: 162 kms.

Districts/Region

District Raigad, Maharashtra, India.

History

Located at the mouth of Rajapuri rivulet is the strengthened island of Janjira fort. This invigorated Island has played a crucial role throughout the entire existence of the Arabian Sea Trade.
Raja Ramrao Patil, the chief of the fishermen community set up his local community first on this island to shield his people from trespassers. He is accepted to be the person who constructed this fort. The legend says the Sultan of Ahmadnagar Sultanate sent Piram Khan to attack this fort as Raja Ramrao Patil wouldn't comply with the orders from the Sultan. Piram Khan came here as a trader with his soldiers in the barrels and captured the fort.
The incomparable Maratha fighters of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj endeavoured to climb the 12 meter high dividers of the fort, yet couldn't succeed. Many other foreign indigenous, as well as foreign rulers, made endeavours to capture this sea fort but failed. Not even the European naval force could overcome this post.
This fort is known particularly for Siddis. They are called Habshi in everyday language. Originally from Africa, Siddis had moved to India as fighters, slaves and dealers in medieval times. They built their empire from scratch and later were in charge of a significant piece of the coastline of Maharashtra. To limit their activities in the sea, Maratha rulers thought of the construction of sea forts like Padmadurga, Khanderi, Underi, etc. Siddhi's lived in their capital at Janjira for quite a long time. It was their focal point of force.
The fort today has numerous structural fragments including the remains of royal houses. There are two huge sweet water lakes on this island. The fairly thick walls rising directly from the sea make this militarily strong. There is only one entrance to the fort to approach.

Geography

The sea fort of Murud Janjira is surrounded by the Arabian sea on all its sides.

Weather/Climate

The prominent weather in the region is rainfall, the Konkan belt experiences High Rainfall (ranges around 2500 mm to 4500 mm), and the climate remains Humid and warm. The temperature reaches up to 30 degrees Celsius during this season.
Summers are hot and humid, and the temperature touches 40 degrees Celsius.
Winters have a comparatively milder climate (around 28 degrees Celsius), and the weather remains Cool and Dry.

Things to do

There are many things that one can see on this fort. The remains of the Royal Palace of Siddi Surulkhan includes a five-storey building, Three giant cannons (Kalal Bangdi, Chiavari and Landa Kasam), and more than 35 other cannons. An Arabic inscription on a marble plaque reads 'yohar' which means '1111 H. (A.D. 1694)', two freshwater storage tanks, Chor Darwaza, etc. The Padmadurg fort near Janjira was built by Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. Tourists can take a special ferry ride to this fort.

Nearest tourist places

The nearest tourist places are:
●      Padmadurg Fort (5 KM)
●      Datta Temple (6.2 KM)
●      Khokari Tombs (1.7 KM)
●      Janjira Beach (0.7 KM)
●      Murud Beach (5 KM)
●      Khar Amboli Dam (5.7 KM)
●      Siddhi Palace Murud-Janjira (5.7 KM)

Special food speciality and hotel

Located on the coastal belt of Maharashtra, this place serves the best seafood.

Accommodation facilities nearby & Hotel/ Hospital/Post Office/Police station

There are various accommodation facilities like bed and breakfast, Home stay, Cottages, etc.
A Rural Hospital around 5.2 KM away is available.
Murud Police Station (5.4 KM) is the nearest police station to this fort.

Visiting Rule and Time, Best month to visit

●      The best months to visit this sea fort are from October to March as the climate remains comfortable for sightseeing. This fort is closed during monsoon rains due to safety reasons.
●      The fort is open from 7:00 A.M. to 6:30 P.M.
●      In order to reach this fort, one has to take a ferry ride from Murud coast to the fort. The ferry ride tickets vary from 50 to 300 INR depending on the size of the boat, while entry to the fort is free.
●      To see the entire fort you will need approximately 1-2 hours.

Language spoken in area 

English, Hindi, Marathi.


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