A Visit To The Unexplored Murud Janjira Fort
Nestled on a picturesque island off of the sleepy coastal village of Murud, the majestic Murud Janjira fort is a wonderful depiction of the royal past. The blue stretch of water surrounding the island that houses the fort makes for a delightful sight. The fort is situated at a distance of 55 km from Alibag in Maharashtra.
Murud Janjira Fort, like almost every fort in India, has been attacked by various forces such as the Portuguese, Marathas, and the British. Despite the intensity of attacks and vagaries of time, many bastions of the fort still remain undestroyed and undefeated, playing their role as the remnant of the days bygone.
History of the Murud Janjira Fort
Murud is a Konkani word, which probably refers to the Shahi of Ahmednagar, who wanted this fort to be one of his strongholds. Janjira is a colloquial and a more localized form of the Arabic word Jazeera that means island.
The origin of this majestic fort can be traced down to the fifteenth century when some local fishermen of Rajapuri constructed a small wooden fort on a huge rock to protect themselves and their families from the pirates. However, the Nizam Shahi Sultan of Ahmednagar wanted to capture the fort purely for strategic reasons, and when his general Piram Khan captured it, Malik Ambar- his spokesperson who was also an Abyssinian regent of Siddi origin- decided to construct a solid rock fortress in place of the original wooden garrison. This fort was originally called Jazeera Mahroob Jazeera.
Murud Janjira fort was attacked by the Marathas, the British, and the Portuguese, yet remained unconquered. The Siddis were so powerful here that they established their own sultanate of Janjira here.
The Fort has many towers and turrets that were used to keep guns and cannons. It is believed that a fort had a total of 572 canons but now only three of them exist. Once inside the Janjira fort, you shall be able to see beautiful water tanks, impressive tombs, and immaculate stone structures. A beautifully carved sculpture of a tiger capturing six elephants with its claws greets you at the entrance. Venture further inside, and you will see an entire arched gate flanked with formidable motifs of animals. The doorway to the west is called the Darya Darwaza, literally meaning the gate to the waters, and it opens into the sea.
The best time to visit this place
The ideal time to visit the fort is from October to March after the monsoon season is over. Monsoons in Maharashtra are particularly troublesome, and the boat service that takes you to the island of Murud is stalled during the monsoons for safety reasons. Hence the months from October until March are ideal to visit this hidden beauty.
Things to do around the fort
1. Lazing on the Murud Beach
The Murud Beach is located at a distance of 5kms from the Murud Janjira Fort and 48 km from Alibaug. Murud Beach, with its vast stretch of glistening sand, and turquoise green waters, is a treat to sore eyes. A breezy sojourn, away from the pretentious razzle-dazzle of the usual city life, this beach is a perfect place to relax and rejuvenate after a tour of the fort.
2. Watching the Garambi Falls in awe
These falls rumble down the earth from a height of 100 meters. During monsoons, their beauty is inimitable. These falls, surrounded by lush green forests, are an ideal place to come and spend some quality time with your friends, family, or self.
3. Picnic at the Garambi Dam
Nawab Sir Siddi Ahmed Khan, the last ruler of the Siddi dynasty, constructed the Garambi Dam. It was constructed in the name of Queen Victoria, hence it is also known as Victoria Jubilee Water Works. It is the main source of water supply to the town of Murud. The key highlight of this dam is its location. The area around the dam is lush green, and really beautiful, which makes it an ideal picnic spot. Immerse yourself in the various sounds of nature- the gushing waters and chirping of birds- and get rid of all your worries and tensions at that very moment. This is the perfect spot to experience the bliss of nature at its full glory.
4. Witness the beauty of Ahmedganj Palace
Built in both Mughal and Gothic architectural style, this beautiful mansion reeks of bygone glory. It was once the abode of the royal nawabs but now houses a fascinating mosque and tombs of previous rulers. If folklores are to be believed, these graves are filled with immense wealth but who would dare to open the graves in search of some gold? Well, try it at your own risk! This elegant structure was a witness to many horrifying battles in the past but now stands vacant as a vestige of days that are long gone.
Experience a bit of history at the Kasa Fort
Kasa Fort, also known as Padmadurg, is one of the five historical Maratha sea forts. This majestic fort, covering nine acres of land, was built by Sambhaji Maharaj to challenge the seaport of Janjira. Once a glorious structure, this fort now lies in shambles for want of resources. It finds its name in the protected monuments list of the Archaeological Survey of India. If you wish to visit this fort, you need to take permission from the Customs/Navy. You can also see the ruins of this fort from the seashore. But if you want to visit the fort to understand its structure and architecture, you would need to hire a boat.
Things to do in Murud Janjira
Other than exploring the famous Murud Janjira fort, and paying a visit to all the amazing sights mentioned above, there are many enthralling activities that this place has to offer. Murud Janjira has some amazing shopping sites, and also offers great places for camping. While you are at Murud Janjira, do not forget to take home some flavorsome masalas, chikkis, and barfis. Sounds mouth-watering, right?
If you have that adventure bug in you, you can also opt for camping at Murud Janjira. You can either go for nature or beach camping. The city has astounding camping options to offer to every kind of traveler. All you need to do is get your camping gear and lose yourself in the picturesque settings this place has to offer. This place is a marvel waiting to be explored and you sure wouldn’t be disappointed.
How to reach the Murud Janjira fort
Since Murud Janjira is an offshore sea fort, the best and the only way to reach there is by boat.
Murud Janjira is a well-connected island. The major railway station nearest to the fort is that of Mumbai, which connects the island to all main railheads. The other train station quite close to Murud is Roha, but Mumbai is much better connected to the entire country than the latter.
There is a bus service from all major towns and cities like Mumbai, Pune, Alibaug, or Raigad, which will take you to Murud. Rajapuri Jetty is the place from where the boats will carry you to and fro the Murud Janjira fort.
The major airport closest to this place is Mumbai, and if you are traveling in a group, you can easily hire a taxi that would take you to your destination.
The boats that ply from Rajapuri Jetty take around 20-50 INR per person depending on the season and the number of people traveling. If you are traveling in a group, it would be economical for you.
Timings for the Murud Janjira fort
The fort opens at 7 am and closes at 6 pm. Since the boat service stops sometime before the fort closes, it is always advisable to visit when you at-least have an hour to spare. Ideally, you should spend at least two hours in the fort to truly understand and appreciate its architecture.
The entry to the Murud Janjira fort is free of cost. You just need to buy tickets for the boat that would ferry you there.
Top places to stay near the Murud Janjira fort
Murud Janjira has some fascinating options to stay that will ensure that you enjoy every bit of the place without burning a hole in your pocket. As mentioned above, this place has something for every kind of traveler, so whether you are a solo traveler looking for a reasonably priced room to crash or a couple looking to spend some quality time in the vicinity of nature, you will definitely find your kind of accommodation here.
There are many hotels in Murud in the vicinity of fewer than five km from the fort that are cozy, comfortable, and suit every kind of budget. If you love the waters, you can opt for a hotel next to Murud Beach. If you want to indulge in some adventure, you can spend the night in a camp. The price ranges from 1300 INR per night to 6000. You can spend an amazing time at this place without having to burn a hole in your pocket.
Murud Janjira is a relatively unexplored region in India. If you are history aficionado, you should definitely visit it, but even if you are not, you will love the architecture of the fort and the wilderness around. It is a beautiful place to relax, unwind, and just spend some amazing time away from regular chores.
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