The journey from Alibaug to Murud was a long and dusty one with tourists and locals on a rickety bus. My face lit up only when I had the first view of the sea. My co passenger on seeing me take out my camera was kind enough to offer me the window seat. When I seemed a bit reluctant, he said he travelled this road every day and would not mind if he missed out on the scenery. He also gave me a cue each time a good vista was about to surface. Hope I get such lovely strangers next to me every time I travel. After alighting at Murud, it was a small rickshaw ride to Rajapuri jetty. From the jetty, along with a small crowd of visitors I too was packed into a sail boat. Though it seemed crowded, the half an hour sail was enjoyable with the crowd breaking into an impromptu song and music.
Though Murud Janjira fort was very clearly visible from the jetty area, its intimidating presence could not be ignored as we neared it. My eyes kept searching for its entrance but all I could see were the bastions and the fort wall. The guide, a young fellow probably in his early twenties began explaining about this 15th century fort a few minutes before we disembarked. It was his explanation that answered my search for the entrance. The entrance gate cannot be seen until you reach as close as 50 feet from the fort. Thoughtful architecture I must say taking into consideration the enemy attacks during those war times. As we neared the fort, it was the grandeur of the hidden entrance that captivated me. Absolutely a marvelous creation with steps going down into the waters and tall fort walls still standing strong even after years of battering by the Arabian sea.
Situated on an island, the fort was first built in the 15th century by a local fisherman to protect his community and folks from pirates. However the fort was later captured by Siddhis (A warrior clan which has it roots in Africa) who were chieftans to Ahmednagar kings and it is they who built the present stone fort and ruled for years. This impregnable fort was hard to take control of and neither the British nor the Marathas or the Portuguese could succeed in capturing it from the Siddhis despite their numerous efforts. Supposedly this is the only fort on the western coast to remain unconquered. The name Janjira happens to be a corrupt form of the Arabic word Jazeera, which was the actual name of the fort.
Our enthusiastic guide took us to all the major places in the fort explaining about its history, its architecture, various structures inside it and the people who once lived there. Most of this 22 acre fort is still intact with round bastions and strong fort walls forming the circumference. The bastions provide excellent vistas of the sea and main land. There are many canons inside the fort and on the bastions, which were once in use during its hey days. One of the big canons is famous for the fact that it never gets heated up despite taking the brunt of the sun for hours. One can experience this by touching this warm canon. As I wandered inside, the expansive fort opened up with architectures, palaces, residences, mosques, water tanks, exit doors into the sea and peep holes, most of which remain dilapidated. There is also an undersea tunnel which which was used as an escape route from the fort to the mainland. The highest point on the fort is a few steps high, from where the vistas of the blue sea and the brown hills are magnificent.
Signing Note- A beautifully fortified island...!!
Route- Mumbai- Pen- Alibaug- Revdanda- Murud
Distance- 160 Kms