Murud-Janjira fort is indeed a famous historical site located on an island off the coastal town of Murud in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, India. The fort’s name is derived from the Arabic word “jazira,” meaning island, and the Konkani/Marathi words “murud” and “Janjiri.”
The fort has a rich history and is known for its strong fortifications. It was built in the 15th century by Raja Ram Rao Patil, who was the Patil of Janjira Island and a chief of the Kolis, to provide a safe haven for the local people away from pirates. However, it was captured by Admiral Piram Khan in 1489 after a clever disguise and attack.
Murud-Janjira Fort is considered one of the strongest coastal forts in India. It features 26 intact artillery towers and various cannons of both native and European origin. The fort had facilities like barracks, officer quarters, a mosque, and freshwater ponds. The palace of the Nawabs of Janjira in Murud is also present near the fort.
One of the special attractions of the fort is the presence of three gigantic cannons named Kalaal Baangadi, Chavri, and Landa Kasam, which were renowned for their shooting range. There is another fortress called Ghosalgad located on top of a nearby hill, which served as an outpost for the rulers of Janjira.
Murud-Janjira Fort is a popular tourist spot, and visitors can reach the fort by sailboats from Rajapuri jetty. It offers a glimpse into the historical and architectural heritage of the region.
The fort was known for its formidable defenses and had a significant number of cannons, with a recorded count of 572. Visitors could access the fort from the village of Rajapuri by taking a short boat ride. The fort has an oval shape, unlike the usual oblong or square shape seen in other forts. Its walls are approximately 40 feet high and feature 19 rounded porches or arches, some of which still have cannons mounted on them, including the famous Kalaal Baangadi cannon. These cannons played a crucial role in defending the fort against enemy attacks from the sea.
Inside the fort walls, visitors can find the ruins of a mosque, a palace, and a bath with water channeled from streams. There is evidence suggesting that royal ladies occupied quarters within the fort. Additionally, a functional deep well provides fresh water, despite the fort being surrounded by saltwater.
On the shore, there is a cliff-top mansion known as the Palace of the Nawab. Built by the former Nawab of Janjira, it offers panoramic views of the Arabian Sea and the Janjira sea fort.
The history of Janjira includes the influence of the Siddis, who established the Janjira and Jafarabad state in the early 1100s. The Siddis of Janjira gained significant autonomy and power, with Siddi Ambar the Little being considered the first Nawab of Janjira state. The fort was under the control of the Adil Shahi dynasty until it was lost to the Siddis during the reign of Ibrahim II.
Despite attempts by the Portuguese, British, and Marathas, the Siddis successfully defended the fort. The Maratha leader Shivaji Maharaj and his son Sambhaji made notable efforts to capture the fort but were ultimately unsuccessful. Sambhaji even attempted to tunnel into the fort but had to withdraw due to a Mughal attack on the Maratha capital. In response to the resistance from Janjira, Shivaji built another sea fort known as Padmadurg or Kasa fort in 1676, located northeast of Janjira.
In 1736, the Siddis of Murud-Janjira engaged in a battle with the forces of the Peshwa Baji Rao. The Maratha warriors Nanaji Surve and Chimaji Appa attacked the Siddis’ encampments, resulting in a significant loss of life for the Siddis. Eventually, peace was brokered, but the Siddis were confined to Janjira, Gowalkot, and Anjanwel, with their power greatly reduced. Janjira remained unconquered until it became a part of Indian territory after India gained independence from British rule in 1947.
Fascinating fact about Murud-Janjira fort
Here is a fascinating fact about Murud-Janjira Fort:
Murud-Janjira fort was built by Raja Ram Rao Patil, the Patil of Janjira Island and a chief of the Kolis who built this island in the 15th century for Kolis to live on peacefully away from pirates.
- Murud-Janjira Fort is the only fort in the world that has never been conquered. It was built in the 16th century by the Siddis, a Muslim dynasty of African origin, and it is located on an island in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Maharashtra, India. The fort is surrounded by water on all sides, and it is protected by a series of walls and bastions. It is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a Siddi princess.
Here are some other interesting facts about Murud-Janjira Fort:
- The fort is made up of seven islands, which are connected by a series of bridges.
- The fort has a total of 99 bastions, which are named after the 99 names of Allah.
- The fort is home to a number of mosques, including the Jami Masjid, which is the largest mosque in the fort.
- The fort also houses a number of palaces, including the Badshahi Mahal, which was the residence of the Siddi rulers.
- Murud-Janjira fort is a popular tourist destination, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first known builder of Murud-Janjira fort was Raja Ram Rao Patil, the Patil of Janjira Island and a chief of the Kolis. He built the fort in the 15th century for Kolis to live on peacefully away from pirates.
In the 16th century, the fort was captured by the Siddis, a Muslim dynasty of African origin. The Siddis ruled the fort for over 200 years, and they made significant additions to the fort, including the construction of a number of mosques and palaces.
The fort was never conquered, and it remained in the hands of the Siddis until 1739, when it was captured by the Maratha Empire. The Marathas ruled the fort for a few decades, and then it was passed to the British. The British ruled the fort until India’s independence in 1947.
Today, Murud-Janjira fort is a popular tourist destination, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a fascinating example of Islamic architecture, and it is a testament to the ingenuity of the Siddis, who built a fort that was virtually impossible to conquer.