Monday, April 4, 2016

Janjira/Jaldurg, A Unique Fort In Maharashtra In The Middle Of The Arabian Sea!


Fort Janjira/Jaldurg In The Middle Of The Arabian Sea. (Picture courtesy:

We had been to Maharashtra, a few months back and visited many forts over there.  The best and unique fort was the Janjira Fort which is also called Jaldurg. 'Janjira' is an Arabic word for island, it seems. It is situated in the port town of Murud, a small sleepy town, facing the Arabian sea.  The boat ride to the fort was OK but getting down at the small entrance to the fort was difficult.  They charge Rs.600 for the boat ride without any receipt.   My son insisted for the receipt and then they gave.  Parking fee was Rs.40 at a dirty area. Again no receipt.  We need lot of patience to cross the narrow village roads to the jetty.  But the boatmen were good. We gave them Rs.200 extra since the next day was Ramzan! This is  mainly a Muslim area. We saw goats tied to the gates in each and every house. The people were busy feeding them some greens.  The guide charged Rs.400. He was OK.  

Wiki says: Janjira is considered one of the strongest marine forts in India. The fort is approached by sail boats from Rajapuri jetty.  (Murud is 165 Kms. south of Mumbai).


The main gate of the fort faces Rajapuri on the shore and can be seen only when one is about 40 feet (12 m) away from it. It has a small postern gate towards the open sea for escape.

The fort has 26 rounded bastions, 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, e.g., palaces, quarters for officers, mosque, temple, two small 60-foot-deep (18 m) natural fresh water lakes.

A special attraction of this fort is, 3 gigantic cannons named Kalalbangdi, Chavri and Landa Kasam. These cannons were said to be feared for their shooting range.

 This link says:  

Janjira came into prominence in the late 15th or early 16th century when the Siddis became its virtual masters. After it had been ruled over by such historical greats as the Mauryas, Silharas, Chalukyas, and Yadavas, it fell into the hands of the Abyssinians or Siddis in 1490 A.D, by way of trickery against a Koli king. Malik Ambar, a powerful Abyssinian, subsequently constructed a strong stone fort there in 1567 A.D. Numerous wars were waged against the Siddis by the Marathas, Mughals, and Portuguese to wrest Janjira from them, but in vain. The Siddis proved fiercer soldiers and greater seafarers than them all. The Janjira state came to an end after 1947 with the merging of princely Indian states with the union.

Shivaji also waged a war against the Siddis but couldn't penetrate the fort.  His son Sambhaji also tried.  Built Padmadurg fort nearby and tried to come inside this fort via a tunnel under the sea, but in vain.  Now also they say that there is a tunnel from the fort to the Rajapuri town.

They had an active market area inside the fort. They had a full-fledged town.  The descendants have fled to Indore and Mumbai later, it seems. Some dark skinned people were seen in the town of Rajapuri here... the result of mixed marriages!

Our guide said that the Fort took 22 years to build and is spread over 22 acres of land. At the entrance is an inscription in Persian language and a stone carving depicting a tiger engulfed by six elephants which, is the emblem of the might of the Siddis, it seems.

He said that the queen had a 2 storied glass palace and bath with water channelled from streams.  We saw the dry toilets for the queen.

About Siddis: 

The Siddis are the descendants of slaves, sailors, and maritime workers, forced and voluntary migrants from the East African countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and later Zanzibar.  The forced migration of Africans for purposes of slavery is incontestably the major reason for the presence of Africans in India.

 
The sleepy town of Murud from where we can reach the Fort.

The narrow entrance to the fort. Slippery, broken steps.  We have to be very careful while getting down from the boat and climb the steps (nothing is there there to hold the boat or us, boatmen have to help us and hold the boat too!). This is the only entrance for people to enter the fort which is not easy to locate unless you know the place. We can reach here only by boats.

This picture was taken by my son from the topmost point at the Janjira fort. Click on the picture to have a good view.  You can see the sweet water pond on the left.

Sweet water pond inside the fort.  The whole Janjira town people were using this water for drinking and cooking purposes.  One more lake was on the other end of the Fort. Water was available throughout the year, it seems.

The inside of the fort..The weeds are removed during the peak tourist season, it seems.  The ruined building had seven stories which was Siddi leaders' offices!


A special attraction of this fort is, the 3 gigantic cannons named Kalalbangdi, Chavri and Landa Kasam. These cannons were said to be feared for their shooting range. They are in the picture shown above.


The 40' high walls of the fort. The fort was made of stones bonded together by a mixture of lead, sand and gul. Wiki says so.  What is gul? Or is it gud, jaggery? Anybody knows? It cannot be rose flower!

This picture was taken from the top of the fort.  Stones can be seen near the wall.  No other entrance anywhere else, except a small hole on the other side of the fort which was crude.
The small escape route on the opposite side of the main gate. Imagine Siddis going out via this tiny opening! Posted this picture on 5th April, '16

Shivaji's son, Sambhaji built another sea fort in 1676, known as Padmadurg or Kasa fort, to challenge Janjira and failed. This picture of the fort was taken from the Janjira fort.
  
Another picture of the oval shaped Janjira Fort
The Maharashtrian tourism Department has got a treasure in their hands.  If this unique fort was somewhere in Europe, they would have maintained it very well which would have attracted more tourism to the area.  I might forget our visits to the other forts but not this one!

We reached the fort by sail boat and while returning, a motor boat came and pulled our boat against the wind direction to the shore!

If anyone know more details of the place, please write in the comment section, please. Thank you!

P.S.: I came across this Youtube link now, and you can see the fort without the weeds!

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Edited on 29th May, '16: Came across this article on 'African rulers in India'. Very interesting!

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16 comments :

SG said...

Thanks for the info and the beautiful photos. Have not heard of this fort until now.

Destination Infinity said...

Nice fort and an impressive history of being able to defend against the Mughals, Marathas, Portuguese, et. all! The pictures are nice, esp. the panoramic view. I can see getting into the entrance can be challenging, but it's more memorable than the easy boring entrances :)

Destination Infinity

Rahul Bhatia said...

Thanks for the nice trip to Janjira fort. Have not been there so far:(

Sandhya said...

SG: Thanks for the first comment, SG! I too haven't read about it anywhere until we saw it! It is really unique.


DESTINATION INFINITY: This is not a normal fort! We saw Raigadh and Pratapgadh forts too in this tour but this was the best, esp. the location.


RAHUL BHATIA: It was new to us too! Thank you, Rahul!

Bikram said...

wowow That is a beautiful .. it is a pity that our govt. is not doing anything.. this can be such a beautiful tourist place if maintained properly.


beautiful clicks...

Bikram's

sm said...

beautiful shots

Rama Ananth said...

Never heard about this fort, thanks for sharing it with us. You are lucky yo visit it. The pictures are beautiful.

Onkar said...

A very exciting fort indeed

manju joglekar said...

Lovely pics, Sandhya! Yes, Janjira is a very picturisque fort. Murud-Janjira area is quite charming.

So how did you like Maharashtra? Did you visit Mumbai?

Sandhya said...

BIKRAM SINGH MANN: Yes, we were very sad to see the decaying areas inside the fort (not the outer wall...it looks still in tact!) and the entrance without any support for the elderly to get down from the boat. It is very picturesque!


sm: Thank you, sm!


RAMA ANANTH: Even I hadn't read about it anywhere...son planned the visit! Thank you, Rama!


ONKAR: Yes, Onkar!


MANJU JOGLEKAR: Felt so happy reading your comment, Manju! The fort is beautiful! I like Maharashtra always! No, we didn't touch Mumbai. We went on a road trip with son.

Devilish Angel said...

Lovely place and pics...

Jeevan said...

Wow! Amazing fort complex built into the sea and looks challenging to get into the fort via the slippery steps. It’s truly mesmerizing to see it standing strong against the ocean current and sea erosion and I’m sure it’s not possible if they aren’t marvels at engineering... Great revealing shots

Loco mente said...

Thanks for sharing this post... I didnt know about this fort...
Our ancestors had a great mind... :)

Sandhya said...

DEVILISH ANGEL: Welcome to my space, Devilish Angel! Thank you!


JEEVAN; It is unique, Jeevan! Thank you!


LOCO MENTE: I don't know how this has not become famous! This will be a famous tourist spot here, in India!

radha said...

Isn't it sad we have such lovely forts and they are in such a sorry state. And besides having unorganised tourist guides and tours will only drive away genuine tourists. Such a shame. I am glad you shared the pictures of a place I might never ever visit. As you said if this was in any other country, it would have been a star attraction and of course better maintained.

Sandhya said...

RADHA: No proper parking space but men were there to collect Rs.40 for parking in filth. Husband and son were arguing with them and I was scared to stand there. As I wrote no tickets were given but they collected money for boat ride for fort visit etc. Son had to argue again for the receipt. They the old man says, we give to people who 'ask'! We went during off season so, it was full of weeds. During season they clear the weeds, it seems. Even after all these hurdles, we enjoyed the beauty and intelligence in the architecture of the fort. It was worth the visit.

Thanks for the comment, Radha! Happy to see you here!

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