|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (February 2011)|
|Raigad district, Maharashtra|
Murud Janjira panoramic view
View inside Murud Janjira
|Owner||Government of India|
Origins of the name
The word Janjira is not native to India, and may have originated after the Arabic word Jazeera, which means an island. Murud was once known in Marathi as Habsan ("of Habshi" or Abyssinian). The name of the fort is a concatenation of the Konkani and Arabic words for Island, "morod" and "jazeera". The word "morod" is peculiar to Konkani and is absent in Marathi.
Murud-Janjira Fort is situated on an oval-shaped rock off the Arabian Sea coast near the port town of Murud, 165 km (103 mi) south of Mumbai. Janjira is considered one of the strongest marine forts in India. The fort is approached by sailboats from Rajapuri jetty.
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 21 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, two small 60-foot-deep (18 m) natural fresh water lakes, etc. On the outer wall flanking the main gate, there is a sculpture depicting a tiger-like beast clasping elephants in its claws. These 4 elephants symbolize Shivaji’s major enemy dynasties on which he possessed control – Adil shahi, Qutb Shahi, Mughal shahi and Nizam shahi, whereas the tiger-like beast symbolizes control of Shivaji on these. There are prominent Ashoka Chakras on all major gates of the fort Janjira. There are images of playing elephants, lions, etc.
The palace of the Nawabs of Janjira at Murud is still in good shape.
A special attraction of this fort are 3 gigantic cannons named Kalalbangdi, Chavri and Landa Kasam. These cannons were said to be feared for their shooting range. Another gate to the west is sea-facing, called 'Darya Darwaza'.
The fort was originally built in the 15th century on a smaller scale by a local Maratha-Fisherman Chieftain, Rajaram Patil, to protect his people from pirates/ thieves, and the fort was known as "Medhekot". The Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar sent one of his Siddi commanders Piram Khan of Ahmednagar.Later, the fort was strengthened by Malik Ambar, the Abyssinian-origin Siddi regent of Ahmednagar kings. From then onward, Siddis owed allegiance to Adilshah and the Mughals as dictated by the times. who came with three ships armed with necessary weapons and soldiers and captured the fort. Piram Khan was succeeded by Burhan Khan, who demolished the original fort and built an impregnable, much bigger, 22-acre (89,000 m2) stone fort. The fort was called 'Jazeere Mahroob Jazeera ', which in Arabic means an island. Siddhi Ambersatak was nominated as commander of the fort. The fort has a tunnel which opens in Rajpuri. The fort was made of stones bonded together by a mixture of lead, sand and gul.
However, according to another record has written that the Abyssinian Sidis had established the Janjira and Jafarabad state since early 1100.
According to accounts written by the Portuguese Admiral Fernão Mendes Pinto, the Ottoman Empire fleet that first arrived in Aceh prior to Ottoman expedition to Aceh led by Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis has included 200 Malabar sailors from Janjira to aid the region Batak and the Maritime Southeast Asia in 1539. Onwards in 1621, the Siddis of Janjira became exceptionally powerful as autonomous state to the point that the commander of Janjira, Siddi Ambar the little successfully defied his overlord, Malik Ambar attempt to replace him with a new commandant of Janjira fort. Siddi Ambar the little is accordingly considered as first Nawab of Janjira state.
The island fortress was under control of Adil Shahi dynasty until the reign of Ibrahim II where Janjira fort was lost to the Siddis.
Major historical figures from Murud-Janjira include men such as Sidi Hilal, Yahya Saleh and Sidi Yaqub. During the rule of Sultan Aurangzeb, Sidi Yaqut has received a subsidy of Rs. 400.000. He also owned large ships which weighed between 300 to 400 Tons. According to the record these ships were unsuitable for fighting on open sea against European warships, but it sizes allowed to transport soldiers for conducting the amphibious operations.
Despite their repeated attempts, the Portuguese, the British and the Marathas failed to subdue the power of the Siddi's, who were themselves allied with the Mughal Empire. As example were when 10.000 soldiers of Moro Pandit assault were repulsed by Janjira army in 1676. The Marathas led by Shivaji attempted to scale the 12-meter-high (39 ft) granite walls; he failed in all his attempts. His son Sambhaji even attempted to tunnel his way into the fort but was unsuccessful in all his attempts. He built another sea fort in 1676, known as Padmadurg or Kasa fort, to challenge Janjira. It is located northeast of Janjira.
In the year 1736, Siddis of Murud-Janjira set out in a battle with the forces of Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao. On 19 April 1736, Maratha warrior Chimnaji Appa attacked the gathering forces in the encampments of the Siddis near Riwas. When the confrontation ended, 1,500 Siddi's, including their leader Siddi Sat, were killed. Peace was concluded in September 1736, but the Siddis were confined to only Janjira, Gowalkot, and Anjanwel, thus their power greatly reduced.
- Murud, Raigad
- List of Indian Princely States
- List of forts in Maharashtra
- Khokari Tombs
- Janjira State
- Jafarabad State
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