Murud-Janjira

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Murud-Janjira
मुरुड जंजिरा
Raigad district, Maharashtra
View of the fort from land
Murud Janjira panoramic view
Murud Janjira Inside View
View inside Murud Janjira
Murud-Janjira is located in Maharashtra
Murud-Janjira
Murud-Janjira
Coordinates 18°17′59″N 72°57′51″E / 18.299773°N 72.964239°E / 18.299773; 72.964239Coordinates: 18°17′59″N 72°57′51″E / 18.299773°N 72.964239°E / 18.299773; 72.964239
Type Island fort
Site information
Owner Government of India
Controlled by Siddis
Open to
the public
Yes
Condition Partially intact
Site history
Materials Stone

Murud-Janjira (मुरुड जंजिरा) (About this sound pronunciation ) is the local name for a fort situated on an island just off the coastal village of Murud, in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, India.[1] It was occupied by the Siddis and is famous for being the only fort along India's Western coast that remained undefeated despite Dutch, Maratha and English East India Company attacks.[2]

Origins of the name[edit]

Janjira from outside

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.

Major features[edit]

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 away from it . It has a small postern gate towards the open sea for escape.

Kalak Bangadi, 3rd Largest Cannon in india At Janjira Fort, weighing over 22 Tons

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 feet deep natural fresh water lakes, etc.[3] 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 symbolizes Shivaji’s major enemy dynasties on which he possess control – Adil shahi, Qutb Shahi, Mughal shahi & Nizam shahi, whereas tiger like beast symbolize control of Shivaji Maharaj on these. There are prominent "ASHOK-CHAKRAS" on all major gates of the fort Janjira. There are images of playing elephants, lions etc.

The sculpture on the main gate

The palace of the Nawabs of Janjira at Murud is still in good shape. The palace was self-sufficient. It has secret gates to hide and escape. Its construction is unique and very strong.[citation needed]

Originally the fort was a small wooden structure built by a Koli chief in the late 15th century.[4] It was captured by Pir Khan, a general of Nizamshah 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.

History[edit]

Inside the fort
Main article: Janjira State

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 was known as " Medhekot". He was a fearless man with independent bent of mind who was quite popular with the local fishermen. Nizam, the ruler from Ahmadnagar sent one of his Siddi commanders Piram Khan, 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 acres(about 858 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.

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. Major historical figures from Murud-Janjira include men such as Yahya Saleh and Sidi Yaqub. 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.

The Marathas led by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj attempted to scale the 12 meters high Granite walls he failed in all his attempts. His son Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj even attempted to tunnel his way into the fort but was unsuccessful in all his attempts.[5]

Janjira ruins
The small pond inside Janjira fort

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 during the Battle of Riwas near Riwas, when the confrontation ended 1500 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. Special attraction of this fort is 3 Gigantic Cannons named Kalalbangdi, Chavri and Landa Kasam. Another gate to the west is sea- facing, called 'Darya Darwaza'.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hoiberg, Dale; Indu Ramchandani (2000). Students' Britannica India. Popular Prakashan. p. 403. ISBN 0-85229-762-9. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  2. ^ "Murud Janjira". Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  3. ^ http://murudjanjira.blogspot.in/
  4. ^ "Murud- Janjira Fort". Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  5. ^ India, Lonely Planet