Murud-Janjira


Murud-Janjira

Coordinates: 18°17′59″N 72°57′51″E / 18.299773°N 72.964239°E / 18.299773; 72.964239

Murud Janjira
Raigad district, Maharashtra
Janjira Fort bastions 3.jpg
Murud Janjiraa bastions
Murud-Janjira is located in Maharashtra
Shown within Maharashtra
Type Island fort
Coordinates 18°17′59″N 72°57′51″E / 18.299773°N 72.964239°E / 18.299773; 72.964239
Built 1490
Construction
materials
Stone
Current
condition
Partially intact
Current
owner
Government of India
Open to
the public
Yes
Controlled by Siddis

Murud-Janjira 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.

Contents

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.

Major features

Murud-Janjira Fort is situated on an oval-shaped rock off the Arabian Sea coast near the port town of Murud, 165km 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 quite close to it. It has a small postern gate towards the open sea for escape.

The fort has 19 rounded bastions, still intact. There are many canons 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, a big fresh water tank, etc. On the outer wall flanking the main gate, there is a sculpture depicting a tiger-like beast clasping elephants in its claws. This sculpture, its meaning difficult to interpret, appears on many fort-gates of Maharashtra. The palace of the Nawabs of Janjira at Murud is still in good shape.

Originally the fort was a small wooden structure built by a Koli chief in the late 15th century. 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 became independent, owing allegiance to Adilshah and the Mughals as dictated by the times.

History

Despite their repeated attempts, the Portuguese, the British and the Marathas failed to subdue the Siddi power and take over this fort. All of Shivaji’s attempts to capture Janjira fort failed due to one reason or the other.

When Sambhaji also failed, he built another island fort, known as Padmadurg (or Kansa), just 7km north of Janjira. The Janjira state came to an end after 1947 with the merging of the princely states of the region with the Indian Union.

See also

References

  1. ^ Hoiberg, Dale; Indu Ramchandani (2000). Students' Britannica India. Popular Prakashan. pp. 403. ISBN 0852297629. http://books.google.com/books?id=-xzljvnQ1vAC&pg=PA403&dq=murud+janjira+fort&client=firefox-a#PPA403,M1. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 

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