Located on a scenic island in the Arabian Sea off the coastal village of Murud in Maharashtra, the Murud-Janjira fort is steeped in history. Now among the most popular tourist spots in India, the fort has survived attacks by Portuguese and British forces. In fact, most parts of the sea fort are still intact.
Murud is 55 km from Alibaug in Maharashtra. Visitors can reach the sea fort only by ferry.
The origins of the fort date to the fifteenth century when fisherfolk in the area built a wooden fort on the island's rocks to protect their families from pirates. Soon, the Nizam Shahi Sultan of Ahmednagar realized the strategic importance of the island and captured it from the fisherfolk. He built a granite fort and initially named it Mahroob-Jazeera.
The fort has several turrets and bastions where cannons and guns were placed in the past. According to legend, the fort once had 572 cannons, but at present there are only three. Other sights at the fort that have survived the ravages of time include beautiful water tanks, tombs and exquisitely-carved architectural marvels. The western gate of the fort which opens to the sea is called Darya Darwaza.
Surrounded by the sea, Murud-Janjira fort is a sight to behold with its 22 huge bastions and tall walls made of black granite stones. Earlier, when it was the capital of Siddhi rulers, the fort housed a large population. The descendants of these residents of the fort still live in Murud and nearby coastal villages.
Other attractions at the fort are a royal palace, mosques, houses of noblemen, stables, granaries and underground tunnels. Many of these buildings are inter-connected. Large freshwater tanks that sustained the residents for long periods can also be seen.
The ideal time to visit Murud-Janjira is after the monsoon. A trip can be planned between October and March. Accessible solely by ferry, the fort cannot be visited during the severe rainy season experienced in Maharashtra as the boat services would be stopped for safety reasons.