Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A fortress in the sea - Murud Janjira

Located about 170 kms from Mumbai on the Goa route, is the fortress of Janjira, adjacent to the town of Murud. Considered to be the only impregnable fort on the Maharashtra coastline, the fort lies imposingly about 3 kms into the sea.

We started off on a beautiful clowdy day, early in the morning at around 7 am and headed along the Vashi-Navi Mumbai route. We broke off the Pune route to enter Panvel and headed towards Pen and Alibaug. A few kilometres from Alibaug, a diversion took us towards Murud, a scenic hilly drive with the sea on one side and fields / hills on the other. We crossed the beach of Kashid - one of the better known tourist spots around here and headed further south. As we came close to Murud, the route made a multitude of s-curves, with Keralan palm and coconut trees everywhere.

The first view of the Janjira fort is absolutely beautiful - you see it first as the road jumps over a small hill; the fortress surrounded by waters on all sides, sheltered by hills on so as to be unseen till that time, with fishing boats of all types plying around. Luckily for us, the weather was awesome as well, mildly rainy, but not too much.

Two sailboats ply periodically between the fort and the jetty. The sea was rough and choppy, but it was a great experience to go on a sailboat wedged between some 20 odd people as the sailors (oarsmen?) tried hard to pilot it right into the entrance of the fort.

The entry into the fort is the most exciting part of the expedition. The sea gets really choppy close to the entrance and the boat swings and yaws as it gets near the steps. A group of youth stand at the entrance, helping people get off and onboard. One needs to jump off & on the boat as it swings close with the wave and thats great fun.

The fort itself is pretty dilapidated and could do with a dose or two of refurbishment. Vines and assorted plants grow all over the ruins and clothe the water-bodies in slime. However, the cannons are a pretty impressive sight; supposedly the 3rd biggest cannon in India lies there. In all, it would take at best 20 minutes to make a walkthrough of the fort.

To those following us: The trip can easily be made in a day from Mumbai. The roads are pretty decent (contrary to what I'd heard prior to the trip) and the route is absolutely scenic. Just that first view of the Janjira fort makes the whole trip worthwhile. And it takes about 3-4 hrs to get there from Mumbai. For more, check out murudjanjira.com
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