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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Formidable fortress in the seas: Murud Janjira, Maharastra

I had first read about Murud Janjira in a book by Kulpreet Yadav, in his book, Catching the Departed. In the book, terrorists use this fort as a hide out to prepare bombs. During my last weekend's Mumbai trip, we spent a night in Alibag and Murud was close. So we decided to head to Murud.
large fresh water pond on top of Murud Janjira. Water level higher than sea level.
We left from Alibaug at 6.40 AM. After a brief stop at Revdanda and Korlai Fort, we reached Murud by at about 10.30 AM. We had to get back to Mumbai by evening, so I had to skip few possible stops enroute. Primary attraction in Murud was the Murud Janjira, about 4 kms away from town. It was visible from the road as we neared it.
From the designated parking area we had to walk half a km and get on a boat. Around 30 people are ushered on to a small boat with sail. When wind is not decent enough, another motored boat pulls this sail boat. No life jackets.

Guided tour vs self exploration
Once on the boat, the boatman told us some brief about the fort and suggested each family can hire a guide for a fixed fee of Rs 400 per family. If you go with guide they will show about 15 specific places of interest and bring you back to the fort in time, guaranteed. If you chose not to have a guide, you will be on your own, you won't know what to look for and where. If you get lost or can't return to entrance on time for your boat, you may miss your ride back. I debated both options for a while and chose to go on our own. His statement "You will keep wandering around all day seeing only rocks and nothing else" was bit exaggerated.

The boatmen realized that we are not availing their guide service- after sometime they offered to lower it to Rs 300 per family, then even to Rs 200. I saw following drawbacks in hiring a guide:
They herd a large group of tourists- a boat full of them like 20-30 people together. While you can see all important spots or learn a bit of history about them, you won't be able to take good photographs due to crowd and compulsion to follow the guide. If I am on my own, I can take photos at my convenience.

Half the attractions are obvious and in open. Such was the two water bodies, canons, building remains etc. Anyone can spot them, there's no need for a guide. Guide help is needed for some not so obvious spots only, like secret underground passage to mainland and can tell a bit of history about all the stuff. I decided to trade off.

Murud Janjira fort is not as huge as it was projected in the boat while trying to sell guide services. It is possible to explore it reasonably in 45 mins, though another 30 minutes would have been more ideal. Particularly if there're elders in the group who walk slow or if you're keen on photographing the fort from all possible perspectives, 45 min will be tight.
Above: Boats waiting at the entrance of Murud Janjira after dropping off tourists. One should return in the same boat they came in, after 45 mins

Below: One of the biggest canons on the fort, right above the entrance. The metal is cold despite hot summer. Said weight: 12 tons. The main and only entrance of the Fort faces the land side, not sea. So anyone trying to enter must circle the fort and come straight infront of the gate, directly under the firing range of these canons. This circutous approach makes it very tricky for invading troops to break into the Murud Janjira's main gate.
Fresh water ponds: Murud Janjira has 2 fresh water ponds. First pic and the below one. Even at end of summer, they had enough water and water level is higher than sea water level

 Above fort walls and view from windows
Below: Views of the interior


Above: Brick ceiling dome above the entrance
Below left: life sprouting on the rocks
Below right: More passages and rooms inside the Janjira
Below left: Top most point inside Murud Janjira
Below right: Royal marks carved on the fort walls near entrance
Kings those days had a very foolproof token system for anyone who needs to move out of the fort or return. Any individual without an official token is considered a spy or enemy.

Secret Passage: There is apparently a secret passage under the sea for Royal family to escape to mainland in case the fort is captured by the enemy. The passage is said to be 15 foot tall.

Visiting Murud Janjira
Cost:

  1. Car Parking: Rs 40
  2. Car Entry fee: Rs 20 + Rs 10
  3. Boat entry fee: Rs 60+ per person
  4. Guide Services: Rs 400 per family, negotiable (you will be herded together with several other families)
Other points to note while visiting Murud Janjira: 
Entry to Murud Janjira will be closed during peak monsoon, as waves are said to reach as high as fort walls and sea is too rough to ferry tourists.

They have a same boat return policy. You need to return in same boat which took you to the Janjira. This limits the time and you need to remember your boat name. In many places  (like Kolaba fort in Alibag) boats keep plying at regular intervals, guests can take next boat if they miss theirs or feel like spending some more time.

No Food or water is available inside Murud Janjira. Toilet facility is available.

There's a secondary fort as well, some 32 kms away, used as an outpost or preliminary warning centre. Wikipedia has more history if you're interested.

If you can reach Murud Janjira boating point before 10-10.30 AM, you can be back in your vehicle by 12/12.30. (45 mins at the Janjira, 10-15 mins each for boat ride, another 10-20 minutes boat waiting time. If you're late, you may have to wait more both to get on a boat and while returning, which will add to your total time.

Apparently there's also an option to hire a private tour.

Water and tender coconut available on the way to boat point.

Murud town has good restaurants and hotels. Some restaurants open at 11 AM or later. You can plan a stay there. Alternatively like what we did, you can start from Alibaug, visit Murud and return to Mumbai by evening.

7 comments :

Aravind GJ said...

Useful information.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Aravind

R Niranjan Das said...

Helpful post, Shrinidhi. Love the views from its bastions.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Niranjan

rupam sarma said...

Wonderful place. Loved the post and photos.

Aarti said...

Maharastra is one of the top places of India. Maharashtra is a state best described as a land of beaches, mountains, and wonderful food.
Thanks for this post.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@rupam- Thanks

@aarti- You're welcome