Murud-Janjira Fort, India

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The Murud-Janjira Fort is situated on an oval-shaped rocky island in the Arabian Sea, near the coastal town of Murud, 165 km south of Mumbai, India. Once the stronghold of the Abyssinian Siddis, who played an important role in the history of Mumbai, later in the 17th century, Janjira is considered one of the strongest marine forts in India, and the only unconquered one along India’s western coast. The fort was famous for its three gigantic cannons, weighing over 22 tons each, that were feared for their incredible shooting range.

The word Janjira is a corruption of the Arabic word “Jazeera”, which means an island. Murud is a Marathi word for the Siddis, an ethnic group originating from Abyssinia, a historical nation in modern day Ethiopia. So Murud-Janjira essentially means “island of the Siddis”.


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The fort was originally built not by the Siddis, but by a local Maratha-Fisherman Chieftain, Rajaram Patil, in the 15th century, albeit on a smaller scale. At that time the fort was known as "Medhekot” and was built to protect his people from pirates and thieves. It was captured by a general of Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar, and later strengthened by Malik Ambar, the Abyssinian-origin Siddi regent of Ahmednagar kings. From then onward, the Siddis became independent and exceptionally powerful as autonomous state, and the fort continued to be occupied by them.

Throughout history, numerous attempts were made by the Portuguese, the British and the Marathas to subdue the power of the Siddis, but failed. Even the great Maratha leader Chhatrapati Shivaji tried unsuccessfully to scale the fort’s 40-feet high granite walls. 

Although in ruins now, Murud-Janjira was a full-fledged living fort in its heydays with all necessary facilities such as palaces, quarters for officers, mosque, fresh water tanks, etc. The outer walls and all the rounded bastions of the fort are still intact.


Photo credit: Ishan Manjrekar/Flickr


Photo credit: Dr. Raju Kasamba/Wikimedia


Photo credit: Himanshu Sarpotdar/Flickr


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Photo credit: Vikas Rana/Flickr


Photo credit: Vikas Rana/Flickr

Sources: Wikipedia /

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