JANJIRA FORT

JANJIRA FORT

Janjira Fort (Murud peta, p. 992), having an excellent command over the Arabian Sea, served as an observation post and a naval base for the rulers in the past. Situated not too far from the shore to maintain communications with land and not too near to obstruct view of the inner sea this fort served as an ideal model both from the point of view of defence and attack. To keep the fort defendable in case of surprise attack, it was at all times equipped with big guns and long range cannons. [Interesting details about their description as given in the old Gazetteer (1883) are as follows:-In the bastions and on the walls are ten guns, three of local and seven of European make. Of the three local guns on the main gate, the largest was eighteen feet long with a circumference of seven feet eight inches at the muzzle and a bore of fourteen inches diameter. It was known as the Kallal Bangdi, apparently from eight large rings that are attached to either side, and is said to have been brought by the Peshva’s army, probably in 1735, and abandoned on its retreat. It is of great weight and is said to have been raised by being gradually built up. Of the seven European, guns, three were made in Sweden, one in Spain, one in Holland, and one in France. There is nothing on the seventh by which its original owners can be traced. The three Swedish brass guns, which are on three separate towers, are of very handsome make and are precisely alike in size and pattern. The gun is ten feet long with a breech three feet in circumference and a bore four inches in diameter. It bears the letters C. R. S., and below the letters are the Royal Arms of Sweden with the date Anno 166′. Round the breech there is engraved “Goos-Mich Iohan-Meyer in Stockholm”. At the breech is a power-pan supported by twisted snakes. The Spanish brass gun is ten feet three inches long, and has a bore five inches in diameter. It bears the words “Don Phillipe III Rev D’ Espana” with the golden fleece below, and the Spanish arms. This gun was till recently used in firing salutes. The Dutch brass gun is seven feet five inches long and has a bore four inches in diameter. It has engraved round the breech “Hans Noorden ET Ian Alberte de Grave Amsterdam”, and the date 1672 blow two as, the second A being placed in an inverted form below the first A. The French brass gun is nine feet long with a 6 ¾ inch bore and has a coat of arms surmounted by a fleur-de-lys crown. It bears neither date nor name. The seventh unknown gun is also of brass. It is twelve feet ten inches long and has a six-inch bore. Except two fishes engraved on the muzzle the gun has no distinguishing marks. Besides these guns there are two brass mortar and a brass four-barrelled gun about 3½feet long. On the walls and interior of the fortress lie scattered pieces of cannon of various calibre, serviceable and unserviceable. There is also a scimitar-shaped sword four feet long and one foot broad.] These guns have either been removed or destroyed from time to time, and all that remains of these, are the stray pieces of cannons and the rusted barrels of guns without their carriages.

Merger of the Murud State in the Indian Union in 1947-48 resulted in depriving the local people of the subsidy they were getting from the Navab. Since then people have been migrating in search of their livelihood. The ruined buildings, half fallen girt-walls coupled with the desolation by he local people, has made the scene gloomy and forlorn. At high tides, waves dashing against the rock-walls make an alarming sound.

 

JANJIRA

Janjira (Murud peta; 17°45′ N, 73°05′ E; p. 600; RS. Khopoli, 47 m. NE). The fortified island of Janjira lies just within the entrance of the Rajapuri creek the mainland being half a mile distant to the east and a mile to the west.[ Dom Joao de Castro, in 1538, described it as a gunshot long and a little less broad with a round head in the centre where the people lived. Primeire Rotaire da-Costa da India, 166.] In shape it is irregularly oval or nearly round and it is girt by walls which at high tide rise abruptly from the water to a height of from forty-five to fifty feet. At low tide the water recedes leaving the rock foundations on which the walls are built dry. On the east side, opposite Rajapuri, is a large and handsome entrance gateway with steps leading to the water, and, on the west, facing the open sea, a small postern gate used in former years in times of siege, leads into a wide masonry platform about twenty feet high above water mark. The platform is built in the form of a semicircle stretching along the sea face and takes in and is covered by bastions. The walls are battlemented, strongly loopholed, and have their faces covered with nineteen bastions, eighty feet across and thirty feet deep, at intervals of about ninety feet.

Just above the great entrance, near the heavy iron studded gates, is a large white stone, let into the walls, on which is carved the word yohor meaning 1111 H. (A. D. 1694). This marks the begin-ning of the building of the walls, which were finished in A. D. 1707 by Sidi Surul Khan (1707-1733). On passing through the gateway are the ruins of a large mansion [This building, like the fort walls, is of well cut blocks of trap strongly cemented-The windows are surrounded by ornamental stone carving in the Saracenic style-Further to the right, built round a large cistern, are the Nawab’s palace and women’s quarters comparatively in a better state.] said to have been built in the time of Sidi Surul Khan. Debris of stones indicate the existence of some buildings in the remote past. The palace is a small upper-storeyed stucco building in the ordinary Hindu-European style. It has no special interest; several rooms have their walls and ceilings lined with mirrors. A terrace overhangs the water. This part of the citadel commands a wide view. To the south-west and west stretches the ocean; the Rajapuri creek winds to south-east till it is a narrow-palm-covered neck of land making the creek look like a lake. To the west, on a slight eminence, partly hid among trees, stand the broken walls of the old Rajapuri palace, which was abandoned by the late Navab. The flat fortified rock of Kansa or Padamadurg rises out of the sea about two miles to the north-west.

In 1860, more than half the interior of the Janjira fortress was burnt, and a mass of State papers and documents was destroyed. The fire did no injury to the walls, and many of the houses that were burnt have been rebuilt or partially restored. There are still broken walls and charred ruins. On all sides are dirt and desolation. The place looks as ruined and desolate as if it had lately undergone a siege. [ Reported by Mr. F. B. O’Shea, Superintendent of Post Offices, Konkan Division for the first edition.] In the fortress a yearly Muhammedan fair or urus is held in honour of the Pancayatana shrine. According to the common story five bodies were washed ashore and lay un-buried till some Musalmans, warned in a dream, went to the island, and finding the bodies, buried them and raised a tomb over them. Another story is that the shrine was raised when Shah Tahir was appointed commandant of Janjira; and according to a third account the stones are old Koli deities whom the Musalmans turned into saints and continued to worship. The Dattajayanti [It is attended by from 2,500 to 3,000 people mostly Musalmans and religious beggars. Sweetmeats, toys, fruits, flowers, and tea and coffee worth in all about Rs. 1,000 are sold on the occasion. The village of Nigri, is held in grant by the shrine. Out of the proceeds of the village the Nawab feeds the people, each fakir receiving a small sum of money on leaving. Besides this, the Nawab spends on his own account about Rs. 1,000 in charity. On the third day an embroidered covering Gilaph is carried through the fort in procession, headed by the Nawab, who at sunset lays it on the tomb. (As described in the first edition.)] fair is held on the full-moon of Kartik (November).