Murud-Janjira is a 350 years old Fort located in Rajgad district of Maharashtra. Built on the west coast of India in Arabian sea it is the only fort which has not ever won. Local people call it Ajinkaya, which is literally unstoppable. The fort is elevated 90 feet above sea level. Since its foundation 20 feet deep. The fort was built by Siddi Johar which took 22 years to complete . The fort is spread over 22 acres. It’s 22 security checkpoints. British, Portuguese, Shivaji, Kanhoji Angre, Appa and Shanhaji Chimmaji great effort to win the fort, but could not be a success.
The fort also boasts of a sweet water lake inside it. It is considered to be a miracle that the Fort surrounded by the salty water of the sea has a lake full of sweet water. Also the cannons in the fort are quite unique. The biggest cannon boasts a range of around 18 km. It is said that since the entire cannon could not have been transported at once they had to be brought in pieces and they were then assembled inside the fort. To Reach the Janjira Fort, sailboats are available from Murud Port (which is behin Ekdara Village) and Rajpuri port.
Murud-Janjira is the local name for a fort situated at the coastal village of Murud, in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, India. It is famous for being the only fort along India’s western coast that remained undefeated despite Maratha, Dutch and English East India Company attacks.
The word Janjira is not native to India, and may have originated after the Arabic word Jazeera, which means an island. Similarly, the Marathi word Habshi is thought to be a corruption of Abyssinian. Murud was once known in Marathi as Habsan, or Abyssinian’s land.
The term Siddi is an expression of respectful address commonly used in North Africa. The ruler of the Habshi state of Murud-Janjira was known as the Siddi. Others believe that Habshis that converted to Islam called themselves “Sayyadis” (descendants of Muhammad); from which came the term “Siddi”.
At the time they seized the fort, the Siddis were employed by the Bahamani Sultan of Ahmednagar and a Habshi, Malik Ambar (1550-1626), held a prominent position in that government. Before the rise of the Maratha sardars, the courts of the Bahamani sultanates were rent by rivalry between the Indian Muslims and the foreign Muslims, as a result of which, the Sultans began to patronize the Marathas as a third force, leading to the rise of Shivaji and the Maratha Empire.
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Malik Amber initially rose to great prominence as the Prime Minister of Ahmednagar. He is credited with having carried out a systematic revenue settlement of major portions of the Deccan, which formed the basis for many subsequent settlements.
When the Ahmadnagar kingdom was conquered by Bijapur and the Mughals in alliance, the Siddis switched their allegiance to the Sultanate of Bijapur; when the Bijapur kingdom was conquered by the Mughal Empire, the Habshis switched their allegiance to the Mughal Empire.
As clients of these Muslim states, the Siddis were nominally part of their navies, and fulfilled the role of defending Muslim interests in the sea, and particularly, access by sea for the Hajj and Umrah, for which reason, the interior Muslim states felt compelled to aid and rescue the Siddis from their enemies.
Despite being feudatories, first of Bijapur and then of the Mughals, the Siddis acted as if they were independent, and lived mainly by piracy on coastal shipping.
The piracy of the Siddis provoked the various local powers to attempt to suppress them, but despite eforts by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and the Marathas, the fort was never conquered. The fort thus earned a reputation for being impregnable.
The reputation may be false. Mass mobilizations by the English and Marathas were always forced off before they could complete the task by the intervention of another power, such as the Mughals, creating a diversion in order to prevent the fall of Murud-Janjira. It must be noted that the same happened with Goa, with the Mughals invading Maratha lands in order to divert Maratha attempts to conquer Goa.
The founder of what later developed into the Maratha Empire, Shivaji Bhosale, sent his Prime Minister or Peshwa, Moropant Pingle to conquer the Siddis and end their piracy during August, 1676, albeit unsuccessfully. Shivaji’s inability to capture this fort led him to build the Vijaydurg fort down the coast, and also a fort named Sindhudurg on the island of Padmagad, near the town of Malvan. The Siddis remained a formidable foe to him until his death.
Several further attempts were made by the Marathas to conquer the Siddi principality, but in vain.
The English too strived in vain to suppress the Siddis, and the Siddis even succeeded in seizing Bombay for a day, overwhelming the English garrision, before being driven away by a militia organized by a Parsi from his fellow-immigrants from Surat.
As the Muslim powers of the interior waned in the face of rising English power, the Siddi state submitted to England under the system of Subsidiary Alliance, becoming a dependency under paramountcy of the Kings of England. HH Nawab Sidi Muhammed Khan II Sidi Ahmad Khan was the last Ruler of Murud-Janjira. The state continued in this condition until late 1947, when the last prince acceded his state to the Indian Union, and his state was merged into the Bombay Presidency which was later transformed into the State of Bombay and the State of Maharashtra.