Murud Janjira is a picturesque little fishing village on the lush western coast of Maharashtra (150 kms south of Mumbai), one time capital of the former state of Janjira.
Janjira is the Marathi corruption of the Arabic jazirah meaning an island. Though the whole area was once called Janjira, the name truly referred to the mighty island fortress in the sea.

The pride of Murud Janjira, Janjira Fort, was once the stronghold of the Abyssinian Sidis who played an important part in the history of the city of Bombay, in the later part of the 17th century.

What we know of a fact
is that the Sidis settled in Murud-janjira and prospered, proving to be magnificent
seamen and warriors. The fortress was their source of power, strength and
protection. No inducement could make them give it up, in the history of its
existence, Janjira Fort withstood much battering – from the British, the
Portuguese, even Shivaji Maharaj; but it stood unconquered through the
centuries.
A stone carving at
the main entrance of the Fort depicts six elephants trapped by a single tiger –
a symbol of the bravery of the Sidis. Once the fort boasted of five hundred
canons, today handfuls are left, still intact and able to tell their story.
Amongst them are the three major canons, Kalal Bangdi, Landakasam and Bhavani,
the cherished weapons of the Sidis, built from five metals.
Murud Janjira is
surrounded by the remnants of Portuguese rule. 30 kms north of Murud Janjira at
Revdanda. Chaul, Korlai one can see huge walls of the Fort & the church
built by the Portuguese.
Korlai FortIn October
1531, the Portuguese, erected a massive square stone fortress at Chaul
(Revdanda, Korlai) which contained a church and dwelling houses, the fortress
was named “Santa Maria do Castello”.
In April 1592, the
Moors,began a new seige of Chaul, but after a hard battle, the Portuguese
succeeded to repel the assault.
In 1594, the Portuguese
conquered the adjoining fortress of the “Morrode Chaul”. Owing to the
repeated attacks by the Moors against Chaul, in 1613, new works of defense were
carried out. The Portuguese power declined and Chaul, slowly lost his
importance. In March 1739, Chaul and the fortress of “Morro de Chaul”
were beseiged by the Marathas (Angres), but after some months, in October,the
Angres raised seige. On 18 September 1740, the conclusion arrived, Chaul was
ceded by treaty to the Marathas. Of Chaul, today are still visible: the ruins
of the town-walls with his powerful ramparts, the ruins of the church
“Matriz”, the church and the convent of the Augustinian, the
Franciscans church’s, the “Misericordia”, the Porta do Mar”.
The adjoining
fortress of the “Morro of Chaul” show, still today, the remains of
the walls. In Korlai, a few kilometers from Chaul, there is a community of
people (900) that still today speak a Creole form of Portuguese.

 

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