Of Forts, Sails Boats & the beach. A trip to the sleepy fishing hamlet of Murud

Travel Dates: 27th Jan 2017 – 29th Jan 2017

Mode of Travel: Car, alternatively you can catch a train that will get you as far as Roha and Panvel from where you can take a bus to Murud.

Route taken: Mumbai – Khopoli – Rewa – Alibaug – Kashid – Murud

Distance: 165 kms from Mumbai
Having seen white sand beaches like Alibaug & Kashid it was time for me to explore newer places in the Konkan belt. This time it was the sleepy fishing hamlet of Murud and its very famous Murud Janjira fort. The road from Kashid to Murud was as beautiful as the destination with the ocean on one side and the lush greenery on the other. It was all I need to recover from my frenzied life.


Stay at:
Golden Swan Beach Resort (The beach property)
There are 2 units to this resort; the main resort and the beach property. The beach property is at a walking distance of 3 min from the main property, a secluded place, with about 5 rooms, each one of them different in size since this property is an old colonial Portuguese bungalow converted into hotel rooms. The view of the beach & the Kasa fort from the property is beautiful. The rooms can easily fit 3 people, with a double bed in at least 3 of the rooms. All meals are served at the main property which can be reached through the road or a small walk from the beach during low tide.


The Journey:

We started in the evening, and reached Murud in about 6 hours, after 3-4 stops for Bread-Omlette, Tea and other roadside snacks. We were in no hurry and enjoyed the slow pace of the journey. After Kashid, we passed Nandgaon beach after which we reached Murud village. Our package included all meals, although I recommend people to avoid this and explore other places for meals in town. It was a full moon night and as the moon-rays fell on the beach sand, it gave a silver shimmer to the ground. After reaching our destination we walked checked out the beach & the surroundings before retiring to bed after a long journey.

Wandering in Murud:

The next day, I was up early to catch the first rays of the sun from the bunglow. An early morning walk on the beach was pleasant. Unlike the ones in Kashid where the sand is white, the Murud beach is a black sand beach. A few areas of the Kashid beach are very pristine whereas some are filled with tourists, commercial activities that ruin the peace of the place. The town is small and scattered. Most of the hustle bustle is near the main market and near the Maruti temple although the markets are empty by 7.00 pm. A lot is dependent on the Fort tourism and that’s where most of the people earn a living. Locals are warm and helpful; most of the inhabitants are Maharashtrians with fish & vegetables forming a part of their staple diet.

Murud Janjira Fort:

After breakfast, our first visit was the Murud Janjira Fort. Once a glorious fortification with an affluent past, the Murud Fort now stands in a dilapidated state although there is a lot of restoration work being done to the place. The port to board the jetty for the fort is 4kms away from the Resort. A winding road up the hill and down again, passing through Fishermen villages takes you to the port. The sail boats can be boarded from 3 places – Khorabunder, Digi Bunder and the Rajpuri port. We decided to take the jetty from the Rajpuri port. The beach is visible from the top of the hill covered with palm trees. As we reach the port, we see an array of colourful boats each bearing signatures of the owners anchored. The fishermen folk made giant dragnets for their fishing expedition. They pray to the Goddess of the sea, who gives them hope of returning back safely to the shore. The sail boat tickets cost about Rs 20/- per person.  While waiting for the boat to climb on, we could manage a glimpse of the fort and sail boats in a distance. When the tide is low, the sail boats cannot reach the gate of the fort and hence tourists need to walk after they are dropped at a point but during high tide, the boats get close to the gate of the fort and that’s where the chaos begins. There is parking facility near the port but it is very close to the sea water. We caught a glimpse of the sail boat designed for us; an old wooden piece without any seats, except for the hole in the center where women were asked to sit as they could sit comfortably without the fear of falling off the boat from the side. Our boatman asked us to settle down and not keep walking around as the wind was rough and it could leave us off-balance which was dangerous for another person sitting on the side of the boat who may tumble down the water. Oh and by the way there are no life jackets for this journey. The journey to the fort takes about 7 minutes but it is the long ordeal of off-loading that took us about an hour to get on to the fort. The specialty of the fort is that the entrance cannot be viewed before one reaches close to the fort; one of the strategies used for warding off enemies. The narrow entrance enables only one boat to either load or off-load and when we reached we were 9th in line to be offloaded. So we had to be patient in the hot sun, waiting for the other boats before us to finish. Once on the island, the boatman doubles himself up as the guide for a 100 bucks per person. Interesting as the place, the history of the fort was narrated by him, in the 45 min we had for this visit.
Interesting facts about the Murud Janjira Fort:

The fort is surrounded by Sea water from all 4 sides and as though nature has its own beauty spot, there are 2 large fresh water lakes within the fort about 60 feet deep. One of the lake is called as the Shahi Talaab and contains fresh water fishes inside. The other lake in the early days was used for purification of the body by the locals before entering the Dargah nearby. The fort stands on 22 acreas of land and there are 2 fresh water wells in the premise. At a point of time, when there were inhabitants on the island, 550 fisherman houses were built in the premise of the fort, but they moved out after India’s independence, since the rule of the kings came to an end and they found it difficult to meet ends.

The queen’s Chamber was built upon the lake and as the sun rays fell on the water, there used to be luminescence. The fort is about 950+ years old built in 1118, standing in the middle of the rough sea although the sea waves have destroyed some of the exterior parts of the fort. A view from one of the windows is the mighty Kasa fort (earlier called as Padmadurg), which was built by Sambhaji Raje to conquer the Murud Janjira fort. The Murud fort cannot be viewed from the Murud beach, although the Kasa fort can be seen clearly. History recalls that Murud stands unconquered till date. 12 generations of the king have ruled the Murud fort and now live in the village. There is a Dargah called the Panch Peer Panjatan (a Muslim Prayer place) which is revered by the locals inside the premise of the fort. In early days, the fisherfolk used to live on this island which was later converted into a fort.
The artillery collection of the king includes the third most famous war canons used in India that are placed on the top of the fort called as the Kalal Bangdi. Weighing as much as 22000 kgs, the canon is made of 5 kinds of metal which gives it a unique capability of not getting heated up while lying in the sun and not getting rusted in the salty air. Infact there are 3 canons laid out each weighing 22 tons, 15 tons and 8 ton. The sound generated by the firing was so huge that the sounds echoed inside the fort for about 4 hours. The ceilings are therfore slabs of 6 feet of stones laid above. In the month of June-July-Aug, the waves are as high as the top of the fort, almost about 9 feet, and hence there are no visitors allowed at that time. The fort is restored using the same raw materials & stones found on the island and nothing has been brought from the village. All of the rooms inside of the fort have a window, where the view of the sea can be seen clearly but the view from the outside is not visible ensuring that visitors to the fort are always at sight. A vantage point in the fort can be reached by climbing a few steps, giving you a bird’s eye view of the fort and is a must visit. The fort is also designed in a way that there should be an escape gate inside the fort in times of dire need.

The way back in the boat didn’t ask for a lot of patience as we were made to sit in another boat. Keep your tickets handy in case you miss your boat for permission to hop on to another one. Once back on land, we realized it was the best thing to visit the fort in the morning, as there was a long queue for the boat ride by that time and the weather was very warm & uncomfortable.

There are vantage points on the road to the port for a great view of the fort, so do stop by.

Idgah, the Sunset point at Murud:

While looking for a great sunset view, my hotel manager recommends we visit Idgah. A ride up the mountain and then a walk for about 5 min, we reach a monument with a large base to walk on. The place is empty with only trees surrounding us and the view of the top of the hill. The sunset with the backdrop of the ocean was well worth the time spent there.

Other places of interest in Murud include:

  • En-route to Murud Janira (after the Revdanda Bridge) explore the light house and the Portuguese fort overlooking the bay
  • Stop at the Nandgaon’s Ganpati temple (15 kms before Murud Janjira) for a spiritual visit
  • Hire a sail boat in the evening and have a picnic on the boat with your friends & some music or go on a fishing trip.
  • A sail boat ride to Kasa is also a good option though permissions are required for the same.
  • Rent a bicycle and discover & go around town.
  • Explore the 200 years old Buddhist Caves near Bhalgaon (20 kms from Murud Janjira)

Meals:

A great place to visit if you prefer to have meals outside the resort is the Samadhan hotel next to Maruti Mandir in town. Alternatively ask the locals, for a great recommendation. The fish market is must visit if you can convince one of the locals to cook for you.

We smiled as it was a great weekend with interesting history lessons as we returned home.

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