India // Maharashtra //

Murud-Janjira

The first interesting place to break the journey south is the small port of MURUD-JANJIRA, 165km south of Mumbai. A traditional trade centre that once belonged to a dynasty of former Abyssinian slaves known as the Siddis, it still features plenty of attractive wood-built houses, some brightly painted and fronted by pillared verandas. The gently shelving beach is wide and safe for swimming, though you’ll find the sea more inviting further south.

Just offshore some 5km south stands the imposing sixteenth-century Janjira Fort, one of the few the Marathas failed to penetrate, and now a picture of majestic dereliction. Local hodka boats  sail to the fortress – a serene trip – from the Rajpuri jetty, a Rs50 rickshaw ride from Murud, though since they seat twenty and only leave when full at quiet times you may have to charter the boat yourself (Rs400). Once there you’re given an hour so to explore the formidable battlements, though the interior lies mostly in ruins.

Back in Murud, the 1661 Kasa Fort sits in the open sea 2km off the beach but cannot be visited, nor can the impressive nineteenth-century palace of the last nawab, which dominates the northern end of the bay. Fine views of the coast and surrounding countryside can be had, however, from the hilltop Dattatreya Temple, sporting an Islamic-style tower but dedicated to the triple-headed deity comprising Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.