Legacy of Indian Maritime Forts
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Issue Vol 24.2 Apr-Jun 2009 | Date : 11 Apr , 2014

Murud Janjira

Murud Janjira
SlideShow | Thumbnails

India was a great maritime and sea faring nation many centuries ago. India’s commercial and maritime influence spread as far as China, all over South-East Asia, Red Sea and gulf littoral because of formidable building ships and operating capabilities. However, after the 13th century, lack of appreciation of maritime importance by Indian rulers led to significant decline in sea power. The maritime forts of India were mute witness to the erosion of India’s maritime power and power play of the Portuguese, French, Dutch and English sea warriors. India being a dynamic sea bound commercial center, competition and conflict amongst vying powers was natural and led to raising of strong navies and maritime forts. The western coast of India, as compared to the eastern coast, witnessed more fortifications mainly by European powers to oversee and protect their lucrative trade with great trading empires of the west. The trade enriched them and in turn enriched imperial powers of the Deccan, which loosely sheltered them. As a result, European navies could muster powerful ships and build impregnable forts which served as their naval nerve centers and Indian powers could do very little about it. Only the Maratha admirals could offer some challenge, but that did not help the Indian cause. Fort Murud Janjira, presently the most magnificent surviving fort on the Maharashtra coast, withstood a century of Maratha battering before succumbing to the English sea power in the mid-eighteenth century. The Maratha naval power under Kanhoji Angre and Shivaji lacked blue water capabilities and they concentrated on strengthning forts at Khanderi, Kulaba, Suvaranadurg, Sindhudurg and Vijaydurg but failed to match the English who were the masters of the sea. We need to take these lessons to heart and develop a strong, dynamic maritime outlook with a deterrent blue water navy to safeguard our vital economic interests. The prosperity of our nation is linked to the seas. The aerial photographs shot from Indian Navy’s Dorniers and Chetaks give unique three dimensional views of the once magnificent and formidable maritime forts of India. These forts were the centre and pride of powerful navies. They are now an integral and important part of our medieval history and their ruins are our priceless heritage, which we need to preserve and cherish. Murud Janjira A very strong fort built by Siddis in late 15th century off Murud near Mumbai. It has 22 bastions, 2 gates and boasted of having 572 cannons at the peak of its glory. Shivaji made 4 attempts to capture this fort between 1657 to 1675 but failed. Janjira finally fell to the English in 1761. The grandeur of this majestic fort is evident even today.

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