Murud and Janjira Fort

Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
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Trip End Mar 08, 2011


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Flag of India  , Mahārāshtra,
Sunday, January 16, 2011

We packed up, had breakfast and waited with our bags on the main street just in front of our hotel where the bus stops. About 20 minutes later the bus pulled up and we hopped on. It was fairly full, but everyone was friendly and made some space for us. The ride to Murud, our next stop, was only about 2 hours. The bus stopped in the center of the tiny little fishing village and we walked in the direction of the beach hoping to find a room along the water. The first hotel we stopped at had a room on the beach street, but not over looking the water. They were asking 700rupees. It seemed fine to me. Simon said we'd probably take it, but first he wanted to just look at a couple other rooms to get an idea of what else there was. While he went off the housekeeping guy came and started to change the sheets. Since I figured we'd be staying there I helped him and Simon came back while I was putting one of the pillow cases on. He looked surprised and said "what are you doing?!? I found some better rooms, one even is right on the beach for much cheaper!". I sheepishly grinned and we apologized to the guy. We hadn't checked in or anything, so it wasn't a big deal to leave. Simon showed me the other room and it was perfect. It even had a TV and a back door with a tiny porch right at the beach, for only 350 rupees. Quite the bargain.

We left our stuff there and then walked along the beach to see what food options there were. We passed a bunch of ice cream and coconut vendors along the boardwalk until we found a nice little restaurant with an outdoor patio over looking the ocean. I ordered a chicken biriyani and loved it! It was rice with chicken and some veggies, but mixed in was chunks of cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, a bay leaf (which I had to pick out) along with cashews and golden raisins. So it had a sweet and savory tropical flavor that was intoxicating. After lunch we continued down the beach and then turned up the main road back towards the center. We found an internet cafe and were able to check our emails and catch up on the blog a bit. When we continued up along the main road we stumbled upon an amazing fruit and vegetable market. We'd been starved for fresh produce so we bought bananas, oranges and green peas. When we reached the beach road again Simon wanted to wander and take some photos of the fishing boats, so we split up and I headed back toward our room. On the way I saw a beer shop, so I picked up a bottle of king fisher, a sprite and two cups. When I got back to the room I pulled a chair out the the patio, mixed myself a Panache and listened to some music while enjoying the sun and surf. Simon came back a few glasses later and we went to find some dinner. He told me how he found the fish market and showed me the pics he took. It looked pretty awesome and we planned to go together later to check it out. We tried a different restaurant for dinner, but were not impressed with their seafood.

The next morning I woke up early and wanted to go video chat with my sister and nephew, so I left Simon sleeping and walked over to the internet cafe. On my way back I picked up some cereal, milk, bowls and spoons for breakfast. Simon was already up and we had a little picnic on our patio. We'd read that there was a cool island fortress just around the corner from Murud and that we could take a boat to it. The forts name is Janjira and it was built on an island 500m off-shore in 1140 by the Siddis. These were descendants of sailor-traders from the Horn of Africa, who settled here an allegedly made their living through piracy. Apparently the local kings wanted to steal some of their treasure, so they tried to attack and even tunnel to the fort, but had no success. With 12 meter-high walls it was unconquered throughout history, until it was eventually abandoned and nature reclaimed it. We took a rickshaw to the port where the sail boats depart to the fort. When we came over the hill we could see the fort for the first time and it looked amazing! Like something out of Long John Silver and Captain Flint.

After buying our ticket for the boat we were lead down the to the dock and saw that it was a super basic sailing boat and that everyone just sat on the deck. The tide was out so part of the way they just pushed the boat along with long bamboo sticks, then pulled out the sail and we made our way over. As we got closer to the fort we could see how huge it really was. The boat pulled up to the rocks and well all hopped off. They said we had 45 minutes to explore the fort then we could take a boat back. We decided to completely ignore this and just squeeze onto a later boat, because 45 minutes was not going to be enough time. Once inside the fort we saw that there were no barriers at all. You could freely climb all over the entire fort, exploring all the little caves and large water tank and ruins. Simon was like a little kid in heaven, exploring and imagining what life was like here for the pirates. The fort was huge with multiple perimeter walls and about 100 cannons pointing in all directions, left to just rust and fall apart. We spent about 3 hours in the fort, just soaking all up. When we were ready to go we noticed that the tide had come in. All the rocks we'd walked on before were under water now, and the boat was able to sail right up to the main steps. We climbed on board and sailed back to the port as the sun was setting.

We took a rickshaw back to Murud and went back to our favorite dinner spot. Although this time we had some company. There was a tiny little kitten there who wanted some of my chicken. I named him Oliver. He had the cutest little meow which we could barely hear, and after a bit of coaxing he let us pet him and purred. After dinner we walked back along the beach and Simon wanted to build his own fort in the sand as the tide was coming further. We dug and dug building up a platform we could both stand on. Once the water reached us we stood on it together, waiting and watching as the sides slowly crumbled and our feet got wet. After that we walked back to our room and Pirates of the Caribbean was on TV. I thought it was a cool coincidence. We fell asleep that night listening to the waves crashing outside our door, dreaming of pirates, forts and long forgotten adventures.

The next morning I went for a walk on the beach, all the way down to the other end and back. When I got back Simon and I went for breakfast at the same place again, hoping to see Oliver again. Luckily he was there again and I shared some of my omelet with him. In the morning light we got a better look at him and realized that he was actually a she! So we renamed her Olive and got some great pictures of her. I used my headphones as a string to play with her, and she loved it. After breakfast we walked around the town for a while, sent some postcards and went to the vegetable market again. I was hooked on eating the peas. I loved splitting them open and popping the sweet peas out. Simon needed some swimming trunks so we stopped at a little shop and found some that seemed to work. On our way back to the beach we were stopped by a couple kids who wanted their pictures taken. Soon Simon was swarmed by about 20 kids all jumping infront of his camera. He took their pics and then we said our goodbyes and headed towards the fish market. Simon showed me how all the women were lined up with their tiny chopping block stalls. There were all kinds of fish, shrimp and prawns. One woman was chopping the tail of a fish that must have been huge. The tail was the only thing left, and it was at least 2 1/2 feet wide. We saw all the fishing boats in the water behind them. Each night the tide would come in and the water would be deep enough for them to head out to sea. Late at night we could see their blinking colorful lights on the horizon. We planned to continue south the next day, taking buses and seeing how far we could get.
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