Mumbai Memoir 72- Mumbai to Murud -Janjira Diary – Part 2
The town of Murud Janjira is located 150 kms from Mumbai in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. The coconut trees, the sandy beach and historical places in and around the coastal town creates its unique flavour which is relished by visiting tourists. During my recent visit to Murud-Janjira, a lot of childhood memories were refreshed. Back then, along with my cousins, I use to hang out all over Murud on a cycle but it was the first time this year, I visited all the spots in my car!
On the very 2nd day of my Murud visit I got up early morn before sunrise and drove to the Nawab’s palace (a palace owned by the Siddhi rulers (Muslim Princely State)), which is also known as ‘Ahmedganj palace’ or ‘Sir Siddhi Ahmed Khan’ palace. The palace is located 1.5 kms North of Murud-Janjira. The premise spreads over 45 acres. Established in 1885, the palace is constructed in the Mughal & Gothic style of architecture. The palace now is the private property of the descendants of the Nawabs. No tourists are allowed to visit the palace premise now, but way back in my childhood/teenage, the care takers of the palace were generous enough to allow us in. Everytime I use to visit the palace, being a History fan, I used to get fascinated to see and feel the artefacts and its interiors. I very well remember the big hall on the ground floor where there was a marble throne and tiger skin laid on the floor. Probably that hall would be an assembly place for conducting court matters of the Nawabs. There were spiral iron staircases in the palace, besides the main marble staircase that led to the 1st floor. It was apparent that the Nawabs must have had ‘hunting’ as their recreational sport, as the walls were adorned by mounted faces of various animals!
The backyard has magnificent top view of the Arabian sea, as the palace is located on a hillock. The rays of the setting sun entering from the windows along with cool breeze use to be a gem of an experience. The palace premise houses a mosque and an annex building which the caretakers use to refer as the administration office of the Nawab’s kingdom. Far from the palace there still stands empty stables of Nawab’s horses and elephants, but unfortunately the structures are in a dilapidated state.
I would like to share two interesting stories associated with the Nawab’s palace. As a teenager I always use to wonder about a huge mechanical device placed in front of the palace premise. Since it was openly displayed, in late 1980s I had actually touched it too. As I grew up, I got to know the facts related to that displayed mechanical device. It was a defused sea mine planted by Allied enemies during the Second World War! Its believed that the sea based explosive was extracted out of the waters of the Arabian Sea surrounding Murud-Janjira! I was so thrilled to have physically touched something from World War 2, which was once lying deep down in the sea with an aim to blast Allied ships!
Another fact which was witnessed by my mom and aunt, was that the concluding Nawabs had a tiger. The caged tiger rested on slopes of the hill across the palace road. The roar of the tiger use to make a naïve passerby shiver, especially those who were unaware of the Nawab’s royal indulgences of having a tiger as a pet!
As I halted my car at a spot ahead of the palace, I saw the sun rising gradually. It was a mesmerising sight! Driving back on the same roads, which I use to walk in my ‘wonder years’, I could smell a sweet nostalgic fragrance in my mind’s garden which I know will linger for long.
Photos: Shraddha. C. Sankulkar