Even if you don’t plan on exploring the whole coast, the sleepy fishing hamlet of Murud – 165km from Mumbai – should be on your itinerary. Once you step on to its lazy beaches and feel the warm surf rush past your feet, you’ll be happy you came.
Sight-wise, Murud is home to the magnificent island fortress of Janjira, standing about 500m offshore. The citadel was built in 1140 by the Siddis, descendants of sailor-traders from the Horn of Africa, who settled here and allegedly made their living through piracy. No outsider ever made it past the fort’s 12m-high walls which, when seen during high tide, seem to rise straight from the sea. Unconquered through history, the fort finally fell to the spoils of nature. Today, its ramparts are slowly turning to rubble as wilderness reclaims its innards.
The only way to reach Janjira is by boat (₹20 return, 15 minutes) from Rajpuri Port. Boats depart from 7am to 5.30pm daily, but require a minimum of 20 passengers. You can also have a boat to yourself (₹600), and most oarsmen will double as guides for a negotiable fee (around ₹350). To get to Rajpuri from Murud, take an autorickshaw (₹70) or hire a bicycle from the Golden Swan Beach Resort.
Back in Murud you can waste away the days on the beach, joining in with karate practice or playing cricket with locals. Alternately, you could peer through the gates of the off-limits Ahmedganj Palace, estate of the Siddi Nawab of Murud, or scramble around the decaying mosque and tombs on the south side of town.