Oh hello there!!! Another long weekend is here and yet another chance to get bored.
Or maybe not.
Mandwa – Alibaug – Murud.
I am not a beach person but somehow this weekend I ended up in way too many of them to count. But then India is one country where mountains to beaches and deserts and forests in between, are all present. So sometimes you just have to bear it up and like my friend says, let it be.
How to travel
There are many options that you can choose from, better than a MCQ paper. Each has its own pros and cons. Most people opt to travel to these places in their own vehicle, especially when Mumbai traffic has deprived you of the ease, comfort and pleasure of driving. Google maps will help you all the way, unlike mine which somehow manages to get me lost more often than it is required. Best would be to go from Panvel. The distance of 61.2 kms approx and the greenery alongside (I am just making up that up btw :p about the greenery part of course) will make it worthwhile.
Train is another option but I am not fluently aware of which one to take. The nearest railway stations to Alibaug are Nagothane (50 kms), Kolad (50kms) and Khopoli (105 km).
The third and the cheapest option that I will personally recommend will be the ferry ride that starts from Gateway of India. There are 3 services that will help you make up your mind. Non A/c upper deck will cost 135 rupees whereas the A/c will cost 150 rupees by Ajanta catamarans. The ferry service are at an hourly interval with the first one at 6.30. I would suggest you to start off at the earliest so as to avoid the incessant heat of this summer.
The sea is pretty calm, and this is coming from a person who is hydrophobic and doesn’t know swimming. But the view will be a lively companion for the entire duration of 1 hour 15 minutes.
The advantage of traveling in the ferry is that bus fare for Mandwa to Alibaug will be included in your ticket. So that is one less hassle for you to worry about. It takes almost an hour to reach Alibaug from Mandwa. So if you want to relax following the ferry ride, the Mandwa beach is right there after the police checkpoint, welcoming you with its cleanliness (relatively speaking). Another option is you can keep the beach as a part of your goodbye Alibaug package when you are taking the ride back home (like we did).
Now in and around the city I’ll suggest you to travel on the local autos (well they are kind of autos, just bigger ones) called as tam-tams. These are available on a sharing basis at 17- 50 rupees per person depending on the distance. It might feel slightly uncomfortable, but trust me it will be the best mode of transport that you can opt for.
What all to do
I have an OCD of doing over-the-top research before I end up on a trip. And as a non- beach person i had to do double the amount of work. I am so glad that I went through all the trouble because now I can provide more detailed account for my fellow readers and trippers (Is that even a word? Who cares!!!)
First of instead of getting excited and heading right away for all the renowned beaches of Alibaug, take the local ST bus from the bus depot and head for Murud. It’s a 2 hour journey and if you are lucky to get a seat, take a nap until you reach the destination. From there tam-tams are available for the Janjira Fort.
Murud Janjira Fort
Janjira fort is inaccessible by road and the only way you can reach this magnificent historical monument is via the sea route. It is a walkable distance from the tam-tam drop point to the sailing boat dockyard. You have to buy a ticket which will cost you 20 rupees per person. Its better if you make it to the place before 12 PM or after 2 PM.There is a sailboat available for the public accommodating 30 or so at one go, and will provide you with a guide as well. One has to pay the tour fees before the tour starts though and he will clearly state his rates beforehand.
Being a history buff (not in the nerd way, but in the liking way) it came as a revelation to me how inadequate the history textbooks were, in providing information about the Marathas. The tour will be of 45 minutes duration and will cover only the main highlights of the fort.
Sprawling over 22 acres in the middle of the sea, the ruins of the fort showcases a grandeur that shows why it is known as Ajinkya, the one that can’t be won over, a tried and tested fact by the great ruler Shivaji Maharaj and many more that attempted this feat. Following his failure to capture this fort, Shivaji Maharaj went on to build Sindhudurg Fort located in Malvan town (next in the list).
There are 22 bastions in the fort with the 3rd largest of the world known as Kalak Bangadi weighing 22 tonnes!!!that is 22000 kilos!!!! (Thank god that I am a measly little thing compared to that giant :p) It is made of 5 different metals and is known for its ability of never heating up. (So not hot ;))
There is a secret underground pathway that has now been sealed off to avoid public use (and accidents), but back in those days it was used as an escape pathway by the Siddhi (the ruler) for his family
The mysterious and natural fresh water reservoir located inside the fort was a fortunate discovery for the ruler considering the fact that fort is located in the middle of the sea. Clearly the “water water everywhere. Not a single drop to drink” quote doesn’t hold true in this case.
For that perfect bird’s-eye panoramic view, one has to undertake a monstrous job (that nearly killed me) of climbing 125 steps to the very top.
While some beaches boast for that mad crowd rush splashing around the water or enjoying the various sporting activities, the sparsity of the Murud beach will just strike the lonely chord of your heart.
There is a another fort in Murud known as Kasa fort or Padmadurg, located northwest to Janjira Fort. Unfortunately you need prior government permission to visit this one, so we had to skip out on this.
We started retracing our steps and ended up in the renowned Kashid Beach. This is one of the most popular beaches and I will recommend a visit here for sure. Loads to do if you are into water sports. I can’t comment on the price though.
Retire for the night and freshen up. (Transport becomes a problem after 8.30 PM, especially when you don’t have your own vehicle. Hence the early retirement programme :p)
From what I learnt from my research, there is a Magnetic Observatory located in Alibaug. I was very excited to visit this place of such a great historical importance but unfortunately this has been closed off for the last couple of years or more.
Take a tam-tam and come directly to Chaul where a Buddhist heritage site is located. Unfortunately we were misinformed and even the locals were not able to help us any further, so we moved on to our next stop – Rameshwar temple.
After the serenity of the pink temple (like I named it :P) the next stop on the list was Revdanda, where there is a fort of its namesake and a beach available right next to it (buy one get one free :P)
Unlike the Janjira fort, this fort is completely in shambles. The moment one starts walking on the pathway leading to the fort, the lush surrounding helped in creating a feeling of trekking through a forest. There are some caves located nearby, but the pathway is so obscured with dense foliage that the fear of creepy crawlies just stopped my exploration instinct immediately.
There is a russian monument known as Nikitin monument built-in the memory of Afnasi Nikitin who was the first Russian to land on Indian soil 500 years back. The memorial is located in the premises of SRT high school, Revdanda. It was mutual decision by us not to visit the place since we support academic endeavours so much 😉 😛
Another popular tourist spot with water activities. The highlight for me would be the excellent Konkani food (native) there, but not everyone shares my enthusiasm for food.
Since it was almost time for our return journey, we finally decided to pay a visit to the Alibaug Beach and Kolaba fort. It is barely 10 minutes or so walking from the bus stand. Autos appeared finally reasonable (40 rupees) and hence we decided to take the auto and at the same time ask him some more local questions.
There are two ways to visit the Kolaba Fort. One is to walk directly to the fort. Unfortunately that path is under water unless you are lucky enough to visit the place during low tide. The other option is to take a ride in the Horse carriages, but the condition of those animals is an upsetting sight of another order.
Five minutes away from the Alibaug beach, there is a tomb of Kanhoji Angre, the first notable chief of the Maratha Navy in 18th century who fought against the British, the Dutch and the Portuguese naval interests and was labeled as a pirate by the European enemies. Despite many attempts by the enemies, he died undefeated. As a respect to such a great leader, this beautiful garden was created around his tomb.
Before you return back to the Mandwa jetty, do make a stopover to this tiny little beautiful shop called as Lavis antiques and clocks.
when time travels
Things that we missed
- Jewish synagogue
- Hirakot Fort was known to be the sanctuary to the legendary Angre treasure. The imposing structure made of Bassalt high walls has now been converted to the district jail.
- Kihim beach
- Varsoli beach
- Undheri fort
- Akshi beach
- Chatribag where all the tombs of the Angre rulers are located.
- Sri Datta temple located on the Alibaug – Revdanda road (18 km) is a famous hill-top shrine which can be reached only after the daunting task of climbing 700 agonizing steps.
- Karmarkar Shilpalaya (Sasawane) located on the Alibaug- Rewas road (18 km) is an all-day open exhibition showcasing the works of art by the famous sculptor Late Mr. Nanasaheb Karmarkar
- Raigad Zilla Parishad
I am skipping out the names of other temples which are located in and around Alibaug. You might have to dig up more on them if you plan to visit those.
Budget: To be on the safe side we all decided to carry a lump sum amount of 3500 each, out of which we all spent 2000 per head, which included food as well as accommodation in a reasonably decent place. Cheapest traveling ever i swear!!
What to wear and carry:
- Loose clothes preferably shorts and a loose t-shirt.
- A big floppy hat so that you don’t have to squint much or shade yourself every time
- Sun glasses
- Comfortable shoes preferably sneakers
- A chilled bottled water
- Sunscreen to protect your “fairness”. We don’t want you to be ostracized by our beloved Indian society.
- Some extra t-shirts for emergencies
- Phone/camera fully charged
And of course, a bucketful of enthusiasm!!!
Remarks: Any kind of query will be fully entertained by the locals there. They are extremely helpful and some will actually guide you further in making your trip more organised.