June 6, 2013

Alibaug- Beyond the Beach...!!


Alibaug is a cliched place as every other person in Mumbai has this beach destination as their first weekend option. For non- mumbaiites like myself, Alibaug has always been an exciting beach destination. However I wanted to explore beyond the beach and after a lot of research, Alibaug itinerary had quite a few places besides the beach. A fort, a synagogue, a 900 feet high temple and the colonial remains at Revdanda formed the list of places to explore.

The journey began with an early morning rickshaw ride to Kanakeshwar temple, 13 kilometers from Alibaug. We were advised at our hotel to leave as early as possible as the climb would get tough once the sun was out in its full vigour. Situated on a hill at a height of 900 feet above sea level, the Shiva temple has an ascend of 5000 feet.  The climb initially was quite moderate but we were easily deceived by the hill top. Every time we looked up, there was some board or a resting place which made us feel we reached the top, but on reaching there we had to laugh at ourselves and climb further. The paved pathway is in fact over a couple of hills before it ends at the temple. The path has well laid steps which turned steep at certain places making our climb difficult. However, the aerial views got better with hills and greenery all across as we went higher. A noticeable fact was that there were hardly any people hiking up to the temple. We met a couple of people descending but otherwise it was just the two of us. Half way through our rickshaw driver caught up with us and gave us company till the top and all the way down.  The place is also quite thickly vegetated with lots of trees on either sides. It was just nature, chirping birds and us during the climb to the top. There are also a couple of small shrines on the way. After a long tiring climb of more than an hour we reached the top to find the main shrine also to be devoid of any devotees. There were a couple of temple authorities who wandered around. After taking the blessings we walked around and found a couple of pilgrims who were residing on top of the hill. There are also a couple of small tea shops next to the temple. The whole place was so serene and peaceful with very few people, absolutely no sound and majestic vistas from the fringes of the hill. The trek down was easier and we were back in the rickshaw in 45 minutes.


The path that leads to Kanakeshwar temple

Beautiful vistas
Well paved pathway to the temple
A stepped well en route to the temple

Main entrance to the temple
Kanakeshwar temple
From Kanakeshwar temple we went to the brightly coloured Bet El Synagogue. The rickshaw took us through the narrow alleys of Alibaug and came to a halt in front of the pink painted Synagogue in Israel lane. Another deserted place of worship. Except for an old Jew who was lost in his prayers, there was no other soul in the vicinity. The Synagogue looked beautiful with its external architecture and captivating with its internal glass works.


The Synagogue

The famous Alibaug beach was the next destination where we got dropped off by our guide cum driver who had been with us since morning. Even though the beach looked dirty with litter all over, its vastness is what attracted me and kept me engaged. Being the peak of summer, the water had receded quite a lot and the beach had become sluggish. The ubiquitous tiny crabs was the other attraction on the beach. Even though it was mid noon, people were loitering around and children were having fun on the beach.


Alibaug beach

The biggest eye catcher on Alibaug beach was the Kolaba fort. It only seemed a few hundred meters away from us, but since the beach was not very conducive for a wade across the waters, we opted for a boat ride.   However the boat ride also did not happen as the water was very shallow. Now the only option left was a bumpy tonga (horse cart) ride wading through the sea waters to the fort. I had doubts about the cart getting stuck in the sands but the horses gleefully pulled us into the waters and took us to the fort.


Kolaba fort

Kolaba fort (also known as Alibaug fort) which gets secluded like an island during high tide was ruled by the Maratha ruler, Shivaji. This 17th century fort was used by Maratha admiral Kanhoji Angre as the naval base to fight the British. The tall fort walls and a big gateway at the entrance makes this a very attractive fort by the sea. However the inside of the fort looked dilapidated. The fort houses ruins of residences and offices of the Maratha army, a few temples, a huge pond, tomb of a sufi saint, a couple of canons and many bastions which were used during attacks.  Vistas from the top of the fort walls looked stunning with the expansive sea and the distant horizon. After walking around the fort and gazing at the vistas in the hot sun we got back to our tonga for a water ride to the mainland.


Fort walls and bastions
Entrance of the fort
Remains inside the fort
Inside the fort

A temple inside the fort
An exit into the sea
Canons
A view from the fort

From the main attractions we decided to go the less trodden paths and ended up at Chaul near Revdanda. Chaul, 16 kms from Alibaug is an old Portuguese settlement which boasts of exciting places for the traveller. We had an hour to rush through whatever possible we could see before the sun went down. Our new guide, another rickshaw driver took us through a neglected Hammam khana (royal bath) , an old but still active church, Revdanda fort and Revdanda beach. The 16th century fort built by the Portuguese by the beach  is completely in ruins. However there is one single tall tower that still stands along with the fort ramparts amidst coconut plantations. Sunset on Revedanda beach was a riot of colours. We had to miss out on Korlai fort, Datta temple, Rameshwar temple and Buddhist caves in Chaul-Revdanda due to shortage of time.


Hammam Khana
Remains of the fort
Revdanda beach as seen from the fort
Alibaug as a destination has definitely grown beyond the beach and there are lots more to explore on this beach hamlet. Islands of Khanderi and Underi, the beaches of Varsoli, Akshi and Kihim and a few other temples are the other attractions of Alibaug.

Signing Note- Alibaug has transformed from a weekend getawy to a traveller's delight...!!

Distance- 100 Kms (by road from Mumbai)
                20 Kms (from Mandwa to Alibaug after a one hour boat        ride from Mumbai to Mandwa)


66 comments:

  1. looks like it was quite a hurried trip... and when were u in mumbai? and for how long? we have visited Alibag a couple of times, and have visited differnt places at diff times... the kankeshwar temple was beautiful, and the walk / ride to kulaba fort is always fun! i missed out on the synagogue though... and next time u shd surely visit korlai,

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    1. It was quite a short sojourn in the first week of May. Should definitely make it to Korlai and other places on my next visit.

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  2. Very Nice Photo Journal. .! ! !
    www.ourjaipur.com

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  3. Great virtual tour! Great shots!

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  4. absolute beauty !! should i praise the place more or the photographer ?? the second last photograph reading remains of the fort is my best of the lot !!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot. The place is absolutely beautiful. :)

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  5. What an adventure you had! And lovely pictures.

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    Replies
    1. It was a wonderful adventure. Thank you.

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  6. Thanks for the info on Alibaugh! I needed it.

    http://renuka-mytraveldiary.blogspot.in

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    Replies
    1. Glad that it would be helpful for you.

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  7. Lovely post and lovely place. Visited many times, but the way you presented the facts and pics, I think I should visit again in Sept/Oct to get the new experience.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. Glad that you liked it. Head there soon.

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  8. Ha ha! Tanga to the fort?! Must have been a great ride!

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    1. I was a bit apprehensive about it, but once the ride began, it was fun.

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  9. Hmm...much more than a beach, I see.
    Looks like the early morning hike was a great experience. And a tonga ride through some sea water -- that's a one of a kind of experience, I'm sure. :)
    Nice travelogue, Niranjan.

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    1. Thanks Divya. Yeah, the morning hike and the tonga ride were the best part of the travel.

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  10. I'm sure I'll visit ur blog before I pack my bags to Mumbai.

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  11. Great info with beautifully captured photos

    thanks

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  12. Temple architecture is unique...nicely captured....!

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  13. Very well covered with beautiful photos..... Liked the beach most.....

    Kenfolios

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  14. Wonderful experience. Must visit place.

    My Indian Travel

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  15. I almost 'neglected' Alibaug as I prepared my to-visit list for Mumbai...hmm...now I guess I need to reschedule it all!!
    Yours seems to be a nice trip!! Nicely captured!! Like like!!

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    Replies
    1. Glad that it helped you re-assess your plans. Thank you and head there soon.

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  16. Well written post with attractive pictures. Post covers wonderful destinations for the weekend tour. so,
    thanks for sharing a good option weekend tour.

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  17. Poetic Images and well narrated post...I must say....The beautifully captured photographs has increased my long desire to visit Alibaug.....

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  18. It was like a virtual tour! Looks like there's so much to see around Alibaug. The horse ride to the fort must be a joyous one! Haven't been to a Synagogue, seeing this picture, I'd love to!

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    1. Glad that you liked it. Lots to see in and around Alibaug. The synagogue in Fort Kochi is the best I have ever seen.

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  19. Hi Niranjan,
    thoroughly enjoyed your narration and beautiful captures!
    thanks for dropping by...
    Cheers!
    :-)

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  20. A very beautiful description of the places around Alibaug. The photographs speak for themselves. I too visited the Synagogue there and got friendly with that old man called Dandekar. However it took quite some time to locate the shrine as we were in our own vehicle without a local guide.

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    1. Thank you. It is quite difficult to get to the Synagogue. Unless you mention 'Israel lane', not everyone would be able to help you locate it.

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  21. Nice clicks specially the one where horse driven cart appears going in the water!

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  22. Very nice report. I stayed in Mumbai for 6 years and yet never went to Alibaug. I only knew about the beach and the fort there. But now, thanks to your post, I have come to know more about this interesting place. And that water ride on a tonga must have been amazing!

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    1. Thank you. Alibaug is absolutely a delightful place.

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  23. Great job! Your blog shall be my handbook when we decide to explore destinations closer to home :-)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Madhu. Glad that Tales of a Nomad would help you. :)

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  24. Nice post, its really knowledgeable and valuable, this post helps me a lot thanks for sharing with us.

    http://www.bhopal.indraprasthamovers.com

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  25. Thanks for this post,it is a rain drop post...i like it really ..because it contain all the information about the exact topic....thanks dear at all for sharing this information..I am intrigued with much of your information and am persuaded to agree with you after reading your material. I’m hoping you’ll add more articles on this topic.
    www.indore.indraprasthamovers.com

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  26. Nice post and amazing clicks...Very valuable information for travelling...

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  27. Hi,
    Great Blog,
    I like the way you written the post.
    You written very nice information on Beaches,
    It will very useful for new traveler.Images are very clean and easy to optimize.
    I like to visit Alibaug beaches.
    Thanks for sharing such a nice blog...

    ReplyDelete



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