May 28, 2013

Nagaon Beach- Mini Goa...??

I was roaming around in the Raigad district of Maharashtra and was on my way back to Mumbai when I casually asked my auto rickshaw driver if there were any beautiful places to see around. He named a few places, most of which I had already visited and the rest were too far. The last place to pop out of his mouth was Nagaon beach. He called it Mini Goa and when I enquired for the reason, he was quick to mention about the water sport facilities and other activities there. Nagaon beach is also the third most popular beach in Raigad  after Alibaug and Kashid. No second thoughts and I headed there.

I was not convinced about the mini Goa tag even as I got out of the rickshaw and walked to the shady trees. That is something I loved at the first sight. Lots of trees where you can sit under and stare at those blue waters. Blue waters? When I had a closer look, the water was not all that blue. It was murky and brown, at least the water that waved into the sandy beach was. This is something that I found in Alibaug beach too. Probably it is because of summers and the water had receded a bit.

It was mid noon and those trees were the apt place to sit, sip a beer and enjoy the vistas (Beer being easily available near the beach could be another reason for the tagline). The clear blue sky, the long and expansive sands, the blue waters in the distance and the odd para-sailor/ camel/ horse cart made for a lovely landscape. The beach is quite long and the waters are quite far off. The sand displayed different shades from white to dark chocolate across the beach. The distinguished colouring made the beach look all the more attractive. The brown sands blended so beautifully with the blue sky. Undoubtedly it is the sands that attracted me more than the waters on this beach. The place also seemed quite free of litter. Sunset on the expansive Nagaon beach would definitely be a mind soothing experience.

As my driver had mentioned, the beach indeed had a lot of activities like para-sailing over the waters, horse carts for the kids, camel rides and water scooters. Surprisingly for a hot and humid day there were quite a few people exploring the beach. The beating sun made me sit under the trees and those activities had to be given a miss. Evenings would be the ideal time to explore those vast sands, the low tides and you can finish off with a camel ride. After enjoying the lovely landscapes for a couple of hours I was back in the rickshaw.

The mini Goa tagline might not be very appropriate for Nagaon beach but the glimpses of it being one very soon is definitely there. Though there are no shacks right on the beach, a few of them are there just before you enter the sands. As far as activities are concerned, they did remind me a bit of Baga and Calangute. Travellers from Mumbai can now think beyond Alibaug and Kashid for their weekend options.

Signing Note- Definitely a mini Goa in the making...!!

Route- Alibaug- Akshi- Nagaon
Distance- 10 Kms

May 21, 2013

Haji Ali Dargah...!!

The only time I had seen Haji Ali Dargah, that too from a distance was when my taxi sped past its silhouette during a late evening ( Sun was about to retire for the day and the dargah in the distance looked gorgeous against the orange background. 

However this time I walked to the islet to visit the beautiful Indo Islamic architecture called Haji Ali Dargah. It is half a kilometer walk from the coast along the causeway to the dargah. It was crowded as it has always been and the tides were not very calm. Vendors were selling everything from flowers to eateries and it was a shoulder rubbing walk all the way. People asking for alms with held out hands were quite frequently seen. Summer was at its peak and the local kids enjoyed the heat by jumping into those brown waters. The saline waters thrashed on to the causeway and kept flowing over it to the other side all along. There are restrictions on entry when the tides are high. People throng into this dargah in huge numbers irrespective of their religion and that is the best part that I liked about Haji Ali. 

It was quite crowded inside the Dargah too and after a quick blessing from the saint I came out to have a cup of tea. The walk back was a content one. I have always wanted to visit this dargah every time I was in Mumbai. A visit during the evenings when the sun sets would be a lovely experience.

Haji Ali Dargah was built in AD 1431 in the memory of Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, a Muslim saint whose body peacefully sleeps inside.

Signing Note- A Dargah that charms you with faith...!!

Location- Near Worli, Mumbai

May 17, 2013

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