Mandwa – Alibaug – Murud, Maharashtra
I am not a beach person but somehow this is the weekend to change the rules. But then India is one country where mountains to beaches and deserts and forests in between, are all present.
Well the plan was to go to Murud, because like I always I just randomly happened to come across the name somewhere and there was a picture of a giant fort. Being a sucker for all this old and crumbly and architecturally defined, I just had to add it to my list. Now comes the planning part for which I enlisted the brain of two of my friends. There are many options of travel (thankfully!!) that you can choose from, each with 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. Train is another option, but I am not fluently aware of which one to take. I do know that the nearest railway stations to Alibaug are Nagothane, Kolad and Khopoli.
The third and the cheapest option that I will personally recommend will be the ferry ride that starts from Gateway of India. While there are 3 services available, we decided to opt for Ajanta Catamran which will amount to 135 INR for Non A/C upper deck and 150 INR for the A/C ones. The ferry services are at an hourly interval starting from 6.30 AM.
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 the bus fare for Mandwa to Alibaug will be included in your ticket. So that is one less hassle for you to worry about. The duration of travel for Mandwa to Alibaug is approximately 1 hour, so if you want to relax following the ferry ride, the Mandwa beach is right there after the police checkpoint.
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 fare of 17- 50 INR 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.
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. My recommendation would be leave the Alibaug beaches for the later part of the day and head towards the local bus stand to take a bus for Murud. It’s a 2 hour bus ride 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 or locally known as Janjira killa is a magnificent sea fort that has is known to be unconquered historically until the day it was handed over to the Indian subcontinent post-Independence.
The fort is completely inaccessible by road and the only way you can reach this magnificent historical monument is via the sea route. The ticket will cost you 20 INR per person. There is a sailboat available for the public, accommodating 30 or so at one go, and comes with a guide and his rate menu card. One has to pay the tour fees before the tour starts.
Its usually when you come across these kind of structures, you realise how inadequate the education system is and how information is biased sometimes. Majority of the forts in Maharashtra are credited to the ingenuity of the Maratha dynasty, except for Murud Janjira. Janjira fort was built by Malik Ambar from the Siddi dynasty. The Siddis were originally from Africa, who moved to India as fighters, slaves and dealers during medieval times. They were quite start-up entrepreneurs of their time and were incharge of a significant piece of the Maharashtra coastline.
Sprawling over 22 acres in the middle of the sea, the ruins of the Janjira fort showcases a grandeur that has been accoladed as Ajinkya, the one that can’t be won over, a tried and tested fact by the great ruler Shivaji Maharaj himself. Following his failure to capture this fort, Shivaji Maharaj went on to build Sindhudurg Fort located in Malvan town.
There was a time when the fort used to boast of 500 cannons. With passage of time and mostly people, most of them are gone now. However, the 3rd largest cannon of the world known as Kalak Bangadi can still be seen and admired. It weighs just about 22 tonnes, which is almost 22000 kilograms!!!! The cannon is made of 5 different metals and is known for its ability of never heating up.
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.
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 chords 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 back 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.
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.
Rameshwar temple – The pink temple.
Revdanda – Revdanda fort and Revdanda beach
Unlike the Janjira fort, Revdanda 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.
Since it was almost time for our return journey, we finally decided to pay a visit to the Alibaug Beach and Kolaba fort. 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.
Other hotspots (excluding the numerous beaches of Alibaug):
- Padmadurg fort was built by Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj near Janjira. A special ferry ride can give you access.
- Datta Temple
- Siddhi Palace, Murud-Janjira
- 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.
- 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
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!!!
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