Thursday, January 9, 2014

Trip to Alibaug, Kashid and Murud

Kolaba Fort as seen from Alibaug beach
I could feel the wind, the cool breeze, the heavenly feeling. The sun above, the tides in front, the white sand below. Kashid was beautiful. I would rank it as the best beach I've ever been to (not counting Goa). The water was cleaner compared to the others. The sand was smoother. The atmosphere was cool and calm. It was a long walk to the end of the beach, probably more than a kilometer. It was our second day of our 3 day trip. Had finished Alibaug yesterday and Murud was kept for last. Kashid had everything one could ask for a perfect getaway.

This like many others, was a trip long pending. Finally the 3 of us decided that its a good go. And we planned it for the weekday rather than a crowded weekend.This was a proper bag packers trip, there was no pre-planning to where exactly should we go, or how. On the night before the trip we decided to take the ferry route to Alibaug. And this just moments after considering Daman as an option.
Alibag, is a coastal town in the Konkan region of Maharashtra.It was developed around the 17th century. A Bene Israelite named Ali used to live there at that time . He was a rich man and owned many plantations of mangoes, coconuts in his gardens. Hence the locals used to call the place "Alichi Bagh"(Marathi for "Gardens of Ali"), or simply "Alibagh", and the name stuck. Alibag is located about 300 km south of Mumbai.Tourism is the mainstay of the town's economy. Alibaug is mainly known for its beaches. And if your a beach lover, this is the best place to head too. It has beaches, lots of beaches.

There are many ferry's/Catamaran's plying to and fro from Gateway of India to Mandwa Jetty. You can get the entire timetable here.
We left early morning around 630am and got the 830am ferry from Gateway. The ferry was from the operator Maldar. The entire trip by boat was a one to remember. The view was awesome , and we had seagulls following us the entire trip.It was a 45min boat rite to Mandwa jetty. From Mandwa jetty there are buses operated by the same ferry companies that drop you at Alibaug ST stand. The cost from Gateway of India till Alibaug was covered in just 125Rs. The bus from Mandwa Jetty to Alibaug is covered in the boat charges itself.

From Alibaug ST stand the nearest beach is Alibaug Beach. Which is a distance of 5mins from the ST stand. Alibaug beach is actually quite dirty, and the sand is black too. Would certainly not recommend to go for a swim in this one. Situated in the sea at a distance of 1–2 km from the shores of Alibag is Kolaba fort. It is a popular tourist destination and a protected monument.The average height of the fort walls is 25 feet. It has two main entrances, one on the sea side and the other towards Alibag. An interesting feature of this fort is that it has freshwater wells in its premises even though it is a seaside fort. In the monsoons, the fort can be reached by wading through waist-deep water at low tide. However, at high tide, boats must be used to reach it. During our visit it was not accessible by land, so we had to go by a motor boat. The cost of the motor boat was 100Rs return.Once we reach the fort, there is a Rs5 entry charge taken at the gate as it comes under the ASI as a protected monument.There is a Siddhivinayak temple inside the fort, which was built in the year 1759.  Kolaba fort was chosen by Shivaji to be fortified after the whole of South Konkan came under his command. In 1662, he strengthened and fortified Kolaba fort to make it one of his chief naval stations.Even today there are remains of old cannon guns present by the fort. There are also a few families that reside there. We spent about an hour in the fort, clicking pictures and admiring the once naval might of the Marathas.
Nagoan Beach at 8am
The second nearest beach to Alibaug central is Varsoli beach, which is at a journey of around 10mins by tum-tum. On our return from the fort we decided to head down south towards Nagaon beach. Nagaon beach is situated about 10 km away from Alibag.One can walk on the beach, from Nagaon beach to Akshi beach in ten minutes. It is more popular for its water sports and most of the tourists coming to Alibaug stay near Nagaon beach.One of our main aims was to do watersports, so Nagoan was an obvious destination. From Alibaug ST stand we get Tum Tum's heading towards Revdanda. These Tum-Tums drop you towards the main junction heading towards Nagoan Beach. The cost from Alibaug ST stand to the junction is 20Rs. There is a Shivaji statue at the junction from where we take a right turn towards the beach.The distance from the junction to the beach is quite far. We took around 25mins or more to walk the entire distance.If you are lucky enough you may just get a rick. Unfortunately for us we couldn't find one. At Alibaug the Rick driver said he would charge 250Rs from Alibaug ST to the entrance of Nagoan beach.

Beware, there are resort owners who try to fool you into checking in their resort by saying that the beach is just 2mins distance. Only decide your stay after reaching the beach and then the nearest and best option. The joy of reaching our destination at the end of the long tiring walk was immense. Felt as if we had conquered something. We booked the room nearby the beach for 800 a night. It was a pretty good deal as the room was quite big and it was quoted for 1200 originally. Remember to always bargain there. Bargain for everything, be it the tum tum or a watersport ride or your room, as the price is always quoted high. If you don't bargain, you will end up shelling out a lot more than what you could have actually saved. Nagaon was a decent beach. There were alot other tourists there. It was low tide when we reached there, the distance from the entrance to the water itself was another Km long. The sand on the beach was more like sinking sand. And we had to proceed further cautiously. We did a few watersports there. The cost of jet ski was 300 per head. Banana ride at 100 per head and Bumpy for 200. But as i mentioned, always bargain. Most of the times they agree for your demands. There are also alot of beer shops at Nagoan, but apparently these shops sell only beer, and nothing else. They have license to sell only beer. Food is a bit of a problem there. There are only 2 eating joints there and both are not upto the mark. There are also stalls on the beach, some of which are open till 10.30pm at night. The cost of food is pretty high.That night we had had a beer party at the beach and also our dinner from the beach stall.

The next day morning we were lucky enough to get a lift from the beach to the junction. We were waiting for the bus that would take us to Kashid. We were told that there are buses plying every 30mins heading towards Murud, and Kashid was a stop on the way. We waited for quite a while, later decided to go by Tum Tum only. We took a Tum Tum to Revdanda and from Revdanda another Tum Tum to Kashid beach. The cost from Nagoan to Revdanda is 20rs per head and the same for Revdanda to Kashid beach. The distance is quite long but the entire road is towards the cost line so it was a great view with the sea besides us.

Kashid is around 36 km away from Alibag, on the Alibag-Murud highway, also this beach is possibly one of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the region with almost 'white' sand. There are many cottages and resorts available, however all of these are located at a distance from the beach.This village does not have any wine shops. One has to go around 6 km towards Murud to buy alcohol. Kashid is the perfect place to calm down and relax for the urban people.One can find water sports facility and number of small shops for snacks. Kashid is popular mainly because of its white sand, blue seas, green mountains, paddy fields, and rivulets. Kashid has a 3 km stretch of beach tucked in between two rocky hillocks with Casuarina groves all along the seashore. This is by far the best beach in this part of the Konkan region and, though absolutely deserted on weekdays, the town can attract its fair share of week-end holiday makers.Take care of your self in the water (particularly at the high tides) as there were many incidents which cost the life. There is a danger board warning the people.As well as resort owners warn you before you head out towards the beach.
We picked the nearest resort towards the beach. We got it for 1k a night. It was a farmhouse maintained in total village style. We were lucky to get a geyser in our room this time along. The Sun shines too bright in the afternoon. And so we waited till 4 to head towards the beach. Just beside Kashid beach is Phansad wildlife Sanctuary. However the entrance to it is around 2 km South. Like i mentioned before, this beach had everything, from Camels to Horses , from Jet skis to ATV's. This was the perfect beach I've been to so far. The rates are the same as Nagoan, as we did everything that was available to us. It was Kashid that made this trip so special. And it was a time to remember. Kashid IS THE PLACE TO BE!!
Drenched we walked back to our hotel room. There are no street lights at Kashid. So remember to carry a flashlight. There is a decent roadside restaurant at Kashid a few minutes walk in pitch darkness and unlike Nagoan's bad food, we had options for veg , non veg and Chinese made available to us at decent prices.
The next day morning was the last day of our trip. We took an ST bus to Murud ST stand. From there a Rick to Rajapuri. We were to visit the iconic fort I've been reading about for many years.- Murud Janjira.

Chillin out at Kashid beach
Murud-Janjira is the name for a fort situated on an island just off the coastal village of Murud. Like Kolaba fort, this also is a sea fort surrounded by water on all four sides.The fort is situated on an oval-shaped rock off the Arabian Sea coast near the port town of Murud, 165 km (103 mi) south of Mumbai.Janjira is considered one of the strongest marine forts in India. The fort is approached by sailboats from Rajapuri jetty. The main gate of the fort faces Rajapuri on the shore and can be seen only when one is quite close to it. It has a small gate towards the open sea for escape.The fort has 19 rounded bastions, still intact. There are many cannons of native and European make rusting on the bastions. Now in ruins, the fort in its heyday was a full-fledged living fort with all the necessary facilities, e.g., palaces, quarters for officers, mosque, two big fresh water tank, etc. On the outer wall flanking the main gate, there is a sculpture depicting a tiger-like beast clasping elephants in its claws. There are prominent "ASHOK-CHAKRAS" on all major gates of the fort Janjira. There are images of playing elephants, lions etc.Special attraction of this fort is 3 Gigantic Cannons named Kalalbangdi, Chavri and Landa Kasam. Another gate to the west is sea- facing, called 'Darya Darwaza'.The fort is similar to Kulaba fort, however a bit bigger in size.

As the day passed it had become time for us to leave. Lucky for us there are direct buses plying from Murud to Mumbai via Sion or Thane. These buses are available every 1hr. 15 mins. Its a long Journey by bus and a rather bumpy one. But the destination of the last stop is Borivali, and that worked well in our favor.
All and all I'd rate this trip as the third best trip of my life. And without any doubt i would definitely return back on this same path one day. Its an in budget trip and for beach lovers , a perfect getaway.

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