Although I stay so close to Mumbai and aware of the popularity of Alibaug as a popular tourist destination, quite surprisingly, never got a chance to visit this beautiful and natural get-away. Christmas vacation of 2009 served the occasion for paying a visit to this poluplar island.
Apart from the actual place, even the ferry ride from GATEWAY OF INDIA to Mandva jetty is equally interesting. The journey begins with the cool breeze of arabian sea, convincing you that its going to be a joy ride and your trip is going to fetch all the beauty and serenity that you seek.
By the time you reach madva jetty the magnifincient and beatiful structures of Getway of India as well as the Old Taj Hotel, are still visible and makes you wonder of the fact that how different these two places are just separeted by arround 45 minutes odd boad ride. I might call them as world apart, one being the business financial capital, where people sweat day and night, in tall spectacular multinational offices, while you will find this beautiful scenic island of alibau,g having scattered villages and people still resorting to do farming and fishing. One is famous for it rush, concrete jungles, stress and fight for survival instinct, while the other so close but still waking up to the beautiful sunrises, laid back villagers, having chat at the village katta and tourists meandering over at the beaches leaving behind all the domestic worries and rat-race back home.
The Kulaba fort is right at the main alibaug seashore. The trip to Kulaba fort is an unique experience and there are multiple options going there. During high tide you can take a speed boad ride, while during low tide, you can walk down to the fort, through the all drainedup shallow sea. Horse-cart rides are also available to reach this historic place during low tides. It was built by Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre, one of the knights of Shivaji’s kingdom.
You have an option of staying in some beach front resort or hotel, thus giving 24 hours view and access to the sea. But then this does add up to the budget, as there is this hefty premium that you have to pay for this luxury. I kept my budget low and stayed in a hotel right in the middle of the locality, just in front of the bus-depo. The hotel we chose was Meera Madhav, not quite luxurious, but served my purpose. Advantage of this is you have access tofew of the good restaurants, ferry booking centers, tourist offices and you can be more flexible in planning your side trips to murid and few other destinations.
Going here with your own car would be the best option. but even the local tour operators are reasonable and trip to Murud can be planned covering few other places in as less as 1400 Rs. with a private car.A early morning startup is quite advisable, as you get the glimse of actual rural activities,as these villages wake up from their deep slumber and start with their daily chores.The serenity of the villages enchants you and you would fall in love with those redbricked, slanting-roofed, cute houses, hidden admist thickness of coconut and betel nut (supari) trees.
The yellow sand of the Kashid beach is most attactive and walking down the beach barefoot is what I love to do .The course grains of yellow sand on kashid beach definitely does some magic to your feet and the symphony of high tide waves makes you one with the nature and forget all the worries for the timebeing. My daughter is a beach freak and enjoyies playing with waves timelessly.
This place is also known for its cusine and especially the seafood is awesome. The fresh catch of fish like Ravas, Surmai, Pomret cooked in a local fashion and served hot does give a tinkle to your taste buds.Hotel fullora was quite closeby to our base location and they serve some of the best lip smacking seafood dishes.The surmai fry is something that, I savoured a lot and prawns biryani was fantastic.
The beaches out here are clean and warning boards are at every place to make sure people are caucious of the depth and low tide, high-tide situations. Awas phata has some of the options for private bunglows and these are also quite close to the beach. For people looking for little peaceful and secluded place away from the town and close to nature these can be good options.
On the way to Murud you can visit Nandgaon Ashtavinayak Temple, this road is quite scenic and takes you through the real rural alibaug passing through quaint villages like nagaon, revadanda, chaul, akshi, each famous for its unique seashore. The nagaon, has a thick woods of Suru trees and seems to be much famous for its water sport activities like beach buggy, banana boat ride, para sailing and jet-skiing.
Murud fort was build over a period of 22 years and stills exhibits its strength. It’s a magnificient structure build over an island not quite far away from the sea shore. But the location and the achitecture of this fort convinces its invincible nature. Shivaji Maharaj alway wanted this fort to be part of swaraj, and tried all his military strategies to win janjira. Some of these battles were the fiercest and went into heavy loses for maharaj and always remained an unfulfiled dream for him.
There are more than 20 canons on this fort, still available for the tourists to view and the largest among them is the "Kalal Bangdi". Its one of the largest canons of those times apart from the "Mulukh Maidan" from Bijapur and one other (Can’t recollect the name) from Delhi. There isn’t a single stone brought from outside on this island for construction of this fort, all the stones were escavated from the same island and during the escavation, to their surpise, they even got sweet water springs in here, in the middle of the sea on this island. Later this escavation was converted into a lake and Siddi Johar built a beautiful Shish Mahal for his begum. The "Chor Darwaja" and the underground tunnel, opening in a secret mahal on the mainland, is one more great example of the strategic intelligence of those times to leave the fort in case of emergency and move to a safer place, before enemy can reach you.
Overall a nice and peaceful destination for a short outing closby to mumbai.