Alibaug – People, Places and You

Please understand this first. Alibaug is not a place where a beach exists and you can drink a lot of alcohol without being responsible and play around on the same beach for a weekend.

Alibag (or Alibaug or Alibagh) is a coastal town and a municipal council in Raigad District in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, India. It is also the headquarters of the Raigad district.

Alibaug is a beach town (also referred to as Mini Goa) a few hours’ drive away from Mumbai or Pune on the Konkan coast with a long stretch of beaches (from Rewas to Revdanda). From Pune, Alibaug is approximately 4-5 hours away however from Mumbai; Alibaug is just an hour and half’s ferry ride away from the Gate way of India! Alibaug is a set of beaches and to plan a vacation in Alibaug the first thing one has to do is choose from over half a dozen beaches in Alibaug! No matter which Alibaug beach one chooses to stay in, one can always go beach hopping with Alibaug beaches just a few minutes’ drive from each other! Water sports in Alibaug are very popular and make Alibaug a perfect destination also(and not – only) for the beach buff in you.

Though quite commercialized Alibaug still has a rustic charm going for it even now! Alibaug Beach is the main beach of Alibaug town and with horse rides, paragliding and road side vendors selling tender coconut and tadgolas to fried fish. Alibaug is an ideal weekend destination for Mumbaikars or Punekars and an ideal holiday destination for a family from anywhere across the globe.

Alibaug has lots to offer the tourists from the crowded cities. Fresh sea food prepared in the typical konkani style and a visit to the sea-forts of Kolaba or the Murud-Janjira is one of the highlights of a vacation in Alibaug.

1. Something Called ‘History’

Alibag was developed in 17th Century by Sarkhel Kanhoji Aangre the naval chief of King Shivaji’s Kingdom. Alibag is a coastal town and municipal council in Raigad district in Kokan region of Maharashtra, India. Raigad’s first name was “Kulaba”. Today’s Ramnath was the main village at that time. Bene Israelite Ali was a rich man in the city based on Ali’s gardens was named as “Alibagh”. Ali owned many plantations of mangoes, coconuts in his gardens. So, the local people called the place Alichi bagh (Gardens of Ali).

Just 3 kilometers away from Alibag on Alibag-Mumbai highway you will find one small village Khandale having population of around 5000 people, which is also heading Gram Panchayats. Khandale is surrounded by wonderful Shiva temples such as Sidheshwar, Kankeshwar. During Shrawan month the beauty on these hillocks is breathtaking and on each Shrawani Somwars thousands of Alibagkars visit this place for worship and enjoying nature beauty.

Also on the same highway goddess Patrudevi Mandir is located in small Ghat called Karle Khind. Khandale is also very famous for white onions, which are sold all over Maharashtra as “Khandale Kande”. This unique breed of onions are having very rich contributions in Ayurvedik medicines and very useful during summer heat which is having unique sweeter taste. Rewdanda, Chaul, Nagon, Akshi, Varsoli,Thal, Kihim and Aawas villages were known as “Ashtagare” (Eight houses) at that time.

During those times there were some naval battles out of which one was fought at Varsoli between Kanhoji Aangre and Siddi of Janjira in the year 1706. In 1722 English and Portuguese jointly attacked on Kulaba fort and they lost this war. At Chaul there was a battle between the English and Sakhoji in 1730. Sakhoji won this war and brought down the losing party along with their captain at Kulaba. Kanhoji even issued his own currency in the form of a silver coin called the Alibagi rupaiya.

According to Bombay Gazette, Alibaug was never a significant town until Angre came along and made it a fundamental Maratha base. Alibaug was declared as the place of Taluka in 1852.
Many people used to call Alibag also as Shribag. Now they formed ‘Shribag’ as a part of Alibag. The population of Alibag was around 5000 in 1881. Starting of Schools in 1924, Alibag was not directly connected to Mumbai at that time. People used to travel by sea from Revas, Dharmtar or Mankule. The scenario changed in 1964. The bridge of Dharamtar Creek was built; Alibag got attached to the other cities like Mumbai. Earlier Mangaon was the main place of Raigad district.

Want to know how it became famous with the current generation?

Alibaug was often visited by the families living in Mumbai and Pune since holidaying started in our country. The frequency went high with the easy mode of commutation to this town. It was mainly visited by upper middle class people in the country/state who used to take their cars and also their families in them for long drives or weekend vacations. It was also the main cause of commercialization in the town but on the other hand added value to the people residing in the town (locals). It then soon was also a weekend getaway for most of the people looking to enjoy on beaches (and get drunk) and also turned into a common spot for the weekend bike-riders. Of course, the availability of more than one beach added a lot to attract the crowd and the Kulaba Fort and the Murud-Janjira Fort were the great Indian historic monuments living in this place which were a must visit. It attracted a lot of foreign tourists and became quite famous globally due to their presence in and around the town. Want to know more? Try visiting the town but, read below before that so that you know what to do and what not to, how to do it and how not; also, where to do it and where not.

2. Something called ‘Beaches’

There are 13 main beaches in and around the town of Alibaug. Each one is unique in some way considering the feel, water-sports, the sand and the distance from the main town. Some beaches have historical feats and a way to access the famous Forts residing on Alibaug coast. Except for the water-sports, the best part about this town is that you can improvise a bit when it comes to camping. Tents and hammocks can be rented to add adventure and grace to your camping or picnic. You can set up campfires on the beaches and stay in the very homely bunglows-cum-guest houses located right there on a certain beaches. The common cool-downs like tender coconut water, tadgolas and ice-golas are available on the beaches. Also quite a few movie scenes and TV commercials have been shot here.

  • Alibaug beach: This is the main beach of the town. A very flat stretch makes for a long walk. Reasonably clean beach and has thin crowds during the week. The sand has a hard texture and is a shade black. Not easy to create sand-castles. Note that the tide rolls in from all sides. You may have to wade through water on the way back. You can have a magnificent view of the setting sun going down behind the Kolaba Fort situated right in the middle of the sea. A unique experience is of being able to walk right upto the fort during low tide when the sea recedes beyond the fort. You can also ride a horse carriage upto the fort.
  • Thal beach: Isolated Beach about 5 km from Alibag.  It has quiet and clean beach from where the Ancient Khanderi, Underi sea forts can be seen. Thal is proud that the huge R.C.F. plant is located there which has provided employment to many local residents. Another place of interest in Thal is, Datta Mandir, located on top of the hill nearby. Aerial view of Alibag can be seen from the hill. The hill can be reached by car. Thal Beach is located on the sea shore around 6 km north of Alibaug. This place has a large number of Koli fishermen than in any of the Alibaug coastal village and serves as a huge fishing centre. A small ruined fort of Khubladha or the Great Fight that can be seen on the shore to the north-west of the beach attracts number of tourists. The fort is situated to the east of the island of Undheri, which was built by Shivaji Maharaj on a natural elevation of the Thal coast in 1659. It was built to protect the place from the invasions of the British and the Siddis.
  • Varsoli Beach: Located about a mile from the main beach, home to a very large naval base. It is situated just on the outskirts of Alibag. It is relatively less visited site and as a result is a quiet beach with sparkling white sand and cleaner seawater. Varsoli is a small satellite village across Alibag, complete with thick vegetation of coconut and Casuarina. A company named ‘Aquamarine sports’ lets you enjoy the water-sports on this beach including banana boat, jet skiing, parasailing and more.
  • Akshi Beach: It is situated 6 km away from Alibag. The specialty of this beach is the beautiful slivery white sand. Literally dazzling silvery on this clean beach. This beach is well suited for the children and ladies as the sea is flat for a long distance. One can walk through to a considerable distance towards the sea.  This is a quiet beach frequented only by the locals. For those who are inclined towards local literature, it might interest you to check out an old epigraph that dates back to 1012 AD. The beach is complete with small-food stalls. It is a favourite spot for advertising, TV serial and film shoots.
  • Nagaon beach: It is situated about 10 km away from Alibag and is famous for coconuts and betel nuts. 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. There are quite a few bunglows converted to guest houses here which provide good hospitality and decent bedding services. The famous Bollywood song ‘Sagar Kinare Dil Ye Pukare’ from the movie’ Sagar’ was shot on this beach. Well, not all the people know about the backwaters in Nagaon which are not accessible but are definitely worth looking at atleast once if you’re visiting Alibaug. Recently, water sports have been started by the locals on this beach.
  • Kihim-Navgaon Beach: Kihim is a secluded place at a distance of 12 km from Alibag. The Kihim beach is famous for dense cover of Coconut trees. It is also famous for woods which are home to rare butterflies, birds and flowers.
  • Awas: It is situated about 16 km away from Alibag. This beach is connected to Saswane beach and you will spot celebrities and riches like Vijay Mallya, Amir Khan, Ravi Shastri, Singhania and Goyal. You can catch a swim over here especially with kids as it is one of the safest beaches here. The beach stands very clean and hardly populated. The Nagoba Mandir at Awas is worth visiting. There is a big festival after 15 days from Diwali here around the Nagoba Temple.
  • Saswane: It is situated about 18 km away from Alibag. The 2 villages are located 18 Kms north of Alibag. Sasawane is famous for the Karmarkar sculpture museum which is worth seeing. From Awas-Sasawane beach, Mumbai skyline can be seen during day & at night Mumbai skyline looks like illuminated with lights. Another attraction is the bunglow of famous sculptor Late Mr. Karmarkar, where his exquisite originals are on display.
  • Rewas: It is situated about 24 km away from Alibag. It has a port from which you can take a ferry to Bhaucha Dhakka (Ferry Wharf)
  • Revdanda, Chaul: It is situated about 17 km away from Alibag. Revdanda is about 17 km away from the village of Chaul. It is a site of historical importance. It resembles the period of Shivaji’s reign though it doesn’t belong to that era. The region is lined with beetlenut and coconut trees. It is locally called Naralachi Baag or Waadi (in Marathi). A special aromatic flower that goes by the name of Bakuli is also found here. The Revdanda Beach here is isolated and beautiful and is covered in black sand.

Till a few years ago the coastal road that goes south from Alibag used to terminate at Revdanda where it encountered the Kundalika creek. A bridge now spans the creek and the whole stretch southward of Revdanda up to Murud-Janjira has now become accessible. Part of the town is situated within the premises of an old Portuguese fort.

If you drive through the town, the road enters through an old archway and then exits from another before getting to the bridge. If between these two archways you turn right and make a detour to the western portion of the fort, which reaches out into the sea, you have found a great vantage point. During high tide the waves crash onto the palm-fringed ramparts of the fort and you get a magnificent view of the creek to the south and the beach to the north. There is an entrance from the beach to the fort.

Revdanda is also the location where St. Francis Xavier delivered one of his early sermons in India. The chapel still exists in a rundown condition. The chapel is within the walled fort, on the south side and not far from the main road. There are many places to watch out in Revdanda. Revdanda is a historical place and resembles closely to the era of Shivaji, though its not one the famous place in history related to Shivaji.

Revdanda came into when Russian historians found out that the first traveller to India landed in Revdanda. A monument was raised in his memory. On the 23rd of November, 2000, a foundation stone for the monument in memory of Afanasy Nikitin, the first Russian traveller to India was laid at Revdanda.

  • Mandawa: It is situated about 20 km north of Alibag. The catamaran/ferry services are available from Mumbai to the Mandwa jetty. You land on this beach if youre coming via sea and hence is quite commercialized. Many Bollywood celebrities own bungalows here as well.
  • Kashid Beach: It is 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; one of the abodes on earth where you embrace nature and forget the world. The best part is that Kashid beach is that it is always sparsely crowded and the sand is still clean. This village does not have any wine shops. One has to go around 6 km towards Murud to buy alcohol. From Kashid you can venture towards the fort of Murud-Janjira where you will be treated with countless postcard perfect sunsets with the awe inspiring fort in the background and romantic little sailboats flitting across the horizon. Images that will last a lifetime are what you can be promised at Murud-Janjira. 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. BEWARE: Take care of yourself 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.
  • Korlai Beach: A quiet serene beach with alternate white and black sands, along a serene stretch of the Arabian coastine, adjacent to a village of Korlai Creole Portuguese speaking Indians. Just across the bridge, to the right there is Korlai fort within the sea and attached to the mainland by a narrow land strip through the Korlao fort through the Korlai Village. It is supposed to have been built by the Portuguese in 1521. The main gate has an inscription which means ‘no entry without a fight’. The fort has seven gates, a sweet water well, a church in disuse, a Hindu temple and a Lighthouse.

3. Something ‘Holy’

As mentioned in the first statement of this document that Alibaug is not only about the beaches here but there’s a lot more in it. Temples and shrines are a very important part of Alibaug’s heritage. A lot of festivals are celebrated here which are unheard (or not celebrated majestically) by most of the state. Holidays are declared on these holy festivals to all the institutions here.

  • Kanakeshwar temple is situated on a small hill near Mapgaon village, about 12 km away from Alibag and falls on the way to Mandawa. It is an ancient temple of Lord Shiva. The hill is almost 370 m high and we have to climb 700+ steps to reach the temple. Ask somebody about ‘Nagobacha Tappa’, ‘Devachi Payari’, ‘Pushkarni’, ‘Gaymukh’ and ‘Vyaghreshwar’ when you’re here.  1 hr of climb. Breathtaking view of Arabian sea, Mumbai skyline, lush green surrounding from the top. Drinking water is available at 3/4th distance during the climb. Fast food corners are available on the top for some quick snacks.

13 Kms from Alibag in Northeast direction is this very famous Shiv temple on a 900 ft. high hill. Its’ a 5000 ft. long climb on well paved stairs, which takes around one hour landmarks along the route are tombs of MohanGiri and Balgiri, Nagoba Rest, Jambhali Plateau, God’s stair, Gaymandi etc. The fatigue of the uphill climb vanishes the moment one enters the scenic temple premises. It comprises various small temples of Sri Paleshwar, Sri Hanuman, Sri Balram Krishna and Lord Shiv.

The special attraction is an ancient sweet water tank enclosed in traditional structure of red stone. The ancient temple was built by Raja Ramdeorai Yadav. The height of the Shiv temple is 54 ft. The front gate has Lion sculpture on both sides with traditional lamp-pillar (deepmaal) in front. The 4 ft. long ‘Pindi’ of Lord Shiva is Silver plated. The premises also include Nagaar-khana, Bheem Kunda, a garden for flowers to be offered to the Lord, Sri Ram Ganesh temple and Gomukha. Every year, Kartik Poornima in Hindu calendar is the day of fair. A variety of herbs are found on this hill.

In the mid of the hill one can see ‘Nagobacha Tappa’ (a Place of Snakes) and famous step ‘Devachi Payari’. There is one popular story about this step that it was named because it is said that God itself stepped here after the construction of the temple and the steps. The temple of Kanakeshwar is very beautiful, it is a ‘Hoysal’ style structure built in 1764. A water tank – popular known as ‘Pushkarni’ – has water almost throughout the year.

Truly, Kanakeshwar is a place to feel the jungle and silence of the jungle and hills. Leopards are spotted in this jungle at times and you are allowed to enter the jungle at your own risk. You can also hunt for crabs in the forest (and relish them by cooking them on your campfire). If you want to see the beauty of Arabian sea and fort of Khandevi as well as the entire hilly region, then Kanakeshwar is the place to visit and rest for 2-3 days. The have a Dharamshala on top in which you can stay for Rs.150 per night.

One way is to reach Paftarpada village (on Pen-Alibag road) from Karle Khind by taking right turn and proceeding upwards. Others is to go to Zirad village by vehicle and climb the steps. State transport buses are available to reach Mangaon village.

  • Vikram Vinayak Temple or Birla Temple, Salav: is situated about 20 km away from Alibag. On the way to Janjira, take the right fork to reach the Vikram Ispat industry. Going a bit ahead will lead one to the temple.
    It is located on a hill-top in a small village named ‘Salav ‘on the Alibag – Roha route. There is a temple on a hill top near Salav village. Vikram Ispat Company, a part of Birla udyog group has built this temple called ‘Birla Mandir.’ This temple is between the Vikram Ispat Company and its beautifully located residential colony. It is a temple built in pure milk white marble and its dome can be seen from a long distance also. It can be reached by road or by climbing the steps. While climbing the temple steps one is always mesmerized by the landscape. On both sides of the steps is a green velvet carpet of grass and beautiful flowers which will keep you spell bound for a minute.

The temple has marble floors and the hall of the temple is open from all sides. The ceiling of the temple is transparent which allows free flow of air and ample of light to come in. On entering the temple there is a square shaped nave. The nave is also made of marble and is very beautifully carved. The beautifully carved idol of ‘Ganapati’s placed the nave. The idols of ‘Riddhi and Siddhi’ are placed on both sides of idol. Around the nave are small temples of ‘Radha-Krishna’, ‘Shiv-Parvati’, ‘Godess Durga’, ‘Bhavanidevi’ and ‘Suryadeva.’ Life-size statue of Late Adita Birla stands in the garden.

The prayer hall is open on all sides and the roof is made of transparent Polymorph sheet. The pooja and prayer can be attended at 9am and 7.15pm every day. Entry into the temple premises is open from 6am to 11.30am and 4.30pm to 9.pm only. ST buses, 3 or 6 seaters are available from Alibag and 3 or 6 seaters can be hired from Revdanda Bus Stop.

Around the statue is a beautiful gardened landscape along with colored water fountains. The pleasant climate adds to the beauty of the temple. From the temple hill top the glimpse of the green hill tops surrounding the temple and the lighted Vikram Ispat Company on the other side which is a beautiful sight late in the evening. The popularity of this temple has not only in Maharashtra but in and around whole country as well.

  • Datta Mandir (Thal): situated at bhowale, 2 km away from chaul. Just 5 kms away from Alibag…built by Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers. Important landmarks are Swami Samartha Mutt, Sadhana Kutir, HareRam retiring room, Hare Ram Baba Dhuni Mandir, Audumbar Mutt, Mai Jankibai Mut You have to climb through the 850 steps to reach the temple on top. There a huge festival during “Guru Poornima” here. There is a ‘self appeared’ moorthi of Shri Datta guru in the temple and has a divine environment.
  • Hingulja Mandir: Situated near Datta Mandir, historic temple built by Pandawas.
  • Brahma Kund: is another prominent attraction visited by tourists due to its mythological significance. It is believed that the pool was created after Lord Brahma collected the water in which Lord Krishna bathed.  The Brahma Kund is a great work. It is on the hill top. There are two kunds the shiv pool and the Brahma’s pond. Brahma Kund is a rectangular tank which is encircled by steps on all the 4 sides. It is a very beautiful site. The site is excellent for photography.
    There is a small Maruti Mandir in its vicinity. As one nears the temple one can see a small statue with an encoding ‘Mirchi Baba’. This encoding was done in the year 1612.
    This pool was created by the water which was collected after Lord Brahma bathed lord Krishna.
  • Nageshwar Temple (Aawas): Near Saswane.
  • Shitaladevi Temple: On Alibag-Revdanda Road, 14kms away from Alibag is Chaul and from there one can hire on autorickshaw to reach this ancient temple-Originally it was built with a tiled roof and wooden structure. In 1990, it was renovated into a modern structure. It is a greatly revered shrine.
  • Siddhivinayak Temple (Nandgaon – Murud): This village was know as Nandgaon in ancient times. Believers feel that a ‘Darshan’ of Lord Ganesh here lends finale to the ‘Asthtavinayak’ pilgrimage. A grand festival takes place every year on ‘Maghi Chaturthi’ day and another traditionally auspicious day for ‘Darshan’ is ‘sankashti chaturthi’ every month.
  • UmaMaheshwar temple:  Another highly visited temple in the town.
  • Balaji temple.

4. Something ‘not common’ and more

  • Shopping: Alibaug – Pen region is famous for Rice crop (Hatsadicha Tandul), thick Poha, different variety of Papads (like Poha, Potato, Nachani, Jackfruit Papad), Konkani Masala, Kadave wal (beans), stuffed dried chilly and White Sweet Onions (This is seasonal crop and available in twin Garlands of small sweet white onions which almost lasts for 4-5 months. They have medicinal values and are especially good in summer). You get all these products at many shops situated along the NH 17 Goa highway either at Vadkhal Naka or Pen.

If you are in Alibaug, just give a call to Mr. Ashish Gharpure (9923951368). He will visit you at your hotel / homestay anywhere in Alibaug on his cycle along with bag full of quality local products at reasonable rates. He is frequent visitor at Lelewadi guesthouse and also visits Pune once a while to deliver these konkan special products to his regular customers.

There are small shopping streets and stores in Alibaug where ready-made garments, including export surplus apparel, watches, excellent kohlapuriz, bags, antiques, junk jewellery, leather items to furniture and grocery items can be picked up at throwaway prices.

  • Food: While you are traveling in coastal Konkan, make it a point to sample culinary delights of the region – kurkuron bombeel (crispy fried Bombay duck), Surmai / Pomfret fry, Kombadi-Wade with Chicken Curry, sol-kadhi (a tangy smooth appetiser), kelyache panchamrut (a sweetish medley of bananas and vegetables), tisrya-che kavlan (clams in thick spicy masala), Javalyache Lonche (baby prawns), kelphoola-chi bhaji, (a Konkan favorite, made of banana flower), Jackfruit bhaji, Kaju Usal, Ambole (like Appam or thick sada Dosa) and Lord Ganesha’s favorite steamed delight, the Modak* (made up of sugar / Jaggary and rice floor)

Alibuag chikki and Tadi is quite famous and are a must try.

There are plenty of houses in the coastal region between Murud – Kashid – Nagaon – Alibaug – Awas – Mandwa  which serves homely vegetarian or non vegetarian meals. However, you need to inform them in advance. There are many restaurants in Alibaug near the Bus stand like Ramakant, Meera Madhav, Liliac, Big splash, Phulora, Kokan Katta etc. which serves Veg. non veg fare including that of south Indian, Punjabi and local cuisines.

To form a global network, a magnetic observatory was established in the destination in 1904. The changes occurring in geomagnetic fields and geo magnetic storms all over the world are recorded by this observatory. You need a permission to visit this observatory from their head office in Panvel.

Light House: Korlai lighthouse first and then the Fort, the steps for which begin right behind the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse Tower was built in 1955 and a DA gas light was installed on it and lit on 25th December 1955. Optical equipment with electrical flasher operating on batteries to be charged by DC gensets was installed in 1960 and the new light became operational on 28th January 1961.The optic (500 mm) and light was improved in 1998 and an electronic flasher (JLWL) was introduced in April 1999. The flashing equipment and drum optic system was replaced by the Revolving equipment GRB-48-II supplied by M/s Ana Nav Aids, Ltd, New Delhi, and put in operation on 31st August 2003. The light flashes every 3seconds and has a range of 18 nautical miles. For an unofficial charge of  Rs.10/- per head and Rs.20/- per camera for photography you can get a guided tour of the Lighthouse.

5. Something called ‘Forts’

There are quite a few forts in this town and most of them are built on the sea shore and are accessible in the low-tide. You can also reach these forts by the small sail boats available at the beach or a speed boat if you like the thrill.

Kulaba (or Kolaba) fort:

is the main fort in the town of Alibaug and is also one of the most well known forts in Konkan. Kolaba fort can be seen from this beach and just 5 min ride away. It can be accessed on foot / horse cart rides during low tide and there are boats available to reach the fort during high tide. The entire beach complex has been neatly maintained by Local Corporation with parking, seating areas, chowpatty, high mast lamps, demarcated safe areas for swimming etc.

It takes 45 min to 1 hour to visit Kolaba fort and it has bastions, Ganesh Mandir, ruins of few old buildings, giant canons and a lake / well with sweat water in the middle of salty ocean.

Shivaji Maharaj built this fort in 1680 to keep Portuguese under predominance. Later this fort became the main place and was used for building huge/magnificent ships. Afterwards, this fort became the main place of Maratha’s Armada in North Konkan.

This seafort is the center of valour of Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre. It is in the sea, 1 Km away from Alibag seashore. Fort is very beautifully built up of huge stones and situated on the island of length 267 meters to 297 meters through South-North direction and 109 meters wide on East-West direction. Kulaba means Cape.

The ‘Mahadarwaja’ to the east is a specail thing. Decorated with idols of tigers, elephant, peacock etc. The temple of Ganesh, godess with eighteen hands, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva together makes “Ganesh Panchayatam”

Chhatrapati Shivaji built this fort in 1680 to keep Portuguese under predominant. At that time, this place was used for building huge/magnificent ships. Afterwards this fort became the main place and was used for building huge/magnificent ships. Afterwards, this fort became the main place of Maratha’s Armada in North Konkan.

Better to visit here only during the low tide. Here is a time table for tide according to the tithis

Tithi Time to Visit
Pratipada 4.00 to 6.30
Dwitiya 5.00 to 7.00
Trutiya 5.30 to 8.00
Chaturthi 6.00 to 9.00
Panchami 7.00 to 9.30
Shashthi 8.00 to 10.00
Saptami 8.30 to 11.00
Ashtami 9.00 to 12.00
Navmi 10.00 to 12.30
Dashmi 11.00 to 1.00
Ekadashi 11.30 to 2.00
Dwadashi 12.00 to 3.00
Trayodashi 1.00 to 4.00
Chaturdashi 1.00 to 4.00
Pournima/Amawasya 2.30 to 5.00
  • Murud-Janjira: Murud-Janjira is a fort situated on an island just off the coastal village of Murud, in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, India. It is surrounded by the majestic Arabian sea from all the sides It was occupied by the Siddis and is famous for being the only fort along India’s Western coast that remained undefeated despite Dutch, Maratha and English East India Company attacks.

Murud-Janjira Fort is situated on an oval-shaped rock off the Arabian Sea coast near the port town of Murud, 165 km south of Mumbai. The massive fort was built in the 16th century originally as a wooden structure by the fisherman to get protection from the pirates. Janjira fort has acquired its present shape after reconstruction.

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 postern gate towards the open sea for escape.

With a number of turrets and towers Janjira Fort portrays power. The fort has 19 rounded bastions, still intact.  The fort housed more than 500 canons always ready to attack their enemies. Now only few are left but they are worth a watch. Kalal Bangadi, Chavari and Landa Kasam are some of the canons that explain the glorifying past of the fort. 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.

The fort has a tunnel which opens in Rajpuri. A secret tunnel that used to connect the fort to the island underneath the sea, in case of emergency has been sealed due to seawater percolation into the fort. Another secret gate that still exists was used in case of an emergency. This can only been seen in low tide. The so-called watchtower is exactly 120 steps up and it gives a great panoramic view of the fort as well as the sea and the island. The point is windy and 120 steps are tedious, but it’s worth the view. The fort has underground storage areas for arms & ammunition, food grains, vegetable, sweet water storage etc.

There are great attractions inside the fort. The fort still contains two sweet water lakes within, which still exists for over 300 years

Originally the fort was small wooden structure built by a Koli chief in the late 15th century. It was captured by Pir Khan, a general of Nizamshah of Ahmednagar. Later the fort was strengthened by Malik Ambar, the Abyssinian Siddi regent of Ahmednagar kings. Despite their repeated attempts, the Portuguese, the British and the Marathas failed to subdue the Siddi power.

Many a times, Marathas tried to capture the fort, even Shivaji Maharaj, Sambhaji and Peshwas tried – but all those attempts failed. So this is one of the rare forts in Maharashtra which was not managed by Marathas.

Best Season / Best time to visit Murud Janjira: Murud Janjira enjoys a salubrious climate. It is very pleasant all through the year with cool breeze blowing all day long. During summers (March to June) the temperature never rises beyond 32°C. Winters (November to February) are cool and the temperature is around 15°C on an average. Monsoons are accompanied with medium rainfall. Best time to visit is September to June, may keep off monsoon months.

  • Revdanda: Revdanda Fort is located around 17 km from Alibaug and is also known as Revdanda Aagarkot. The fort was built by a Portuguese Captain, Soj in 1558. From the fort, tourists can have a view of the Revdanda Port. Tourists can explore the fort that has a seven-storey tower covered with betel nut plantations. During high tide, the site offers a beautiful view of the palm-fringed ramparts that are touched by waves.

The circumference of the fort is around 5 km. As fortification wall surrounds the entire village, most of the area is private and hence inaccessible. The modern entrance is made by demolishing a part of the fort wall, and we can see a Portuguese emblem on the main door. Inside the fort we can see 3 cannon balls in front of main entrance. There are stairs to the upper part of the entrance and there is a cannonball stuck up in the wall. There are dilapidated manors on the fort and a tower, and we can see some remnants on the shores. There is an old tunnel below the main walls which is now defunct.

Revdanda for twas a beach facing fort built in 1558 by a Portuguese captain Soj to watch over their trading interests. It is located in lower Chaul, which one comes across on the Alibaug-Murud road (17kms away from Alibaug).

The Portuguese stoically defended this fort against many invasions namely in 1570-71 and in 1594. It was captured by the marathas (by the Angres, during the time of Nanasaheb Peshwe) in 1740.In 1806 it was ceded to the East India company and remained in brief control of the Angres in 1817.

Revdanda is located 17 kms south of Alibagh. State buses are available from Mumbai and Pune to reach Revdanda.

Korlai Fort: The Korlai Fort is at a distance of 24kms from Alibag on the road to Murud. The last few kilometres of the road is more of a path. Korlai Fort (also called Morro or Castle Curlew) is a Portuguese fortification in the town of Korlai, Maharashtra, India. It was built on an island (Morro de Chaul) which guards the way to the Revdanda Creek. It was meant as a companion to the fort at Chaul. At this strategic position the Portuguese could use it to defend their province which stretched from Korlai to Vasai. The fort is 2828 feet long, and its average breadth is eighty-nine feet. The enclosing wall is 5′ 3″ high and has 305 battlements for guns. The area within the fort walls is divided into three enclosures by two lines of bastioned fortifications. Each of the seven bastions bears the name of a saint. The two westward bastions are named São Diego(after Didacus of Alcalá) and São Francisco (after Francis of Assisi).The others are São Pedro, São Inácio, and São Filipe. It has a large rain-water cistern with three mouths, each one foot wide, and the ruins of a church. The church was built in 1630 for the use of the army and was functional until 1728.

There are three Portuguese inscriptions.One, over a doorway in the centre and highest part of the fort, reads as follows:

“This castle was commanded to be built by the Viceroy of India Dom Filipe Mascarenhas in November of the year 1646 and Fernão Miranda Henriques being Captain of Chaul, and was finished in May 1680, Cristóvão de Abreu de Azevedo being Captain of this fort.”

The inscription is surmounted by a cross with a coat of arms having the Portuguese stars in the centre and surrounded by seven castles. Other inscriptions over the main entrance and over an altar in the chapel are worn out and undecipherable.

During the brief Maratha rule, some of the names of the bastions were changed but now the only indication of their presence is some dismantled shrines.

Some other forts are Agarkot, Khanderi-Underi and Sagargad.

6. Something called ‘getting there’

Transport

  • Road: One can reach Alibag via Pen (30 km away), which is on the Mumbai (78 km away) – Goa road. From Mumbai, one can reach Alibag by traveling on the Mumbai-Goa highway (NH-17)till Wadkhal (or Vadkhal) and taking the right fork from Wadkhal – the left fork being the road to Goa. The distance is approximately 108 km from Mumbai.
  • Railways: The nearest railway station is Pen. Pan is connected to Panvel (C.R.).
  • Catamaran/Ferry: The nearest jetty is Mandwa From where catamaran/ferry services are available to Gateway of India, Mumbai. Another port in the vicinity is Rewas, from where a ferry service is available to Ferry Wharf (Bhau cha Dhakka) (Dockyard Road). There is also a jetty at Custom Bandar from where fishermen in Alibag set sail.

One can reach Alibag by catamaran(sea) through “Gateway of India” to Mandwa or from “Bhaucha Dhakka” to Rewas and from Mandwa/Rewas to Alibag by bus. Ticket includes journey from Gateway to Mandwa and bus journey from Mandwa to Alibag bus stop. From Rewas to Alibag one needs to take State Transport bus or a Rickshaw. Take the ferry from Gateway to Mandwa. Services available from 6:00am till 6:00pm.Please check for the current time table with ferry sevice providers because it keeps on changing as per sea tides and during monsoon it is usualy not operated. Ferry Journey time: 40 to 55 minutes depending on the type of boats. From Mandwa operator carries passengers to Alibag in their own chartered buses. Bus Journey time: 45 minutes. Alibag beach is walking distance from the bus-stop.

Another option is to take a ferry from “Bhaucha Dhakka” to Rewas. Timings are same but schedule may change depending on the tide. From Rewas take State Transport Bus or Rickshaw to Alibag. Bus Journey time: 1 hour to reach Alibag. You can go to Alibag by S.T. bus from Mumbai. From Mumbai to Alibag having daily 35–40 S.T. buses, also Borivali, Thane, Kalyan, Pune, Kolhapur, Miraj, Nashik having buses to alibag for journey.

Getting There (At Alibag) By Air : Nearest airport is Mumbai, 140 km. By Railway : Nearest railway station is Panvel, By Road  : Mumbai – Panvel – Pen -Wadkhal- Alibag. 130 km, Mumbai – Panvel – Pen -Wadkhal- Karle Khind. 125 km, Pune – Alibag. 150 km.

The timetables given here have been borrowed from Alibag Darshak by Mr. G. N. Pardeshi.

By Boat

There are boats and hovercrafts leaving from the Gateway of India on a daily basis from 0600 hrs to 1800 hrs except during monsoons. Journey time is 45 minutes to Mandwa and approximately 45 min. onwards by bus to Alibag. The fare is around Rs: 100.

Small passenger service boats ply frequently between Mumbai and Mandwa or Rewas. They are cheap but take more than 90 min

Launch Time Table

Actually timing depends upon high-tide, low-tide

Place

Timing

Mumbai / Bombay – Baucha Dhakka to Revas

6:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 13:00, 14:00, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30

Revas to Mumbai / Bombay – Baucha Dhakka

7:45, 8:15, 8:45, 10:15, 11:15, 12:15,13:15, 14:45, 15:15, 16:15, 17:15, 18:15, 19:15

 

Maaldar Catamaran Service

Phone : (02141) 24316

Bus – (Alibaug to Mandwa)

Catamaran from Mandwa

Catamaran from Mumbai (Gate Way of India)

8:00

8:45

7:45

11:15

12:30

11:30

14:45

15:30

14:30

17:45

18:30

17:30

 Suman Inter-Harbour Catamaran Service

Phone : (02141) 25404 / 25403

* means Monday to Friday

Bus – (Alibaug to Mandwa)

Catamaran from Mandwa

Catamaran from Mumbai (Gate Way of India)

6:30

7:10

8:10

8:10

9:00

10:10

10:10

11:00

12:10 *

12:10

13:00 *

14:10 *

14:10

15:00 *

16:10

16:10

17:00

18:10

18:10

19:00

20:10

Ajantha Launch Service

Phone : (02141) 24437

Bus – (Alibaug to Mandwa)

Catamaran from Mandwa

Catamaran from Mumbai (Gate Way of India)

7:05

7:45

6:30

8:00

8:45

7:30

9:30

10:15

9:00

11:10

12:00 *

11:00 *

15:10

16:00

15:00

By Road

There are a number of buses plying round the clock from Mumbai, Parel, Dadar, Boriwali and Thane. Alibag is on the Mumbai-Goa route (not exactly – from Vadkhal – there is a diversion) and is also accessible by Konkan Railway. Get down at Panvel and you can catch a bus.

Alibag S. T. Buses Timetable

Place

Timing

Mumbai (Bombay)

1.00, 5.00, 6.00(D), 6.30, 7.00(*), 7.05, 7.15, 8.00 (D), 10.00, 11.00, 13.00, 13.30 (D), 14.00, 14.30, 15.00, 15.30, 16.30 (*), 17.00, 17.30, 18.05, 19.00, 19.30, 20.15, 21.30

Thane

6.00(*), 7.00(*), 7.45, 8.15, 10.30, 11.00 (*), 12.15, 14.30 (*), 15.30, 16.30, 17.45 (*), 18.00, 18.30

Kalyan

6.30,10:30, 13:00, 15:00, 17.15, 19.00

Borivali

8.05, 9:30, 15:00, 16:00, 16:30

Pune

10:30, 12:15, 13:30 (*), 14:30

Nashik (Nasik)

14:00

Kolhapur

6.30,19.00(*)

Solapur

7:30

Miraj

8:30

Aurangabaad

9:30

Palghar

8:00, 13:30

Uran

7:00, 11:45, 18:00

Ratnagiri

7:45

Poladpur

17:45

Shreevardhan

18:00

Diveaagar

15:00

Nagothane

10:30

Pali

7:30, 13:00, 18:30

Narayanpur

5:00 (Every Thursday)

Shirdi

7:30

Murud

1:15, 4:45, 6:00, 6:30, 7:30, 8:00, 8:30, 9:00, 10:30, 11:30, 12:15, 13:30, 14:00, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30, 18:00, 19:00, 20:15

Roha

5:00, 6:00, 6:30, 7:30, 7:45, 9:00, 9:45, 10:30, 11:30, 13:00, 13:30, 13:45, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30, 17:45, 18:00, 18:30, 19:30

Rewas (Revas)

6:00, 6:30, 7.15, 7:30, 8:00, 8:30, 9:00, 9:30, 10:15, 10:20, 10:45, 11:00, 11:15, 11:45, 12:00, 12:30, 13:00, 13:30, 14:00, 14:30, 15:00, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:30, 18:00, 18:30, 19:30, 20:20, 21:30

Solapur

7:30

*(Nim-Aaram)

D – Delux

By Rail

Only two options – Get down at Panvel (65 Km) or Pen (Only Konkan Railway – Get down at Ramawadi Station – 23 Km). You can catch a bus. S option least recommended.

Recommended Pit stop for break – There are many foodmalls on the e-way and dhaba on old NH4.

  • Vitthal Kamath‘s Restaurant on Mumbai-Goa highway after Panvel. Chain of highway restaurant / snacks parlor belongs to Vitthal Kamath who also owns Orchid Hotel (5 star) and is owner of book “Idli Orchid & Me”. Good South Indian snacks and clean rest rooms. There are such restaurant after every 100 KMs on Goa Highway.
  • Dutt Snacks near Khalapur Toll Plaza, Khopoli – Famous for maharashtrian cuisine like Vadapav, Misal, Kothimbir vadi, poha, Sabudana Khichadi and Sabudana Vada.
  • D. Samson Soda Factory @ Pali Village – This place was started by forefathers of D. Samson from Benne Israeli Jewish community which settled down in the belt of Chaul-Revdanda-alibaug 100s years ago after their ship broke while sailing on the high seas. This Soda factory was started in 1938 and is famous in the region for the flavoured Soda like icecream Soda, masala Soda, ginger lemon soda etc. While the soda is available for just Rs. 10 per glass, you can also buy pet bottles at Rs. 29 for home. This place is 2 KM from Poynad village and can’t miss especially in summer due to cars parked outside this small house on the main road itself. D. Samson died 2 years ago and this outlet is now managed by his family / siblings. This place is often referred as ‘haunted Ice-Cream Factory’ by the naughty regular-visiting kids.

Thanking all the people who helped me gather/borrow this information.

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2 thoughts on “Alibaug – People, Places and You

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