We had visited this famous beach almost 16 years ago and stayed on the beach front hotel Sea View. Unfortunately due to high tide we could not visit the famous Kulaba fort which we had to give up visiting despite staying overnight due to timings of low tide matching. Once again when we planned the trip to coincide with a holiday and the tide chart displayed was low tide but what is the duration was the question. It is was hoping against hope that we don t miss the bus once again.
After reaching Alibaug we went to beach front and saw it was full of water. But to our relief we found that speed boats with capacity of 8 to 10 pax which is strictly followed for safety purpose, was deloyed by local tourist union. This was really a saving grace as it were. The union charges Rs 110 for a return trip which we bargained for 100 due to group size of 15 pax, small children are allowed free.
Normally such destinations are crowded during weekends due to its close proximity to Mumbai Metro. We were relieved to find it was totally without much crowd and we were able to click snaps without too much crowd around and did thoroughly enjoy the circuitious visit around the fort. Even though the fortress is in ruins it is well maintained by the ASI which charges Rs 15 as entry fee per pax for tourist. Childrens are exempt.
Alibaug is well developed since the rich and famous personalities of Mumbai have their holiday home or farm houses. Film star Salman Khan invariably spends his birthday at his farmhouse located at Alibaug. Other famous personalities like Sunil Gavaskar, SRK, Sachin, Ravi Shastri, Shobha De, Ratan Tata, Adi Godrej and Singhania’s too have their farmhouse in the area.
All the tourist facility like washrooms, locker rooms and bathing rooms are available for a fee. There one or two tented food canteens located just opposite the beach which serve fish thali for sea food lovers for a reasonable price. One has to just say which fish they like like Surmai, Pamplet or Ravas, and just for wait it to be fried and served hot. Even vegetarians can enjoy a decent food with two vegetables, rice bakri and dhal.
There are other facilities such as three and four wheeled scooter drive , camel rides, horse carriages, jet skis etc. There are number of full fledged restaurants located in around the beach. Ramakant is famous for its Vegetarian food. For those who want to enjoy their overnight stay there are plenty of options according to their budget and probably bargaining power too. Alibaug is ideal for one day trip and return to Mumbai for elders and small children.
Historical Background :
The name Alicha Baugh, which means farmhouse of Ali got shortened as Alibaug. The town became famous for its Kulaba fort which was re-built by marathas naval commander Kanhoji Angre. The expansion of this elegant fortress was begun on 19th March 1662 and it was further expanded in 1682 to encompass the naval defence against the invaders particularly the british. In 1690 Kanhoji Angre was appointed second in command for the naval fleet and he took full command after the death of Sidoji Gujar.
Portuguese were constantly being harassed by marathas and their merchandise were looted from the ships. The governor sent a messenger to Shivaji to buy peace from piracy. In turn the Portuguese agreed to supply the marathas cannons, gun powder and guns to strengthen their naval base at Alibaug.
After the death of Shivaji in 1680 the fort has witnessed constant warfare with Portuguese, British and Siddhis. In 1721 English and Portuguese jointly attacked Kulaba fort but failed to capture it. Kanhoji Angre seems to have deployed pirate cum diplomacy in defeating his enemies. He extracted huge ransom from the owners of abducted ships and conquered naval forts. The secret of Kanhoji Angre’s success was primarily because he employed Dutchmen to command his naval fleet, he also employed Jamician Pirate James Plantain who specialised in maintainence and firing of cannons. He sourced enemies of the British to man key portfolios in his navy, one such was Manuel De Castro, who betrayed the British.
Kanhoji Angre even issued his own currency in the form of silver coins which was known as Alibagi Rupaiya. His legacy is honoured even by the Indian Navy in the form of statue in the naval dockyard at Mumbai. The boundary walls of the Western Naval command is the last remains of the fortress built by Angre. A samadhi in honour of Kanhoji Angre exists in Alibaug town.
Kulaba fortress : This fortress seems to have been built on an island naturally embedded with rocks. There are around 12 bastions and watch towers giving a 360 degree defensive and strategic deployment of Cannons. A decoy of the main fortress seems to have built to surprise the enemy ships with a mini fortress for which one does not access with a direct passage or walkaway which seems to have been breached by erosion of the sea. Maybe this fortress can be accessed when low tide sets in.
There are many temples inside the fortress starting with Hanuman temple, Ganesh and Shiva temple. Apart from bigger temples there are numerous mini place of worship dedicated to various dieties of the residing community.
One can witness two huge cannons deployed at the enterance fortress wall, which can be accessed from the hanuman mandir steps. The best photographic spot seems to the fortress walls and western exit to the sea wherein one more Hanuman temple is situated.
Kanhoji Samadhi : A simple but prominent graveyard is built as tribute to the great naval commander. A beautiful landscaped garden is maintained by the local authorities. A number of other smaller graveyards too are present in this complex. This is located adjescent to the beach, and which can be covered before one ventures to the beach because of one way traffic regulations.
Vinayak Pandurang Karmarkar Museum : A full fledged museum of various statues etched by Karmarkar is displayed at the museum. V P Karmarkar ( 1891 – 1966 ) was trained by his father who used to make Ganesh idol. He studied at J J School of Arts and later trained at Kolkatta school. His works include sculptures of Gopalkrishna Gokhale, Gandhiji, and many other famous political personalities, prominent bust of Chatrapathi Shivaji. This museum is located around 18 kms away from Alibaug with a deviation from the road leading to Mandwa beach or Revas Jetty. One need to watch out for deviation to Sasvan beach. This museum is ticketed Rs 10 per pax.
Birla Temple :
Khim, Sasvan & Mandwa Beaches :
One can visit other places in and around Alibaug upto Murud Janjira fort. The links for visit around Alibaug is provided here.. Around Alibaug