Sunday, March 14, 2010

Travelogue: Alibag

Alibag is a great weekend destination for people looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai. Located just about 100 km away, it offers a quiet, scenic getaway from the urban jungle that is mad Mumbai. Beaches and forts are the USP of this place, with five beaches located in the vicinity, Akshi, Kashid, Alibag, Nagaon and Murud, and two historical forts, Kolaba and Janjeri fort.
Coming to our trip, we started at 6 a.m. from Mumbai, looking to make it to Alibag before the heat set in. Looking at this in hindsight, it was one of the best decisions that we made, since we could really maximize our stay in Alibag, it being a day trip.

On the road

Thus, savouring the cool morning air and taking in the sights from the scenic Mumbai- Goa highway, we reached Alibag by 8 a.m. and headed straight to Nagaon beach, located some 15 km off Alibag. Being less known, this beach is less crowded and thus cleaner than the more popular Alibag beach and what’s more, it offers the opportunity for water sports as well.

Nagaon beach

The Sura trees surrounding the beach the beach give it an exotic, tropical look, something which you can associate with the beaches of Maldives and Hawaii.
Sports gear like Footballs and Volleyballs are conveniently available on hire, so you can have a great time if you are in a group. If you are an adventure freak like me, this is just the place for you, with parasailing, speedboats and a banana boat ride (more on that later) on offer.

The speedboat ride is great fun, with a speedboat with a maniacal driver (Ours was a complete speed freak, gunning the throttle harder when the waves came at him), taking you 2 km into the sea and back. For a first timer, it can be a bit unnerving, with the speed and the rough waves providing a double thrill. It is most enjoyable while going against the tide, with the boat cutting through the trough of the wave, then flying into the air as the wave hits it and landing hard as the wave passes. The way back is comparatively smoother, with the boat riding the crests of the waves to get back in double quick time.

Parasailing is also a great experience, with an awesome view compensating for the short duration and the low height. The view from the top is truly breathtaking, an endless expanse of sand ahead and behind you, the sea on your left and coconut trees to your right!! Sheer Bliss!!

View from the top

The banana boat ride is the most hair-raising among all these rides, where a speedboat tows an inflatable boat into the sea, and then the boat is overturned in deep sea, leaving you to fend for yourself (you have the life jackets of course) and then you get back into the boat and to the safety of the shore. For people who don’t know how to swim, it is the closest you can get to drowning and surviving to tell the tale.

It is best to finish all these activities before lunch, so that you can change and have a wholesome lunch ( Yes, all this time in the water makes you ravenous) . Do make it a point to have lunch by 3 since all the restaurants in this apparently TOURIST city close at 4, something we learnt the hard way!!
Our last stop was the Kolaba fort, which is situated in the sea and can be reached by boat. This was the surprise package of the trip, the fort truly turned out to be a hidden gem. Located just 2 kms off the coast ( you can even walk it up during low tide), the fort is a veritable fortress and must have been impregnable during its heyday in the 1700’s. This was one of the sea forts constructed by Shivaji to keep an eye on the naval power of the Portuguese and the English, the other being the mighty Sindhudurg.

Kolaba Fort

Surrounded by the sea on all sides, the fort presents wonderful photographic opportunities and we all went mad as soon as we got there, scouring new places to take photographs.
It also has a quaint little temple inside which provides a nice, quiet place for introspection. The fort is too huge to be explored in an hour and you must have at least 2-3 hours to fully explore it, something we learnt to our peril since we had to leave at 6, since the high tide had come up. Finally, we had to grudgingly leave the fort, promising to come back again sometime.

Sunset at Alibag Beach

We ended our trip by watching the beautiful sunset at Alibag beach, a perfect closure to a fairytale trip…

Monday, March 1, 2010

some more pics..

Ok, its almost been a 6 month hiatus for me..but what a better time to revive my blog than its 1st this time i leave you with some more pics of mumbai..will be coming up with a post soon..

This one's from Navy nagar, across the sea from marine drive..

Haji Ali seaface on a calm monsoon evening

Nehru Science Centre

Juhu beach

University clock tower near Flora Fountain