Vasai creek forms the border of Palghar and Thane districts of Maharashtra. We had come up to the Fort of Vasai in the last post. Now if you want to cross the creek and go southwards, you need to board a train. Cars are not allowed on board. You please go back to the mainland eastwards and drive south. How does the train do it? Of course on a bridge. Not one, two bridges. How? There is an island in-between. It is called Panju island. This island is accessible only by rail and not by road. The island is inhabited. It even has farmland. If you stand at the fishermen’s jetty at the end of Vasai fort you can see not only the island but also the trains rushing across towards the north. Photography, regrettably, is prohibited from this jetty.
The coastal places north of Mumbai city in the districts of Palghar and Thane are divided neatly into three packets separated by creeks.
The first one is between Vaitarna river and the Vasai Creek, the second one is between Vasai Creek and Manori Creek and the third one is from Manori Creek to Malad creek.
Except for the bridge on the upper reaches of Vaitarana river, there is no bridge connecting these ‘packets’. This appears to be a conspiracy – not allowing the Mumbai Metropolitan region to spread northwards.
We have already gone through the first one in the last post. Let us have a look at the second packet.
This consist of Dongri, Uttan, Gorai and Manori, north to south just across the Vasai Creek.
Dongri is a fishing village snuggled into the hillocks close to the sea. To-day is the day of feast. Feast of Our Lady Fatima. The celebrations are more on the boats than on the land. The boats are all decorated for the occasion.
Check the atrwork on the hull.
The feast is being celebrated at Dongri as well nearby Uttan but later on in the evening. We need to move.
You must have heard of Dharavi, the place is Mumbai which is billed or at any rate was billed as the world’s largest slum. It is named after Goddess Dharavi who hails from here.
There is a small wetland between Dongri and Uttan which afforded us a minor birding opportunity. The Asian open-billed stork is finding his food here.
The dominant faith in the area is Christianity. One can find crosses at every corner, in different shapes and sizes and colours.
Marigold flowers embellish most of the crosses. The same flowers are also used by Hindus as offering to their Gods and Goddesses except that the Hindu garlands have mango leaves interspersed in the flowers. The Christians do not seem to be using them.
In case you don’t find the flowers, it is alright to use some plastic.
The shrine of Our Lady of Vailankini dominates the landscape at Bhate Bandar of Uttan.
The Church, the Holy Cross and Rosary on the hill nearby and the depiction in stone of biblical incidences.
Here is the story of Samaria woman.
The shoes are designer. Louis Vuitton.
There is a lovely flag post in the compound of this church.
The flag-post has a lot of images of fish. I am not sure if this has biblical connotations or is related to the profession of the people around.
The major occupations appear to be growing rice, fishing and seafaring, the last one perhaps is the legacy of the Portuguese. It still continues so much so there are specialist consultants in that field advertising their services.
Dongri, Uttan and Gorai are hilly. The hills run parallel to the sea. Most beaches are rocky with a few small stretches of sandy stretches. The lack of sandy beaches is made good by beautiful views from the hillsides.
Uttan has a Lighthouse, overlooking the sea and a couple of islands with structures on them. One of them appears to be an old Lighthouse not in use, another one with two large crosses signifying Christian faith of the people.
Manori beach is rocky but very pleasant and natural.
There is a Dargah on the seaside behind which we stayed and were probably blessed by the Saint overnight.
The local legislator has provided cement chairs around the Dargah advertising himself nobody appears to be using them.
The Gorai is the place made famous by the Esselworld amusement park and the Pagoda.
The end of the coastal road takes you Manori Koliwada which is the ferry crossing which would take you to Marve Beach and to the third ‘packet’- MARVE-HAMLA-AKSA-MADH.