In the last post we travelled up to Sasawane on the Alibaug coast. There are a couple of interesting seaside places before we reach the Alibaug town. The first one is the Kihim beach. This spot is very popular with the week-end crowd revelling. The next is Thal. Generally known for its fertilizer plant which used to be called Thal-Vaishet project. Of late, Vaishet has been dropped. So be it.
We go to Thal looking for a boat to visit the twin islands offshore called Khanderi (also called Kanhoji Angre island and currently under the jurisdiction of Indian Navy) and Underi ( also called Jaidurg) Out of the two Underi is very close but is inconsequential, abandoned and un-inhabitated. Khanderi is partly fortified and has a lighthouse. and some naval presence. It has a small resident population as well to attend to the temple of Sri Betal.
There are no specialized boats available to visit the islands. The fishermen spare their boats and the personnel as and when they are free or when they are engaged well in advance mostly on Sundays. The day we visit the fish catch is extremely good and everyone is busy. ‘Come on Sunday’, They don’t have time now.
We walk towards the islands with a view to catch a closer glimpse. There is a long, concrete slipway for the fishing boats to dock. From the end of this slipway Underi is hardly 100 meters. The area around the slipway has a good amount of Mangroves and we see this phenomenon here.
These are the plastic and cloth shreds of evey shape , size and colour rejected by the ocean and brought ashore by the waters of high tide. Here they get entangled in the mangroves and make them look bizzare.
You can see a number of crabs and a few wading birds here at low tide. The crabs in the picture are not an edible species.
Here is a fisherwoman drying Ribbonfish and in the background is the Thal-Vaishet RCF fertlizer plant.
The next place to the south is Varsoli. This is a beach, a fishing harbour and has this bridge to nowhere. It is not new and it is not connected on either side.
This golden fishis caled Mandeli.
This very small watery low-value shrimp is found in large quantities in some parts of the ocean. Very rarely sold fresh, most of the catch is dried and sold, localled called ‘jawala’.
It is time to move on to Alibaug proper.
Alibaug was founded in the 17th Century and is named after one Mr.Ali who was not a muslim but a Bene Israeli and a rich man owning large tracts of orchards. Kanhoji Angre, Shivaji’s admiral is credited with the founing of the town or in any case bringing it importance and fame. He has his memorial in the centre of the town.
In the background is a statue of King Shivaji.
Another monument in the town is a sculpture of a fisherwoman, very appropriate given the importance of fisheries to this district.
The city had a sizable population of Bene Israeli jews in the past. They occupied parts of Alibaug and a vilage caled Nagaon across a small creek to the south. A street in the town is still known as Israeli Lane and has a Synagogue maingtained in good condition.
The main draw at least for the tourists is the Kolaba fort. It is a costal fort meaning it is not a sea fort or a fort on an island. However at high tide it is a sea fort. At low tide one can walk to it, making it a coastal fort.
Nobody seems to know much about the origins of the fort and who constructed it. The information provided by the ASI is from the time of its occupation y Shivaji or on behalf of him.
The fort could hold 1000 foot and 700 Horse of the Maratha army. This will give us some idea of its size.
Some parts of the fort particularly the two temples are in good shape to-day largely due to they being is use. The water in the tank is not in use and hence is in bad shape.
A portion of the fort is disjointed with a gap from the main fort.
The approach to the fort and walking around is a simple matter not requiring an exertion.
An image of Ganapati in the front seem to have remained intact during the British regime.
The view of the town from the fort is beautiful with the foothills of the Sahyadris in the background.
We have found accommodation at a place called Nagaon which is about 6 kms from Alibaug. Nagaon has a beach but not a great one but between Alibaug and Nagaon is the Aksa beach which is quite good.
One can see new mangrove plants taking roots on the beach which is enviornmentally a good sign but may suggest a doom to the beach.
Delayed by 8 days.