When you leave Alibaug and Nagaon you don’t really leave them. There are two things that will follow you from here for quite a distance. One is history and the other one is bad roads. On history there is a lot of confusion about the times and names etc. About the roads there is no confusion. They are bad, very bad. Having travelled from Gujarat coast very recently we can vouch for the fact that Maharashtra is lagging behind in Roads and electrical supply by about a couple of decades. It would perhaps score better than Gujarat on the cleanliness front.
Chaul, Revdanda and Korlai should perhaps be seen as one complex because of its past although they are separated by a distance and a creek. Chaul almost does not exist. On the map it is seen as a bit away from the sea although it is supposed to be a seaside Portuguese settlement at least as important as Goa in the 17th century. The history of these places is complex and important – as important as that of Bombay. My lament is that we do not preserve our past and consequently do not remember it. George Santayana said ‘Those who don’t remember their past are condemned to repeat it’.
Most of the Forts in Maharashtra are now occupied and shared by the locals as private properties. One man has the audacity to put up a board at the entrance of a fort claiming that it is ‘private property’. We will come across him one or two posts later.
Revdanda and its fort have a physical presence. This fort must have been a large settlement as even to-day it has a large area and population.
The road down south goes through the Fort.
Many of these forts have Canons strewn around. They are present almost in every fort waiting for some enterprising thieves to carry them away.
The sea-facing side of the Fort has a crumbled entrance. The Portuguese and their successors on the sea route must have been using this as the entry point.
Across the creek one can see the Korlai fort which we will visit presently.
The region is reported to be having a population speaking a Portuguese creole with a lot of Marathi words. I guess this phenomenon is found in Korlai as we found the Revdanda population mostly local Marathi-speaking Hindu although this cute little Church outside the Revdanda fort appears to be in use.
The Marathi signage reads ‘ Mai de Deus’, mother of God. ‘Mai’ for mother is used in Marathi as well as Konkani.
Irrespective of the history and the religious affiliations, these seaside places are very peaceful charming and beautiful. People are friendly and helpful.
One can see everywhere the Coconut and Betelnut or Arecanut (supari) palms. These are the cash crops. For sustenance, it is Rice and Fish.
Korlai is a historical place. Its geography seems to have made its history. The creek is long and protected from the vagaries of the seas. No wonder the Portuguese, the master mariners, chose it as one of the places for their landings, the others being Goa, Daman, Diu, Cochin & Vasai.
To be very frank we are not aware of the existence of the historical Korlai fort ourselves. We are aware of the Korlai Lighthouse. We look for it, get directions, lose the way twice and ultimately are on the way – a treacherous, narrow road, if you can call it a road. On your right is the hill and to your left is the creek. You don’t have a choice- either way, bad driving will land you in water.
At the end of the road we enquired as to what happens if another vehicle appears on the opposite side.
‘Not many vehicles come here’
‘when they come , it is a Sunday. We engage a person on the other side who communicates on mobile phone and manages the traffic one way.’ He charges Rs. 50/-. Worth it.
Thats from the person at the Lighthouse. It is scary but beautiful.
It is nearing noon and it is hot. The fort up there is enticing. We decide not to climb. We thought we could get some good pictures from the lighthouse area. because of the intense light and the heat. Even that was not to be. Here are some pictures, not very good.
We drive back to Korlai village and its market and forget completely to take pictures of them. Our minds were still on the scary ride up the hill and the narrow lanes through the village.
From Alibaug we have not covered not much of a distance but still feel tired and want to have lunch and rest for a while. The most convenient place for the same is Kashid.
This must be one of the most vivited beaches in Raigad district. One can make out from the number of lodges around and the watersports facilities available.
We take a walk around the beach in the evening. It is beautiful beach with white sand and ample space from the shore to the waterline.
Another beach, another village starts from beyond the rocks
On the beach we find three boys harvesting large edible clams.
You just pick them up from the wet sand. The stick has no function here. It is for style. How does noe know where the clams are? there is a technique involved here.
Wherever the shell is the colour on the surface changes to a light green.
You just insert a finger or two and pull out the delicious clam, wash it and carry it home. I envy the boys.
On our way back we find this little boy playing with the ghost crabs. Most children are frightened by these creatures but not this one. He finds them, collects them, stores them in holes in the sand plays with them at his sweet will. Very shy boy, we could not make him talk more about his hobby or what one might like to call a sport.