Today we are going from one fort to another. Vijaydurg to Devgad. Next it would be Achara via Kanakeshar, not a fort.
The aficionados of the art of eating Alfonso mangoes will always argue on which is the best variety of that fruit, the Ratnagiri Hapus , Goa Mankurad or the Devgad Hapus. Devgad lends its name to the last one and in turn has been named after the eponymous fort. Mangoes are not in season and therefore no pictures here.
Here is the picture of the jetty at Devgad, very close to the fort. Here the passenger boats docked for carrying the locals to Bombay. No, I dont intend to travel that way, I am just standing there as I liked the breeze.
The cotton textile industry which flourished in Bombay from 1854 onwards was very labour intensive and drew workers from all over the Konkan region. Deogad port was one of the gateways for the people to make their way to the great city of Bombay. A large number of today’s Mumbai inhabitants of Marathi origins had their forefathers coming to Mumbai from here, not only to work in the textile mills but also to engage in various other activities including government jobs. Right now there are no such passages. Even if people want to travel they have the frequent buses and the Konkan Railway at their disposal.
The creek waters near the jetty are unbelievably clear. It is about 10 am and I could take this pictures of the fish, eel and the Squids in the water from the shore without any special equipment with an ordinary DSLR camera.
The Fort, said to be put together by Kanhoji Angre in 1705 starts right at the creek where you can see its ruined walls.
One can drive up in the fort, although the road is quite narrow. You come to a stone arch near the corner where the Lighthouse is located and has to stop. Difficult to pass through and moreover it is prohibited.
The Lighthouse at the Devgad fort is amazingly friendly. At other places that we have been to so far they behaved as if they were custodians of the nuclear bombs. Here they behaved as if they were in-charge of a Lighthouse.
The Devgad creek is a place of scenic beauty that requires a better photographer to capture. I could not capture half of what I could see.
Deogad has a nice little beach which can be seen best as you are descending the fort. Seen beyond is the Windfarm.
The Deogad creek is a scenic beauty and can be observed from the Lighthouse in the fort. The fishing harbour is better seen from the shore, nestled in a cove with the background of a hill on two sides.
It is time to leave Devgad. We have forgotten that tomorrow is the Diwali or Dipawali, the festival of lights.
This festival is related to post summer harvest in northern India when food is in abundance. Sikhs and some Buddhists also join in the festivities for different reasons. In the Konkan region including Goa (and some parts of Tamilnadu, I am told) this festival has a very different meaning.
The story goes back to the Puranas. There is a demon by the name Narakasur who is harassing the people big time. It befalls on Lord Krishna, as usual, to kill the demon. This guy takes the prize for killing all bad people.
Anyway. In Konkan, we make an effigy of the demon Narakasura, dance around the villages with him and a finely decorated Lord Krishna who is usually an young active boy from the village. Very early in the morning ( as the Lord Krishna kills the demon), the Dipawali starts. The lamps are lit, crackers are burst and people take bath( even those who dont normally like to do that) wear new clothes etc.
This Narakasura is seen today as we drive in every village. There was one where I did not see it. I stopped and made enquiries and was told that they are working on it and it will be in place well in time.
Satisfied with the clarification, we proceed. I cant stop explaining about this Diwali of ours.Give me a moment. These days we see the Diwali lamps, celebrations, gifts and everything else well before the Big day. 50 years back and I can remember it well in Goa, the lamps were not lit until the early morning and until then it was all darkness because of the havoc caused by Narakasura. Narakasur is burnt in the early morning.
The logic behind this festival makes sense to me against the background explained above. I am not happy with what they are doing these days in the cities where the celebrations start during the lifetime of Narakasura. I am happy with the fact that the tradition is alive here.
Life goes on. We move to a place called Kanakeshar. This is one more seaside temple. All these seaside temples will one day be overshadowed by seaside resorts. I strongly believe that once the temples were the centres of economic and social activity. This role is now being taken over by resorts. I dont want to make any comment on the propriety of it.
We drive on and reach the beach at Achara expecting to find accommodatin there. There is none. We find some signboards on the beach. We call up on the phone number on the board and are directed to a small island less than a kilometer away-Jamdul.
Jamdul is a small island in the creek owned privately by a few families. The resort is owned by a Konkani-speaking Christain family. It is a nicely done friendly place with a restaurant called ‘Begina Ye’, meaning Come Soon.
It is low tide and one activitiy associated with this time is collection of stones on which a variety of shellfish grows.
Locally called ‘Kalve’, it is a delicious variety of shellfish. It cannot exist independently as it grows attached to stones which are exposed at low tide and allows the people to collect them. When they come to market for sale, they are pried open and taken off the stones.
At the creek surrounding the resort you can indulge in other activities like watching the birds or these Fiddler Crabs.
Crabs have ten legs. Eight are used for locomotion and two for hunting. Not the Fiddlers. The big one you see is used only for display, for attracting females. It is a pleasure to watch them go about displaying the brightly coloured claw. They dont use it for any other purpose.
The island and the creek is surrounded by mangroves which support all this variety of life. I could see some Otters early next morning. The mangroves look beautiful in the morning sun.
Achara has a nice beach with the inlet for the water entering the creek making ut picturesque.
The lighthouse on the opposite hill makes it look idyllic.
Unfortunately we found a number of dead fish and squid on the beach. I am not sure if this is due to some sort of pollution-related phenomena. There are no industries on the coast nearby.
Beach cricket is catching up. Will this be a new sport?
The sunset at Achara beach was glorious as the clouds on the horizon were not many.
This post is becoming too long and I am yet to comment on the birding at Achara. I will stop here and combine that with the next post.
Thanks for reading.
Text by Suryakiran Naik
Pictures by Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik