November 10, 2017

Forts, Beaches and Alibaug in the Incredible Western Ghats

Older than the Himalaya mountains, is the Western Ghats ranges that runs parallel to the western coast of the India through the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. A drivable road from inside the lush green forests and alongside the coastline will take you on journey to a different world.

What is Western Ghats? A world set aside in the serenity of the green mountains, where music of chirping birds and where streams of flowing water play a perfect symphony to the tired souls. Well known for their rich and unique flora and fauna, Western Ghats is one of the eight "hottest hot-spots" of biological diversity in the world and UNESCO has declared Western Ghats, a world heritage site.

As per the studies, Western Ghats are sustaining around 7402 species of flowering plants, 1814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammals' species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6000 insect species and 290 freshwater fish species. This is not all, many may get discovered tomorrow. Over and above these, Western Ghats provides shelter to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.

A small welcome break from the business schedule opened a window to explore the incredible Land of Western Ghats' biodiversity, nearby a small coastal town of Alibaug. Alibaug is much popular for its neat and clean beaches. It was the time to enjoy attractions near Alibaug.
We started early morning for our first destination, Korlai Fort which is approx. 25 Km. (75 minutes) from Alibaug. Though now in ruins, Korlai Fort is an old Portuguese structure situated on a hill top. Built in the year 1521, Korlai Fort originally meant as a watch point for the invaders and was used to be a house of 7,000 people including horses and Portugese army men. The Korlai Fort is surrounded by Arabian Sea on three sides and has a beautiful lighthouse as major attraction.

Thrilling Korlai Fort trek goes via very narrow stairs which one has to ascend with skill and excitement in order to reach the Fort.

The mighty walls and the structure of the Fort is now totally covered with almost waist high grasses. 

From the top find a suitable spot, relax and cherish the beautiful views of Korlai fort lighthouse, beach and surrounding landscapes from the top.


Settlement around the Korlai fort is all fishermen colonies. 
After enjoying for around 30-minutes at Korlai Fort, we started for Murud Janjira Fort which was approx. 42 km. (90 minutes) from Korlai Fort.
In the way, 12 km. from Korlai Fort on the way to Murud Janjira Fort is the Kashid beach. Situated on the Arabian Sea coast, Kashid Beach attracts people for its beautiful clear blue water and plenty of water sports options.

Kiss of the sunlight turns white clean sandy beach and its crystalline water into a wonder of natural beauty that makes this beach a sought out destination for tourists as well as water enthusiasts.
There are food stalls which serves freshly prepared delicious omelettes and local savouries like misal pav, vada pav, dabeli, sea food dishes. Hungry stomach will be extremely thankful. Or you can just CHILLAX in the leisure time.

Approx. 21 km from Kashid Beach, is the Murud Janjira Fort. Surrounded by the turquoise colored waters of the Arabian Sea, tourists can enjoy a boat ride to the Janjira Fort by availing row boat service. This is how Murud Fort looks from the shore:

The entrance to the fort is as majestic in line with the traditions of India. The fort is keeping alive the memoirs of the numerous battles waged in order to protect the motherland from the invaders. The structure may look weary, however the pride and esteem is still held high.

Eye catching is one carving at the entrance which is depicting one tiger trapped by six elephants, probably the soul behind the construction of this Fort.

It was constructed in 15th century AD by ruler of Ahmednagar, Malik Amber to protect his kingdom from the pirates of the seas. No doubt the fort supports a large number of canons.

Though a pale shadow of its glorious past, the fort is still a majestic structure speaking volumes of engineering expertise available in India in earlier times. Check the top view of the Murud Janjira (Picture taken from one of the promotional bill boards nearby).

India has mastered the art of constructing Forts/ Palaces in water. There are other noteworthy water palaces in Udaipur, Deeg and Jaipur.
The last spot in our itinerary was the Kankeshwar temple, 13 Km. from Alibaug on the other side of Murud Janjira Fort. While asking for the directions from the locales and passers-by, we realised that they were also as unaware about this place. Only when we reached close to the temple, we got to know that the temple is situated at a hill top, approx. 1200 ft. height and we have to climb approx. 650 stairs in order to reach the pious temple. 
650 stairs sounded OK to us and we happily started the climb. Soon we came to know that the size on single stair is equivalent to 5-6 steps. High in spirits and excitement we assumed that very soon the size of stairs will turn to normal stairs, like stairs we have in our houses. However it was not so! 

The walk till the temple is covered with trees on both sides. Even if it rains heavily, the trees provide a beautiful cover to the visitors/ pilgrims. You might get fully exhausted during the climb, as size of steps and inclination is pretty demanding. However, all the tiredness and fatigue will evaporate, the moment you will enter the sacred temple premises and look around the scenic beauty of this place.

The main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, there are 2 lions guarding the entrance along with traditional lamp pillar which is illuminated at festive occasions. It comprises various small temples of Sri Kundeshwar, Lord Vishnu, Sri Balram Krishna and Lord Shiv. Every year on the occasion of Kartik Poornima, a grand fair/ festival is held. Devotees arrive here from very far off places.

This beautiful temple is an example of Hoysala style structure and was built in 1764. Other than the temple the prominent attraction is the step well water tank, also called a "Pushkarni". This step well has water throughout the year (circular step well visible adjacent to temple).
Some distance before the temple is another water reservoir, known as “Brahma Kund”. It is a rectangular tank, surrounded by steps on all four sides.
Such type of step wells have been extensively constructed in India, which not only preserves precious water but also provides solace from scorching sunlight during summers. Huge step wells are situated in the state of Rajasthan, like wise Chand Bawdi near Jaipur.

The hill on which Kankeshwar temple is situated is known as Kankeshwar hill and it supports a variety of flora and fauna. While climbing up you will find a lot of crabs in the way to welcome you on the Kankeshwar temple steps. If you are around this place, a visit to Kankeshwar temple shall be a must for all offbeat explorers.
Forget to mention that Alibaug also has a beautiful and colourful beach, Alibaug Beach. Beach is a popular spot and one can enjoy horse rides and riding in horse pulled carriages, locally known as “Tonga”. If you arrive here around 4:30 PM, you can take a walk to the Kolaba Fort situated inside the Arabian Sea, hardly 100 m. from the beach shore.

You can also see kids enjoying football/ cricket on the beach side. 

Once you are in Mumbai and thinking about things to do near Mumbai, do consider these Alibaug attractions as an offbeat getaway.

What a day it was. Simply fabulous! Keep travelling Guys.
Hard facts about Western Ghats:
Very few people know that the mighty Western Ghats is now only 10% remains of the dense forests which once decorated this area. The Western Ghats weather is perfect for growing tea/ coffee and teak plantations. So the forests are getting cleared up for agricultural activities and settlement of humans. Also the forests are getting fragmented due to increased human activities. Native tribal people, rare fauna species are the ones which are affected the most by this definition of “Development”.

We owe this Earth to our future generations, time to rethink else Human race will find itself helpless against fury of nature, someday. 

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2 comments:

  1. मुरुड जाने की अपनी भी इच्छा है।

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was looking for this post as I have a plan to visit Murud as earlier as possible . Thank you for sharing

    ReplyDelete

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