|Beautiful view of the fort from Alibaug Beach|
Alibaug (Alibag) is a famous beach destination in close proximity to Mumbai and Pune. It is merely 145 kms. from Pune and 30 kms. from South Mumbai via. Sea route and 114 kms. by road. There are several beaches in and around Alibaug; Alibaug beach, Thal Beach, Varsoli Beach, Akshi Beach, Nagaon Beach, Kashid Beach, Korlai Beach to name a few. Beautiful Sea, a Fort that gets surrounded by sea water, a few temples and a lot of fun. Alibaug is the ideal place for a one day return trip. Alibaug is 145 kms away from Pune and 30km to the south of Mumbai. There are some stunning beaches here along with forts and temples! The Kolaba/Kulaba fort lies 2 kms inside the sea. Kulaba fort gets surrounded by sea water at the time of tide. There are the Uma Maheshwar and Balaji temples in Alibaug too.
Alibaug was developed in 17th Century by Sarkhel Kanhoji Aangre the naval chief of King Shivaji’s Kingdom. Bene Israelite Ali was a rich man in the city and owned many plantations of mangoes, coconuts in his gardens. So the local people called the place Alicha bagh (Gardens of Ali) which became in due course, Alibaug. Alibaug is the seat of District Administration of Raigad (formerly Kolaba) district since 1852. The name Kolaba is attributed to a Sea Fort Kolaba built by Shivaji the great Maratha Ruler, in 1680 to fight the mighty naval prowess of the Siddis’ (Abyssenians) of Janjira and the British of Mumbai. Kolaba fort is famous for many battles, between Siddis and Kanhoji Angre, the British and the Portugese.
Korlai Beach: It is a quiet serene beach with alternate white and black sands, along a serene stretch of the Arabian coastline, adjacent to a village of Korlai Creole Portuguese speaking Indians. Just across the bridge, to the right there is Korlai fort within the sea and attached to the mainland by a narrow land strip through the Korlai fort through the Korlai Village. It is supposed to have been built by the Portuguese in 1521. The main gate has an inscription which means ‘no entry without a fight’. The fort has seven gates, a sweet water well, a church in disuse, a Hindu temple and a Lighthouse.
You can easily plan for additional excursions because of the proximity of beaches and forts from Korlai. The beautiful beach of Kashid is only 12.5 km from Korlai while the famous sea fort of Janjira is 30 km to the south of Korlai, near Murud. The Karnala Bird Sanctuary is roughly 70 km away, towards Panvel. White water rafting on the river Kundalika is another major attraction. Visiting the Korlai fort today was a remarkable experience. The fort looks devoid of maintenance and gave deserted looks. However, the view from the fort was spectacular and offered a divine view of the sea and the shore.
Korlai Fort is a Nizamshahi-Portuguese fortification and was built on a rocky ridge, ‘O Morro de Chaul’. In its heyday, the fort protected the Revdanda Creek while also guarding its age-old companion Revdanda Fort on the opposite side of the Kundalika River. Though the fort owes its origin primarily to the Ahmednagar Sultanate, vestiges of the Portuguese occupation are manifested in the distinct dialect of the Korlai villages’ inhabitants which is Portuguese Creole. The fort had eight bastions and four entrances. Inside, the architectural arrangement was unique with the fortification being compartmentalized into eight quarters of irregular size, each with its own arched entrance built in European style with steps and equipped with guns.
The highest portion of the fort had the residence of the captain, ammunition stores, storages, and a chapel. This chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Good Voyages, administered by Franciscans in 1636, consisted of an altar made of stone and mortar with the nave being covered by a straw-thatched roof and walls made of bamboo mats and palm leaves. In a later period, the whole chapel was turned into a magnificent stone-arched building showing typical characteristics of Province of the North religious structures. Mass was performed in the chapel on every Sunday and holiday. The chapel became the major landmark of Morro.
Korlai village is at a distance of 25 kms from Alibaug. State transport buses and private six-seater rickshaws regularly run from Alibag to Korlai. A good motorable road from Alibaug en route to Murud takes a visitor to Korlai, where the fort still stands in its full majesty because the remains have been well preserved. Visitors can climb up to the fort in about 20 minutes via steps from two sides - the east and the west. The western approach starts from a modern lighthouse. The eastern approach has a good view of the river Kundalika and the Revdanda Fort.
Mandawa: It is situated about 20 km north of Alibaug. The catamaran/ferry services are available from Mumbai to the Mandawa jetty. Many Bollywood celebrities own bungalows here.
Kaneshwar Mandir: It is situated about 17 km away from Alibaug to Karlekhind – Chondi road.13 km from Alibaug in Northeast direction is this very famous Shiv temple on a 900 ft. high hill. It is a 5000 ft. long climb on well paved stairs, which takes around one hour. Landmarks along the route are tombs of MohanGiri and Balgiri, Nagoba Rest, Jambhali Plateau, God’s stair, Gaymandi etc. It comprises various small temples of Sri Paleshwar, Sri Hanuman, Sri Balram Krishna and Lord Shiv.
Kashid Beach: It is 36 km away from Alibaug, on the Alibag-Murud highway, also this beach is possibly one of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the region with almost ‘white’ sand. There are many cottages and resorts available ranging from around RS:1500 to RS:20,000. Prakruti resort is the luxury and the costliest of all. One can find water sports facility and number of small shops for snacks.