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Ganpatipule Roadtrip (Jaigad and Ratnadurg Fort trek)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Maharashtra is home to a number of beautiful places. One such place is Ganpatipule, located in Ratnagiri district.

My family reached Ganpatipule at 4 in the evening. We had snacks at MTDC Resorts - Narang Hotel and then decided to hit the beach. One good thing about MTDC Resorts is that all the cottages give you a great view of the sea. That evening we spent the day at the beach. 

That night We enjoyed dinner at Abhishek Resort at Bhandarpule which is an upcoming place. The authorities are constructing a highway around here which will connect Ganpatipule to Ratnagiri city and save both time and gas.

The ambience at Abhishek Resort was quite nice but since it was far away from the main city of Ganpatipule, there was no one there to have dinner except for the people staying in the resort. We had dinner and headed back to our resort.

Beach at Ganpatipule 

DAY 2: We decided to go and see Jaigad Fort. The fort was around 40 km from the MTDC Resort. It took us two hours to reach it. Although the entire fort is in ruins, the walls of the fort still stand strong. This 17th century fort, perched on a cliff overlooking the confluence of the Sangameshwar River and the Arabian Sea, offers spectacular views of the village and the sea.

There is a moat which surrounds the fort from the land entrance. Inside the fort there is a temple, a few ruins of houses and a resting place for the soldiers. There were two square shaped wells, around five storeys deep, inside the fort. They had some water in them. I shudder to think of the fate of anyone who would happen to fall into the wells. It would not be easy to get out and help would be miles away.

Darwaja to Jaigad Fort

I was hungry again so we decided to head back to Ganpatipule. We had lunch at Krishnali Resort at Bhandarpule. This place was deserted as it is far from the city. Once again we ate alone.

Krishnali Resort serves the most wonderful fish thalis. The fish slices in my thali were gigantic. It was also served solkadi after lunch. After a heavy meal, We decided to head back to our resort where we rested for some time and then enjoyed the evening at the beach.

DAY 3: Ratnagiri city is around 45 km from Ganpatipule. Here we saw Ratnadurg fort which is around 10 km from the main city. This fort was built by the Bahamani rulers way back in 1350 AD. In 1670 Shivaji conquered the fort from Adilshah, the ruler of Bijapur. The fort traded hands a couple of times and at last landed in the hands of the British.

The fort is 1300 metres long and 100 metres wide. It has steep cliffs on all sides. The fort is rather well maintained. It consists of a temple, a few houses and away in a distance, there is a lighthouse.

Ratnadurg Fort

Another attraction there is the Thebaw Palace which was built in 1910-11. The King and Queen of Burma stayed there during their exile. The British let King Thebow build the palace the way he wanted. The palace looked like an Old Portuguese bungalow. The King and the Queen spent a major part of their lives there. A part of the palace has been converted into a museum and old stone sculptures dating back to the 10th century have been kept. It also has the throne of the King and the Queen. The place also includes the tombs of the royal couple. 

Thebaw Palace

All that exploration makes a man hungry. I took leave of the palace and went off in search of some place where I could eat. We had lunch at Hotel Vivek. Everything about this place was good. The ambience was soothing and the food was delicious. The place was crowded and there were still more people waiting outside for their turn. After a heavy meal consisting of fish and chicken, We decided to check out the local bazaar at Ratnagiri.

With any luck, I’d be able to lay my hands on the famous Alphonso mangoes, known locally as Hapus mangoes. But it seemed that lots of hard cash, not luck, was what was needed. The prices were exorbitant. We came away without buying any.

On the last day of our trip, I decided to try some of the water sports that the resort had on its own premises. I had great fun in the speed boat and on the motor scooter.

DAY 4: We left early on Sunday morning to come home. It had indeed been a most exciting and refreshing holiday

Cabo De Rama Fort

Monday, October 18, 2010

I always make it a point to visit Goa during my summer holidays. On one such trip, I decided to go see the Cabo De Rama Fort also known as Cape Rama Fort. located in Cancona taluka in South Goa.

View from the top

The Cabo de Rama fort is currently in ruins. The name Cabo de Rama is Portuguese for the head of Rama. According to ancient Indian mythology, Prince Rama, from the epic Ramayana, along with his wife Sita took refuge here during Rama's exile from Ayodhya.
Fortification of Cabo de Rama Fort

Nobody knows who built this fort. At some point in the 17th century, however, the Portuguese took it over from the Raja of Soonda.
Steps leading to the wate body or pond

My cousin Sholto and I decided to visit the fort. We took the National Highway-17 to reach Cancona where the fort is located. One has to have a vehicle if one wants to visit the fort. Those who don’t have their own vehicle can choose to hire one. There are some public buses plying from Margao to the fort but the frequency of these buses is pathetic, and it is better to not rely on them.
Entrance to Cabo de Rama Fort

There is a rampart to enter the fort. In the old days, if a visitor was expected to the fort, the rampart would have to be lowered to enable the visitor to enter the fort. As the fort is on an island, the only entrance is through the rampart. Sounds really cool, doesn't it? I had seen such ramparts in the movies of the yesteryears but never in reality. How I wish I was born in that era! Currently the mechanism for operating the rampart is not functional. It is therefore always kept lowered down to enable public access.
Coconut trees all around

After entering the fort via the rampart, we decided to survey the ruined fort. The fort has got a few cannons that are worth checking out. The Church of Santo Antonio, located within the fort, is in excellent condition. Masses are offered here regularly.
St. Anthony Chapel in the fort premises

While the fort is in ruins, the western end of the fort has steep cliffs which provide a panoramic view of the place. From the western end, one can sight plenty of coconut trees which cover the land extremely densely, making it difficult for us to see the shore. It took us around two hours to view the fort.
View from the fort

We walked on the wall of the fort to see the view from every angle. The view I liked best was the one available from the sea side. Later, we had some refreshments before calling it a day.

Tiracol Fort

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tiracol Fort also known as Terekhol Fort is located near the Tiracol river in Arambol in Pernem in Goa. This fort is located on the border of Goa and Maharashtra. 

The fort was built by Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhonsle, the Raja of Sawantwadi in the 17th century. The fort was built to keep a watch over the Arabian Sea. The fort was later conquered by the Portuguese in 1746 after a war with the Raja of Sawantwadi.
Walls of Tiracol Fort

Goa is the closest getaway for Mumbaikars. The beaches here are swarming with people on weekends. Goa is a hotspot not only for us Indians but also for foreigners. There are many who came here as tourists to catch the sights that Goa has to offer, then fell in love with the place and decided to spend the rest of their lives here.
Tiracol fort in a distance

Being a native of Goa, I go there once a year. It is a good opportunity to meet family and friends and feel connected to my roots. I also feel that Goa has much to offer as far as my love for exploration is concerned. Goa is not only a land of beaches but also houses many historical monuments. There is a lot of history associated with this little state. Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961. Later it became a union territory and then a state of India.
Boats in the waters

I asked my cousin Sholto to accompany me on a visit to Tiracol Fort, a fort built by the Portuguese. Tiracol Fort is located at Arambol which is 32 km from Mapusa. The fort now houses the Tiracol Fort Heritage Hotel.
Inscription at the entrance of Tiracol Fort

We decided to travel by car to see the fort. It was necessary to cross the river along the way. We left home in the morning around 9 to see the fort. It took us around 2½ hours to reach the jetty at Kerim beach. The roads of Goa are very interesting as well as picturesque. We drove along the beaches of Ashvem and Arambol to reach Kerim beach in order to board the ferry. After alighting on the other side, it is a 10-minute drive up the fort. The view from up here is very nice.

Alternatively this fort can also be reached from Sawantwadi in Maharashtra. Not sure about the route though.
Entrance to Tiracol Fort
Main Door at Tiracol Fort
Spears put on display at the entrance of Tiracol Fort

There are coconut trees all around. The sun shining down on the water gives the sea a beautiful silvery effect. There is a Cross in the middle of the water which can be reached when the tide is low. Unfortunately, there is not much to see in the fort as it has been converted into a hotel. There is a chapel inside the fort painted white. In Goa, interestingly, all chapels and churches are painted white.
Chapel at Tiracol Fort

Statue of Jesus at Tiracol Fort
We had a few refreshments at the fort and then headed back home.

Arnala Fort

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Arnala Fort is built on an small island which can be accessed by a ferry from Arnala village. Arnala Village is located 10 KM away from Virar Railway station and around 14 KM away from Vasai Railway station on Western line. St. Peter's Church is also located here.
Old lighthouse near Arnal Fort

I saw the photos of Arnala fort on the Internet. The fort was in good condition, so I decided to pay a visit to it. This fort is also known as Jaldurg (literally sea-fort in Hindi) or Jangire- Arnala. This fort was built by a local chieftain from Gujarat and later owned by the Portuguese colonials.
St Peter's Church at Arnala Village

I asked my friend Hitesh to accompany me, I met Hitesh when I was in the 10th grade. Since both of us like trekking I asked him to join me in exploring the fort, and he agreed. So we decided that we would go to see the fort on a Saturday.
Lighthouse and Arnala Fort in a distance

Come Saturday morning, we boarded a fast train to Virar from Andheri Station on platform 4, alighted at Virar and boarded the ST bus to Arnala Village. Share and private rickshaw's also ply to the fort.It took us 35 minutes to reach the village. Alternatively Arnala Village can also be reached by ST bus from Vasai ST bus stand located outside Vasai railway station. No share rickshaw's are available from Vasai station.

Bastion at Arnala Fort

Arnala Market was the last stop for the bus and that is where we alighted. The market was packed with people. Smell of fish lingered all around. There was a Church nearby. St. Peter's Church. We entered the church, sat inside silently for some time and then headed out to see the fort.

Entrance to Arnala Fort

Fortification of Arnala Fort
We had to walk through narrow gullies surrounded by the houses of the local fisher folk on our way to the ferry wharf. Arnala fort, being a sea-fort, is in the middle of the water. This fact was not known to us earlier and it took us by surprise to know that we would need to go through waist-deep water to board the ferry. Our trousers were going to be wet. But we had not come all this way just to be put off by the fear of getting wet. As a lot of people stay on the island, the ferry was packed with more people than it could carry. But it was just the two of us who made it to the fort. Clearly the fort is not a must-see item on the agenda of tourists.

Fortification of Arnala Fort

Finally after 20 minutes, we reached the entrance of the fort. The fort was in very good condition. It has a hexagonal shaped water reservoir, temples and tombs. The main door of the fort is carved. It has a few bastions on it. It took us around 2 hours to see the entire fort along with photo shoots, of course.
Light House at a distance from Arnala Fort
Water tank at Arnala Fort
There is a lighthouse nearby which is around an hour’s distance from the fort. Unfortunately, there is no proper entrance to it. So we had to satisfy ourselves with looking at it from the outside.
Temple within Arnala Fort
Arnala Beach from Arnala Fort
The trek had tired us out considerably. Finally at the end of the day, we boarded the ferry and headed back to Arnala village and from there headed home.

Other sea forts I have visited are Murud Janjira, Alibag Fort and (Khanderi and Undheri )Forts in Alibag and Sindhudurg in Malvan

Gilbert Hill in Mumbai (Andheri W)

Gilbert Hill is located in Andheri (W) closeby to Andheri Railway Station and Bhavan's College.

I was enjoying the view from the 9th floor of my brother’s flat in Andheri (West) when I espied in the distance an interesting rock formation surrounded by buildings all around. I googled the same (Thank God for Google maps) and got to know that the rock formation goes by the name of Gilbert Hill.

Gilbert Hill is 197 feet tall and is made up of black basalt rock. Its vertical face was formed when the molten lava was squeezed out from its clefts. It has been around for nearly 65 million years. Quite some time now.
Gilbert Hill
Another structure of the same type is located in USA and is called Devil’s Tower.

I asked Shailesh, a friend of mine who is not keen on going on outdoor trips. So I wanted him to accompany me on an easy trip. I asked him to join me on a visit to this structure. We boarded a BEST bus to Gilbert Hill from Andheri station, bus no. 250. From there we decided to walk to the base of the fort.

Stairway to Gilbert Hill
The staircase which leads to the top of the fort has been newly built and is very steep. Shailesh was quite tired on the upward climb. Finally we reached the top. There are two Hindu temples and a small garden in the fort. The hill offers a panoramic view of suburban Mumbai.

I was surprised to see that there is a structure like this in my backyard. Unfortunately, the land around the area has been taken over by the builder community and the area is seeing a lot of construction. I was not happy to see that new buildings blossoming around in the area.

View from Top
It took us around 30 minutes to see it. Later we decided to descend and head home.

My First Step

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Big Hi to all those who know me and a bigger Hi to those who don't know me as yet. I am Merwyn Rodrigues. Welcome to my blog, Merwynsrucksack. I love to go travelling and it is always a treat for me to look at the photos I have shot on my trips and recall the great times I've had. So I decided to go a step further and jot down my adventures along with photos. Hope you enjoy re-living my experiences with me.

Keep yourself glued to this blog every week. You will find a new post relating to my adventures.

So until a new post appears, here's wishing both you and me a very happy and eventful journey.

If you like my blog, Please add comments on the blog itself and If you wish to receive notifications regarding my furture posts, please add yourself as a follower on my blog.

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