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Alibag water trip (Khanderi Fort and Undheri Fort included)

Monday, October 17, 2011

A visit to the forts at Alibag had been on my agenda for a long time. But somehow, something or the other kept coming in the way, and my visit to this sleepy beach town kept getting put off.

So then I finally sat down to do some research on the Internet and, armed with whatever information I could gather, made plans to go to Alibag. Nimish and Darshan, who had accompanied me on my visit to Lohagad Fort and Bhaje Caves earlier, and Niket and Piyush, both first-time trekkers, agreed to accompany me on my visit to these forts.
Boat to Undheri and Khanderi fort from Thal
We boarded the first ferry of the day, the ferry from The Gateway of India to Mandwa. These ferries ply at regular intervals during the day.

Alibag can be reached both by road and water. Travelling by sea is faster and cheaper. The price of a one-way ticket is Rs 65 (inclusive of the ferry service from Gateway to Mandwa and the bus service from Mandwa to Alibag). By road Alibag is 35 km away from Mumbai and with the rising price of fuel, it’s an expensive way to travel.

It took us around 1½ hrs to reach Mandwa jetty. From there we boarded a bus to Alibag. After around 30 minutes, we reached Alibag where we had a few refreshments. Our plan was to visit Khanderi and Undheri forts which are located in Thal, 7 km away from Alibag.

Khanderi Fort
Alibag is home to many beautiful beaches and forts; the town was developed by Kanhoji Angre, a Maratha warrior, in the 17th century.

We boarded a tum tum. The best part about the tum tum is that you need to pay Rs 10 per seat regardless of the distance. Readers, please do not go for a private tum tum because they are very expensive. When we approached a private tum tum, he quoted a fare of Rs 500. Instead of going for a private tum tum, it is better to share a tum tum. 

We decided to carry with us beer bottles from a local wine shop. Surely it would be a good idea to have chilled beer at one of the sea forts.  

Fortification of Khanderi Fort
We got in touch with a person named Ashwin who had made arrangements for a boat to take us around as Khanderi and Undheri are sea forts. Ashwin's contact details are easily available online on a few sites providing information on Alibag. Please make sure that you negotiate the rates well in advance with him because the rates rise as the day of the trek nears. We had negotiated for Rs 1100 to take us to Khanderi and Undheri Forts.

It is also advisable to go as a group to see these forts as the cost of the boat trip is more than Rs 1000 plus. The more is indeed the merrier in this case as you can divide the cost of the trip.  
Cannons on the fort
By the time we reached the boat, our beer bottles had grown warm. We should have known chilled beer wouldn’t stay chilled. But there was nothing to do but have warm beer.

We didn’t come across any hotels here. So do carry food and water. We carried ours.

We boarded the boat at Thal. This is a quiet fishing village with a very silent life.
Thal does not look like a fort today. Maybe at some point in the past it must have looked like one. The fishing village is based here and the fisherfolk lay out their fish to dry on the small walls of the fort. No boundaries can be located on this fort as it is inhabited by the local people. There is not much to see here.

Light House on the Fort
At Thal, we could see Undheri Fort and Khanderi Fort in the distance. So we set out to see these forts in the motor boat provided by Ashwin.

It took us around 30 minutes to reach Khanderi fort. On the way we passed Undheri Fort but we could not land there as there was no jetty on the fort. It was literally a sea view of a different kind for us. Undheri Fort is small as compared to Khanderi Fort. Though in ruins, the walls of the fort are in very good condition.

Khanderi Fort has a jetty where we landed. The walls of this fort have been defaced by the kind of losers who should be locked up and never allowed within 100 metres of any heritage site. Some people don’t have sense. They just know how to dirty nature around them.

Helipad on the fort

There are a lot of interesting things to see on this fort. For instance, there is a temple with a huge white heart shaped stone; this temple was built sometime in the 17th century. Till date prayers are offered at this temple. We saw a lamp burning inside its premises.

The best way to see the fort is by walking along the walls. There are two water tanks on this fort and a lighthouse. One of the water tanks is very close to the sea at a distance of hardly 20 feet, and yet it supplies fresh drinking water to the caretakers of the lighthouse. I pondered over how the water could be so sweet despite being surrounded by salt water.
The cannons on this fort had my attention. This was the first time in my trekking history that I had seen a complete cannon mounted on wheels.

Stone which makes a bell sound
What a sight it presented! Even though it was quite rusted, it still commanded awe. I shot a few pictures there.

We then decided to go see the lighthouse situated on the topmost part of the island.

Although this fort was built by Shivaji in the 17th century, the lighthouse was built by the British in 1852 after they conquered the fort. It was thrown open to the sea in 1853. I had a small chat with the caretaker of the lighthouse. His name was Nitin Pawar and he gave me a lot of valuable information.

Undheri Fort
The lighthouse, he said, stands 48 feet tall and provides signals to the distant ships in the sea. The entire mechanism of the lighthouse was imported from Germany. The old mechanism was later replaced by the modern mechanism around two years ago.

The lighthouse functions at a speed of 3 RPM (revolutions per minute) and the light is thrown all around at a radius of 40 km. If you are on a ship 40 km away, you will see the light blinking.

We began a slow tour of the lighthouse. The caretaker told us that if we were to walk down a little, we would find a huge stone with metallic properties. We decided to go and see this amazing stone.

Entrance to Undheri Fort
The caretaker also pointed out a small pad on one of the bastions of the fort. It was a landing point for helicopters, he said. The Navy, Army and Airforce personnel often paid them a visit and when they did, they parked their helicopters there.

We all took turns throwing small pebbles at the huge stone that the caretaker had told us about. It gave us a childish thrill to hear it ring out loud like a bell. What a great way to intimate the inmates of the fort about the approach of an enemy! Truly amazing.

After that, we decided to head back to Thal. This time we were able to see Undheri Fort a little closer.

Fortification of Undheri Fort
By the time we reached Thal, it was already 2.30 in the afternoon. We figured that it was better to head home. We boarded a ferry to Mumbai.
Khanderi and Undheri Fort in a distance from Thal

On the ferry Darshan, Nimish and Niket started feeding the seagulls that were following us. Believe me, these birds can do anything for food. After having their full, they stopped following us. I don’t know if that was because they had had their fill or if it was because they did not want to step into unknown territory.

Finally onshore at The Gateway of India, we clicked a few pictures and called it a day.

Other sea forts I have visited are Murud Janjira, Arnala Fort and Sindhudurg in Malvan


Mussa Spring Hotel said...

wooooooooooooooooooow its nice site



Unknown said...

too good boss.


Thanks Wild Ventures and Mussa Spring Hotel

Indiatravelite said...

Very good Pictures of Alibagh Khanderi Fort and Undheri Fort

Indiatravel said...

Very Nice and informative Journey to Alibagh and good photos of Khanderi Fort and Undheri Fort

dipak said...

I like all except you were planning to drink beer on the fort.anyway nice pictures and documentation.

Unknown said...

Let me get this straight, you guys reached alibaugh, took a tum tum to Thal, where you met Ashwin with whom you guys had done a pre booking for kandheri Fort trip. After the trek was over, you guys came back to alibaugh n then to Mumbai! Please lemme know if you guys caught ferry to home from some other place, as I'm planning to visit these forts n any help with planning will be appreciated.


Thanks Ankit for reading my blog.
My blog mentions my travelogue to Khanderi fortress

Unknown said...

Nice information any khanderi fort. Do not have alcohol at any historical places n respect them.

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