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Alibag Watertrip (Kulaba Fort)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Alibag is known for its beaches, but very few know that it is home to around six forts, most of them being sea forts.

So I sat down and designed an itinerary to visit Khanderi and Undheri Forts in Alibag. I had been here before, but the re-visit was for the benefit of Alhad Patil, who I had met via my blog. He had shown keen interest in visiting these forts. To our misfortune, we could not see these forts as the boat service had been booked for the entire day. So we decided to visit Kulaba Fort and Sagargad Fort instead.
Kulaba Fort
Kulaba Fort is a sea fort close to the town of Alibag. It is 3 km away from the shore and can be visited only when the tide is low, that too either on foot or on a horse cart. I had been here before around 6 years ago when I didn’t even know what blogs were. Sagargad, on the other hand, is a Hill Fort from where one can see all of Alibag. This was the first time I was visiting a hill fort in Alibag.

I had put up my plans on FB, hoping that some more people would join me on my water trips. Nine agreed to come, but only three actually made it. Hithakshi and Urvashi, who had accompanied me to Chinchoti Waterfalls, also joined me on this trip. 
Group Photo - Allhad, Urvashi, Hithakshi and Me, on the ferry to Mandwa Jetty

We met at 6.45 am at the Gateway of India. Alhad had arrived much earlier. He was very excited to visit these forts and was equipped with his camera. Alhad is a very good photographer. I had checked out some of his close shots and I was amazed at the quality of his work. 
There was a generation gap between us and Alhad, who we called Uncle. I wondering how we would get along as our mindsets would differ. 
We on the Boat to Kulaba Fort, with the Fort in the background

Hithakshi had a calf injury on her right leg, but she had made up her mind to visit this place. Her love for trekking caused her to ignore the pain from her injury.
Urvashi had joined us because she wanted an outing. But she was not dressed for the occasion at all. She carried a jhola on her shoulder and wore chappals. I wondered if she would be able to climb the hills at Sagargad Fort. 
Extension to Kulaba Fort
Nevertheless, we carried on with our plans and boarded the 7 am ferry to Alibag. We made it just in time. The ferry took off as soon as we stepped in.
 There are three ferry service providers whose services one can avail of to reach Alibag. These are Ajanta, Maldar and PNP. Ajanta is the cheapest whereas PNP, with its AC coaches, is the most expensive. We boarded the Ajanta ferry that departed from Gateway at 7 am. The cost of the ticket was Rs 75 each. The ferry was a double decker boat with seating arrangement on both levels. We rushed to the upper deck to get an open air view of the place around. 
At around 8.45 am, we were in Alibag. We spent our time in the ferry clicking photos of ships, boats, trawlers. The lovely sunrise offered us amazing pictures. We asked the locals on board which fort we should go to first. We had no idea how much time Sagargad Fort would take.
We got mixed answers from the people around, so we decided to have breakfast at an eatery at Alibag first and then check the tides at Kulaba Fort which was at a distance of around 20 minutes on foot.
Two Men with Two Fishing Rods
On the way, we picked up some oranges and some Indian berries. (I am not sure if berries is the right word. They are called bor in Hindi.) Urvashi picked up a pair or fluorescent yellow chappals with blue straps at Rs 40 a pair. She immediately changed to her yellow chappals and headed off to see the fort.
 Around 10 am, we were at the beach. I noted that the locals had started a boat service to take visitors to the fort, irrespective of the tides. The cost of the ride is Rs 100 for a return journey, but if you have a big group you can bargain on the rates too.
The Bone
During my last trip here, I had walked through waist-deep water, that too during the low tide, to reach the fort. It had taken us around 1½ hours to reach the fort. The ferry service took us there in 20 minutes. Since we had planned to see two forts in a day, we had to save time. The boatman told us that he would return in an hour to receive us. We readily agreed.
 Without wasting any time, we got busy with our photo session on the fort. The water levels were going down in the meantime. The low tide was setting in. 
One More Group Photo
A visit to the fort calls for an entry fee of Rs 5. I misheard the ticket vendor and assumed that the fee was Rs 500. I was taken aback. When he corrected me, I heaved a sigh of relief. 
We got our tickets and walked away. Just a few steps away, there is a skeleton of a huge fish kept on display. No information is provided. 
Fort from the inside
On the fort, there are stone tablets recounting the history of the fort in English, Hindi and Marathi. There are many temples on the fort. There is a sweet water well too. I wondered how sweet the water might be. After all, we were surrounded by salty water.
 There are many bastions on this fort but only three are in good condition. There are two entrances to the fort, one via Alibag beach and the other via the sea.
Two Cannons
The entire fort can be viewed by walking over the walls of the fort. There are two cannons on wheels on the fort and many without wheels too. We tried to pick one up. They were really heavy. I could shake it in its position but could not move it.
The locals stay in the fort. The fort houses a shop that sells refreshments, for the benefit of those who forget to carry any. We had carried out quota of food and water, but we were so busy in exploring the fort that we forgot to eat and drink. Strange, but true.
Ruins on the Fort
There is a big temple on the fort, beautifully carved on the outside, with a small pond. The day being very sunny, some guys were enjoying a nice swim in it. After spending three hours to see the fort in its entirety, we decided to depart for Sagargad.
From Kulaba Fort, Sagargad can be seen on a hillock in a distance.
We called the boatman to come and pick us up. After making us wait for around 40 minutes, he arrived to take us back to Alibag city.
In order to board the ferry, we needed to walk through knee-deep water. I saw a guy roll up his pants but he didn’t seem to think too highly of his shoes because he didn’t take them off. How silly is that!
A Boat in the Sea
Finally after 20 minutes we were onshore again. Since Urvashi had worn chappals, she had sand all over her pants, and she immediately got to work, cleaning up her pants.
We decided to have lunch at one of the Pure Veg joints near the beach. Alhad and I feasted on the Punjabi thalis that we had ordered, Hithakshi ate some tomato uttappa and Urvashi had some Jain Vegetable biryani. 
Temple premises
After filling our tummies, we decided to go to Sagargad Fort. We hired a rickshaw at the Rickshaw stand near the ST bus depot. The rickshaw driver told us that it would take around 30 minutes to reach there and 3 hours to climb it. Since it was already 3 pm, it didn’t make sense to go ahead with our plan. But we didn’t want to return to Mumbai so early either.
We made enquiries about the last Alibag to Mumbai ferry. We didn’t want to miss it. Anyone who has been caught in a traffic jam while travelling by road will surely understand our anxiety in this regard.  
The Sun Effect
We then got our tickets via Ajanta ferry and decided to take the bus to Mandwa beach from Alibag City and spend some time on the beach there.

We had golas on the beach. Urvashi and Hithakshi had the lemon flavored ones, Alhad and I had the Kala Kutta (Cola) ones, which made our tongues red in color. This encouraged us to shoot pictures of ourselves. We looked like Draculas there. After enjoying our golas, we headed straight to the beach.

That's Me
On Mandwa beach, there are banana boat rides and other water activities, but the fee quoted was Rs 350 per head, non- negotiable. So instead of wasting our money on it we decided to do something new, something I had never done on any of my trips.
We wrote our names on the sand and stood next to it for photo sessions. After that we headed to the water to wet our feet a little bit, then went to the jetty to board the 5.15 pm ferry to Mumbai. 
Feet in the Sand
Onboard the ferry, we were met by seagulls. They flocked all over the place. Urvashi and Hithakshi started feeding them. After about 30 minutes, the seagulls stopped following us. Maybe they had had their full or maybe their territory ended there.
We then sat on the open air deck, enjoying the sunset and the rise of the yellow coloured full moon. It was the day of the eclipse, and the effects had started to show by the time we reached the Gateway of India.

Our names Engraved in the Sand

Another Group Photo

Sea Gulls
After alighting there, we headed off to the Mafco store near Gateway to celebrate our enjoyable trip by having a round of rose milkshake.
After that, we headed back home. We had all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, even though we had not been able to see Sagargad Fort. Anyway, there’s always another time.
I had clicked 350 photos and one video on this trip. Despite the age difference, we had all got along very well. We had fun and that is all that matters.

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


Anonymous said...

Loved your write-up as always. Indeed, our trip was truly enjoyable :)
- Hithakshi

PRANNAV 555 said...

hey merwyn good writeup, by the way whoose idea was to engrave the names on the sand?


Thanks Pranav, It was my idea to engrave names in the sand


HIthakshi - Thanks to you too for the same :)

G.F. said...

It was my bad luck...

Smruti Desai said...

yr journey....would like to be with you for the next trip...


Smruti and Cia, next trek is in Jan, cya soon :)

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