Alibaug brings to me a picture of Arabian Nights, mainly Aladdin on his magic carpet drifting through the wind, above Alibaug’s rocky, sandy shores, and dense woods. Perhaps he did. The christening of this lazy town was done after a guy named Ali, a rich Bene Israelite, who owned many plantations of mango and coconut. Perhaps he rubbed his magic lamp and asked the genie for it. The locals started calling the region Alichi Bagh and thus the name Alibaug came into existence. Even today Alibaug has a tightened grip on the history and legacy of Bene Israelites. The Bet El Synagogue, Jewish worship place, has witnessed joyous gatherings like village meetings, prayers and Konkan development meetings. Even Lord Curzon made a visit to this synagogue. Alicha Bagh was blooming and prosperous.
But as every story ends, so did Ali’s. Another hero that Alibaug got was Shivaji, who built Kolaba Fort 2 km into the sea in 1652. By this time the Konkan region was his. He used this fort as one of his chief naval stations to keep a watch on British, Portuguese and Siddhis.
Today, in 21st century, these stories seem to have faded. Shivaji’s Kolaba Fort is in ruins but its Siddhivinayak Temple which was built by Raghoji Angre in 1759 just isn’t. Though the fort has seen blood and wars in the bygone era, but today it helps it visitors fight their battle with stress. Fearless birds fly above its periphery, usually the sandpipers do, flashing poses for that perfect frame you might want. The water is either ankle-deep or sometime higher tides sway by. When its ankle-deep you can trace your footprints on the sand while heading to the fort till the sea washes it away.
But I like to think of myself as a royalty on her cart with a sword in her hand. I have my metal boots and crimson cloak on, and there I point my sword towards my fort. I tighten my grip on the saddle and my white horse gloriously runs splashing the waves with sun setting on the background. So, I would opt for the other option for reaching the Kolaba Fort; Horse Cart.
Alibaug caresses those looking for a serene time and it can enthral adventure-lovers. It can woo you with its art and heritage. Mumbaikars often visit Alibaug as a weekend getaway, as the glint of the sea here is not overpowered by pearly boulevard of modern infrastructure. The town is lazy and lovely.
The Wander Girls are heading to Alibaug on a road trip this October to behold its beauty and eradicate stress and monotony for a weekend. If you want to join in click here.