There were three of us – me, mom and my sis. We had just reached Gateway to catch the boat. Well, technically it was a ferry boat, with more than a dozen people on board but that doesn’t matter. If you haven’t taken a ferry ride before, you definitely must. Barring the queue, the mad rush to get seats and the waiting, it is a ride to be experienced. For, when you enter the boat and it pushes ahead and you see the facade of the Gateway getting hazy, it is like biding goodbye to the city that makes you work and spend in a loop, thereby holding you tightly in its grips.
As the city moves further away and the winds envelopes you, everything else is forgotten. It is just the sea, the sky and you. A 360-degree blue canvas laid out for you, for you to decipher the shapes of the clouds or smell the sea or count the birds or marvel over the huge ships or simply decode your fellow passengers. No matter what you do, the hour passes in a jiffy and you have already reached Mandwa.
From, Mandwa you take a bus to Alibaug, which is inclusive of the ferry fare. Our plan was to take an auto from Alibag to Kashid, where our resort lay.
The bus ride (where again you have a line) takes you through narrow lanes and through small villages ie. modest brick houses but with huge adjoining gardens and vegetable patches. Coconut trees and rice grow in abundance here but you can also find pumpkins and ridge gourd. This is a 45 minute ride that takes you from one narrow lane to next, surrounded by the greenery and pockets of people and civilisation.
If you are going to Kihim, you might to well to get down at the Chondi stop but for Nagaon or Kashid you have to get to the last stop ie Alibaug. From here, you can either share the six-seater auto or the normal three-seater. These, however, don’t go by the meter, and charge you some random amount.
From Alibaug to Kashid by the auto is another hour and a half approximately, again surrounded by the greens, houses and the sea. While, travelling by car may seem more comfortable, you might alternatively want to give this crazy method a try. It is worth it.
Coming to the Kashid itself, it is a beautiful white sand beach. I remember it being much cleaner the last time though. The waves are strong and the two outings we had at the beach were sheer joy. Near the main beach, you find stalls, which house hammocks and where you can happily lap up coconut water and snacks as you wait to battle the chill from being all wet. In the morning, I clearly spotted some crabs in the water, which made me anxious for a while but that didn’t stop me for more than 5 minutes. This was off the main beach, more towards where our resort (Kashid Beach Resort) lay.
What was more exciting about the trip was the visit to the lighthouse and learning about the Portugese descendants still living close by in Korlai. The Korlai village is enroute to the lighthouse, a small settlement but with bright houses ranging from pinks to florescent greens to purples in an array – which make quite a pretty picture. As do the fishing boats with yellow and red flags fluttering with the wind.
The lighthouse is quite stout when it comes to it, just three flight of stairs but it was our first time in a lighthouse and the view of the sea from the top was quite nice. The guard also told us about the new radar system installed by the Coast Guard to monitor activity around the area.
From atop, we saw the Korlai fort, once a Portugese bastion, which we were advised not to visit because of the outgrowth during the rains and possible snakes. And it is here in the Korlai village that some of the descendants of the Portugese still remain.
The Birla temple, nearby, is also a possible destination. It is just alongside the Welpsun factory and built by the Aditya Birla Group. It is all white marble and surrounded by well manicured gardens. You can see a conveyer belt mechanism that runs along the way before the temple, that we were told was used to transport materials to factory earlier. On the floral front, there is a lotus pond, filled with pretty pink lotuses just before Nagaon.
But the highlight of the trip will have to be the way back to the hotel. Not so much for the ground view but the aerial one. The sun had started its descent, infusing all sorts of colours into the white and blue canvas. And as the invisible painter, began his fluid strokes, the sky, obeying, turned from a rosy pink to purple to peach with bold golden strokes as if to signify a master. In pockets, the greys of the clouds, provided texture and depth. But unsatisfied, the painter now brought in the blacks and the greys, as it steadily grew darker. He would start with a fresh canvas again tomorrow.
This is the image I brought back with me more than the sea or the greens. We departed the next morning, taking the same route – over roads and the sea – back to where the duties beckoned but not the heart.