Monday, December 29, 2008

Murund Janjira and Kashid

We reached Murud at around 8.30 p.m. After checking in at Mr Hamdule's homestay, we moved on to Patil Khanaval for food. This is the most famous place for food(especially sea food) in this town. Most of the homestay owners do not serve food and instead direct guests to have food with him.

Next day morning, we got up went for a jog on the beach as it is touching Mr Humdule's home. After break fast we began exploring area around.

Kashid and Murud are famous for beaches and clean water. Kashid is the first beach; which you come across while travelling down south from Mumbai; where you would find clean water and white sand. Travel to these destinations have been on the rise since last 8-10 years. At that time Murud was a town and Kashid was a village; so there were no stay options at Kashid. Most of the travellers used to stay at Murud and travel to Kashid to enjoy beach. However Kashid got quite popular among youngsters as the waves here are strong.

With the increased traffic new developments came here; as of now there are a lot of homestays which are good in quality and very close to the beach over here. There is only one resort which is close to the beach and is pretty expensive. The rest of the resorts are quite far and they arrange for transport to go to the beach.

There are few wonderful places to see in this area, which are listed here:

Janjira Fort:

The fort was under control of local fisherman head Rajaram Koli, who later lost it to Siddhi’s. The fort is impregnable due to presence of rocks under water around the fort. This prevented large ships from reaching the fort and small ones were not effective given the size of the fort. Even Siddhi’s conquered it by deceit. Siddhis later built this fort on 22 acres of land with 22 bastions on the boundary w all. There are 3 big canons here namly Chavadi, Gomukh and Kalal Bangdi. These are made from alloys, the metal is so thick that in the middle of the afternoon you would find them cold on touching.
To reach the fort first go to Rajpuri village(lot of autos are available) and then take a boat ride. You would also come to know that the sea is quite shallow, as most of the time the boat is push ahead by pushing bamboos on the sea bed and for very small interval sails are opened. These boats are not motorized at all.

Inside view of the fort

Giant Cannons: Gomukh, Chavadi and Kalal Bangdi
Ruins of Durbar inside fort

Murud Beach:
Murud beach is beautiful and flat with white sands. As it’s quite far from Mumbai you can experience clean water which you miss at Alibaug. The waves are not very strong here and hence it’s a nice beach for families and kids. Its adjoining the main road of the town hence can expect some hustle-bustle of the locals. An early morning walk on the beach can get you see fishermen going to the high seas and that is a delight in itself to watch. Later in the day till late evening you have vendors around the beach and can enjoy local snacks, coconut water etc.

Datta Mandir:
A beautiful but rarely visited location close to Murud is Datta Mandir as not many people are aware of this spot; however it is a highly recommended spot at Murud. It is great to enjoy sunset in the evening from this place as you can get panoramic view of the sea on the west and thick green forest covered hills on the east. Although vehicles can go to the top of the hill an early morning trek to this place is equally enjoyable in a group, if you are a trek lover.

View towards west and Duttmandir

Eastside view

On your way from Murud to Kashid; approx 7km from the hustle bustle of Murud is a real quiet and serene place called Nandgaon. While you travel by road, you are likely to miss this beach and as there are homes on both side of the road blocking view. We highly recommended Nandgaon beach for people who want peace and privacy. The cool breeze on this beach works like a balm to you soul. You will find the communing with air, water and sand at Nandgaon beach a supreme rejuvenation. The beach is safe and waves are not as strong as Kashid. Therefore, we highly recommend for families and young couples. As this is an unexplored locations you would not find hawkers on the beach so ensure you carry food and water. You can buy these in the village as well. There is a beautiful temple of Ganesha in Nandgaon village. Make it a point to visit the same.

Nandgaon Beach

Siddhi Vinayak Temple

Kashid is one of the most famous beaches near Mumbai. It is known for white sand, clear water, strong waves and blue sky. Young guys in groups flock this beach to enjoy the strong waves. Families with small children need to be careful while entering water; as you may be caught unaware with a sudden big wave after 5 or 6 small ones. Even youngsters are advised not to try stunts in the sea. Along side the beach there are food stalls and you can get refreshments here; however no beer is available.

Kashid beach view of Left/right hand side

We enjoyed our stay at Murud for 2 days. We tried convincing Mr Hamdule but he was not even interested in promoting his homestay. He wanted peaceful, no hassles life and did not show much desire to develop business.

So we moved ahead .................on the day 3 morning ahead to Shrivardhan. We had two options 1. Hit NH17 again from Mangaon go to Mhasla

2. Travel with coastal road from village to village and reach Bhalgaon from there on moving to Mhasla - Shrivardhan.

Ali and me decided to take coastal route.. we wanted to try the unbeaten tracks ... in the morning we went to meet two of our business associates and then moved on after lunch...........

For more pictures, information about places of visit and homestays/bed and breakfasts visit

Coming next .... one of the most beautiful journeys along the coast and definitely most exciting for bikers and nature lovers --- Murud Janjira to Shrivardhan

Also coming up details of my visit to Kolhapur and Panhala

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


(In case reader finds any difficulty in understanding this post or they want additional travel tips do not hesitate to write to me at

We reached Alibaug towards late in the evening. On the way I called up the place where I had stayed earlier; but he was already having guests so, he suggested me to stay at Shree Holiday Resort owned by Mr Kaustubh Raut. We went there, Mr Raut is really a nice and humble person. He started this business of Homestays just last year. He has only 2 rooms for guests but lot of open space with garden. The garden does not mean the one with lawns ( I find it too artificial and too much in order to be called natural). So the garden here means plantations; and across coast of Konkan gardens are only plantations)

We had food and kept chatting with Mr Raut for some time. He moved here after taking VRS from his earlier employer. He was constructing 2 more rooms. His eagerness to provide service was amazing. I was thoroughly impressed. Next day morning we got up and had breakfast. We got some travel tips from Mr. Raut. We also explained him about our venture and he was willing to join in.

Over the next few days we wanted to see all the interesting places around Alibaug. We also wanted to compare which beach is the best.

Accordingly we visited all the beaches on Rewas - Mandva - Alibaug road. We also met quite a few number of people and following is the essence of our findings.

There are mainly 3 beaches in this area; if we move from Southern tip to north, the first is Saswane, the second Kihim and then Awas. Alibaug is the hottest destination for weekends and you would not get place to stay unless booked in advance. Still not many people know about these beaches. Of the three Awas is the best one, but very few know this. Kihim has a lots of rocks and Saswane is full of rocks. However most of the people know only Kihim as MTDC has promoted it heavily. So while you go to Alibaug make sure that you see Awas as well; besides its not too far and local transport is available.

Awas Beach

Kihim Beach

Saswane Beach

In addition there are two more places that one must see..

1) Kunakeshwar Temple : Going to this temple can be a nice trek. However it would take more than 1.30 hrs so avoid afternoon climb.

2) Karmarkar Shilpalay : This is known to very few .. but in my opinion this place is a must visit. You get to see master pieces pf sculpturing.

To see more pictures and know about stay options visit
There is also the fort of Alibaug but it is closer to Alibaug town and not to this road.

There are also two forts namely Khanderi and Undheri in the sea; you can tie up with fishermen to go there. These are among the first 2 forts; in the chain of 65 small and big forts from North to Suoth; that Chhatrapati Shivaji built to protect coast of Maratha Empire.

The interesting aspect of tourism about this place is that it is controlled neither by service nor by location. It is controlled by mode of transport and proximity. Till Catamaran service was not existing; bus and car were the popular modes of transport. From the road to alibaug, Mandva road is quite far and as such buses do not come here, they rather go to Alibaug town. As such Nagaon beach(which is on Alibaug - Revdanda road) was more popular.

Then started Catamaran service, the operators of Catamaran also deployed buses which would drop people on the way. Thus, travelling on this road became very comfortable. This brought boom in tourism business.

When I met people along this road to promote their homestays; they were simply not interested. I met chieftains of their association; they were of the opinion; that they need business only on weekdays or get us foreigners so that we can charge more. Putting such condition on our portal would have been nothing less than stupidity; so I did not really put effort in this area.

The other reason sited by them for avoiding tie-up was that they would have less profit margin. Anyways in my first two days of Konkan visit, I realized four key aspects of homestay owners:

1. They believe volume can not increase so there is no point in losing margins. In other words, Cost orientation is much higher than Revenue Orientation.

2. People with exposure to tourism or apparently educated people; also are not confident of bringing in premium customers to their homestays. All of them are competing for the same set of middle/ upper middle class customers.

3. From the people I met, I found out that people who can speak English(it is not a measure of education always; as there are many people educated in Marathi here); believe in questioning rather than listening to you. They are also the most suspicious kind of lot (while I write this in English; I am suspecting that you would bunch me along with them).

4. People are divided on the basis of need. Established people do not need marketing efforts where as new comers do need it. Unfortunately associations or social bodies are presided over established people so the associations do not try or rather discourage marketing tie-ups. This leads to, not so established people feeling that, established ones do not want them to come up. Funnily later in my journey also wherever I met associations I could not do business. Thus progress is an individualistic or at best family phenomenon; associations have not much contributed to it.

On this note, we moved on further south to Revdanda and then to Murud; bidding farewel to Mr Raut.

Murud is approximately 1.30 hrs drive from Alibaug.

We started late in the evening and reached Murud at around 8.00 p.m.

Travel Tips:

  • Do not forget to carry Mosquito Repellent.
  • Do not venture in deep sea, the coast here is rocky and you can suffer injury.

  • In case you wish to see clean waters; you need to move ahead to Kashid at least.

  • Do not create noise; homestay owners' are hassled with behaviour of tourists. As most of the people only consume booze during the visit and create raucous. These are homes and they do suffer from indecent behaviour

Soon coming Murud Janjira and Kashid..............this journey will continue till I cover entire western coast of India... so keep reading and keep writing to me

for better quality homestay options please visit:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Travel From Mumbai to Alibaug

The first Journey Mumbai to Down south Coastal India:

As I start this blog to share my experiences in my pursuit to follow my dream of travelling to every nook and corner of this great country India and let you all see them thru my words, lenses and not to mention guide you in case you would like to come and stay at these places thru my travel portal.

I was joined by Ali in my maiden trip and we decided to start with the western coast of India by road. Our mandate was to travel thru the small roads connecting villages and avoid highways as much possible. We did not want to miss any village around the coast; so that we come across the most unexplored areas. We wanted to discover virgin beaches, forgotten monuments of historical importance, local faiths and stories around the worshiped deities and also get a flavor of local cuisine, customs and home stay that we could share with all people.

I had decided to start a portal on the concept of home-stays (Bed and Breakfast) while Ali was on the lookout for an irresistible spot where he would start his resort. Though both of us were sure about what we wanted to do however we had different approach to our business (but obvious, Ali was all the time trying to convince me that how dumb I was; and without his guidance I would be nowhere in life).

Following is the extract of our journey and also about lots of people whom we met; their approach to tourism, business and of course have a slice of their way of life, faiths, believes, convictions, aspirations – we were dealing with personalities totally different and some of them probably you would never meet in your day to day life. We saw lots of places and had tremendous insights into the interiors of this giant nation. Hope it makes interesting reading for you all.

Before we start I need to specify that I have travelled a lot in India before, ranging for Kashmir to Badrinath (in Himalayas); from Jaisalmer to Benaras etc. However I had not travelled much on the coasts. My earlier travels were about seeing places and a hurried running around with the local guide to complete one tourist location to other. On the contrary this time I was a traveller and not a tourist – I had time at my disposal so I spent at least a day even in a smallest location that held me with its heavenly beauty rarely known to many others. I spent time with locals. So this not a journey only about places, rocks, trees, rivers and sea but this is about living beings as well. Who I believe are the real essence of India... so welcome to my version of real India and real life...................

We began at from Mumbai by 4.00 p.m, Ali had landed at airport by 12.oo to join me. We had lunch meeting with Khan (our engineering college friend) at Vashi and moved on towards Panvel. The moment you cross Panvel and turn right to Goa highway; you cross from grey concrete world to emerald world, with lush green hills around. The air becomes clean and to feel it well a/c needs to be switched off.

Approximately 12 km head of Panvel 12 km is the fort of Karnala. Just 5 km before you reach the fort is Shirdhone, birthplace of Aadya Krantikarak (first Revolutionery) Vasudev Balwant Phadke.

Born on 4th November 1845, he was grandson of Fort-in-charge of Karnala, due to which he had happy and luxurious childhood. Since early days he was fond of bullock carts so he was presented with a Goat Cart by his family and you can see it even today.Born on 4th November 1845, he was grandson of Fort-in-charge of Karnala, due to which he had happy and luxurious childhood. Since early days he was fond of bullock carts so he was presented with a Goat Cart by his family and you can see it even today. While he was working with British Military Finance Dept in 1870, his mother expired and he was not granted leave. This episode had deep impact on him and he decided to revolt against British Rule.

In the famine of 1876 while people were dying of starvation, he raised a force of locals and to raid the rich and famous in order to feed the poor. His vision was to achieve freedom for nation, and create Indian Republic. Subsequently, he was caught British and charged of treason. He was sentenced for life imprisonment and shifted to jail of Eden in 1880.
On 17th Feb 1883 he died of tuberculosis. His old home is today in dilapidated state; but there is a memorial built in his
honour. While you travel on this road please do not forget pay homage to this hero of the nation.

I had seen this place before but Ali was pretty excited to see it. While I was clicking pictures of the Memorial, he explored the rest of the village. We then moved on to fort and bird sanctuary.

Karnala Fort and Bird Sanctuary:
The climb to fort of Karnala is approximately 3 km, however the last 1 km is slightly rocky path and hence difficult for those who are not used to it. It can be really refreshing trek as the surroundings are lush green.

There is also a small bird sanctuary around the fort. As per laws birds can’t be kept in cages now (earlier this was the case); therefore try nature trail of 1 km in the sanctuary. There are close to 130 varieties of birds here, morning and evenings are better times for bird watching. Do not forget to carry binoculars.

I had climbed to the fort twice before and Ali once, besides it was getting late in the evening so we decided to move on further............

For information of good quality stay options and homestays visit: