Alibag: Coastal Retreats
Alibag or Alibaug is a coastal town and a municipal council located in the Raigad district very close to Mumbai. Although this coastal town is renowned for its beaches, forts, and offers a place for tranquil retreats, it is also of great historical importance. The etymology of the name Alibag can be traced back to a wealthy individual named Ali who had immense coconut and Mango gardens. Hence the name Alibag which literally translates to “Gardens of Ali”. Numerous tourists from nearby cities such as Mumbai and Pune visit the place to enjoy the tourism delights that it has to offer; however many people just come here for a relaxing weekend.
The place was once witness to the struggle against the East India Company in the waters of the Indian Ocean. Under the rule of the Maratha warrior Shivaji, a warrior named Kanhoji Angre terrorized, plundered and looted many British, Dutch, and Portuguese vessels. The successful attacks on imperialistic vessels paved the way for Kanhoji Angre to become the naval chief of King Shivaji’s Kingdom. The immense success of Angre led the East India Company to establish a small naval fleet which later became the Indian navy.
Alibag has many beaches from crowded ones to deserted shores that are dotted with coconut trees. The most famous beaches are the Alibag beach, Kihim beach, Nagaon beach, Varsoli beach, and THAL beach among many others. Every beach has a special feature; while the THAL beach is isolated, Alibag beach is usually teeming with tourists. The Nagaon beach is famous for its coconuts and betel nuts whereas the Varsoli beach has a naval base. Apart from beaches, there are a couple of forts such as the Korlai fort and the Kolaba Fort which were witness to the struggle between the Marathas and many other imperialist invaders.
Alibag is not only home to forts and a place to unwind but also has numerous temples, Buddhist caves, and even industrial units. However the economy largely depends on tourism due to the close vicinity of Mumbai and other cities. Alibag is connected by road to Mumbai via the National Highway – 17 which runs till Waskal. Another option would be to use railways and the nearest railway station is in Pen which is 30 Km’s away from Alibaug. However, the best way of reaching Alibaug from Mumbai is by taking a ferry from the Gateway of India or from “Bhaucha Dhakka”.
Alibaug is a place that can be visited in any season although the monsoons may not be the best time to enjoy the beaches. Summers are moist and warm; however the beaches and coconut groves provide some respite from heat. Many people usually come here to enjoy the seafood and the beaches; however thousands throng this coastal paradise to unwind and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.