After returning from Mahabaleswar, me and my wife were getting bored with daily life at home, suddenly found an opportunity to make a short travel with ‘ Jajabar Group’ led by a senior technical person working with Mumbai port trust. Sri Mangal is living in Mumbai for last thirty years, knows Marathi culture and language thoroughly–it is a minimum must for any man to know local culture and language. His simplicity, lack of ego and selfless nature commands a lot of respect from local people. As for me, I am not a very active person to handle such journeys, so next best thing I could do is to hitch myself to Sri Mangal and his family. Thus my family hitched to his family, and many others. He has the ability to arrange things in connection with travelling, at a minimum cost without creating any fuss.
With this backgraound details, we started our journey from Naigaon in the morning, met him and others at RKBY fort. Caught the ferry service of 7.00am in the morning. Boarded the ferry, and the journey was so nice and I was repenting why I missed this scenes for last 8 years. For better view of beautiful sea we went to upper deck of the launch, and took seats at the front near the seat of the captain. Scenery was stunning ! all around blue and clean water, people here are so disciplined that none I found throwing any garbage / litter in the sea . Apart from our launch, there were many other launches, catamarans, speed boats on the water, sailing in the sea.
Divinely white Sea-gulls were following our boat, we were throwing eatables in the air which sea-gulls caught in their flight. Several oil rigs were standing around very near to us, our Mangal da explained us what, why and how those rigs function, and also how they are carried from one place to other for oil drilling purpose. Journey was so pleasant that I did not want the journey to end ever; left to me, I would hire one and live permanently on this water. After nearly half an hour we reached Mandwa jetty, and had to de-board the launch. This part of journey and the next part of journey to Alibag, cost us only Rs 105/- per head. Going by the Mumbai standard , it is really cheap.
At right hand side, we saw a tourist spot is being raised in the sea. All of us walked on the newly built jetty to catch the bus for Alibag. Our leader, Mangal da, ran ahead of us and faster than the co-passengers to occupy the seats beforehand and reserve those for all of us , for the next part of journey. We boarded the bus, after 50 minutes travel through narrow winding neat and clean roads through small yet developed modern villages we reached Alibag. Hear we must stop to thank those devoted workers who are working 24×7 behind the scene to keep the places scenic and beautiful for the enjoyment of tourists. Those of us coming from other places have a lot to learn.
Our main job was to eat a heavy breakfast to sustain us till evening, and of course the essential course of medicine for Blood pressure, Diabetes etc etc from which at our age very few are free from. At this age basket of drug is no less important than basket of food. We ate our breakfast in the ‘ Sarita Bihar’ near the Bus depot. At this point we boarded a private car which was booked in advance for us by our team leader Sri Mangal.
Not far off from Sarita Bihar. We reached within a few minutes Alibag beach. For the first time in my life I saw this beach, and a historical fort near the sea shore. Alibaug is the headquarters of the Raigad district. Raigad’s first name was “Kulaba”. It was developed in the 17th century by Sarkhel Kanhoji Aangre , the naval chief of King Shivaji‘s Kingdom. A naval battle was fought at Varsoli between Kanhoji Aangre and Siddi of Janjira in 1706. In 1722 English and Portuguese jointly attacked Kulaba fort, and they lost this war. At Chaul there was a battle between the English and Sakhoji in 1730. Sakhoji won and brought down the losing party along with their captain at Kulaba. Alibaug and its surrounding villages are the historic hinterland of Bene Israeli Jews.
When I kept my hand on the walls of the fort, I imagined a direct and unsevered communion with that 350 years old period, I could feel that hundreds of soldiers marching, shouting, crying and firing cannon balls with loud noises. I closed my eyes and transported myself to actually live those days—who knows I was not a soldier in the confines of this fort, in that distant past, in my earlier birth, perhaps that is particularly the reason my inner self leapt up in joy.
I was in ecstasy. It was getting late , my co-tourist persuaded me to board the car for our next place. Our driver was young Muslim boy , who was telling us the historical connections of the places around, he knows mythological stories of our Hindu Gods and Goddesses with authority.He took us to Birla Ganesh Mandir, located 20 Kms away in a small village named ‘Salav’ on the alibaug – roha route. The temple is on a hill top. Vikram Ispat company, a part of Birla udyog group has built this temple. It is a temple built in milky white marble, and its dome can be seen from a long distance . While climbing the temple 135 steps, one is mesmerized by the surrounding landscape. On both sides of the steps is green velvet carpet of grass . In my personal view, working on a huge no. of steps before seeing the idol of God, designed generally to tests our depth of sacrifice/ devotion to God.
The temple has marble floors and the hall of the temple is open from all sides. The ceiling of the temple is transparent which allows free flow of air and light . On entering the temple there is a square shaped nave. The nave is also made of marble and is very beautifully carved. The beautifully carved idol of ‘Ganapati’ is placed in the central area. The idols of ‘Riddhi and Siddhi’ are placed on both sides of idol. Around the the central area are small temples of ‘Radha-Krishna’, ‘Shiv-Parvati’, ‘Bhavanidevi’ and ‘Suryadeva’. In the garden next to the temple there is a statue of “Late Aditya Birla”. Worship and Aarti is done at 9.00 a. m. and 7.00 p. m. everyday.The temple is open for the public from 6.00 a. m. to 11.30 a. m. and 4.30 p. m. to 9.00 p. m.
I have seen many other Birla Mandirs but here is a stark difference that I noticed, no construction work was going on here. Actually, as I have learnt from a heresy that oldest member of Birla family, had divine instruction that construction work in Birla Mandir should never stop, and my experience of seeing of ongoing actual construction in every Birla Mandir has only reinforced my idea of existence of such divine instruction. Anybody with Birla connection can answer my curiosity.
Our next stop was another holy place. He took us to Siddhi Vinayak temple at Nandgaon, it was a temple 350 years old and well maintained by the trustee members. Temple was neat, clean and well maintained that arouse devotion to God. I prayed to God Vinayak for our family’s well beings. Human mind and ideas constantly changes; what is absolutely right or wrong in this universe, no one knows. I have seen many communists are proud to proclaim themselves as atheists, but surreptitiously pray to God, as they publicly cannot do it by themselves as public demonstration of their faith in God would be interpreted by public as their weakness, and may doom their political career. Actually, I believe no human being can ever live without the faith in God, because in childhood every human being has to be looked after by their parents and dependent upon them, and that father-figure is always in their mind, even when they grow old. When they go beyond childhood, God fills the void of parents, every moment we need HIM, that’s the reason we have faith in God . All human being will admit this provided they are honest and truthful.
Jyoti Basu was the chief Minister of WB, and a great leader of communist party, was publicly known as an atheist. He would not believe in God, but his wife was an ardent devotee of Goddess Kali Of Dakshineswar. Jyoti Basu never stopped her from doing puja, perhaps believing that excesses on her part was a compensation for himself. Communists are number one hypocrites, although Jyoti Basu proclaimed himself as the saviour of the half fed /ill fed poor masses, he himself would live a posh life, educated in England, drank high class costly wines, visited posh hotels in London and his language of conversation at home was English ( my source is ‘ no full stop in India’ by Mark Tully)
Everybody needs God. Amitave Bachhan and most of the film stars who are super successful in life, sought the blessings of Siddi Vinayak through their penance, devotees walk all night in bare foot to reach the temple at dawn to offer puja. I personally believe in this great universe we are small pecks, but for the blessings and kindness of God we cannot live a successful life for ourselves, in this world. The practice of high and mighty, are burning examples, in support of my assertions. With this faith and belief I sought the blessings of Sidhhi Vinayak at Nandgaon, for safety and security for my family.
We started for our next destination—Kasid Beach. Kashid is located 30 km from Alibag on the Alibag-Murud road. It is one of the best beaches in the Konkan region, Kashid Beach draws visitors for its white sand and scenic background of mountains and paddy fields. Water here tends to be rough, with waves reaching several feet high, creating conditions perfect for surfing but difficult for swimming. You can enjoy here in other beach activities, such as parasailing and horseback riding. We stayed here almost an hour, relaxed in the swing tied to the trunk of coconut tree. There are plenty of betel nut and coconut trees, in the coconut grooves picnic parties were enjoying cooking and eating foods, and drinks. We stayed here for one hour. Next we started for Murud.
After half an hour we reached in Murud. It’s important is due to the Janjira fort, tourists come to see it and feel the history associated with the Janjira fort. The fort of Janjira on the sea is the only one of its kind. Janjira Jal-Durg (“sea fort”) was constructed by Malik Ambar, an Abssynian minister in the service of the Sultan of Ahmednagar, who belonged to the Nizamshahi dynasty. The fort, built at the end of the 17th century, is almost entirely intact today. During its heyday the island fort boasted having 572 cannons.Visitors can gain access to the Janjira fort from Rajapuri, a small village on the coast. After a short ride in a small boat, one can enter the fort through the main entrance. The fort is oval shaped instead of the usual oblong or square shape. The fort wall is about 40 feet high and has 19 rounded porches or arches, some of which still have cannons mounted on them, including the famous cannon Kalaal Baangadi.
These cannons were largely responsible for repelling oncoming enemies from the sea. Inside the fort walls are the ruins of a mosque, a palace and bath with water channelled from streams, an evidence that royal ladies occupied the quarters. A deep well, still functional, provides fresh water despite the fort being surrounded by salt water.
On shore is a luxurious cliff-top mansion, the Palace of the Nawab. Built by the former Nawab of Janjira, it commands a panoramic view of the Arabian sea and the Janjira sea fort
According to another record that the Abyssinian Sidis established the Janjira and Jafarabad state in early 1100.
The island fortress was under control of Adil Shahi dynasty until the reign of Ibrahim II where Janjira fort was lost to the Siddis.
Major historical figures from Murud-Janjira include men such as Sidi Hilal, Yahya Saleh and Sidi Yaqub. During the rule of Sultan Aurangzeb, Sidi Yaqut received a subsidy of 400.000 rupees. He also owned large ships which weighed 300–400 tons. According to the record these ships were unsuitable for fighting on the open sea against European warships, but their size allowed for transporting soldiers for amphibious operations.
Despite their repeated attempts, the Portuguese, the British and the Marathas failed to subdue the power of the Siddis, who were themselves allied with the Mughal Empire. For example, 10,000 soldiers from Moro Pandit were repulsed by Janjira’s army in 1676. The Marathas led by Shivaji attempted to scale the 12-meter-high (39 ft) granite walls; he failed in all his attempts. His son Sambhaji even attempted to tunnel his way into the fort but was unsuccessful in all his attempts. He built another sea fort in 1676, known as Padmadurg or Kasa fort, to challenge Janjira. It is located northeast of Janjira. Padmadurg took 22 years to build and is constructed on 22 acres of land.
In the year 1736, Siddis of Murud-Janjira set out in a battle with the forces of Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao. On 19 April 1736, Maratha warrior Chimaji Appa attacked the gathered forces in the encampments of the Siddis near Rewas. When the confrontation ended, 1,500 Siddis, including their leader Siddi Sat, were killed. Peace was concluded in September 1736, but the Siddis were confined to only Janjira, Gowalkot, and Anjanwel, thus their power greatly reduced. However, Janjira remained unconquered until it became part of Indian territory after independence from the British in 1947.
Reaching such a historic place, all of us were elated. Our resourceful leader Mangal da booked room in the HOTEL SEA FACE well in advance. As soon as we were there they welcomed in the hotel, and served tea and cold drinks. View of sea from the first floor justify the name of hotel. Because of our hectic rush of sight seeing we could not have our lunch so far, after half an hour we sat down to take our lunch in the groove of coconut trees. In our happy mood food tasty food of hotel was tastier to us. Went back to room, and exchanged our experiences, shared many past personal stories. Mangal da’s old acquiesces started working. Some known family of his, could come to know that we have come here, soon they found us out in the hotel, took us to their home and entertained us with their lavish hospitality. After an hour we came back to the hotel.
In the evening walked in groups on the beach, enjoyed the rise and fall of waves, dancing boat at distances, paragliders and horse riders on the beach. We visited lanes and by lanes of Murud. People are gentle, place is calm and quite. The narrow streets, trees , houses looks at you and eager to tell stories of last 500 years. We were mesmerised by the beauty of the place and people living here.
At around 10 pm we took our meals, again visited beach. Then we came back to the hotel, and enjoyed a good night’s sleep. Visited beach in the next morning, enjoyed cool breeze. Took random photographs and posted to face book there itself, by our beloved Mangal da. At ten in the morning left the hotel. Had our sumptuous breakfast which could sustain us till evening. Next we boarded the car for our journey back home. The scenery of hills, forests, sea at Mandwa on the way back were equally enchanting, sometimes I found words can not rise equal to those. Reached home at 7 pm in the evening.This memorable tour would not be possible without the active role played by Mangal da. He is so gentle, cooperative, and bore all the strain on himself.
LONG LIVE MANGAL DA, AND GIVE US MANY MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO VISIT PLACES UNDER YOUR GREAT LEADERSHIP. YOU HAVE LEARNT THE ART OF ADOPTING THE WISE MAN’S ADVICE TO STOOP TO WIN THE WORLD. WE ARE YOUR FANS, DON’T FORGET US.