Alibaug, a coastal town off Mumbai is always living up to its hype of being a beautiful beach destination. But besides tourism, you’d be surprised to know that this coastal town is an amalgamation of history, culture, and art if you know the nooks to explore. From secluded beaches to quirky cafes matching the city vibe to forts that carry historical anecdotes and art galleries with a contemporary touch; Are you ready to explore the hidden secrets of Alibaug?
Turn the Pages of Unread Anecdotes in History
Would you believe it if we told you Alibaug had its own currency at one point? Back in the 17th century, during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, many battles were fought at this naval base. At that time, Kanhoji Angre, after a win, issued his currency of a silver coin called the Alibagi rupaiya!
The place gets its nomenclature from a Bene Israelite man named Eli who owned gardens with mango and coconut plantations. The locals called it Eli chi baug or Ali’s garden which eventually transformed to Alibaug.
If you are keenly interested in more memoirs of the past and hidden secrets of Alibaug, then pay a visit to Korlai Fort, Hirakot Fort, Sagargad Fort and Murud-Janjira Fort here.
Leave an Imprint in Sands of Lesser-Known Beaches
There is something ineffably soothing being in close proximity to a beach, the slow breeze caressing your face or waves inching further to touch your feet. The popular beaches of Alibaug, Nagaon and Kashid are riddled with tourists. But there are some relatively unnoticed spots, tucked a little further. Akshi beach, next to Nagaon sees a comparatively lesser crowd. Kasim beach, located about 30 km away in the town of Kashid is another beachside that evokes calm and tranquility. Saswane beach extending the coastline of Awas, is a good place to visit if you want to stir up conversations with the locals about their life at the sea. This town is home to a fishermen community.
With frequent tourists returning to the beaches of Alibaug, they, unfortunately, leave behind more than just their footprints. Wrappers, paper waste, snack bits, and a lot of plastic waste get irresponsibly thrown around on the beach shore. Taking up the responsibility to make the beaches look pristine again, SaffronStays and M2M Ferries in association with Beach Warriors are organizing Alibaug Beach Cleanup at Mandwa beach on February 28, Sunday from 9 AM to 11 AM. If you’d like to join us then Click here to register.
Relish and Learn The Culinary Culture!
To get the taste of a place, one has to indulge in the authentic flavours it offers. Alibaug serves as an introduction to the Konkan region of Maharashtra and thus Gomantak cuisine or seafood becomes a must-try. Sanmaan restaurant carries a legacy of over three decades. Established in 1980, they have secret recipes that are now carried forward by generations with no compromise in taste. Located on Varsoli beach, this hotel serves you the best at an affordable price. One of the hidden secrets of Alibaug to explore is the cafe culture. Bohemyan Blue on Alibaug- Rewas road is an open garden cafe with rustic feels. The wooden cane furniture, decorated flowy curtains, and abundance of shrubs around do present the Bohemian vibe, an ambiance that suits a brunch plan. You can choose your platter from Lebanese, Italian to some Konkani dishes.
Since we are talking about relishing good food, one can get to the other side of the preparations with Chef Moshe Shek’s culinary studio ‘A World Away.’ The chef behind popular boutique Cafe Moshe’s has set up a swanky school in Awas, a 25 mins ride from Alibaug. Within an atmosphere of tall trees and a well-maintained garden of fruits, vegetables and herbs one can learn to cook classic middle-eastern dishes to deliciously gooey desserts!
Luxurious Stays All to Yourself
Among the many hotels, resorts and homestays that welcome the tourists visiting this coastal town, there are private villas that offer you the entire place to yourself. Yes, you could have a place with private access to the beach or stare into the horizon from the azure blue pools! SaffronStays By The Beach, offers you an experience to enjoy the beachfront by lounging in a pool. This luxurious 5-bedroom villa welcomes you with a drive down on Mandwa beach, so you live right across the sandy shores.
If you want a more serene ambiance, a little away from the beaches, then SaffronStays Al Fresco is a place you can consider. With a jacuzzi in an indoor swimming pool to expansive lawns outdoors, you have many ways to rejuvenate. A set up of movie night under the stars on the lush lawns outside, this goes beyond a 5-star living experience!
If the oceanside is not your bait, then there’s a heritage property that will make you fall in love with it at first sight! SaffronStays Asanji Wadi in Alibaug eminently exudes a historic feel, right from its brick stone construction to the carefully picked interior decor items. Resurrected by the homeowners after the Bhuj earthquake, this home truly has stories to tell.
Decoding Contemporary Art and Sculptures
Alibaug may paint artistic sceneries with its natural bounty of ocean sunsets but it is also a secret haven for art lovers! Mumbai’s famous art gallery The Guild shifted here from Colaba back in 2015. Shalini Sawhney, the owner and director decided to move, to make art accessible to the real patrons who love visiting galleries. There is no urgency to catch up on exhibitions in the city chaos, but instead, art becomes a viewing and relaxing experience here. The place has been hosting several private collectors’ exhibitions for years.
One of the most interesting art scenes and hidden secrets of Alibaug is the Ashirwaad Kaladalan, a Coconut Shell Art Gallery. It is a display of artist Vijayanand Shembekar’s talent for making artworks out of coconut shells and other items of the coconut tree. Broken and damaged coconuts, shells, leaves and stems are his only materials but he presents a marvelous gallery of over 400 pieces that will leave you spell-bound. From vehicles, intricate lamps, animals to human figurines, he’s carved art from what was tagged waste.
Another not-so-hidden secret of Alibaug, but still underexplored, is the Dashrath Patel Museum. This museum displays the creations of multi-disciplinary artist Dashrath Patel, who used paintings, pottery, photography, sculpting, and designs as his mediums of expression. An artist from L’Ecole Beaux Arts to becoming Founder Secretary of Education of NID Ahmedabad, Patel had interactions with luminaries of art and culture in his journey of exploring the field. The museum sheds light on his life and legacy, deserving a visit from true art lovers.
Tourists head to Alibaug with the alacrity of visiting the beaches but closer to the visible horizon are these gems of art, history, and culture, waiting to welcome a curious explorer.