Skip to main content

Featured Post

Book Review: On Philosophising, Philosophers, Philosophy and New Vistas in Applied Philosophy, by Dr. Sharmila Jayant Virkar

A little bit of context before you begin reading this book review. I have recently enrolled for an MA in Philosophy at the University of Mumbai. Philosophy is something I have been getting interested in, over the past few years, as those of you who have been reading my blogs and Instagram posts would know. During the pandemic, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do next, and this is what I eventually came up with. It has been a challenge, getting back into academics as a student at this age, especially in a subject I have no academic background in. However, it has also been very exciting, especially thanks to my wonderful classmates (who, surprisingly, are of all age-groups, including some quite near my own) and my teachers, who have been very supportive and understanding. How well I will do is something that remains to be seen, but so far, I am enjoying this new journey and look forward to where it leads. Now that you know the background , you probably get an idea of how

Korlai Fort and Lighthouse


A lone fort stood over a hill, on an island just off the creek. The island was a small one, with a fishing village at the foot of the hill, and a fort atop it. From what we could see, from across the creek, there was nothing much to be seen. The fort appeared to be in ruins, as were most of the other forts we had seen in the area. Yet, a friend had assured me that I would like the place, and it was all thanks to him that we driving in the relentless heat towards Korlai Fort in Alibag.



The trip to Alibag itself was one I hadn’t been too keen on. The long weekend was approaching, and the harried citizens of Mumbai were making their way to their regular weekend haunts in and around the area. The rush at the jetty and the crowd in the catamaran had just confirmed my worst fears – of a weekend spent in the midst of teeming tourists! A cousin, however, was visiting, and he wanted to go – so there we were, three cousins and a naughty nephew, at Alibag. We had spent the morning in peace, communing with nature at Akshi beach, watching the sun rise behind the acacia trees and crabs emerge from their hidey holes. We had woken up early enough to beat the beachcombing tourists and were now heading to the fort, hoping that the sun would deter most of the crowd from making the same jaunt as us!







One of the most interesting things about Korlai, is its name. This small island was once called ‘Morro de Chaul’. Morro, in Portuguese, implies ‘a small, rounded hill’; words that best describe the hill atop which the fort is built. The present name – Korlai fort, comes from the village of Korlai on the foothills. This name also comes from the Portuguese – the residents of this fishing village speak a dialect of the Portuguese Creole called ‘kristi’. The word Creole eventually was distorted to Korlai.



It is also said that the name comes from the numerous curlews, which arrived here every year. There were no curlews when we visited, since it was peak summer, but we were the only ones on the glorious beach, which seemed to stretch on forever!







The Korlai fort was built by the Portuguese in 1521, as a companion to the fort at Chaul, guarding the Revdanda Creek. It commands a wonderful view of the creek and is a perfect location for monitoring ships arriving in the area. It was undoubtedly one of the more important forts of the 16th century. The fort passed into Maratha hands, and later into those of the British in the eighteenth century. While the British are said to have used a beacon on the island to help ships navigate, the fort was neglected and it eventually crumbled and left the ruins we can see today.










A set of narrow steps cut in the hillside takes us to the fort, where little remains but an old church and the remnants of a rain water harvesting system. A climb to the fort is worth the effort, simply for the views. But if you are deterred by the condition of the steps, you can still enjoy the view from the lighthouse.



The Korlai Fort lighthouse was commissioned soon after India gained independence. The lighthouse tower was built in 1955 and the small island once more began being used – this time for peaceful purposes, by helping ships navigate!







The lighthouse is open for visitors between 4 PM and 6 PM, but someone is always present there to help visitors who arrive at the wrong time, as we did. A young trainee manning the lighthouse was happy to help us up the winding staircase and then tell us how the lighthouse worked, while we feasted our eyes on the sight of the Arabian Sea stretching out ahead of us.

We could have stood there and admired the sight forever, but time was rushing by, and we had spent more time here than we had intended to. We made our way back to the auto we had come in, stopping for a sight of raw mangoes dangling temptingly from the trees....



Our last sight of the place was the caretaker sitting peacefully in the shade by an old, forgotten cannon.....



They represented Korlai so perfectly – the past and the present, co-existing in harmony with each other!


Factfile:

How to reach: Alibag is about 100 Km from Mumbai by road. Plenty of buses are available. However, the more interesting way to visit Alibag is by ferry from the Gateway of India. There are 3 catamaran operators – PNP, Maldar, and Ajanta – and tickets can be booked at their office at the Gateway. Both AC and Non AC seating is available. The journey by ferry from Gateway to Mandwa takes about an hour, and the fare also includes a bus ride to Alibag from Mandwa.

Where to Stay: There are plenty of lodges and hotels in Alibag catering to every budget. However, a much better option is to check out one of the many homestays, where the main attraction is lip-smacking home cooked food – both veg and non-veg.

Tip
Korlai is about 20 Km from Alibag, and plenty of share-autos are available for the journey, apart from the State transport buses. There are no options for stay at Korlai. The nearest would be Revdanda. However, if you have the right connections, it is possible to get permissions to stay overnight at the lighthouse itself! This should be an experience worth trying out, so if any of you knows anyone in the state government or the lighthouse department, please try to do so!




Comments

  1. Nice place and looks secluded. Good shots.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Raj Niranjan Das! The place was quite secluded... just us and one more family.

      Delete
  2. lovely report on this fort . Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lovely place..... And nice snaps.... :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great pictures Anu - particularly the beaches along with the long stretch of mud roads is so breathtaking!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Vaish! it is indeed!! and its so empty is what is even more breathtaking!

      Delete
  5. Wonderful. I had been to Alibaug, Chhaul and Revdanda few years back but this fort remained elusive. We visited a nice Ganapathi temple (Birlas) too. That part of the Coastline seems to be very rich.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks PNS! we visited all that on our last visit... but they are all too crowded... this one is less known which is why we enjoyed it so much!

      Delete
  6. really it seems quite a beautiful place to visit and what am I reading ? Rain water harvesting in 16th Century ? Oh Boy !!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, sundar.. its a beautiful place to visit.. as for rainwater harvesting. this is not the first place we have seen it! our ancestors seem to have been far ahead of us.... you can see it in many ancient forts... also in rajasthan..

      Delete
  7. nice.. we went to alibaug last year but dint explore this place.. its a must see wen we go next

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely, Supriya! you should go.. its calm peaceful adn interesting!

      Delete
  8. Staying in city, one does not get to even know about such pretty nooks , in India.
    Thanks for the nice photographs and the description.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Pics are superb Anu. Loved the scenery.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I liked your blog and the photos. The light house at Nagaon beach is also beautiful. I wished I could upload the photo.
    Girish Patil
    http://www.dolphinhousea1.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cheng... the lighthouse is on Korlai beach.. not nagaon!

      Delete
  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Excellent narration & beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Another one on my list of places to explore around Mumbai. Lovely write-up. I'm tempted to rush there right away, but I think I better wait till the monsoon season gets over. Am going to pick your brains about this one.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Been here years ago..when i mean years, I mean a different era.Lovely post and pics brought back the memories, however vague :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Beautiful Place..tks for the lovely description Anuradha!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Beautiful place...lovely description Anuradha...tks!!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Good introduction. We are going cycling to this fort on Sunday, this information will help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Johnathon!! Have a great trip! would love to hear about it later!

      Delete
  19. nice blog with beautiful pictures

    ReplyDelete
  20. Please suggest some decent homestays close to Korlai for my family. I would like to take them there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard, there are plenty of good homestays in Alibag and around, and I have written about some in my previous blogs on Alibag. Please check. If you still need more details, please send me a mail.

      Delete
  21. Nice to read the views of a travellers visiting my Korlai village. I visit atleast once a year and climb the fort almost every year. We have our "Doris"cottage, in the Portuguese village :) Beautiful pictures. There was a " 3 single-rooms" lodge at the Korlai bus - stop but I am not sure if it functional now.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan

Gokarna Part II – The Five Lingams

We continued our Gokarna trip by visiting four other Shiva temples in the vicinity, all connected to the same story of Gokarna. The story of Gokarna mentions the Mahabaleshwara Lingam as the one brought from Kailas by Ravana, and kept at this place on the ground by Ganesha. (See my earlier post- Gokarna – Pilgrimage and Pleasure). However, the story does not end here. It is believed that, in his anger, Ravana flung aside the materials which covered the lingam- the casket, its lid, the string around the lingam, and the cloth covering it. All these items became lingams as soon as they touched the ground. These four lingams, along with the main Mahabaleshwara lingam are collectively called the ‘ Panchalingams’ . These are: Mahabaleshwara – the main lingam Sajjeshwar – the casket carrying the lingam. This temple is about 35 Kms from Karwar, and is a 2 hour drive from Gokarna. Dhareshwar – the string covering the lingam. This temple is on NH17, about 45 Kms south of Gokarna. Gunavantesh