Alibaug - An Ideal Destination for Weekend Getaway

May 3, 2008

The month of May is the time for vacation especially for families with school or college-going children. There also people who would like to have a break such as those fed up with their year-round busy schedule and families bored with domestic chores and would like to have a change. For all such people who have not yet planned a long vacation and do not want to spend much, Alibaug, the coastal retreat is an ideal destination for weekend getaway or a few days of brief vacation. 

Alibaug, which is also known as 'Mumbai's Malibu' has wonderful beaches for relaxation and historical sites such as forts and temples for exploration.

Incidentally, it is commonly believed that the township got its name from a person named Ali who had a number of flower gardens (bhags), hence 'Alibaug'.


Alibaug can be reached by sea from Gateway of India through ferry or catamaran. The ferry service starts from 6.30 am and charges are Rs 65 per person that includes bus ride from Mandwa jetty up to Alibaug. Catamarans charges are Rs 80 to 110. The ferry takes around one hour fifteen minutes from Gateway of India to Mandwa and bus journey takes around half an hour covering a distance of 17 kms from Mandwa to Alibaug. However, during the monsoon the ferry and catamaran services remain suspended.  Regular State Transport buses from different parts of Mumbai and Thane are available to Alibaug which cover a distance of around 124 kms in 3 to 4 hours via Panvel and Pen.

Alibaug, the capital of the Raigad district (formerly known as the Kolaba district) is located on the west coast of Maharashtra at a distance of 35 kilometers to the south of Mumbai. It is an idyllic small town surrounded by rustic villages with long stretches of sandy beaches, lush green rice fields, hemmed by coconut and betel nut palms, hills and valleys and the Western Ghats in background that enhances the beauty of the region.

Alibaug was just a fishing village few years ago and inhabited by fisher folk and farmers. However, sailors from Mumbai used to halt at this place before venturing further. Nearly fifty years ago, realizing the potential of Alibaug as a future destination for investment, two enterprising Parsis, Jamshed Godrej and Adi Unwala built houses there.

Since few years past, Alibaug and the surrounding regions have become very popular with the Mumbai's affluent residents. Most of them own farms and bungalows in Alibaug.  The elite of Mumbai and other regions have practically invaded Alibaug and bought over paddy fields and constructed designer homes and landscape gardens which are often a few hundred meters from the sea shore.
Alibaug is a preferred destination for those who want to relax and enjoy its pristine beaches, cool breeze and noiseless and non-polluted atmosphere. For those with a taste of tourism, the town and the surrounding regions also provide an opportunity to explore a number of historical sites. If someone desires to blend the weekend getaway with a bit of historical tourism the favourite historical sites include the Kolaba Sea-fort of the Marathas, the palace and tomb of Kanoji Angre, the great Maratha admiral, a Jewish Synagogue, the magnetic observatory and a host of temples.

Those who have a little more time to spare can also visit the once Portuguese settlement of Chaul, which is at a distance of 15 kms from Alibaug and  is famous for its Portuguese ruins, an old church, a synagogue, Buddhist caves, the Hamam Khana and a temple. Korlai at a distance of 17 kms from Alibaug is another Portuguese settlement on the West coast that still has a Portuguese fort and a church.


The Kolaba Fort, jutting from the middle of the sea about one  kilometer from the shore was built by the great Maratha king Chatrapati Shivaji in 1652 to keep a check on the activities of the foreign naval powers of the English, the Portuguese and the Siddi of Janjira. Kolaba became the naval headquarters of Chatrapati Shivaji under the great Maratha admiral, Kanoji Angre, who established the township towards the end of the seventeenth century, presently known as Alibaug. Alibaug witnessed three major wars. In 1706, Kanoji Angre defeated the Siddi of Janjira; in 1722, the British and the Portuguese jointly attacked the fort, but were defeated; and in 1730, the British and the Marathas fought a naval battle at Chaul, which resulted in the defeat of the British in the hands of the Angres.

The Kolaba Fort, which is still fairly in good condition, is 900 feet long and 350 feet wide. It has two gates-one from the seaside and the other from the shore. The Siddhivinayak temple within the fort was built by Raghuji Angre in 1759.  The most surprising thing is that there is a sweet water tank inside the fort in middle of the sea.

If one wishes to visit the fort he has to note the timings of the tides. During the low tide one can visit the fort by walking across the seashore or by taking ride on a horse cart which charges around Rs 50 per person for both ways. During the high tide the fort is surrounded by water.

Those who are fond of long stretches of beaches with fine sand and pure water and would like to savour the bliss of cool sea-breeze and gentle sound of the waves can choose any beach from among the many that can be approached from Alibaug.

The Alibaug beach with the imposing Kolaba Fort in the foreground is the chief beach of the township. Around five km away from Alibaug is the Akshi beach. Nagaon Beach at a distance of five km provides a cool atmosphere with coconut and betel nut palms in the background. Kihim Beach is a quiet and secluded beach at a distance of 12 kms from Alibaug.

A trip to Korlai, the old Portuguese settlement with an imposing fort on the top of the hill jutting out in the sea opposite to the Revdanda Beach at a distance of around 18 kms from Alibaug can be a memorable experience. One can take the State Transport bus from Alibaug proceeding to Murud. The charges are Rs 15 per person. Share-rickshaws are also available at reasonable rates.

The road up to Revdanda, a distance of around 15 kms is lined with coconut and betel nut groves providing green and cool surrounding. There are also a number of temples at regular intervals. Korlai has an old Portuguese church built in 1715. The Portuguese fort of Korlai can be trekked with moderate stamina in two hours. 

One can also visit Kanakeshwar temple situated on a hill near Mapgaon village, about 12 km away from Alibaug and on the way to Mandwa.

If one wants to do a bit of purchasing, Alibaug's markets offer classic local products like seasonal white onions, tamarind balls, tender coconut, variety of dried fish, water melons, mangoes and fresh vegetables.

As Alibaug has become a favoured destination for holiday getaway for harried people from Mumbai and other surrounding areas, the availability of accommodation for a few days is not a big botheration. Many hotels, resorts, lodges and guesthouses have cropped up in this town. There are hotels and lodges and even farm houses that suit one's budget and comfort.

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Dr Eugene D'Souza, Mumbai
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Comment on this article

  • Clinton Leon, Mumbai

    Mon, Feb 08 2010

    Thank you Dr. Eugene,for taking us in history again i would be visiting it very soon i m an East Indian,a student of a film institute and however interested in filming this and if any takeover would surely come in contact with you thankyou so very much though!

  • Himanshu Jaitley, Bangalore

    Thu, Dec 25 2008

    Very informative & enriching article.Helped us plan our visit to Alibaug in a more defining manner.Thank you.

  • Shri, Pune

    Mon, Jun 16 2008

    Hello Dr. Eugene, I was told that there is another beach about 2 hrs or so from Mumbai (not sure north or south) and supposedly this is a replica of the beaches in Goa. They have the same styled beach huts/villas and even the beach has golden/white sand and absolutely clean blue waters. Maybe are you aware of such a place? The name is Dahori or Daihri or something like that. TIA Regards Shridharan Krishnan

  • Ghoble, Village Nandgaon

    Sun, Jun 15 2008

    I would like to visit the place once again after reading the account of Dr.Eugene.Geog & Hist are the two eyes I am happy to see Photos- Thanks and keep up

  • Augustine Daniel D'Souza, Udupi Vasai Virar State of Kuwait

    Mon, May 05 2008

    These photographs are very good, thank you Dr Eugene D'Souza

  • Prof. Ravinder K Cheema,

    Mon, May 05 2008

    Sir u have brought Alibaug live to us thru ur excellent photography. u refreshed our memories of our historical visits with students. Article too is informative, ur interest and enthusiasm is at great heights.

  • Mohan H Naik, Mangaluru

    Sun, May 04 2008

    The pics are lively and the article informative.Thanks to Mr D'Souza.

  • Michael, KSA

    Sun, May 04 2008

    It suggests that Mr. D'Souza is not only a good writer but also a wonderful photographer. His photos are very clear, artistic, lovely and full of life. In his earlier article, "Mangalore from agritulture to IT", one of the photos, if submitted for the competition, would definitely fetch the first prize. It is the photo of the thatched house, taken just at the onset of the monsoon. The walls are dilapidated and the wet roof covered with the blue plastice cover that is torn-out. One can also notice a chicken searching for the food in front of a half reclined country-dog, gazing at the photographer with indifference. The photo speaks hundreds of things. Mr. D'Souza, it is one of the best photos I have ever seen. Keep it up.

  • A.D'Cunha shenoy, Mangaluru

    Sun, May 04 2008

    Wonderful place. Dr. D'Souza, what is the population of this place. Are thare any catholics there? Thanks.

  • John Pereira, Ghatkopar/Mumbai

    Sun, May 04 2008

    I went through the latest article of Dr Eugene D'Souza on History & Geography of Alibaug and found it very interesting. I had visited Alibaug with a friend of mine many years ago by ST bus and returned by ST bus as my friend was located at Panvel.

    I had learnt about the historical and tourist importance of Alibaug and also found several big shots buying properties to build bungalows for their weekend trips, particularly during long weekend holidays. Once I travelled to Revdanda by launch from Ferry Wharf and enjoyed the serenity of the place. I have read about Chaul and other Christian settlements around the Renaissance years in the 16th century.

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