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Deepak Amembal | Views: 128180

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Posted on: Thursday , Jan 20, 2011 At 16:21 PM

Alibag And Nearabouts


Visited Alibag last weekend and realised there is much more to Alibag than its filthy beach! Filthy because in the morning you find guys crapping all along the shore and to think that people go for a splash in the same waters! Hence even if you go for a walk you have to walk gingerly sidestepping the turds.
The next best thing to do is just visit all the other wonderful places nearby like the Korlai Fort and lighthouse and the Kankeshwar temple. Both require a bit of climbing to be done but are well worth the effort.
The Korlai Fort is at a distance of 24kms from Alibag on the road to Murud.
The last few kilometres of the road is more of a path. Once you reach there you can visit the
Korlai lighthouse first and then the Fort, the steps for which begin right behind the Lighthouse.
The Fort was built by the Portugese in the 16th century. The fort served as an important surveillance point.
The Lighthouse Tower was built in 1955 and a DA gas light was installed on it and lit on 25th December 1955. Optical equipment with electrical flasher operating on batteries to be charged by DC gensets was installed in 1960 and the new light became operational on 28th January 1961.The optic (500 mm) and light was improved in 1998 and an electronic flasher (JLWL) was introduced in April 1999.
The flashing equipment and drum optic system was replaced by the Revolving equipment GRB-48-II supplied by M/s Ana Nav Aids, Ltd, New Delhi, and put in operation on 31st August 2003. The light flashes every 3seconds and has a range of 18 nautical miles. For an unofficial charge of `10/- per head and `20/- per camera for photography you can get a guided tour of the Lighthouse.
The entrance to the Lighthouse
The stairway to leading to the top of the Lighthouse.
The narrow ladder at the top
The view of the road leading to the lighthouse.
Korlai Fort (also called Morro or Castle Curlew) is a Portuguese fortification in the town of Korlai, Maharashtra, India. It was built on an island (Morro de Chaul) which guards the way to the Revdanda Creek. It was meant as a companion to the fort at Chaul.
At this strategic position the Portuguese could use it to defend their province which stretched from Korlai to Vasai.
The fort is 2828 feet long, and its average breadth is eighty-nine feet. The enclosing wall is 5' 3" high and has 305 battlements for guns.
The area within the fort walls is divided into three enclosures by two lines of bastioned fortifications.
Each of the seven bastions bears the name of a saint. The two westward bastions are named São Diego(after Didacus of Alcalá) and São Francisco (after Francis of Assisi).The others are São Pedro, São Inácio, and São Filipe.
It has a large rain-water cistern with three mouths, each one foot wide, and the ruins of a church.
The church was built in 1630 for the use of the army and was functional until 1728.
There are three Portuguese inscriptions.
One, over a doorway in the centre and highest part of the fort, reads as follows:
This castle was commanded to be built by the Viceroy of India Dom Filipe Mascarenhas in November of the year 1646 and Fernão Miranda Henriques being Captain of Chaul, and was finished in May 1680, Cristóvão de Abreu de Azevedo being Captain of this fort.
The inscription is surmounted by a cross with a coat of arms having the Portuguese stars in the centre and surrounded by seven castles. Other inscriptions over the main entrance and over an altar in the chapel are worn out and undecipherable.
During the brief Maratha rule, some of the names of the bastions were changed but now the
only indication of their presence is some dismantled shrines.
Thirteen kilometers from Alibag on the way to Rewas is a beautiful Shiva temple at Kankeshwar.
It is on top of a hill and there are well paved 700 steps to reach up there. Actually it is a complex
of temples beginning with a Hanuman temple and a Ganesh temple and many other small Shiva temples. It is a very popular temple and gets very crowded during Shivratri festival. They have a Dharamshala if devotees wish to stay over and the cost is very reasonable upto Rs.150/- for the accomodation.
Spent a lovely evening in Alibag watching a glorious sunset.
On our return dropped by at the Alibag observatory. The Alibag Magnetic Observatory, established in 1904, has provided an uninterrupted record of geomagnetic observations for over a century and it has since been serving as one of the primary magnetic observatories that form a global network. Unfortunately we did not have permission that has to be obtained from their Panvel office to enter and view how it works.

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Posted on: Saturday , Jan 16, 2010 At 11:22 AM

Unwind Karde At Karde!

Wanted to begin the new year by indulging in my passions of travel and photography and did just that this new year. Drove down to Karde from Mumbai for a rejuvenating beginning to the new year! Spent a couple of days gorging on sea food and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets!
We set out from home at 0630hrs on the first day of 2010 and got on to NH17. 

We had the moon for company all along.

The first dawn of the year was an awesome sight from the Panvel bypass.
Had an idli dosa breakfast at Kamaths in Mahad and moved on to Khed from where we take the turn for Dapoli and onwards to Karde where we had booked a room in Hotel Kinara. 

Reached the Hotel at 1230hrs after covering a distance of 290kms. Our lunch order was confirmed on the phone by the Hotel a day earlier. This is the practice followed by all the Hotels in the area hence you cannot just walk in and expect to be served. The meal order has to be placed at least a couple of hours in advance.
Had an excellent fish Thali and a delicious veg Thali and followed it by getting back to the room and resting for a while before proceeding to Harnai beach to witness the fish auction.

Harnai beach is around 8kms away and we reached there via a treacherous path by car. The boats had come in and the auction was on in full swing.

What struck us was the way the fish was transported from the boats to the shore. The boats cannot come in right up to the shore due to shallow waters and hence bullock carts, yes bullock carts, take sacks of ice to the boats, offload the fish onto the ice in plastic crates and cart it back to the shore!
It was fun watching and clicking all the activity on the beach. Spent nearly an hour there, after which we returned back to our Hotel that was all decked up in celebration of 2010.

On our way back spotted this cannon at Harnai.
Watched the sun go down which created a magical ambiance with paragliding activity on the beach.

Had an awesome dinner of, yes, fish! Retired early for the day as had to get up early to go for the ‘dolphin viewing’ boat ride at dawn.

Saw this heavenly sight from the balcony at 0600hrs.
The boat was scheduled to arrive at the hotel to pick us up at 0700hrs. And sure enough, saw the motor boat puttering in on time, and we, along with 8 other tourists, were helped aboard by the crew. And on we went in search of the elusive dolphins.
Managed to spot a few in the half hour ride that cost us only Rs.100/- per head.

The sunrise witnessed from the ocean was awesome!
Revelling in the beauty we returned to the hotel had ‘kanda pohey’ for breakfast and got ready to visit the ‘Kadyavarcha Ganapati’ which is around 20kms from the hotel at Anjarle.

Had a peaceful darshan of this legendary idol. This idol is believed to have come ashore Anjarle from the sea and was installed on the cliff using wooden pillars in around 1150. Later it was renovated during 1768 to 1780. The Ganesh idol’s trunk is curved towards the right, which is very rare. Kadyavarcha Ganapati is also considered as the live deity (a jagrut daiwat) who responds to distress calls of common people (nawsala pavnara Ganapati).

The dome of this temple has the ‘Ashtavinayak’ embedded on it.
There is a small Shiva Mandir adjacent to this temple.
Sat there awhile and returned back to the hotel for yet another excellent meal of fish and ‘vaalaach beerd’.

Spent the evening walking along the beach, watching a glorious sunset.
For dinner that night had an unusual prawn biryani. It was a Malwani flavoured biryani and absolutely yummy! And of course every meal was accompanied by delicious solkadi.

Got up early as it was the final morning at Karde for us and wanted to take in as much as possible of the ambiance of a lovely morning on the beach.

Went for long walk on the beach and around 0930hrs set out on the return journey to Mumbai. But had a stop scheduled on the way.

There was this beautiful old temple at Murud Harnai which is just about 2kms from Karde.

Murud is also the hometown of our great freedom fighter Bharat Ratna Maharshi Dhondu Karve whose bust is erected opposite the Durga Devi temple.

This Durga Devi temple was built almost 300yrs back and the pujari affirmed that his was the 6th generation looking after the temple.

The carved wooden pillars in the temple are beautiful.

A Ganesha temple in the premises

There is a large bell at the entrance of the temple. The temple poojary told us that it was brought by Chimaji Appa after winning over the Vasai fort, from one of the churches there.

Had our breakfast at Dapoli and returned to Mumbai via Mandangad covering a distance of 249kms.
The roads were largely good and the traffic minimal. Only in certain patches the road was rough – untarred.

Reached Mumbai at 1630hrs after a magical holiday at Karde.

Getting there
By Train

Mumbai - Karde
• Mumbai - Khed Station (via Konkan Railway)
• Khed Station - Dapoli (29 km) (via private transport – jeeps, etc. / state transport -   ST buses)
   Dapoli – Karde (20kms) (via private transport – jeeps, etc. / state transport -   ST buses)                

By Road
Mumbai – Karde
290kms Route Mumbai - Panvel – Mahad –Khed – Dapoli – Karde (Mumbai –Khed NH17)
250kms Route Mumbai – Panvel – Mangaon – Mandangad – Dapoli - Karde  (Mumbai – Mangaon NH17)      

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Posted on: Monday , Dec 21, 2009 At 10:56 AM

Bylakuppe - A Mini Tibet In Karnataka

A mini Tibet in South India, 2,000 kilometres from Tibet! To know the Tibetan way of life and to see the Golden Temple, the people in South India need not venture very far from their homes. 

A few kilometres from Madikeri in Karnataka is Bylakuppe where the Indian government had leased 3,000 acres of land to the fleeing Tibetans in 1961.

The’ Lugsum Samdupling’ settlement has grown to a veritable township with monasteries, nunneries and cafes and stalls that showcase the Tibetan way of life. Bylakuppe is the largest Tibetan community in exile with about 40,000 people in five settlements containing monasteries, kindergarten to higher level secondary schools, health care clinics, a hospital and a traditional Tibetan medical facility.

As you near the settlement you will find monks in robes zipping past on two wheelers. Makes one wonder – what’s the hurry for the monks? Ah well, the monks here are well rooted in tradition and well connected with all modern technology too.
You will see monks chatting away on a mobile phone in one hand and rolling beads on his rosary in another!
All the monks exude a friendliness and warmth towards all visitors and are ready to answer any question that is put to them.

The most visited temple here is Namdroling (The Golden Temple) and the signage is loud and clear. And of course you can spot it from afar.
The monastery attached to this temple is considered to be one of the best places for higher learning. This monastery dedicated to the teachings of Palyul Lineage of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism was established by His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche shortly after he came to India from Tibet.

Three beautiful larger than life gold plated statues look down at visitors above the altar. Buddha around 60 feet tall holds prominent place, flanked by Guru Padmasambhava and Amitayush (each around 58 feet tall).

The walls are adorned with colourful paintings depicting gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology.
The altar is decorated with flowers, candles and incense.
Dragons twirl up pillars on two sides of the platform.

The entrance has a curtain of beads which is the favourite of kids who love going in and out.
We stepped out and were generally looking around when we saw monks streaming into another temple nearby. We followed and were rewarded by a pleasing rendition of chants as they sat down, opened the books on the bench in front of them and started praying.

Three of them sat at a bench where there were these long wind instruments which were blown at strategic intervals.
A senior (I think) monk played the cymbals while another beat the drum occasionally.

After about five minutes of chanting, a couple of monks walked in with a kettle of water and offered it to a few of the monks who were chanting.


Outside on the lawns there was a group of monks relaxing from whatever they were doing and readily agreed to be photographed.

The exterior of the new Zangdokpalri temple looks majestic with a majestic rainbow arch.
We are so used to being told not to photograph the idols in temples, that the ready willingness of the monks to let the idols in their temples being photographed is such a pleasant and welcome surprise.  
The nearest town for Bylakuppe is Kushal Nagar. Auto-rickshaw is the best mode for a trip to the Golden Temple from Kushalnagar town. There are frequent buses shuttling  between Mysore and Madikeri. Get down at Kushalnagar.
If you are driving from Mysore towards Madikeri by SH 88, Bylakuppe appears a few kilometres ahead of Kushalnagar town. A sign board gives indication towards the left on the road to Madikeri. Kushalnagar is about 30 km (18 miles) from Madikeri town.

There's a large parking area near the Golden Temple. A shopping arcade next to it houses many curios shops and restaurants. There are not many hotels in Bylakuppe, though there is some guesthouse accommodation as part of the Monastery. Better options for stay are available at Kushalnagar and Madikeri, in that order.

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