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Alibag was developed in the 17th century bySarkhel Kanhoji Aangre the naval chief of King Shivaji‘s Kingdom. Alibag is a coastal town and municipal council in Raigad district in Konkan region of Maharashtra, India. It is the headquarters of the Raigad district. Raigad’s first name was “Kulaba”. Today’s Ramnath was the main village at that time. ABene Israelite named Ali used to live there at that time. He was a rich man and owned many plantations of mangoes and coconuts in his gardens. Hence the locals used to call the place “Alichi Bagh”(Marathi for “Gardens of Ali”), or simply “Alibag”, and the name stuck.
Just 3 kilometers away from Alibag on Alibag-Mumbai highway you will find one small village Khandale having population of around 5000 people, which is also heading Gram Panchayats. Khandale is surrounded by wonderful Shiva temples such as Sidheshwar. During Shrawan month the beauty on these hillocks is breathtaking and on each Shrawani Somwars thousands of Alibagkars visit this place for worship and enjoying nature beauty. Also on the same highway goddess Patrudevi Mandir is located in small Ghat called Karle Khind.
Khandale is also famous for white onions, which are sold all over Maharashtra as “Khandale Kande”. This unique breed of onions are having very rich contributions in Ayurvedik medicines and very useful during summer heat which is having unique sweeter taste. Rewdanda, Chaul, Nagaon, Akshi, Varsoli, Thal, Kihim and Aawas villages were known as “Ashtagare” at that time. During those times there were some naval battles out of which one was fought at Varsoli between Kanhoji Aangre and Siddi of Janjira in the year 1706. In 1722 English and Portuguese jointly attacked on Kulaba fort and they lost this war. At Chaul there was a battle between the English and Sakhoji in 1730. Sakhoji won this war and brought down the losing party along with their captain at Kulaba. Kanhoji even issued his own currency in the form of a silver coin called the Alibagi rupaiya. Alibag and its surrounding villages are the historic hinterland of Bene Israeli Jews. There is a synagogue in the “Israel Ali” (Marathi- इस्राएल आळी meaning Israel lane) area of the town.
Alibag also houses a Magnetic Observatory which was set up in 1904. It serves as one of the significant observatories forming part of a global network now run by Indian Institute of Geomagnetism. The observatory has two buildings; the first building has magnetometers that record changes occurring in the Geo magnetic fields. The second building consists of precision recording instruments, which give data about geomagnetic storms caused by solar storms which is shared with different countries. It is from years that the Alibag Region and Raigad district in all is headed and ruled by theBhartiya Shetkari Kamgar Paksha (Peasants and Workers Party of India).
Alibag is located about 100 km south ofMumbai, at . The average elevation is 0 metres (0 feet).
After the British took over the old Colaba and this region, they established four Anglo – Vernacular medium school and 30 government schools in the year 1865–66. In the year 1861 the first school for girls was started in Alibag. The Mission Church started the first English school in Alibag in 1879 formerly known as Topiwala Industrial High school was renamed General Arunkumar Vaidya High School after General Arunkumar Vaidya who studied there. Other notable schools include R.C.F School and junior College, Saint Mary’s Convent School, Chandrakant Hari Keluskar Homeopathic Medical College and J. R. H. Kanyashala Alibag; Adv. Datta Patil College of Law, Alibag is the first law college in Raigad District. The Other notable school is in the village Khandale which is run by Konkan Education Society. Taking over all the institutes Prabhakar Patil Education Society (PNP education Society) has turned out to become one of the most well-known institute of Raigad District having established & registered in 2001 [(Maharashtra) / 83/ 2000 (Raigad) & F-3373 Raigad] by inspiration of late Prabhakar Narayan Patil (Alias “ Bhaoo”) was a great Social Worker in Raigad. His work in the field of education and politics was invaluable. Today the Society runs 27 Institutes: Five Primary English & Marathi Schools, Twenty Seven Secondary Marathi Schools, One Arts, Science & Commerce Jr. & Sr. College, One English & Marathi Medium D. Ed College, One B. Ed. College, One Polytechnic Institute and One MMS College. This Society was established with the point of view of providing quality education to the people of Raigad District. Hence it started with establishing free high schools in the most under developed areas of the District. This provided a great impetus for students. Now they could get quality education at their doorstep. All teachers who work for the society are highly qualified.
Today world has become a global village; there is a dire demand for quality English medium schools. Hence to fulfill this demand the society came up with five English medium schools in an around the district.
After school the PNP education society has broaden its prospect by focusing on higher & higher technical education.
Tourism is the mainstay of the town’s economy. Since the late 1990s the town and municipality have seen development of industrial sites. Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) was the first industrial unit set up near Alibag. Other companies includeIspat industries Ltd (Mittal Group), Welspun Maxsteel Ltd (Welspun Group), Gas Authority Of India Limited (GAIL), HP LPG and Reliance Petrochemicals (RPCL) are also located near the town.
- Road: One can reach Alibag via Pen (30 km away), which is on the Mumbai (78 km away) – Goa road. From Mumbai, one can reach Alibag by traveling on the Mumbai-Goa highway (NH-17)till Wadkhal (or Vadkhal) and taking the right fork from Wadkhal – the left fork being the road to Goa. The distance is approximately 108 km from Mumbai
- Railways: The nearest rail railway station is at Pen. Through Pen, it is connected to Panveland onwards to Mumbai and the Indian Railways network.
- Catamaran/Ferry: The nearest jetty isMandwa From where catamaran/ferryservices are available to Gateway of India, Mumbai. Another port in the vicinity isRewas, from where a ferry service is available to Ferry Wharf(Bhau cha Dhakka) (Dockyard Road). There is also a jetty at Custom Bandar from where fishermen in Alibag set sail.
One can reach Alibag by catamaran (sea) through Gateway of India to Mandwa or fromBhaucha Dhakka to Rewas and from Mandwa/Rewas to Alibag by bus. Ticket includes journey from Gateway to Mandwa and bus journey from Mandwa to Alibag bus stop. From Rewas to Alibag one needs to take State Transport bus or a Rickshaw. Take the ferry from Gateway to Mandwa. Services available from 6:00am till 6:00pm. Please check for the current time table with ferry service providers because it keeps on changing as per sea tides and during monsoon it is usually not operated. Ferry Journey time: 40 to 55 minutes depending on the type of boats. From Mandwa operator carries passengers to Alibag in their own chartered buses. Bus Journey time: 45 minutes. Alibag beach is walking distance from the bus-stop.
Another option is to take a ferry from “Bhaucha Dhakka” to Rewas. Timings are same but schedule may change depending on the tide. From Rewas take State Transport Bus or Rickshaw to Alibag. Bus Journey time: 1 hour to reach Alibag. One benefit of using the Bhaucha Dhakka – Rewas route by ferry is that you can also take a 2-wheeler along with you on the ferry on this route for a nominal charge. You can go to Alibag by S.T. bus fromMumbai. From Mumbai to Alibag having daily 35–40 S.T. buses, also Borivali, Thane, Kalyan, Pune, Kolhapur, Miraj, Nashik having buses to alibag for journey.
- Speedboats: Speedboats from the Gateway of India to Mandwa Jetty take roughly 20-25 minutes depending on the weather and can be hired at the Gateway of India at Jetty No. 5 which is opposite the famous Taj Mahal Hotel. The new jetty installed in 2014 at Mandwa ensures safety of guests traveling by speedboat.
Getting There (At Alibag) By Air : Nearest airport is Mumbai, 140 km. By Railway : Nearest railway station is Panvel, By Road : Mumbai – Panvel – Pen -Wadkhal- Alibag. 130 km, Mumbai – Panvel – Pen -Wadkhal- Karle Khind. 125 km, Pune – Alibag. 150 km
As of 2001 India census, Alibag had a population of 19,491. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Alibag has an average literacy rate of 79%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with 54% of the males and 46% of females literate. 11% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Famous People from AlibagEdit
Famous celebrities who are born in Alibag areSarkhel Kanhojio Angre, V.P. Karmarkar 1964 Padmshree Award Winner-sculpturer-Saswane, General Arun Shridhar Vaidya who led Operation Blue Star, Maharashtra Bushan-Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari (Jesth Nirupankar-Revadanda), Padma Vibhushan, Magsaysay & Templeton Award Winner[Pandurang Shastri Aathavale-Dadaji] (Swadhya Parivar-Roha), Actor Nana Patekar – Murud, Child SingerMugdha Vaishampayan, Juilee Bhandre-Mumbai Monorail Captain, Actress Ashwini Bhave, novelist Arun Tamhankar. Also nowadays Alibag is the weekend home for rich and famous like Sachin Tendulkar, Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar, Ratan Tata, businessman Godrej, singhaniya of Raymond etc. who have their picturesque sea facing bungalows in and around Alibag.
Beaches The following are the main tourist attractions in and around Alibag:
- Alibag beach: This is the main beach of the town. A very flat stretch makes for a long walk. Reasonably clean beach and has thin crowds during the week. The sand has a hard texture and is a shade of black. Not easy to create sand-castles. Note that the tide rolls in from all sides. You may have to wade through water on the way back.
- Siddheshwar Mandir near Khandale: This is famous Shiva temple situated near picturesque hills near village Khandale just 4 km from Alibag-Pen state highway. You can drive your vehicles just near to hillocks and with small trek you can reach this beautiful temple. The beauty around this temple is awesome during Shrawan month when hundreds of people throng to worship this temple during Shrawani Somwars. If you further travel from this temple you can see the remains of ancient fort called ” Sagargad”.
- Alibag Fort: Alibag is the seat of District Administration of Raigad (formerly Kolaba) district since 1852. The name Kolaba is attributed to a Sea Fort Kolaba built by Shivaji the great, in 1680 to fight the mighty naval prowess of the Siddis‘ (Abyssenians) ofJanjira and the British of Mumbai. Kolaba fort is famous for many battles, between Siddis and Kanhoji Angre, the British and the Portuguese.
- Khanderi & Underi Islands : Just few kilometers from sea shore of Kihim Beach one can visit Khanderi & Underi islands. These islands are heavily fortified and built byShivaji Maharaj as sea observation posts in 1660 CE to keep a check on the Siddis at Murud-Janjira fort. However later on it lost its importance. Most of the fort is still intact the most prominent structure is a lighthouse built in 1837 which is still in service and used for sea navigation.
- Bet El Synagogue: Once upon a time there was very Big Jewish Community living in Alibag; most of the them were oil pressers and sellers. Bet El Synagogue is the only Synagogue in Alibag. Viceroy Lord Curzon(1899-1905) visited this synagogue. This place had been place of worship for the Jewish community and rather than religious services it was place where community centre, Konkan development programmes and those days Village meetings used to be held. The synagogue is a heritage property having unique style and is well known Indian Jewish and Konkan tourist point.
- Varsoli Beach:Located about a mile from the main beach, home to a very large naval base. It is situated just on the outskirts of Alibag. It is relatively less visited site and as a result is a quiet beach with sparkling white sand and cleaner seawater. Varsoli is a small satellite village across Alibag, complete with thick vegetation of coconut and Casuarina.
- Akshi Beach: It is situated 6 km away from Alibag. It is a favourite spot for advertising, TV serial and film shoots. This beach is well suited for the children and ladies as the sea is flat for a long distance. One can walk through to a considerable distance towards the sea.
- Nagaon beach: It is situated about 10 km away from Alibag and is famous for coconutsand betel nuts. One can walk on the beach from Nagaon beach to Akshi beach in ten minutes. It is more popular for its water sports and most of the tourists coming to Alibag stay near Nagaon beach.
- Kihim-Navgaon Beach: Kihim is a secluded place at a distance of 12 km from Alibag. The Kihim beach is famous for dense cover of Coconut trees. It is also famous for woods which are home to rare butterflies, birds and flowers.
- Awas: It is situated about 16 km away from Alibag.
- Saswane: It is situated about 18 km away from Alibag.
- Rewas: It is situated about 24 km away from Alibag. From Rewas, there is a ferry boat service to Mumbai (bhaucha Dhakka) and also to Uran (Karanja).
- Chaul Revdanda: It is situated about 17 km away from Alibag.
- Kanakeshwar Mandir: It is situated about 17 km away from Alibag to Karlekhind – Chondi road.13 km from Alibag in Northeast direction is this very famous Shiv temple on a 900 ft. high hill. It is a 5000 ft. long climb on well paved stairs, which takes around one hour. Landmarks along the route are tombs of MohanGiri and Balgiri, Nagoba Rest, Jambhali Plateau, God’s stair, Gaymandi etc. The fatigue of the uphill climb vanishes the moment one enters the scenic temple premises . It comprises various small temples of Sri Paleshwar, Sri Hanuman, Sri Balram Krishna and Lord Shiv. The special attraction is an ancient sweet water tank enclosed in traditional structure of black stone. The ancient temple was built by Raja Ramdeorai yadav. The height of the Shiv temple is 54 ft. The front gate has Lion sculpture on both sides with traditional lamp-pillar(deepmaal) in front. The 4 ft. long ‘Pindi’ of Lord Shiv is silver plated. The premises also include Nagaar-khana, Bheem Kunda, a garden for flowers to be offered to the Lord, Sri Ram Ganesh temple and Gomukha. Every year, there is a fair on Kartik Poornima in Hindu calendar. On this hill, a variety of herbs are found.
- Mandawa: It is situated about 20 km north of Alibag. The catamaran/ferry services are available from Mumbai to the Mandawa jetty. Many Bollywood celebrities own bungalowshere.
- Kashid Beach: It is 36 km away from Alibag, on the Alibag-Murud highway, also this beach is possibly one of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the region with almost ‘white’ sand. There are many cottages and resorts available ranging from around RS:1500 to RS:20,000. Prakruti resort is the luxury and the costliest of all. This village does not have any wine shops. One has to go around 6 km towards Murud to buy alcohol. Kashid is the perfect place to calm down and relax for the urban people. One can find water sports facility and number of small shops for snacks. BEWARE: Take care of your self in the water (particularly at the high tides) as there were many incidents which cost the life. There is a danger board warning the people.
- Korlai Beach: A quiet serene beach with alternate white and black sands, along a serene stretch of the Arabian coastline, adjacent to a village of Korlai Creole Portuguese speaking Indians. Just across the bridge, to the right there is Korlai fort within the sea and attached to the mainland by a narrow land strip through the Korlai fort through the Korlai Village. It is supposed to have been built by the Portuguese in 1521. The main gate has an inscription which means ‘no entry without a fight’. The fort has seven gates, a sweet water well, a church in disuse, a Hindu temple and a Lighthouse which is still used for navigation purpose.
- Kolaba (or Kulaba) fort (Not to be confused with Colaba in Mumbai) is situated in the sea at a distance of 1–2 km from the Alibag shores. During low tide one can walk to the fort. This was built by Chatrapati ShivajiMaharaj and is assumed to be the last one that he built before his death. The fort used to have a sweet water well.
- Kanakeshwar temple is situated on a hill near Mapgaon village, about 12 km away from Alibag and falls on the way to Mandawa.
- Tower of St. Barbara. (Satkhani Buruj)
- Chaul iIs a historic town situated about 15 km away from Alibag. It is famous for itsPortuguese ruins, an old church, a synagogue, Buddhist caves, the Hamam Khana and a temple.
- Shitaladevi Temple , Chaul is situated about 18 km away from Alibag.
- Vikram Vinayak Temple or Birla Temple, Salav is situated about 20 km away from Alibag. On the way to Janjira, take the right fork to reach the Vikram Ispat industry. Going a bit ahead will lead one to the temple.
- Karmarkar Museum: A museum of exquisite sculptures from the renowned sculptor Padmashri V.P. Karmarkar in Sasavne, about 18 km from Alibag Bus Depot.
- Kanhoji Angre Samadhi
- Uma–Maheshwar temple
- Balaji temple
- Murud-Janjira: Janjira is a fort situated not very far from Alibag. It was built by Siddi traders. Shivaji Maharaj failed to capture the fort from the Siddis. One can find fresh water pounds inside the fort even today.
- Datta Mandir: situated at bhowale,2 km away from chaul.
- Hingulja Mandir: Situated near datta mandir, historic temple built by pandwas.
- Magnetic Observatory: Established in 1904 by the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism. Although after 26/11, the security has been tightened and access to the Observatory has been restricted. A written permission from thePanvel office of Indian Institute of Geomagnetism needs to be presented when entering the premises of the Observatory in Alibag.
- Korlai Fort and Korlai Creole Portuguese of Korlai village: Situated between Chaul and Kashid, a village of Indians born of Indo-Portuguese ancestors, speaking a uniquecreole of Portuguese and a fort lost in the sands of history.