Arefa Tehsin, Nov 4, 2012, NOV 03 2012, 17:56 ISTUPDATED: NOV 03 2012
Murud-Janjira Fort near Nandgaon. photo by Adityavikram More
Cool breeze, colourful fishermen’s boats, little crabs running sideways, sturdy bullock carts, white sands blending into the blue waters and blue waters melting into a deep blue sky is a snapshot of Nandgaon, a pristine stretch of beach between Murud and Alibaug. Considered one of the best beaches of Konkan, it is not frequented by many.
There are things to do around Nandgaon, other than enjoying the peace and serenity of the beach outlined by lush green trees. For the wildlife lovers there is the Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary. It was once the wildlife hunting reserve of Siddhi Nawabs of the Janjira state. Abounding in a wide variety of flora, the sanctuary also provides a camping site inside. There are around two hundred and seventy nine species of fauna found in the forest and it is particularly well-known for the giant flying squirrel. A hyena, snake, sambar or wild boar may grace you with its presence in the long trek inside the forest. If lady luck smiles on you, you can catch a glimpse of Prince – the leopard – himself! Although it may require perseverance to see a wild animal, the birds, butterflies and majestic trees more than make up for a trip inside the sanctuary.
The impregnable Murud-Janjira fort, sixteen kilometres away from Nandgaon and spread over an area of twenty two acres, is a wonder in itself. This fort, situated on an oval rock jutting out of the sea, remained unconquered by the British, the Marathas and the Portuguese. It was constructed by the Siddhis in the twelfth century. An archaic sailboat takes you to the fort, the entrance of which is difficult to see (perhaps one of the reasons why it remained unconquered). It is an experience to get down the boat amidst the lapping waves. The cannons, made out of metal alloys, remain cool even under the scorching heat of the sun. There are nineteen bastions, a number of turrets and two sweet water lakes inside the fort. Waves crash on the fort constantly and the high tide closes the entrance every day for a few hours, but the forty feet high walls remain intact and intimidating. The fort has remained unconquered, even by the sea.
An unconventional and remarkable place to stay in Nandgaon is Mahua Bagh, a mango orchard by the sea. The warm manager, the friendly watchdog Shiro, the eager chef and staff and the welcoming hammocks under the thick shade of trees make the short bumpy ride to the Bagh worthwhile. It has eight stylishly furnished cottages overlooking the sea situated amidst the four hundred and fifty odd mango trees. With the ambiance of a farm, the setting of a resort and the feel of home, Mahua Bagh is more of a dream stay than a farm stay.
Nandgaon is a perfect escape from the breathless, mechanical life of Mumbai. Those visiting Maharashtra should plan a stay at Nandgaon, rather than the touristy and crowed Alibaugh. The rustling of the palm leaves, the song of the crashing and receding waves, the chirping of birds in the day and calls of nightjar at night are sure to set one’s nerves at ease and make for a nice relaxing holiday.