Sunday, January 16, 2011

Alibag, Korlai and Kankeshwar

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.