On my recent trip to India, I wanted to take my 80-something-year-old mom someplace. Somewhere that was not too far from Mumbai so that she wouldn’t get travel-weary. I’d heard a lot about Alibaug and a quick Google search confirmed that it was a picturesque place and only an hour by ferry from Mumbai.
It was barely February but it was a scorching hot day at the Gateway of India where we caught the midday ferry to Alibaug.
My mom and I at the Gateway of India just before boarding the ferry.
On the ferry to Alibaug
The 45-minute ferry ride was actually closer to 60 minutes but I didn’t mind as the waters were calm and the blue skies were clear and it was delightful watching the antics of a handful of seagulls who gave us a friendly escort almost all the way to the other jetty.
These beautiful seagulls gave us a friendly escort almost all the way.
Water, water everywhere.
The Radisson Blu was a short 45-minute cab ride from the jetty and other than some slight initial check-in and housekeeping issues, it was we were in our own private villa, a few steps away from the lobby. We ended up spending our first day doing nothing more than exploring the property.
Inside the Radisson Blu Alibaug
Radisson Blu Alibaug
I had rented a taxi service to take us sightseeing. The driver arrived promptly at 9:30 and off we went. Our first stop was the Kolaba Fort, situated in the sea. Yes, you read that correctly. The fort is in the Arabian Sea, approximately 2 km from the shores of Alibag.
Since walking that distance was out of the question with my mom and her walker, we hired a horse-carriage to cross the sea and arrive at the fort. I was a bit worried about how my mom was going to get up on the horse carriage and so I discouraged the across-the-sea trip. But my mom’s a trooper [I see where I get my strong will from] and you can see below how she pulls herself up on the floor of the carraige. And that’s how she undertook the entire journey, with Gita, her maid, and I laughing hysterically at how she looked sitting there, uncomfortable as heck, but smiling the entire way.
The horse carriage
We’d barely been on the other side for five minutes when a siren went off and the horse-carriage operator came running yelling – “we have to go, we have to, the water is coming”.
He meant that a high tide was coming in. A minute later, a second siren sounded.
My mom uses a walker so there’s no way to “hurry” her. Her speed is her speed. With an eye at the incoming tide and trying to pacify the horse-carriage driver, I felt the stirrings of unfamiliar anxiety. [I’m not prone to anxiety or sadness or depression or negative thinking, ever.]
Mom at the Kolaba Fort
A precious 10 minutes went by before we could get mom up in the carriage and this time on the seat. The carriage driver had recruited another man to help who’d practically lifted my mom and deposited her on the seat. The water was visibly high and half-way to the carriage floor.
The rising waters of the Arabian Sea
The horses dug their hoofs in and refused to budge. After a few seconds of tugging and pulling and yelling, the carriage driver got down and manually pulled the horses across the sea. The poor guy! It was a sight to see. And all the time, the water kept coming. An unpleasant memory of the tsunami waves came to mind but I pushed it off urgently.
The horses refusing to cross during high tide
I voiced my concern to my mom to which she calmly replied, “So what, they’ll just send us a boat and we’ll get into it.” This from a woman who could barely walk and had to be lifted into the carriage. She was undaunted and nonchalant. That’s when I realized where my fearlessness and never-say-die attitude comes from. Thank God for strong genetics!!
Fifteen minutes of worrying and some praying later, we were back at the shore. The poor carriage driver was soaked to the skin after having walked the entire way with his horses. He looked astonished when I tipped him an additional 50% of his total fee. I felt he totally deserved it after the 2 km walk with his rebellious horses in waist-high waters.
Finally back ashore
All our activities after that Kolaba Fort adventure felt anticlimactic, lol.
There are many beaches in Alibag but we only visited three more – Varsoli beach, Akshi beach, and Nagaon. The beaches were pristinely clean and nowhere as crowded as the beaches I had visited in Phuket or even Mumbai’s Chowpatty. The sunset was Instagrammable and so was the entire beach scene – families, couples, and groups of friends frolicking in the water and spending quality time together.
A beautiful sunset at Varsoli Beach
We ate most of our meals at the Radisson Blu but we did check out one local restaurant and found the food to be pretty good. Then again, I’ve yet to have “bad” food in India.
At another beach – watching the sunset.
My beautiful mom – strong and resilient – with nary a complaint on her lips.
The three days went by fast and soon it was time to return to Mumbai. The return ferry trip was just as enjoyable and I like to think the same seagulls gave us a return escort back home.
A trawler ready to do a mid-ocean passenger transfer to a ferry.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture it on video.
There are so many beautiful places in the world to see, so I rarely want to go back to a place I’ve already been to.
But Alibag is so close to Mumbai and extremely easy to get to and so I think I’ll be back there next year, even if it is only for a couple of days.
Mom and I outside our villa