Last weekend, we decided to drive to Alibaug, on a whim. Alibaug is a coastal town that takes around 3 hours to reach from Mumbai. I’ve been wanting to visit it ever since I read about it in ‘The village by the sea,’ by Anita Desai, in grade 9. It was a good thing I enjoyed the book because it was part of our syllabus. I was super-excited to be ticking it off my bucket list.
There’s a ferry service from the Gateway of India that takes you to Alibaug in an hour. However, with the red alert warnings by the meterological department, we decided to go by car, instead of taking the ferry. The monsoons are the perfect time to drive to Alibaug because it is scenic. It is the same road that connects Mumbai to Goa and Mangalore – the Konkan road. Konkan implies the coastal plain lying between the Arabian sea and the western ghats (mountain ranges). What strikes one when driving on this route are the well maintained roads with sprawling green on both sides – green grass, flooded fields, all kinds of trees and mountains covered with green and dotted with mountain streams. The western ghats were deemed a world heritage site by Unesco on July 1st, 2012 – Western-ghats-get-world-heritage-site-tag-38604
I couldn’t get better pictures because I took these from the car.
In two hours time we were 23kms short of reaching Alibag. The thought of finally visiting the place that I had heard of three decades ago made my adrenaline gland work harder. Like they say, the last leg of the race is the toughest. A road sign stated ‘Alibag- 23 kms.’ A narrow, unassuming road with houses, small stores lined the road. There was nothing beautiful about it. To think that the white beaches of Alibag and the waters of the Arabian sea would be visible at the end of that road was unimaginable. Yet, we drove on until 20 kms short of Alibag we had to stop the car. There was a police check and all cars had been asked to stop. We asked one of the men in combat uniform, who was standing close to our car, whether we’d be allowed to go or we needed to turn back and he answered in the affirmative. So, we waited. After thirty minutes of waiting and the car inching slowly ahead we reached the checkpost and we were asked to turn back with the reason ‘Red Zone.’ I think the ‘red’ was for expected heavy rains which did not happen either that day or on any of the last six days after our drive. The red was definitely not for ‘corona’ as the numbers have reduced all over Maharashtra. Anyway, we turned around and drove back. The children complained that they had lost out on their morning sleep for nothing, to which my reply is- ‘ How many times does one get stopped by the police and asked to turn around and return? It was my first. So, with a new experience added to my collection of ‘Stories to tell,’ I had to untick Alibag and put it back on my bucket list.
These are pictures of the road that leads to a organic, vegetarian restaurant on the way.
At the end of the drive, I painted this because mostly I saw everything through the car window. The below painting is inspired by a painting by James Gurney.
That’s all for now. We have not stepped out this weekend because the experience of being asked to turn back is still too fresh in our mind. The rules say we can move around. The hotels are accepting guests. I need to find out how and when one is allowed to go which is basically my agenda for this weekend- to come up with a plan. My goal remains unchanged. Wish me luck.
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