Thursday, December 30, 2004

All in the bag - Finally

Janjira is an breathtking fort. Inside, it isn't that well maintained. Vandalised more by the dismal restoration efforts of the Archeological department than tourists carving love messages and the people who used to stay here till a few decades ago.

Its bang in the middle of the sea (like so many other forts in Alibag district - Padmadurg and Colaba fort). You have to take boats with sails from Rajapuri. It is quite an experience to ride these boats - no hum of the engines, just the wind whistling through the sails, the water rustling restlessly against the sides, the boatsmen attuned to the slightest changes in the wind pattern and quickly unfurling, rotating and furling the sails up again. The fort has 3 large tanks and could be self-sufficient for about 3-4 months. Legend goes that it was also linked to the village through an underground tunnel. Its quite fascinating to know that this mammoth undertaking took 22 years to build, is build over 22 acres and has 22 buruj (watch towers). Three of the cannons ('Kalal Bangadi', 'Chavari' and 'Landa Kasam' are so large, they could run through any enemy force with ease. Shivaji and later Sambhaji couldn't win over Janjira in spite of repeated expeditions. In fact, Kalal Bangadi, the largest was responsible for the fatal damage to Padmadurg, few kms northwest of Janjira, after which Sambhaji ran away from the fort.

Next day was Datta Jayanti and we went to Datta Mandir of Chaul early in the morning. Of course, whole Konkan had turned up at 6 am. But what made it worse that the facilties and management was so poor. No control over the queue and the temple is hardly big enough to accomodate such a big rush. Add to the fact that, the morning prayers had begun and it was all failed Indian Idols, shrieking from the top of their lungs. Prayers over, bhajans start. More bhajans and devotional songs. And then some more. It was so bad (the howling) that the sound system stopped functioning. Thankfully. We took darshan and scooted.

From there we had to drive north towards Mumbai. So a brief halt at Alibag sea front overlooking the Colaba fort. It is unreachable during high tide, but one can walk to it during a low. Later, Kihim beach. Kihim is another quite spectacular beach, but people are not made aware of its dangers. Not that it has an unsafe slope or the current is strong. Just that, it has rocks along the bed which you don't see during high tide. These are no smooth rocks. They are the ones one which a type of shell sticks itself to and grows. So they are sharp and cut through like a knife. There is no sign to tell people that and it was like people going in for fun and coming out of a battlezone, with cuts and bruises. Even the locals don't warn you. They just sell Band-Aids.

Another sumptuous meal and a visit to Karmarkar Shilpalay (very good) later, we were back to our Karmabhumi - Mumbai.

Some sour notes - Need a proper garbage disposal system in interior villages, as locals tend to dump stuff on the beach. Not a big problem now, but once Konkan becomes a tourist hotspot, it would turn into an eco nightmare.

Absence of good travelogues and local maps sure makes things a bit difficult.

We (as govt. channel or just as visitors) need some education on how to respect our monuments and our history. History isnt just our past. It's our identity.

Dad, mom should learn to chill, rather than be always on the watch for imminent danger.

I should be less demanding of them.
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