Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Madh Fort

It had been quite a while since I had been on a trek, so when Merwyn informed me of his plans to visit Madh fort I couldn’t stop myself from joining him.

Dated: November 20th 2011

Merwyn, Dominic and Myself met up at Malad station at 07:00 hours IST and decided to grab a quick breakfast and pack some snacks for the trip. Somosas and Mix bajiyas it was, at MM Mithaiwala’s a popular snack joint at Malad. We followed it up with tea at another restaurant in the neighborhood.
It was time to get on with our trip and we headed to the bus stop for route 271. It wasn’t too far from the railway station and not to difficult to find either. Since it was early morning the queue wasn’t too long and we managed to get a couple of seats.
On the way we discussed our plans for the day. Merwyn had plans to visit the Madh fort at Madh Island and Mandapeshwar Caves at Borivali. I suggested since we are going to Madh island we might as well visit St. Bonaventure Church at Erangal village on Madh island. St. Bonaventure Church is an Old Portuguese church built in the 16th century. Set in a quaint village called Erangal, St. Bonaventure Church celebrates its annual feast on the 2nd Sunday of January every year. The feast is celebrated with huge pomp and funfair. A huge village mela is set up right on the beach and villager set up stalls to sell their wares. This is probably the only and the grandest ‘Village Mela’ set up in Mumbai city.
Even before I could finish it was decided we were not just visiting St. Bonaventure Church today, but also revisiting it on feast day next year.
Ferry Landing Wharf Madh
Our bus reached the last stop for route 271 and from there we started our trek to the fort on foot.
Madh Village Shores

The walk through the village is quite a treat to any city traveler who hasn't had much village experience. Colourful Dinghys and Fishing Trawlers line the shores.
Fishy Business

Early morning is busy time here as fishermen return with their catch and immediately get to the business of trading them off.
As you get through the village your lungs are filled with aromas of fried, dried and all sorts of fish. But despite all the fishy distraction you can never miss Mr. Porky Pork.
Mr. Porky Pork

No East Indian village is complete without a pig. They love pork and so do I. With all the scents and sights enticing us, it was but disheartening to know we were to survive on Banana chips and Cola for lunch.

On a serious note though when on a trek it makes sense to travel light and eat lighter. Of‘course carry enough water always.
The travel time from the Jetty to the fort is about 30 minutes and half way through near Kamat’s restaurant you take a left that takes you straight to the fort. Just as you enter this lane you will notice a large pond on the left side. The villagers use this pond to wash clothes as I could see a lot of women in one section of the pond washing clothes. The water wasn't very dirty though and the pond had white lotus' along the side walls.

The pond had sidewalks lined with shade providing trees. Even in the afternoon heat I could see senior citizens whiling away in the shade. Some had even carried their lunch packs along and were having a picnic of sorts. It was a nice pleasant place for them.

This pond is bang opposite the entry to the Naval base that controls the Madh fort. You need permission from the naval base to enter the fort. You also need a good reason and good connections to be able to enter the fort. We had neither so decided to continue without the permission and get as close as we can possibly get to the fort.
At the 2nd entrance to the naval base as expected the guards didn’t allow us any further.
Madh Fort West View

We could see the fort at a distance and we did notice locals walk in and out of the fort area but didn’t argue much. Three youngsters armed with chips and cola stood no chance against the Indian navy. We walked back determined to find another way to the fort.
On our way back we noticed a way leading to a Hindu temple located to the east of the fort. We assumed it will be close to the fort and hoped there would be no security around. Just as we had expected the temple was right next to the fort. We walked down to the shore and in another fifteen minutes we could have been on near the fort. But instead we choose to take a walk around this small village settlement.
Madh Fort East View

Although this place looked like a small jetty I couldn’t see any boat around. Most parts of this area were being used to dry prawns and Bombay ducks.

As I wandered around I came across a snake lying in a tiny pot hole on the concrete platform used by fisherman to bring in their catch. Although it appeared dead I wasn't sure, so I nudged it a couple of times with my feet to check. It moved but barely. Hinting that it was alive but very close to dying. Normally snakes come out in the sun to absorb heat and warm up. This one however wasn't enjoying the Sun so much.
It was a sea snake and I decided to send it back to where it belonged. See the video for more...

A villager later informed me that the sea snake was part of a fisherman's catch the previous morning and had been lying there for the last two days. In a small pothole with barely enough water  to cover itself the snake had grown weak and was dying. On land it could barely move but once I had drop it in sea water I saw it briskly swim away. Having released the snake in the open seas we decided to head for the fort before our hanger pangs got to us. There was no way we could get into the fort but at least now we could get close enough to get to the walls of the fort.
Climb to Madh Fort East Side

After a fifteen minute climb we were resting our backs on the walls of Madh fort. Banana chips didn't make for great lunch but the view compensated very well.
Our next stop was at St. Bonaventure’s Church and Mundapeshwar Caves. I will write about these experiences soon.
I hope you enjoyed reading so far…
Do share your views on my blog and let me know how I can make this a better read for you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Begining

It all started when I was too young to recognise the Travel BUG.

Born in a Goan family settled in Mumbai we would often to travel to Goa on vacations. I would stand behind iron railings at the dockyard eagerly waiting for the ship to arrive. Once in Mom would spread a mattress on the deck and we would all settle down for an overnight picnic of sorts. The ship would depart every morning from Bombay Docks and would take 24 hours to reach Goa. The lower deck was then a playground for me and my brothers.

Every year the ship would make a scheduled halt at sea near Chiplun to let some passengers get off. Small boats would then come near the ship to pick up those passengers. I would stay awake until mid night to watch this happen every year. As a kid it fascinated me to watch those tiny boats come rowing to this humongous ship pick up those passengers and row away into darkness. Then I would wonder what happened to those people. Mom would tell me they have gone to their homes in Chiplun. But I wouldn’t believe her because when reached our destinations we were dropped at a port in Goa. Never were we asked to get off in tiny boats and go home. Well that is how my little brain thought when I was a kid.

Any ways these trips happened every year until the Government decided to shut down the passengers services from Bombay Docks due to heavy commercial traffic. We then shifted to Kadamba Bus services (Goa State Transport). I so miss the ships trips and wish that the Government starts these services once again someday.
Anyways the Travel BUG was born and nurtured during this Ship trips to Goa and it lives on.

For more of my travel experience continue reading.
This is but just the beginning of a long journey...