Alibag’s artsy affair

It was an advertisement of an art exhibition that led me to Alibag, a sleepy coastal town south of Mumbai.

Famous for its scenic beaches and sprawling properties of the rich, Alibag is also a holiday destination for art and culture aficionados, besides being a weekend respite for Mumbai residents. I spent a day looking at — collectibles and contemporary art-works at The Guild gallery, the multi-disciplinary repertoire of artist Dashrath Patel, and a permanent showcase of Vinayak Pandurag Karmarkar’s sculptures.

IMG_0800The Guild art gallery, Alibag

IMG_0805Collectibles at The Guild

IMG_0804Collectibles at The Guild

IMG_0806The Guild courtyard

IMG_0845Dashrath Patel Museum, Alibag

IMG_0842Painting by Dashrath Patel

IMG_0831Sculptures by Vinayak Pandurang Karmarkar

An elaborate brunch awaited us at Bohemyan Blue, a garden café nestled in the wilderness of Alibag. Sitting in the verandah, we gorged on a large meal, which comprised of scrambled eggs, aloo paranthas, chicken sandwich, pots of coffee, and carrot beetroot juice. It poured heavily; there were no other guests to be seen, besides a friend and myself. As we ate, we beheld the luxuriant foliage of the property, and found ourselves captivated by the stillness of Alibag.

We walked towards a patch of wild vegetation, near the café, which hosted the stay area of a dozen luxury tents for tourists. The land had a swimming pool and an al fresco restaurant, where the radio was playing. There were no listeners, however.

IMG_0765Bohemyan Blue café

IMG_0771Bohemyan Blue café

IMG_0767Bohemyan Blue café

IMG_0799Bohemyan Blue gift shop

IMG_0797Bohemyan Blue café

The Alibag spell was soon broken when we reached Mumbai the following night. We grabbed a table at Café Universal, one of the city’s famous Parsi restaurants. The century-old café’s charming interior was a sight of redemption amid the stadium-like boisterousness of the guests.

That night, on my way back to my apartment from the café, I thought of the early morning in Alibag. It was a little before 6 a.m., when I had woken up to the sight of palm fronds soaked in rain. The morning felt crisp and tranquil, as if I’d never been tired. The short trip made me realise what we’re missing out on by living in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, and the harm they are causing us.

IMG_0756Drive around Kihim village

IMG_0761Drive around Kihim village

IMG_0859Sasawane village 

IMG_0856Varsoli beach

IMG_0852Varsoli beach

IMG_0860Varsoli beach

Rani Bagh, Mumbai’s green haven

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If you simply like looking at the trees, their twirling branches and the shadows they create, this is the place for you! This historical botanical garden, more than 150 years old, is Mumbai’s largest open green space and home to hundreds of species of plants and trees. This green haven in central Mumbai, spread over an area of over 50 acres, has multiple names. The garden’s original name is Victoria Gardens, which was renamed to Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan. It is popularly known as Rani Bagh, and has survived its original glory despite a multi-crore plan by the BMC to redevelop it.

A successful campaign to save the Bagh by a group of women culminated into a book, Rani Bagh: 150 Years – Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo. Released on the 150th anniversary of the Bagh, the book chronicles the Garden’s historical journey, the campaign to rescue the area from being destroyed, and its relationship with Mumbai. Given the fact that the Garden has been named after women, it is only befitting that a group of women decided to save it from extinction.

The Garden, adjacent to the Victorian-style Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla area, also has a zoo, a Sufi dargah or shrine, and some quaint spots to escape the overwhelming city humdrum. The best time to visit is, of course, during the monsoon season.

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