The coastline along the Raigad district of Maharashtra is relatively unexplored, save for Alibag, and provides a number of serene and tranquil alternatives to the hurly burly of an over crowded Lonavala. Kashid is one such getaway. With a relatively uncrowded and pristine beach, it makes for a great overnight or weekend getaway.
Though there are a number of ways to get there, one good option is to drive. The drive is scenic in the extremely, particularly so after one crosses Alibag. The narrow roads wind through small villages, scenically reminiscent of the Goa of yore, winding rivers, small sections of the ghats and a ragged seashore. Some of the vistas are truly breathtaking as the turbulent sea meets the hills.
The Raigad district gets its name from Shivaji's Fort built in Raigad. This used to be Maratha country and there are signs all over though some in a state of decay. The district is predominantly rural and this adds to the bucolic charm of the entire area. As one transitions past Alibag, the pace seems to visibly slow down. For Mumbaikars this alone can be a source of relaxation given the strenuous demands of 'maximum city'.
Sand, surfing and other water sports
The Kashid beach is about 3 kilometers long and is nestled between two hills. It has nice white sands and clean, pristine waters of the Arabian Sea. It is one of the the few beaches where surfing is possible. As one winds down the final hill before Kashid, one gets a view of the entire beach which only helps in building the anticipation.
There are a number of options to stay in Kashid. Right from budget hotels (shacks) to starred accommodation. One of the best places to stay is considered to be Prakruti Resorts. It is a beautiful property built on the hill going away from the beach. Rooms and cottages are available and the package is on American Plan, with all meals included.The resort is spick and span and beautifully maintained. Cottages are at different levels on the hill and the higher one goes the better the view. There is a single dining room with bar service. The best part about the meals is the home-style cooking, so different from the usual oily buffet fare. What is disappointing though is the lack of seafood given the fact that it is a beach resort. However there are many off-premise options available for that. The property also has a night club and a Kerala Ayurvedic centre on premise. One can hire bicycles to ride around the nearby areas or cycle down to the beach.
The resort has its private beach access which is a boon. On the beach itself there is a lot to do especially if one is fond of water sports. Jet skis are available as are different kinds of boat rides, including the tip-you-in-the-water banana boat. Children can have a real blast in the water riding around on jet skis or on a variety of boats. For the land lubbers there are motorbikes and dune buggies to be enjoyed on the relative safety of the sand.
Besides the beach at Kashid there are a number of attractions within the radius of a few kilometers. 20 kilometers from Kashid is the awe inspiring Janjira Fort at Murud. This is a symbol of the naval prowess of the Siddi rulers. Built on an island this majestic fort can be visited by boat from the Rajpuri jetty which is 5 kilometers from Murud. Close by on another island is the Padmadurg Fort built by Daulat Khan, Shivaji's admiral. This fort was built to take on the Siddis but was captured by the Siddis and converted into a jail.
On the drive from Kashid to Murud one also glimpses the wonderful sight of the palace of the Nawab of Murud. Situated on a plateau with the sea as a backdrop the palace is a mix of Mughal and Gothic styles. Given its location it is a heritage hotelier's dream but is unfortunately out of bounds for outsiders.
Still more to do........
There are many other attractions around Kashid but on an overnight trip there is so much to do and not enough time. Nearby are the beautiful temples of Sri Siddhivinayak and the Birla Temple. For nature lovers there is the Phansad Sanctuary spread over 50 sq. kilometers. There are numerous nature trails and in the monsoon one can take in the Sawatkada falls where the water is clean enough to drink. However Kashid is also a great place to just relax with a book or a loved one.
Kashid is being discovered by more and more people and one only hopes that it maintains its feel of being pristine and untouched. For Mumbaikars, the advice is to go before it is commercialised beyond redemption.
Kashid is about 160 km from Mumbai. You drive on the Mumbai-Goa highway till Vadkal and then take the Alibag Road. State transport buses are also available. You can take a catamaran from Gateway of India till Mandwa and then rely on local transportation to get to Kashid. Some hotels have a pick up facility. Buses ply regularly and autorickshaws (only for the adventurous) are also available.
Hotels to suit every budget are available.
Watersports at Kashid are quite reasonable with most rides being about Rs.150 a pop
Yateesh is a follower of people and their behaviour, a foodie and cook, beer aficionado, malt lover, gracious host, hates extreme views and is a patriot.