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Alibaug’s all-new buzzing avatar: The unexplored, must-visit hangouts

Our guide to the hip new Alibaug: Spend a lazy weekend enjoying brunches by the sea, swim-and-dine villas and art walks.

travel Updated: Mar 26, 2016 13:00 IST
Riddhi Doshi
The two-month old restaurant Broadwalk at Alibaug.
The two-month old restaurant Broadwalk at Alibaug.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Salt spray, the wind in your face and a cool escape from the oppressive heat — Alibaug, a quick boat ride away, is no secret, but parts of its all-new buzzing avatar may well be.

Between the list of trendy cafés that have recently opened here, you can now have cheese and wine with your seaside brunch, go on an art walk, even step back in time at a museum dedicated to Dashrath Patel, an artist who never got his due.

“Alibaug is no longer just a picnic spot,” says Devika Saigal, partner at two-month-old Alibaug restaurant Boardwalk. “It has become a getaway for people who seek good food and the luxurious life.”

“Over the years, Alibaug has become multifaceted,” says architect Pinakin Patel, who moved here 16 years ago. “Now, its art galleries pull in connoisseurs, larger-than-life parties at its luxurious bungalows bring in the who’s who of Mumbai.”

The town is named after Ali, a rich Bene Israelite who lived here in the 17th century and owned many plantations; the locals referred to it as Alichi baug, or Ali’s Gardens. Since then, the name has stuck, but a lot has changed.

Brunch by the sea

You’ll find groups of women in chic dresses schmoozing at two-month-old Boardwalk by Flamboyante, which juts out right over the sea. You get here even before the parking lot at Mandwa Jetty, and the views, of the ferry-lined waters on one side and the vast sea on the other, stretch right up to the Mumbai harbour.

“It took us two years to get all the permissions, but we were adamant on using this space,” says Saigal. “The idea is to get out of the city. Initially, we expected people from south Mumbai to frequent, but are pleased to see patrons from Powai and Kandivli making the trek too. Everyone’s looking to get out.”

The kitchen is run by team behind Flamboyante in Cuffe Parade.

“I have signed up for the Easter brunch here on Sunday. My friends and I thought it would be exciting zoom to brunch on a speedboat,” says Sakshi Mehra, 28, an entrepreneur from Churchgate. “It’s a new concept.”

On most weekends, Boardwalk hosts brunch buffets and sundowner parties. For an extra Rs 1,000, take a speedboat ride that brings you across in a racing 15 minutes. The Easter brunch on Sunday includes live egg and kebab stations, Italian fare, dim sums and more.

Where: Mandwa jetty terminal
When: Easter brunch on Sunday, 11 am to 3.30 pm
Call: 99205-69772 (registration is mandatory)
Cost: Rs 2,500, including unlimited food and alcohol; Rs 3,500 with the speedboat ride

Boardwalk is surrounded by sea on three sides. On your right you can see the jetties, straight up the Mumbai harbour and on the left the Mandwa beach. (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Swim-and-dine

Boutique villa Ccaza Ccomodore, with an outdoor pool and five bedrooms, is available for short stays and events. At a special Easter brunch on Sunday, you can take a dip in the pool and get a fill of barbecue dishes, salads, pasta and dessert.

“Many Mumbaiites love it here,” says Nitin Mongia, owner of the bungalow. “We thought it would be a good idea to organise public events at the bungalow too, so people can come chill here for a while.”

“Nitin makes excellent food, and we usually get him to cater parties at our bungalow in Alibaug,” says

Dr Nimish Shah, 54, a Shivaji Park resident who has signed up for the brunch with six friends. “I’m looking forward to exploring a new place in Alibaug with some great food.”

Where: Ccaza Ccomodore, Mandwa-Revas road;
When: Sunday, noon to 5 pm;
Call: 98201-32158 (registration is mandatory)
Cost: Rs 1,750 for the unlimited Easter brunch and access to the pool

Secret recipes, fresh catch

While at the coastline, try traditional Gomantak cuisine at Sanman. Established in 1981, it is popular among locals, vacationers and owners of luxe bungalows.

“The recipes are a family secret. My wife and I are the only two people who prepare the masala — not even the cook knows how to,” says owner Mangesh Mhatre. The recipes are those of his father in-law, the restaurant’s founder.

Where: Sanman, Varsoli beach
When: 11 am to 10 pm
Call: (2141) 222-314
Cost: Rs 90 to Rs 500

Ccaza Ccomodore is a boutique villa in Alibaug that is looking to host brunches and other events every weekend. (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Go glamping

Sheltered by banana trees, cosy Bohemyan Blue, with its hammocks and lounge chairs, is famous for its Konkani seafood curries and its pasta.

“I love the feel of the space — fun, relaxing, and cool even in the summers,” says Vishwas Bhalerao, 21, an engineering student from Powai.

Earlier this week, the restaurant also opened a collection of luxury tents. They run entirely on solar energy, and staying here can give you a taste of the wilderness. A swimming pool is under construction, as is a lotus pond. Once here, you could also shop at their store for crafts, hand block printed clothes and furniture.

Where: Plot 1, Agarsure, between Chondhi and Zirad village, Mandwa-Revas Road
When: 11 am to 9 pm
Call: 98234-81829

Sheltered by banana trees, Bohemyan Blue is a cosy cafe where you can spend hours sipping on cool lemonade and catching up with your friends. (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Secret recipes, fresh catch

While at the coastline, try traditional Gomantak cuisine at Sanman. Established in 1981, it is popular among locals, vacationers and owners of luxe bungalows.

“The recipes are a family secret. My wife and I are the only two people who prepare the masala — not even the cook knows how to,” says owner Mangesh Mhatre. The recipes are those of his father in-law, the restaurant’s founder.

Where: Sanman, Varsoli beach
When: 11 am to 10 pm
Call: (2141) 222-314;
Cost: Rs 90 to Rs 500

Sanman, established in 1980, serves authentic Gomantak cuisine, the recipe of which are a top secret. (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Contemporary art gallery

Once you’ve had enough to eat, head out for a stroll. The Guild in Alibaug, inaugurated in March 2015, is the first contemporary art gallery here. Spread across 3,500 square feet, its founder Shalini Swahney has held four exhibitions so far, most recently featuring artist Dilip Ranade.

“The response has been very encouraging,” says Swahney. “Over the weekend, a lot of bungalow-owners and tourists visit the gallery. A few curators from the US have been here too,” adds Swahney.

Where: Near Sai Mandir, Mandwa-Revas road
When: 11 am to 6.30 pm. Open all days
Call: (2141) 247-847
Entry is free

The Guild, a contemporary art gallery, launched in March last year, is a first-of-its-kind space in Alibaug. (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

A forgotten artist

Designer, photographer, painter and ceramic artist Dashrath Patel never got his due. “He was one of India’s most talented artists,” says architect Pinakin Patel.

In 2012, Pinakin set up the Dashrath Patel Museum in Alibaug. Here, you can see striking photographs of festival celebrations across India, and portraits of tribals. The artist, founder-director of the prestigious National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, trained in photography under the iconic Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Where: Bamansure, near Chondhi bridge, Mandwa-Revas Road
When: 11 am to 6 pm. Open all days
Call: 2141 232-360
Entry is free

The Dashrath Patel Museum at Alibaug. (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)