For a Mumbaikar, the coastal town of Alibaug (an hour away, by boat) is a far sight from the chaos and congestion we are familiar with. The sleepy town is where affluent Mumbaikars have second homes and retreat to unwind over weekends. Over the last few years, the town developed rapidly, and the rising number of visitors has spurred the opening of interesting shops, eclectic eateries and art spaces.
With an idyllic location reminiscent of Goa, it was only a matter of time before Alibaug got its own music festival. This weekend marks the second edition of Nariyal Paani, an indie fest that features musical performances by the sea. Its organisers — Sid Khanna and Tanvi Gupta — are Mumbaikars who shifted base to Alibaug. They are among many other jaded Mumbaikars who made Alibaug their home and started contributing to the cultural scene there. A major plus point was the relatively cheaper standard of living.
In 2015, the 18-year-old Mumbai gallery — The Guild — also re-located from Colaba to Alibaug. Its owner and director Shalini Sawhney used to visit Alibaug over weekends and thought it would be a better location for the space: “Alibaug is growing at an accelerating pace, especially over the last two years. It has a strange ecosystem of village/town/farmhouse culture that allows us to explore new formats,” explains Sawhney.
Gupta, who also set up Bohemyan Blue Café, believes Alibaug has a unique charm that is missing in Mumbai. “Alibaug is quite raw, which is amazing. It doesn’t have fancy places to eat but has amazing villas to rent and local places serving Konkani cuisine. There are interesting people to meet, especially artists and architects who have their set-ups here,” she says.
Read on for a guide to things to do in Alibaug.
Curated store meets café — that’s the premise of Bohemyan Blue Café. Started in March 2013 by Tanvi Gupta and her aunt Sunanda, it stocks garments and curios and hosts gigs, full moon parties and art exhibitions.
Where: Agarsure Alibag, Rewas main road, between Chondi and Zhirad, opposite Fountainhead, Alibaug
Call: 098234 81829
The Guild gallery
The Guild occupies 3,000 sqft of exhibition space and is spread over two levels. It includes a sculpture garden as well. It hosts public programs with curators, artists and academics. Its current show, by Mumbai-based artist Navjot Altaf, delves on global warming.
Where: 1028, Ranjanpada, Mandwa, Alibaug Road
Call: 2287 5839
The Table Farm
The Table Farm in Alibaug began in 2008 with a vision to promote the farm-to-table concept at the restaurant’s Colaba outlet. It hosts interactive workshops where you can learn about the farm-to-table approach and try farming/gardening.
Where: Devidayal Wadi, Dhokavade, Alibaug
Call: 98339 4836
Dashrath Patel Museum
The museum showcases the works of Padma Bhushan awardee Dashrath Patel, the first director of education at National Institute of Design (NID). Set up by his friend, architect Pinakin Patel, the museum displays paintings, ceramics, photographs and textile designs chronicling India since its Independence.
Where: Bamansure, near Chondi bridge
Call: 2141 2 32360
Started five years ago, it offers indoor and outdoor furniture and artefacts. It also stocks swimwear and resortwear. Originally based in Worli, its owner Sanjana Bahl decided to move when she realised that a lot of deliveries were to Alibaug and Kashid.
Where: Post-Zirad, Mandwa Road, Alibaug
Call: 98208 13460
Set up in 2012 by entrepreneur Vivek Eknath, Lavish Clocks offers 150 varieties of clocks, which are modelled on 17th and 18th century timepieces. The frames are made of different finishes of wood and are fitted with brass, copper, coins and white metal. Check out their table clocks, carriage clocks and coffee tables with clock.
Where: Alibaug Mandwa Road, Rajmala, Alibaug
Call: 78757 35945
Ccaza Ccomodore and Amore by Ccaza Ccomodore are five-bedroom luxury boutique villas in Alibaug that opened in 2009. It provides the comfort of a home with the service of a luxury hotel. You can relax by the pool and enjoy lazy brunches.
Where: Mhatre phata, Dhokawade (Ccaza) and Sasawne-Dighodi Road, Navedar Kolgaon (Amore)
Call: 98201 32158
Cost: Rs 8,000 to Rs12,000
Gandhar Eco Lodge
Started in January 2015 by Rashmi Sawant, who runs the sustainable tourism venture Culture Aangan, the four-bedroom lodge is surrounded by village homes. You can meet locals, learn to make statues or just unwind by the beach.
Cost: Rs5,500 per room per night (for 2 people, includes stay and all meals)
Where: Thal, Alibaug
Call: 09975 244278