The ruins of Portuguese India

Indian culture and wealth attracted many European empires to have their colonies on its shores. Portugese, French and British ruled different pockets of India over last 500-600 years. We all know the stories of British Empire because most of our history books are filled with all sort of information on their colonies in India. However the Portuguese empire goes quiet unnoticed as they ruled only small isolated pockets. The first Portuguese encounter with India was on 20 May 1498 when Vasco da Gama reached India. Shortly after discovering the route they formed a Colonial state in India which included cochin, goa, daman and diu and small pockets in Maharashta namely Vasai (erstwhile bassein) and chaul (near alibaug).

One fortification built by Portuguese empire still stands near alibaug, Maharashtra. The ‘not so famous’ sea-side fort is situated on a hillock near the KorlaiVillage and hence named as Korlai fort. The fort occupying whole hillock can be seen on left hand side when you cross the Revdanda bridge around 25 km from Alibaug.

While navigating through the sleepy fishing village on the base of hillock, local fishermen told us that there is nothing much to see up there, but the rugged fort proved them wrong. During our visit we found out some of the activities which can be enjoyed on the fort.

Explore a Lighthouse.

The fort of Korlai has a lighthouse which guides the modern day sailors and fishermen as they take to waters. The government has opened the lighthouse to tourists and it can be seen from inside with a nominal fees. The guide provides interesting facts about how the lighthouses are used by the sailors and local fishermen. The lighthouse tour was thoroughly knowledgeable experience.

Korlai lighthouse

Korlai lighthouse

Camping and angling

Waking up in a tent to the sound of waves is an experience to die for. While roaming on the fort we saw anglers fishing in the sea, they had set up a tent on a platform which was covered by water from 3 sides. The scene took me back by few years when me and my friends camped on Korlai beach and spent a night there. Sky studded with millions of stars, sand touching your feet as you sleep, the music of waves playing all night; all of this without having to pay a single rupee out of your pocket.

An excursion on foot

Lighthouse and a church are two prominent structures on the fort. The fort offers splendid views of vast sea and korlai beach and that makes it an ideal place for landscape photography. You can easily spend 2-3 hours roaming around the fort and exploring small private beaches and every other nook and corner of the fort.

Bandhavgarh Diary

On a freezing dawn in the forest our naturalist asked driver to stop the jeep and turn off the engine so that he could hear the calls of deers and langurs coming from the jungle. ‘Shhhh…. there is a tiger around’ he whispered pointing towards a water body but we couldn’t see it. That was probably the most desperate time I had in the jungle. Intensity started building up as we buried our eyes in the direction mentioned by him. For around 20-25 minutes the deer calls continued while we were looking in the direction mentioned by the naturalist, the feeling of helplessness had started creeping all over the occupants of jeep.

Thirsty tiger

Thirsty tiger

Just about the time when we started losing hope we suddenly had adrenalin rush as the tiger appeared on the scene leaving us awe-struck in our open top jeep. Just like any other domestic cat it was drinking water with its tongue but something was making this scene extraordinary which was keeping our eyes glued to the wild cat, we kept looking at it while it was drinking water and looking at us intermittently.

For a moment the persona of the tiger made me forget that I had a camera in my hand but the sound of shutter clicks of my wife’s camera reminded me to use the instrument. I always wished to click the shrewd and intense tiger when it was giving me that killer look and I got that wish fulfilled this time. With looks to kill and attitude to die for it deserved all the adulation it was receiving, 3 jeeps were standing there to admire it. The tiger was such a show off that it came closer just to show its attitude by giving us intense stare and eventually vanished in the woods.

The look

The look

We were in the jungles of BandhavgarhNational Park which is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh and boasts of having the highest density of tigers among the all Tiger reserves across India. In a quest to do something different on our first wedding anniversary we had planned wildlife trip to Bandhavgarh and this tiger had started our day with a bang. It was our first wildlife trip and certainly enlightened us with many unwritten facts of the Jungle.

Fact 1: Don’t go with a sole objective of sighting a Tiger

These jungles are not only about tigers, it has much more to offer than just the big cats. Tiger is the Apex predator, jungles with tigers inhabits its entire food chain; Tigers food, its foods food and so on. All share this jungle and they as well are amazing animals to watch. Langurs, spotted/barking/sambar deer, wild boars, peacocks are a common sights and If you are lucky you may also sight tiger, leopard, asian black bear, wild dogs, jackals etc.

If you want a guarantee of sighting a tiger, you might visit a zoo or a circus but if you are an adult, those places won’t take you on a high for sure. Having said that we were lucky enough to sight Tiger, wild dogs, Jackal, Neel Gai and bear in our 1st trip but expecting too much can leave you disappointed. We could spot a tiger in only 1 out of 3 safaris; we met a family who could not sight a single tiger in 17 Safaris through Corbett, Tadoba and Bandhavgarh national park and we could easily make it out from their sorry faces.

Fact 2: Deer’s don’t die natural death!!

Across every corner of jungle we saw beautiful spotted deer herds happily roaming around; while talking to the naturalist we came to know about this fact that deers don’t die natural death as all of them are taken by the predators, their everyday task is struggle to see a new morning. Even the predators take many unsuccessful attempts to end up with a kill which increase the struggle and thrill in life of deers.

We got to experience one such breathtaking instance where a herd of 20 wild dogs were chasing 4-5 spotted deers, we actually felt sorry about the poor deers but for them its part of their lives. Deers ending up as a meal of a predator is one of the unwritten rules of the Jungle.

Fact 3: Naturalist / Guide can make or break the sighting

Sighting a tiger is just a matter of luck, but even on a lucky day a bad naturalist can fail in tiger sighting. We were fortunate enough to have good experienced naturalists for all our Safaris and that’s why we ended up sighting many exciting animals in Jungle.

Fact 4: Wildlife sense is a must

Keeping quiet is a thumb rule everyone should follow when in jungle. If you sight an animal and want to convey your feelings of excitement to the person sitting next to you, do it quietly by whispering or pointing towards the animal. Most of the animals are shy and would not come out if they know that people are waiting outside to watch them. Wearing clothes which camouflage with the jungle are advisable.

Fact 5: It’s addictive

If roaming around in jungle in an open top jeep watching majestic animals like Tiger, leopard, lion prowl and haunt the other animals takes you on a high then in all probabilities you will get addicted to it.

You never get enough of wildlife. If you sight a tiger you want to see it again and if you don’t then you have reasons to plan another trip. Under both the cases you want to head to the jungle. We started planning our next wildlife trip while coming back from Bandhavgarh.