Mumbai: Cyclone Nisarga has put Alibaug, a cluster of coastal fishing villages touted to be Mumbai’s Hamptons, on the national map.
According to the India Meteorological Department, the severe cyclonic storm made landfall close to Alibaug, a tehsil in Raigad district that has 215 villages lined with sprawling beaches, palm trees, modest motels, home stays, second homes, as well as luxurious villas. It is some 100 km from Mumbai.
Earlier in the day, the IMD said the cyclone had moved northeastward at a speed of 13 kmph as of 9 am. It was likely to cross the Maharashtra coast close to the south of Alibaug Wednesday afternoon.
The cyclone is said to have a sustained wind speed of 100-110 kmph, which could gust up to 120 kmph.
— ANI (@ANI) June 3, 2020
Many of Mumbai’s rich and famous have bungalows, which open up to orchards and beaches in Alibaug’s quaint villages, earning the region the moniker Mumbai’s Hamptons. The Hamptons are a similar cluster of towns and hamlets along the American coast that are a popular summer getaway for the affluent of New York city.
Mumbai’s rich and famous such as Gautam Singhania, Ratan Tata, the Godrejs, Yash Birla, Harsh Mariwala, Shobhaa De, Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, and Rahul Khanna, among many others, own property in Alibaug’s hamlets.
Unlike the chic Hamptons, however, Alibaug isn’t buzzing with upper crust restaurants, beach-side bars or tony boutiques and art galleries.
On the contrary, the coastal getaway, like most parts of Maharashtra’s coastal districts, is paved with bumpy roads. Several beaches have sand that is sticky and black with the constant ferrying of fuel-driven boats. A constant stream of tourists all year round has also ensured that the main beaches such as Alibaug and Kihim are always dirty, crowded and littered with PET bottles and empty packets of chips.
Yet, what makes Alibaug glamorous is it’s proximity to Mumbai. While some of these plush homeowners have their own helipads, many others have their private luxury yachts to take them from Mumbai’s coast to the Mandwa jetty in Alibaug. When not in use, these yachts lazily stretch in the grey ocean along Mumbai’s landmark Gateway of India.
With the popularity of vacation home rental businesses, many of Alibaug’s stunning properties are now also available for weekend holiday goers.
Alibaug is also constantly in the news for Coastal Regulation Zone violations by property owners. One of the most well-known such cases is that of Shah Rukh Khan’s Deja Vu Farms Private Limited, which was fined Rs 3.09 crore for violations at its farm house at Thal village in Alibaug.
The slow, idyllic villages of Alibaug are gradually becoming prime real estate, and are likely to metamorphose into an extension of Mumbai in the future with there being a slew of public infrastructure projects on the cards.
In March, authorities launched a roll on, roll off ferry service between Mumbai’s Ferry Wharf and Alibaug’s Mandwa. The service enables people to take their cars to Alibaug and cuts the otherwise three-hour road journey to 45 minutes. The Mandwa jetty too has got a plush makeover.
Another game changer would be the Virar-Alibaug multi modal corridor, a 126-km long road to connect growing towns in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the urban agglomeration of Mumbai. The project, however, has been on the cards since nearly a decade and has undergone several feasibility reports and design modifications. Actual work is still yet to begin.