Enjoy the villa life in Alibaug
Two large banyan trees with dangling roots drew my gaze from the first floor of architect Brinda Somaiya’s sprawling home in Alibaug. Aptly named Banyan Grove, Somaiya’s home is located on a 2-acre plot in the village of Awas. It allows for sweeping views of the garden and the sky, and reflects its owner’s sensibility in its furniture and art.
In Mumbai, where I live, having a bungalow overlooking a swimming pool and garden would be impossible. But in Alibaug, just a 45-minute ferry ride from the Gateway of India, this is more the norm than the exception. And luckily, many of the beautiful homes built in Alibaug are now available on rent, through word-of-mouth, Facebook groups, and websites like Airbnb.
Nestled among Alibaug’s narrow winding roads, many of these villas look straight out of a magazine. Having built their dream weekend getaways, the owners find that putting these houses on rent helps with the upkeep. Plus, they get to share the joy.
One such house owner is artist Papri Bose. After attending a party in a friend’s bungalow, she was smitten by the scene she woke up to the next morning—an empty beach with swaying palms and different types of birdsong. She bought a piece of land by the beach that was surrounded by coconut and bamboo trees. Bose’s visits to the home she built there are erratic, but every time she goes, she’s immediately infected by Alibaug’s laid-back air. She enjoys having people stay in her house and says , “It’s a fun thing to do, and the place gets blessed, appreciated and maintained.”
Unlike checking into a hotel, renting a home complete with staff allows guests to experience, even if only for a short while, the joys of a villa life. Villa rentals start from about Rs11,000.
Rahul Roy, a Mumbai-based banker who went to Alibaug with his wife and mother-in-law for one night, says: “Renting a private villa was uncomplicated and it surpassed all expectations. The simple no-frills service, and the tranquility that came with the isolated villa, made for a memorable experience.
Reasons to linger
If you’re tempted to stay longer than a weekend, these learning experiences will provide the perfect pretext.
■Experience the farm-to-table concept during a day-long workshop by The Table, a Mumbai-based restaurant, at their farm in Sasawane village. Visitors can work in the garden, pick fresh ingredients and whip up a delicious meal guided by the chefs.
■Artist Anjali Aney offers pottery workshops for beginners and those already proficient with clay. Sharpen your skills in a studio overlooking her massive garden and charming home.
■At Yogacara’s two- to four-day retreats at the Mango Beach House, yoga sessions are complemented by home-cooked meals and long beach walks.