Bordi: Sweet As A Chikoo

The waves come slowly over the gentle slope of Bordi beach and retreat even more relaxed, raising bubbles from the sky in the sand. Often they leave behind a little creature from the sea, or two, and the dogs go for it. Besides their barking, the beach is quiet most of the day. You will be alone during those warm hours, immersed in the gossip of wind and the sea.

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Strand van Bordi (by Himanshu Sarpotdar)

Late evening is the time when the sea is furthest out and you can easily walk to the mangroves on the left crest of the crescent of the beach. That is also when the adolescents of Bordi turn the beach into a dozen cricket pitches and fill the air with their screams. Unless you’re visiting on the weekend, you’ll be the only one with eyes for the setting sun.

While Bordi may only rise in the tourism circuit, it has already made a name for itself as a hub of learning. The many Jain and Parsi-run schools and polytechnics house thousands of students from the neighboring areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

There’s a lot you can do in Bordi without moving a limb – soak up the sun, take in the sea breeze and give your drums a break from the cacophony of the big city. All this is without a doubt what makes Bordi such a nice weekend getaway for Mumbaikars.

Remains of the day

Further from Bordi are the famous Bharda Hills and their sacred caves. Travel guides refer to these by their real name, Bahrot Caves, but the villagers seem quite surprised if you ask.

Bahrot Caves hold immense religious significance to the Parsi community, for it is in these caves that their sacred fire was first placed when this small community fled from what was then Persia (now Iran). At the top they carved caves out of the rock face and for eight years this was the holy place for Parsis all over the world. Under Shivaji’s patronage, they lived in peace; after his death, the Mughals started to harass them. The fire was then moved to Udvada in Gujarat where it remains to this day.

Versions differ on the number of mountains you must climb to reach the Bahrot Caves. First of all, hire yourself a guide in Bordi for around Rs 100 which is a must as every branch and tree looks the same and apart from the poor excuse of a path to the top, there really is no other way up. Vehicles can only drive up to Asavli Dam, after which it is a tough climb of almost 3 hours via the regular route. Along the way a few benches have been built by some Parsi soul. Bring plenty of bottled water and sandwiches as it will be a good 4 to 5 hours before heading back to base. Also wear good walking shoes and don’t forget your can of tiger repellent because according to the guide there are wild animals around.

Once you reach the top, you can see the scenery for miles. The caves, about four in all, are in a state of neglect and disuse, except for the main cave where the Parsis still conduct their worship service after washing in the water in a nearby cave. The amazing thing is that the water is available 12 months of the year, rain or shine. However, November to March is a good time of year to go. Summers are hot and it is too slippery during monsoons. A guide is a must.

Quick Facts

Place: On the shores of the Arabian Sea, in Thane district, Bordi is practically the northernmost outpost of Maharashtra and is just 3 km away from the state’s border with Gujarat in Zai.

Distance: 177 km N of Mumbai Travel time By train 21/2 hours + 10 minutes By road 4 hours

Route: Van Mumbai NH8 naar Kasa Khurd via Manor; SH naar Dahanu via Ashagarh; strandweg naar Bordi via Gholvad

When to go: Between June and September. November to the end of February are also pleasant. Avoid October and the summer months – Bordi bakes

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