We’ve been sitting pretty in Cochin for a couple of months now, but we’ve still got some catching up to do on the blog. Yep, some more snaps, this time of a beautiful, remote fishing village 110 miles south of Mumbai. The village was called Jaigarh and it was spectacular.
It was spectacular in part because of its location. Tucked up inside the mouth of a wide river that meets the sea the entrance into the natural harbour had the depth gauge nervously displaying less than 2m under the keel. The village, hidden behind an old fort wall and a big hill with a solitary temple on it, sits at the foot of an extremely lush palm forest. Aside from the parks of Mumbai this was the first time we had seen vegetation on this scale since the journey to Asmara in Eritrea, some 2,000 miles away. What a novelty after the deserts of Arabia!
Jaigarh was also spectacular in appearance. The countryside down the whole of this coast is rich in iron ore and the roads and buildings, many made of mud bricks, illustrate this. If you think I’ve been saturating the reds in my images, I haven’t. It’s a true reflection of the hue we experienced there. Bar a couple of shots I’ve tried to keep my photographs natural this time but you really had to be there to understand just how rich in colour this village was. Imagine flashes of saris in pastel pinks and peaches against rusty coloured buildings, all set against the vivid green foliage, and you’ll begin to get the picture.
We spent one night at this anchorage and were taken ashore by the rally sponsors. Sadly we didn’t spend it in Jaigarh, despite the whole town coming out to gawp at our arrival. Instead we were taken to a holiday complex some miles inland. The drive there was quite an eye-opener, especially as this was my first taste of Indian countryside. We weaved our way through little villages, up over dusty blood-red hills and back down to sea level to follow miles of desolate beaches. It was dark by the time we arrived at this holiday complex in the middle of nowhere but we had dinner laid on for us as we watched an impressive dance performance put on by the local kids. Amateurish this was not: they impressed us all with their story of Ganesh told through very tightly choreographed dancing and chanting. I was very tempted to bust out the robot but thought better of it. These kids were energetically bouncing off the concrete for an hour; I’d have lasted five minutes. Tops.
I had my camera on call all day and all night. Next morning when I awoke at sunrise, I stuck my lens over the guard rail to take a picture of the fishing boat next to us. It was a home as well as a working boat and the young family were already up. Through bleary eyes I was delighted to see that one of them was leaning over the side of his boat facing Esper. With the early morning light and the palm trees in the background it was a fantastic shot. I lined up my camera and just as I was about to snap away my stomach lurched as I realised that the man on the fishing boat wasn’t leaning over taking in the view, he was sat with his arse hanging over the side going for a dump! Not what I wanted to see at six the morning! I suppose it avoids blocking the heads…
It was during the next morning that we really got to grips with Jaigarh village. Jean-Claude and Marlene of ‘Anthea’ very kindly gave Liz and myself a lift ashore and we had just one hour to explore the wonders of the village’s architecture, temples, fishing boats and people. Within minutes Liz and I were invited to join a young Muslim family on their doorstep for a coke. They refused any financial contribution to the refreshment and whilst only one of the daughters could speak a little English the whole family giggled and squealed every time I pointed the camera at them. They obliged of course.
Fishing is clearly the centre of the town’s industry, with many of the men making repairs to boats, stitching nets and drying out catches whilst posing for the camera. We spoke to one man, a village elder, who was beside himself with our presence. He’d served in the merchant navy for many years and knew England well. His English was limited but I swear we made that man’s day when we told him where we were from. He had an entourage of young men who had gone to find him when they heard about our brief visit. He was clearly a well-regarded man-of-the-world in their eyes.
You see despite being only 110 nautical miles from Mumbai, Jaigarh is really off the beaten track. You won’t find it in any travel guide, so is it any wonder that our presence there caused a minor stir? How often do the lovals get white people arriving by boat to visit their village? It probably only happens once a year, when Lo passes by with the rally.
Due to monsoon restrictions Jaigarh was the only place we visited other than Goa, which we’ll document for you soon. It was a shame to miss out on all the remaining anchorages but if Jaigarh is anything to go by I am seriously considering turning the boat round next season and heading back up the south west coast to explore further. It was truly delightful.
To view the Jaigarh photographs just click in the centre to start an automated slide-show. Once started you can pause and play the show by using the pause/play buttons in the bottom left of the slide-show. The button on the bottom-right of the slideshow puts it in to full-screen mode where you will find more options. Clicking directly on a photograph will open it up on flickr in a new page.