In a somewhat remote, northwestern corner of Bombay, lies the little hamlet of Manori. Inhabited for generations by the Kolis, a fishing community, Manori is equal parts Portuguese, Hindu and Christian, giving it a unique cultural identity and a distinct vibe; one that stands out in this city of millions. To the few Mumbaikars aware of its presence, it is best known for its namesake beach, one of 9 that adorn the city’s shores, and probably the most secluded.
The beach tends to get fairly busy on weekends but most visitors only come for the day, as an escape from the city. For those who choose to stay longer, there are only a handful of boarding options, with Manoribel easily your best bet. A lush, 7-acre property, with only a dozen-odd cottages – most of them sea-facing – Manoribel offers a perfectly affordable getaway, in the most tranquil of environments. All of this within earshot of a metropolis!
The thickly wooded grounds of Manoribel are studded with casuarinas, and many a palm-lined pathway. Under the shade of those graceful trees are thoughtfully provided hammocks, spaced well apart from one another. Spend a lazy afternoon lounging on one, as you sip on fresh coconut water, or then clamber on to the machan, for a perfect view of the setting sun.
Meals are had family-style at the Toddy Tapper, the restaurant at Manoribel. The cuisine is decidedly East Indian, and the delectable dishes are prepared, and served, by a team of cheerful women, who won’t grimace when you ask for that extra wedge of lime or yet another dollop of their house pickle. The food can take a while to arrive but it’s worth the wait, if nothing else, for the freshness alone. The property includes a little green patch, conveniently located adjacent to the restaurant, growing everything from Spinach to Okra. As would be expected, the Fish is all locally sourced, and more than likely caught the same morning!
Eat. Drink. Lounge. Repeat. There’s really not much else to do, but that’s also the best part of being there! This was probably the first family holiday where not one of us had any desire to move beyond the confines of the property, and were happier for it.
Manoribel is a no-frills retreat, devoid of flat screens and other such urban amenities. It is rustic, yet perfectly comfortable. It is where you go to spend quality time with one another, or even on your own, as the case may be. In essence, it is the ideal escape! But if sea breeze and conversations aren’t stimulating enough for you, the beach is close at hand, and the ocean, yours to explore…
One of the most attractive things about Manori is its proximity to the city, and the ease of getting there. The shortest route is by “local” to Malad station; an “auto” or BEST bus (#272) to Marve from there, and then a ferry (also operated by BEST) across Gorai Creek. Back in the day, Manoribel would send a tanga to receive its guests at the pier. Today, of course, everyone just drives!
Manori turned out to be one of our most low-key family reunions. For the few that made it there, however, it was also, probably, the most memorable…