THE Madh Island area, home to possibly the city’s most untouched coastline, is also home to villages not many know about. Ghost villages during the monsoon with the fishing season on break, Erangal and Bhati are connected through the Erangal-Bhati beach, adjacent to the INS Hamla.
Erangal village has natives with East Indian roots and Maharashtrians as well. The houses on the other hand, with their large verandahs, have an East Indian flair.
“Our appliances have become modern, but our way of life is still the same. We fish all the year, and take shelter during monsoons. The fishermen’s society building, in the centre of the village, still controls everything and makes sure everything runs smoothly,” Hitesh Bhanushali, the owner of a local groceries shop, says.
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The village opens into the beach, which serves as the only playground for the kids from the two villages.
Erangal and Bhati villages play host to several tourists during the first four months of the year, with the beach becoming a hotspot for parties.
Due to its desolate location, the outskirts of the village are also home to new construction, including bungalows.
Sylvester Koli, a member of Bhati village’s cooperative society, says, “Builders have begun indiscriminately cutting mangroves, which has been causing seawater to seep into the village. The noise and publicity is something we do not want, we are used to living our lives peacefully. We prefer going for fishing early in the morning, and congregating in the evening for a drink.”
Koli added that the rampant construction around the precinct of the village had brought increased garbage with it.
“You will find more litter than people on the streets during the monsoon now,” he said.
Erangal is also home to two old forts and the famous St Bonaventure Church, a Portuguese creation dating back to the 16th century.
One of the main reasons for increased tourist numbers during January is the lavish ‘Feast Day’ of St Bonaventure.
Fishing is the villagers’ primary occupation, while few villagers from Erangal also farm.
“We fish for eight months, then go into hibernation during monsoon. This overpowering smell of the fish is something we cannot live without,” another villager added.