Barely an hour’s ferry ride from Mumbai, idyllic little Uran is a Koli fishing village once ruled by the Marathas, and later the Portuguese. The commuter ferry ride from Mumbai is bracingly perfumed by the sea breeze, with the occasional smell of fish. On the water, colourful trawlers haul in their catch, while on the shore Koli women aggressively negotiate the cost of their goods, or chase errant eels and crabs that escape from their cane baskets. There’s plenty to see, even on the drive from the Mora jetty to Uran, where blue fishing nets, bright pink cottages, and green fields create a dreamy tapestry.
Uran Plaza Resort overlooks a wide expanse of the Arabian Sea, and has plenty of inviting hammocks and sunbeds strategically placed for guests to enjoy the view. The staff plies you with a choice of drinks, while the owner supplies interesting anecdotes and conversation. The 92-year-young retired Vice Admiral Pereira, runs a tight ship at his charming resort. On the porch of his home, surrounded by his loyal dogs and chirping birds, he points out the unusual hyperbolic paraboloid structure of the roof, which touches the ground at two points. On one wall, is a painting gifted by M.F. Hussain, who once stayed here. On another, hangs a photo of the owner with Indira Gandhi, whom Pereira advised on naval matters. Intricately carved antique walnut furniture basks in the ample sunlight streaming in through large glass doors.
Pereira nostalgically recounts his life in England and his adventures with the Navy during the Second World War, which took him from the North Pole to Rio de Janeiro. In 1961, he came to tranquil Uran and purchased a barren plot of nine acres for ₹9,000. Here, he planted trees to create a hideout for birds and nature lovers. The hotel offers wonderful birdwatching opportunities among the coconut and other palms, as well as walks along the beach outside the property.
For more active guests, there are large, sea-facing tennis and basketball courts. And when you’ve worked up an appetite, the continental and local seafood—such as the fish in tartare sauce, prawn masala, or shrimp pancakes—will complete the picture of heaven.
As I lay in a hammock, gently rocked by the wind, watching the giant red ball of the sun set over the sea, I began to succumb to the same romantic charm that inspired Mr. Pereira to give up urban life many years ago. Like him, I was tempted to call this mesmerising retreat home
Appeared in the September 2015 issue as “The Simple Life”. Updated in July 2018.
Uran Plaza Resort has six clean, sea-facing cottages, built in the Koli style, using white ant-resistant hardwood shipped in from the Andaman Islands. Mine had a bookshelf with a “Take one, leave one” policy. Meals are served on the cottages’ porch or the lawn. (022-27222317/18, www.hoteluranplaza.com; air-conditioned doubles from ₹2,632, including breakfast.)
Mumbai is the closest airport/rail head. Uran is connected to Mumbai by regular ferries from Bhaucha Dhakka also called Ferry Wharf (6.30 a.m.-5 p.m.; 30min-1 hr). Taxis and buses ply the 40-km route to Uran from Vashi, Navi Mumbai.
Piya Bose is a lawyer-turned-travel consultant for women. Her passion for travel has taken her to Tibet, expedition cruises in Antarctica, and homes of Inuits in Greenland and head hunters in Nagaland. She has spoken at a TEDx conference, on "Making a career while travelling".