The silver sands, the deep blue sea and the verdant suru corridors… the beaches in Maharshtra have always enticed me. Beaches have been an excellent option for weekend getaways and I always wondered if I could cover them all in one go. I have been planning for this coastal biking expedition from Alibaug to Goa for long which would cover all the beaches and the sea forts enroute. It was a dream come true when the long awaited expedition was successfully completed in Dec 07. Thanks to Akshay for making it happen as I wouldn’t have done it all alone.
Day 1 : Dec 22, 2007
Pune – Borivali
We had been planning for this since long and as the D-day neared, the excitement was really building up. I had packed my things yesterday and was geared up for the expedition. Finally I was going to be with the Arabian sea … and this time for real long!
I started from my place around 4 pm with sack on my back, camera bag hanging on my shoulders and helmet over my head. With my cell phone hands-free plugged in my ears I was listening to music and merrily heading towards Mumbai.
Mahd Ganpati – The temple at Mahd is one of the ashtavinayakas and the home of my pet deity Lord Ganesha. How could I have missed the darshan especially when I was going to be on such a long awaited expedition? The blessings were definitely essential for the successful completion of the expedition. After being blessed by Lord Varadvinayaka, I proceeded towards Mumbai & reached Akshay’s place finally at 10 pm following Powai – Arey Colony route.
Day 2 : Dec 23, 2007
Borivali (Akshay’s Residence) – Unfortunately we ended up with a sleepless night because of the sheer excitement of the expedition which was to commence today. Awake at 5 am we stepped out of the house with blessings from Akshay’s parents and promising them that we would call them up everyday. Our exhilaration knew no bounds as it was hard to believe that we had actually off to conquer the forts on the coastal belt of Maharashtra.
We had our eyes on the road to Alibaug, that being the first destination. We were to follow the NH17 up to Vadkhal naka, take a diversion to Alibaug and post that chase the MSH 4 called the “Sagari Mahamarg” – the coastal highway which originates at Alibaug and runs almost parallel to the entire Konkan coast through the districts of Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg and finally connects to Goa at Tiracol.
Alibaug – This was our first destination as this is where we were to touch the sea shore. We headed straight towards the beach. The beach has been ruined by the frequent visitors. But we still found many of them taking a dip in the filthy waters. Pitying them and taking a few snaps we spent few minutes here.
We could see Colaba and Sarjekot forts at a distance surrounded by the sea water. Due to the high tide we could not reach there so bid them good bye and headed towards the Kanhoji Angre’s Samadhi. A brave sardar of Shivaji’s troupe he had led many battles especially to conquer the sea forts. He was hence conferred the title “Darya Sarkhel”.
We then headed towards Hirakot. It is a small fort which now houses a prison. Hence we are not allowed inside to see the fort. Next to the fort is the Hirakot lake. Adorned with beautiful lotus flowers the lake was in full glory. The waters were clear and reflected the trees around making it a picture perfect.
Akshi – This is a small secluded beach right in the neighborhood of Alibaug. It used to be a quite getaway. But now you see a lot of people who are bored of Alibaug diverting here.
Nagaon – Yet another beach… nothing unusual about it as it is flooded with tourists.
Bairagi Ganpati Mandir – A beautiful temple enroute Revdanda.
Revdanda Fort – The Revdanda village is happily settled in the fort itself which is now in ruins. But for some fortification along the coast and a few canons there are no remains of the fort at all. The fortification has a couple of outlets to the sea shore which is calm quiet and an ultimate place to unwind oneself. The Korlai fort at the backdrop, the was expanse of the sea, the quite shore, the shade of the coconut trees and numerous seagulls… one cant believe such a beautiful world can exist when the hustle and bustle of the MSH4 is just half a km away.
Fort has an old tower which is in ruins. It reminded us of the location for “Kambakth Ishq”.
Revdanda has a beautiful creek. The bridge over it commands a superb sight of the confluence of the Kundalika river and the Arabian Sea. Once you have crossed the bridge a marine drive led us to the Korlai fort. The sea was so close to the road, it often felt as if the waves would hit us anytime. Enjoying the ride we reached a lousy hamlet of Korlai.
Korlai – The Korlai fort is on a hillock which is right in the middle of the sea. Behind the hillock is a lighthouse and a kuccha road along the coast led us there. The marine drive enroute Korlai had been good but this felt even better. At the light house we parked our bike and asked the person if we could leave the bag and helmets with him while we hike the fort. He agreed to do so if we paid him 10 bucks. A decent deal!
Steps from behind the lighthouse guest house led us to the fort which was barely a 10 min climb. The fort has a strong fortification and covered by sea on all sides. The waves hit the lofty mountain, creating a vista worth a watch. The fort houses water cistern, a diminutive temple of some unknown god, ruins of various constructions, lots of canons and a few Portuguese inscriptions. There are two canons at the light house too – well painted and kept as objects of beautification.
We spent half an hour here. It was getting really sunny and by now we had started feeling hungry. We left for Kashid hoping to have food and relaxing for a while.
Kashid – It has always been a beautiful and quite beach during my last few visits… Unfortunately today it was flooded with tourists and their vehicles. The woodlands of Kashid which are full of suru trees where today lost in the maddening crowd of the vehicles. A great disappointment, so we had a quick bite of ice-cream and headed to Nandgaon without going to the beach & without even having food.
Nandgaon – 7 km off Kashid is Nandgaon known for its famed Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple. It is said that the Ashtavinayak yatra is never complete unless you visit Nandgaon for a darshan. Surprisingly not many seem to know about it!
We asked Ganesha to shower his blessings on us to have a successful trip, sat for a while to witness the holy silence and then headed towards the beach. Nandgaon is blessed with a lovely shoreline. Lined with shady coconut plantations the beach is as restful as it can be – all you hear is the alluring music of the waves. Stimulated as never before we left for Murud.
Murud – After about 18 km of ride we were greeted by the stunning view of the sea at Murud. We headed towards Rajapuri from where the boats set sail to Janjira fort. A 10 min boat ride got us here. It was a low tide and we had to walk bare feet on the slippery rocks to reach the entrance.
It was pretty sunny and we had started feeling tired. We hadn’t slept last night, we had not had our lunch and we had been riding whole day long. We thought we gonna break down. So we found a shady place and rested for a while. We sipped some water and it really helped. Refreshed we explored the fort and returned back to Rajpuri.
Rajapuri – We arrived on time to catch hold of the 5:15 pm ferry to take us across to Dighi. But due to low tide the boatman refused to take the bike on the boat. It meant a 50-60 km long ride to reach Diveagar. We were a little disappointed but suddenly people suggested we should try the Agardanda jetty which was 5 km away. If we hurry we could take up the 5:30 pm ferry from there.
Agardanda – We reached Agardanda on time but the ferry was full as it could carry only 6 bikes at a time. The boatman said there would be another ride at 6:15 pm. So we parked the bike, dropped our sack and got easy. It was a long day. We were tired after the long ride especially after the sleepless night. But our enthusiasm knew no bounds. We spent these 45 minutes gazing at the seagulls and capturing them in the camera. There were plenty of them there. Akshay mentioned they were his favorite among the birds. He also narrated me the gist of his favorite book on seagulls.
By the time we were ready to board the ferry, the jetty was crowded. There were lots of bikes too. But we managed to get ours on the ferry as we were the first ones in the queue. The sun had set and the moon was casting a reflection on the sea waters. It was a magnificent sight and was attempted to capture in camera by Akshay.
Dighi – A 15 minute ferry ride took us across to Dighi and it was pitch dark when we landed. Diveagar was 16 km away & we set off immediately. The road was bad, full of sharp curves and potholes making it difficult in the dark. We rode slowly and within an hour or so reached Diveagar to catch the glimpse of the Suvarna Ganpati – the golden Ganesha.
Diveagar – This was going to be our first halt on the trip and it was a fight to look up for the place to lodge ourselves. Tourism has become one of the primary source of income for the residents of Diveagar and most of the families here make typical gharguti (homely) arrangement for stay and food. But being the vacation season, it was a little difficult to find one instantaneously. We eventually managed to lodge ourselves at Adulkar’s Krushnai.
For dinner we decided to go over to Kelkar’s as I had heard a lot about the food there. Unfortunately it was overbooked and there was no way we could have been accommodated. He then directed us to Madhu Bhatkar whose eatery was popular for the fish preparation. And how true… we ate the best fish ever!
Day 3 : Dec 24, 2007
Diveagar – We were up early and went over to the beach to take a dip. We two were the only odd ones taking a dip in the sea at that hour else the beach was quiet and without a soul… except for a couple of fishermen. We thoroughly enjoyed the swim for over an hour before we got back to bathe and push off.
It was 9:30 am when we left and rode on till Srivardhan hugging the sands, as the road ran right next to the beach. The waters welcomed us with their arms wide open and the sights on the way were worth a watch.
Srivardhan – Thus enjoying the ride we reached Srivardhan in no time. Srivardhan is also the place of origin of the Peshwas and hence holds a lot of historic importance. But it is more popular for its calm and a peaceful beach. The road takes you right on the beach, so we enjoyed beach biking here and a lot of photography too!
Harihareshwar – Known as the Dakshin Kashi – the holiest shrine of the south; Harihareshwar is always flooded with aficionados of Lord Shiva and Lord Bhairava. There was a long queue here for the darshan and we ended up spending an hour for the same.
Harihareshwar houses a quite, secluded sea shore which invites one and all for a dip. There are steps behind the temple which led us atop a small hill. On the other side of the hill are steps that descend to the sea. The strong waves have hit the rock here to create various rock formations due to erosion. These are a sight and identifying various formations is a favorite pass time for many. So was for us!
We were damn hungry by now and found a place to hog, which we thought would be decent. All we got to eat here was Veg 🙁 thali and that too was just OK.
Bagmandla – A few km from Harihareshwar is a lousy village of Bagmandla famed for its Jungle jetty which ferries people across the creek. We took the ferry to cross over to Bankot, entering the Ratnagiri district.
Bankot – 3 km off the jetty on the other end was the village called Bankot. Steep roads with sharp curves took us up to the fort, which was at quite a height. It was an undersized fort with strong fortification walls and bastions. It is in ruins but the fortification walls offer a superb view of the surroundings, as you climb on.
Velas – We descended the hillock and we were greeted a splendid marine drive. With the vast expanse of the Arabian sea on the right and the hillocks on the left we were riding on a small curvy road enjoying the fresh breeze. The scenery left us mesmerized as we continued our ride towards Velas. We had spent around 20 odd minutes to reach the sleepy hamlet of Velas.
There was nothing much to see as we had been riding along the shore itself and hence we decided to ride on to our next destination. As we moved forward we hit a dirt track which led to Kelshi. We had been instructed to take the long road as the road we were following was still under construction and most of that being muddy. But I had that extra dynamism and took pride in riding on the same.
It was a long ride and it took us almost an hour before we came across some civilization. The track so far had been very lonely, nature being the only companion. It was a miniature colony and we saw a school too. Also we were now on a tar road and it made us feel at ease. To further add to the comfort we were astonished to spot a local ice-cream parlor. What more could one wish for after such a long tiring ride amidst the clouds of dust?
Kelshi – The sun was about to go down when we reached the Kelshi beach. Kelshi was a very quite and serene beach with verdant suru corridors and just a couple of souls around. I clicked astounding photos of the sunset here. We were so impressed with Kelshi we decided to park ourselves here itself for tonight. While looking for a place to lodge ourselves, the villagers advised us to put up at Punyaee that being the best place to stay when you are at Kelshi. So we headed for Punyaee.
Punyaee is run by an oldie who was a very interesting chap. When we enquired for a room for the night stay he asked us to sit down for a while and listen to some info he wanted to share with us. He talked about the rules and regulations of staying there and he mentioned “Danga karaycha nahi, jeven katakshane shakaharich milel, swachatela khup mahatvaa dile jate, pinaryana ithe jaga nahi” etc, etc. Finally he said he charged 250 bucks per person for the stay and food (dinner, breakfast and lunch). We expressed our intension of not staying back until Lunch and leaving by 7 am in the morning. He tried convincing us that it would be an injustice to Kelshi if we did not stay until lunch to explore Kelshi. He said there were lots of places worth a visit in Kelshi and there is a vast difference in just touching up and actually “seeing” a place. But we were clear on our plans. He then thought for quite sometime and finally agreed on 150 bucks per head for the stay and the dinner. All this took quite a while and though we enjoyed the conversation were also furious on him for wasting half an hour.
When he handed over the keys to us, we quickly changed to our beachwear and were off for bathing on the beach. It was already dark and only moonlight guided us to the beach and the water. We spent around 45 min in the enjoying the Jacuzzi of the sea water and headed back to Punyaee.
We had a refreshing bath and feeling damn hungry by now. It was 8:15 pm and we requested them to serve us early. The food was served in banana leaf and it was really exciting. It was served hot and had a very decent homely taste.
Day 4 : Dec 25, 2007
Kelshi – We started early and as suggested by the oldie yesterday we checked out the Ram Mandir, Siddhivinayak Temple, Mahalakshmi Temple, Masjid built by Shivaji Maharaj and the Bhairav Cave Temple. The Ram Mandir has beautiful paintings by some unknown artist depicting the scenes from Ramayana.
Anjarle – Anjarle is famous for its “Kadyavarcha Ganpati”. It is a beautifully carved temple built atop a small hillock which oversees the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea. The sanctified temple houses an eye-catching idol of Lord Ganesha – the pet deity of many a people all over. At the entrance were two small elephants. Beside it was a note written Baal Hatti, lahan mulana basnyasathi – young elephants meant for seating of children.
Locals told us to walk down a little to see the paaul – the pug mark of Lord Ganesha and the breathtaking view of the sea.
As we walked down towards the cliff, we were mesmerized by the striking view of Suvarnadurg fort and the blue waters of the sea. On a rock was a small foot imprint which is believed to be that of Lord Ganesha. We clicked some photos here and returned. Enroute was a small local tapri run by an old lady who offered us Haliv Laddu, saying it was the Prasad – the offering. It was actually her marketing gimmick. The laddu was incredibly yummy and we couldn’t resist buying a packet. She also successfully sold her aampapad and jackfruit chips. She claimed that the aampapad had no added sugar and we found it to be very appetizing. We had amla drink returned back to the temple and relished the tidbits bought – which served us as breakfast for the day!
Before leaving the place, the person who was cleaning the temple premises asked us to definitely stop by the Durga devi temple in the village. It was definitely worth a visit as it had wonderfully carved wooden pillars depicting very old architecture. There was no one here and it was really peaceful. Hanged out here for a while to have some good photos and we were off for Harne.
Harne – As we reached the village, we were directed to the beach to reach the Harne port. A wonderful ride on the silver sands led us to the port. Harne has been a very old port and has been in use even prior to the British rule. Hence it has a lot of historical importance.
The port is surrounded by 4 forts viz. Suvarnadurg, Kanakadurg, Harne – Goa and Harne – Fattegarh; Suvarnadurg being right in the middle of the sea. One needs to ferry across the deep blue sea and circle the fort to enter the fort. When in the ferry one is enthralled by the sight of numerous dolphins which pop up for a while to say Hi to the visiting tourists.
The ferry rider was an interesting chap and we had a lovely time listening to his conversation with the tourists he was ferrying across – of course we were amongst them too. He used to plead saying Baba re! Hey samudrache kaam aahe – nadi nahi ti when people refused to sit in the boat as per his instructions.
Keeping us entertained and showing the dolphins he took us to the fort entrance. He came along with us to show the fort too. He showed us the cannons, the entrance and the fortification, statue of Lord Hanuman, the water cisterns in the fort and the chor darwaja. It took us a short walk of 40 odd minutes to see the fort and get back to the boat. He then ferried us back to the port.
From here on we explored the other 3 forts. First the Harne – Goa, which is in ruins but it’s a good walk over the fortification with the sea ready to follow you. We also got a good view of the beach alongside. Then we went to Harne – Fattegarh just to ensure there is nothing there which could say there existed a fort some long long ago. Finally we just walked upto the light house atop Kanakdurg.
After Kanakdurg, my count of forts had gone upto 119 and with a sense of pride we left Harne. We were a little hungry by now, but then we could not locate a good place to hog. Hence we decided to have it in Dapoli.
Dapoli – We reached Dapoli in an hours time and first thing we enquired about was good eateries around. We were suggested to go to Jagdish – place known for its non veg delicacies. We relished on the fish thali, sumai fry, crab curry and we rated it the second best place we had our food after Madhu Bhatkar’s place at Diveagar.
We were told there is not much to see around and hence we decided to proceed to Dabhol which was again an hour’s ride from here.
Dabhol – Dabhol has been in the limelight in the very recent years because of the ill-famed Enron project. It is a massive project which has ruined the beauty of the quite village of Dabhol.
At Dabhol, the ruins of the very old “Anda Masjid” attracted our attention. It is an old stone structure and the designs carved in it are worth a watch.
At Dabhol another creek blocked our way and it was time again to take the boat to ferry across. Recently the government has started a new ferry service which has the capacity to ferry across a thousand people at a time. It also can ferry across cars and other vehicles. So we were saved of the pains of lifting the bike and putting it in. I proudly rode in the ferry, parked and climbed the stairs to reach the deck above. To our surprise this place had a small shop selling the typical Konkan meva – various Konkani products. Also beside this was a chap selling ice-cream! And the flavours were Mango, Gulkand and Jackfruit!! Jackfruit Ice-cream?- It was yum n very cheap too – mere 5 bucks a cup!!! In the next 10 minutes which the ferry took to cross the creek we had finished 4 cups each already.
With the taste lingering in the mouth, we set out in the direction of Anjenvel. Enroute we saw the Enron power plant which was as colossal as it could be. But because of this the roads were well made and riding here was a treat.
Anjenvel – Anjenvel was a small serene hamlet and on the small hillock nearby was the fort of Anjenvel, popularly known as Gopalgad. As we reached here the sturdy fortification spread over length of a little over half a km left us awestruck. We rode on till the end of the pathway, parked it under a shady tree and wondered how to get in. We then figured out a way that led to the door of the fort. It was small and the arch was broken. As we entered in, to our surprise the fort encase and Aamrai – mango plantations. It was a delight to witness the shady interiors of the fort. It took us half an hour to see the fort and we were on the road again – set for Guhaghar.
As we left Anjenvel, a SBI ATM caught our attention. It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees and we could hardly see people around. It then stuck us that it would have been there for the benefit of the employees of the power plant
Guhaghar – I had been longing to go to Guhaghar since long, as I had been hearing about the beauty of this beach from many a friends who had already been here. Also whenever I had planned to be here it never materialized. Finally I was here and it felt so good.
Guhaghar is a splendid and tranquil shore. A long coastline with verdant Suru trees at the periphery, soft silver sands and the cosmic stretch of the sea – all make it a picture perfect! A fantastic weekend destination!
We had reached here around 4 pm and the sun was showing signs of being tired after the day’s long work and all set to drown in the sea. This pre-sunset time helped us take some breathtaking snaps of the sun and the sea. Overwhelmed by the beauty, we thought we should stay back here; but then there was still some time for the sun to actually set and our next destination was mere 16 km away. We hence proceeded and reached Velneshwar.
Velneshwar – As we were nearing the beach, the sun seemed to be enchanting and the ambiance was getting romantic. It energized us to ride faster and we made it just before the sunset to capture the charming glory. The beach was quite and the waters were inviting to take a dip. Worn-out of the hectic ride, we slipped into our beach wear and off we were to play with the lashing waves. Wow, it was so very revitalizing!
After an hour’s play with the waves we ensured we were the last ones to get out of the water. We suddenly realized we had yet to search for a shelter for tonight. It wasn’t a tussle at all and we managed to settle down at Gokhale’s. For 300 bucks it was a steal indeed.
They asked us if we wanted anything specific in dinner but confined to veg. We asked them to cook bharli wangi – stuffed brinjal and we had a feast that night. To top it all we bought a packet of homemade ambawadi which served us our dessert!
Day 5 : Dec 26, 2007
Velneshwar – Up early we got ready and we set to ride off to the next destination. We paid off and visited the temple first to have the darshan. Sanctified by the blessings of Lord Velneshwar – we set off for Hedvi.
Hedvi – A pleasant ride took us to Hedvi which is famous for the magnificent Ganpati temple. It was a quite place on a small hillock with steps to reach there. The temple was a home for an attractive idol of Lord Ganesha. The surroundings were impressive and we took blessings from my pet deity to proceed forward.
The ride after this was even pleasing as it ran parallel to the shore until we reached Tavsal. This was again a wee hushed hamlet and a huge creek beside it. We enquired about Vijaygad and we were least expecting to be asked to go back the same road for a while. We hadn’t seen any structure which resembled a fort on our way! But we headed back.
Vijaygad – Following the instructions of the villagers, as we traced the same route back for over a km, we saw a small bastion on the left hand side. It was completely in ruins and one could never expect that to be the fort we were looking for. Akshay and I debated for a while whether it was actually the fort that we were looking for and finally another villager confirmed my gut feel. Vijaygad was completely in ruins and there were just 2 bastions and a very little fortification giving us the indications of the fort that would have existed long ago. It was tough for us to even climb over the bastion to peep over the other side as thorny plants blocked our way. We some how managed to get over it and got to have a breathtaking view of the sea and Jaigad fort opposite the creek.
Tavsal – We then headed back to Tavsal jetty to ferry across the creek. We were in time as it was only 9:40 am in our watch but to our surprise we saw the ferry had already left the jetty and was sailing across. It was supposed to be at 10 am and we were really upset to have it missed, as the next ferry was only in the afternoon at 3:30 pm.
There was a small boat at the jetty and they asked us if we wished to go to Jaigad. We said yes and they asked us to get the bike over the other jetty which was running parallel to the one we were on. It was difficult for just both of us to pick up the bike and come over and we requested one of the guys to help us out. But he turned a deaf ear to us and kept on doing his work. To our surprise he set sail and went away too! We were astonished by his deed and kept on wondering why he did so.
Another motorboat then came across and the boatman agreed to ferry us across. One of the guys was a little reluctant to take the bike along but then the other guy said yes and we heaved a sigh of relief. The boat man helped us lift the bike and put it inside the boat and we where off to Jaigad.
It was lovely backwaters we were passing through and the shores were lovely palm tree lined avenues. The scenes just went on getting better as we approached the Jaigad jetty. At the jetty it was again a tussle to get the bike off and on top of it the guy charged us 100 bucks. Surprised as never before, we still agreed to pay him off. It was much better than waiting there till 3:30 pm for the next ferry!
Jaigad – Jaigad fortification covered a huge area and it was strong enough to stand as is till now. The fort housed a Ganpati temple, a Shiva temple and ruins of various old structures. We had a quick walk over the fortification and reached back at the main entrance.
The unusual thing about the entrance was that the bastions beside it had a small guest house. A guest house!?!? We were really in a confused state of mind and we decided to check it out. It was no more there now but it was a well built one. It was probably the government guest house meant for the police officers who visited there. The Jaigad police station was right outside the fort!
Karahateshwar – I was telling Akshay that Jai and Vijay are the dwarpal – the door keepers of Lord Shiva and since we have seen the Jaigad and Vijaygad forts we should definitely have a Shiva Temple in the vicinity. A young chap we met at the fort had guided us to Karahateshwar Temple and had recommended it as one of the “must visits”. And this was the Shiva Temple we were looking for.
Karahateshwar is on a small hillock right beside the sea. We had to descend a few steps to reach the temple. It was a secluded temple amidst the tranquil of the coconut palms and the music of the sea water hitting the edges of the hillock. As we entered the temple we felt an aura of holiness and serenity. We had the holy darshan of the shivlingam and he pujari blessed us with the offerings. He also asked us to follow the steps to visit the Gomukh and we did. At the edge of the cliff was this Gomukh – pouring out cold fresh water. It was indeed astonishing to see the existence of fresh water when the sea was right beside it. We had some of this fresh water, and walked back to our bike. We were now set off for and all excited about Ganpati Pule.
Malgund – 2 km before Ganpatipule is a small settlement of Malgund. An emblematic small Konkani village has gained importance because of Kavi Keshavsut. He is said to be the father of poetic literature in Marathi. This famous poet was born here and his birthplace has now been converted into a memorial dedicated to Marathi literature. We definitely didn’t want to miss it and hence decided to halt for a while at Malgund.
As we entered Malgund there was a huge market set up. Probably it would have been the weekly market. A small tempo selling ber caught our attention and we decided to by a kg to keep munching on the way. We then asked the directions for the memorial and reached there within no time.
Keshavsut Smarak was indeed a wonderful place. The place where he was born is a petite hutment well maintained with his possessions on display. Behind the hutment are a library and a small museum. The museum houses extracts from writings of a few great authors of Marathi literature. It was a pleasure being here and reading a few of these.
Ganpati Pule – We hopped on our bikes and covered the 2 km distance in no time. As we entered Ganpatipule we were greeted by the hubbub of the tourists. Ganpatipule has a lovely beach and also a Ganpati temple which is said to be awfully sacred. So not only tourists galore but also a lot of devotees of Lord Ganesha frequent this place.
We went to the temple first to seek blessings from the lord. It took us quiet some time, the temple being crowded. We then set off for the 1 km pradikshina. It is said that after the darshan if one walks along the 1 km route encircling the hillock behind the temple, he is blessed by the lord and all his desires are fulfilled. Well we did it for the fun of it and it felt really good. We then spent some time on the beach.
We were very hungry by now and we enquired for a good hotel for lunch. We were suggested “Durvankur”– pure veg. We went with a lot of expectations but were disappointed in the end. The food was okay but not very tasty. Also we wanted to have modak but the waiter said it needs to be ordered at least an hour in advance. We were disappointed but developed a strong desire to eat them when we saw others eating the same. There was a Konkan festival going on nearby and I happened to read “Ukdiche Modak” out there and so we decided to try our luck there. We were lucky to have them there and really relished on the sumptuous modaks.
Bhandarpule – Very few people are aware that there exists a soothing and restful shore just a km or so away from Ganpatipule – identified as Bhandarpule. Glittering silver sands, shady coconut palms, unfathomable blue sea and a neat resort called Krushnai – Bhandarpule is a dream destination for a fervent vacationer.
We turned back to Ganpatipule and headed towards Ratnagiri. It took us about an hour and a half to reach there. Ride was good crossing various creeks and the beautiful backwaters. One of the creek had a bridge called “Arey Ware Bridge” built over it to cross the same.
Ratnagiri – Once in Ratnagiri we headed straight towards Ratnadurg. It was pretty sunny and we were really tired by now. So to quench our thirst we had cold drinks and couldn’t resist the temptation of having an ice-cream too.
Ratnadurg or the Bhagwati fort as it its popularly known is a vast fort and the fortification encloses a vast stretch of land. Within the fort there are 3 main hillocks – 1 has just some fortification, the 2nd has a light house and the 3rd is the balekilla – the castle or the main part of the fort which has the temple of Goddess Bhagwati. The temple has been newly rebuilt and regularly visited by the residents of Ratnagiri. The Goddess blesses thousands of devotees who visit during the auspicious occasion of Navratri.
The Balekilla has strong fortification and bastions overlooking the sea. The Bhagwati port can be seen from one of the windows in the bastion. It is an awesome view of the port and the stretch of the sea with silver sands.
There is also one very unique thing about the sea here. On one hand is the sea with white sand (Bhagwati port side) and on the other is the sea with black sand (Mandvi port side). We visited the beach with white sands and it was the place to be in the town. It was hard to believe that the main road was just a very few meters away from this beach. It was very quite and serene. Except for a few fishermen there was not a soul on the beach which rather surprised us. Also right beside the beach was a huge mansion – a real huge and pretty one. And to top it all it had its own private helipad!!! Probably must be one of the minister’s.
Athra bhuj Ganpati – 18 handed Ganpati was another object of attraction in Ratnagiri. It is rare to find Ganpati with 18 hands. And so was it rare for us to find it out. When we asked for directions we always got vague answers and after biking for around half an hour gave up. We had sugarcane juice at one of the hotels there and then enquired about the temple again. We learnt that the path was through a very narrow gully and finally we were there.
Bhatye – In a short while the vast sea would have gulped the sun and we were ready to be gulped too :D. So we went to the Bhatye beach. It seems to be the favorite beach of the people in Ranagiri. There were lots of people here unlike the White Sea – this really puzzled us. Since there were lot of people Akshay was unfortunately the only lucky one to enjoy the beach bath today. I preferred to stay back and take some photos and guard our belongings. I also relished on the ber that we had bought today at Malgund. Another reason I didn’t want to have a dip was we were to spend the night at the Pawas Baktaniwas and didn’t want to go there in wet clothes.
Pawas – Finally when Akshay was satisfied with the dip in the sea, we headed for Pawas. A half an hour ride brought us at the Bhaktaniwas which was full. We shared our room with 5 other people who were from various places in Maharastra. We had a quick bath to freshen ourselves and rushed to the temple for the Darshan and the Aarti, we missed half of it though. We then sat in the dhyanmandir and meditated for half an hour. It was a very sanctifying experience and with blessings of Shri Swarupananda we headed back to the bhaktaniwas for the delicious prasad. After savoring the prasad we headed towards the Desai’s outlet right opposite to satisfy our sweet tooth. Ambawadi was the only option there as it is available abundantly in Konkan. We finally settled for the same!
Day 6 : Day 27, 2007
Pawas – It was pretty cold and at the dawn it was misty outside. We were woken up early by the chill and the gadbad and badbad of the people around who were getting ready for the morning darshan and aarti. We too got ready and were all set for another day full of excitement and vigor!
Purnagad – This was our first destination. Purnagad is a wee settlement on the banks of a creek and on the small hillock overlooking the sea is the fort Purnagad. The small pathway leading up the fort is an interesting walk. It starts from behind a beautiful temple which is also worth a visit. The deepstambh in front of the temple are bound to catch one’s attention. We had darshan and headed towards the fort. Akshay as usual was trying his photography stunts on the way!
Purnagad is a pretty small fort with very strong fortification but not much to see inside. It houses a temple of the monkey god Hanuman at the entrance of the fort. The door of the fort is still in a very good condition and has lotus symbol carved on the top. Opposite this entrance there is another door which faces the sea. It commands an excellent view of the surrounding panorama.
Amazed with the landscape we walked back to our bike, this time from besides the beach. With fresh air filled in our lungs we headed for Adivare.
Adivare – It again is a very small settlement but very famous for its Mahakali temple. It is a small well maintained temple which is a home for 3 goddesses viz. Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Durga. After being blessed by all the three, our attention was caught by the well in the premises. A well is a well, but the unusual thing about the well was the way the water was drawn out of it. It had a different arrangement altogether. To a bark of a tree was tied a horizontal bamboo bar like a pulley and at the other end of this was another vertical bamboo with a vessel at the other end, lengthy enough to reach the water table. It was fun watching the women here drawing the water and admiring the unique concept.
Besides the temple was a small eatery and we decided to have something for breakfast. Though not very tasty we relished the Misal pav, Batatawada and Dink Laddu. We then asked for the directions and set off to Ambolgad.
Yashwantgad – Enroute Ambolgad we were struck by the signboard which indicated Kille Yashwantgad being on the left. The fort walls of Yashwantgad were very prominently seen. So we halted to check it out. The fort was but in a very sorry state. Inside the fort there was thick vegetation of thorny plants thus we couldn’t explore the fort much. All we could see was the fortification outside and we had to be satisfied by that alone.
Ambolgad – It was a pretty long ride from Yashwantgad to Ambolgad and we had least expected it. But the ride was amazing as we were traversing the scenic landscape. Finally when we reached the Ambolgad village we were really unable to find the fort. I knew it was right in the heart of the settlement with not many remains; but all our efforts to locate it were in vain. Finally a villager pointed out to us that this is Ambolgad, and we were surprised! We had passed it twice but we couldn’t make out – well how could we, there were no signs which showed it was a fort.
Very little or no fortification remains, a huge tree, a dry water cistern and a broken canon – all encased in a very small area, which was called a fort. We had a quick look at all these and headed back.
Nevre – People told us that we could ferry across to Jaitapur from the Nevre jetty and hence we asked for the directions of the same. We then descended to the jetty – it was a tough ask as the road to the jetty was very narrow with zero margin for errors. I got off the bike and let Akshay take it on the narrow path. He managed it well but when we reached the jetty we were told that there were no motor boats there and hence the bike could not be ferried across. We would have to go to the Dhaulwalli jetty to do so. Pretty unwillingly we set off in the direction pointed out.
Dhaulwalli – As we reached Dhaulwalli jetty we didn’t have to wait for long. But it ferried us across to Jaitapur. I was under the impression it would take us to Vijaydurg as I had seen a jetty there and mistakenly gathered from the locals that we would head straight to Vijaydurg. But I was wrong.
Jaitapur – As we were getting off at Jaitapur jetty, we enquired about the route to Vijaydurg and we got 10 different routes with 10 different confusing names of villages from 10 different people we asked. We wanted the shortest route without touching the NH17 is what we said and finally we were told some more confusing names of the villages (which I fail to remember at this point) and we decided to take that.
The odometer was now showing a dropping arrow and I thought it was wise to have the petrol filled. But it was a small town with no petrol pumps. We were lucky enough though to get it from the local vendors for 55 bucks a liter. We filled in 2 liters and set off repeating the names of the villages so that we don’t forget. We were to reach a place called Dongartitta & then turn right to reach some place.
We remembered the names for quite some time but we completely forgot when were about to reach the place. Finally we enquired about the jetty to ferry us across to Vijaydurg and people directed to village called Sagwe.
Sagwe – At Sagwe there was a very small jetty and we met a person who claimed to have been waiting for more than an hour for the boat to arrive. We thought we might end up spending some time here but to our surprise the old boatman saw us from opposite the bank and came over immediately. We loaded the bike in the boat and sailed across.
Vijaydurg was still far off from this place, guess around 45 odd km. Crossing the district border to enter Sindhudurg district wasn’t so easy.
We started off and hit the highway to take us to Vijaydurg. We filled in petrol at the gas station and set off. The entertainment on this highway were the various sign boards put up to warn people to avoid speeding. They were rather funny and one of them read “Control Yaar” – sweetly captured by Akshay in one of his pics.
Vijaydurg – We finally were at Vijaydurg tired and weary. It was noon and pretty sunny. We had started feeling hungry but preferred to see the fort first and then do the petpuja. So we went over exploring the fort and since I had been here earlier I took pride in showing the various parts of the fort and the private secluded beach which would not have been easily noticed by others.
We were really hungry now and it was essential to have our lunch before we proceeded further. We caught hold of the eatery nearby and relished on fish thali with generous helpings of Solkadhi. The fish preparation was typical household and out of the world. With our stomachs full and hearts satisfied we were mentally prepared to move on.
Rameshwar – Probably a km’s ride and we halted at the unique Rameshwar temple. It was unique because it was much below the ground level and it was only one of it’s kind. Almost half a km of descend took us to the entrance and we were greeted by huge deepmalas. The temple resembled a typical Konkani hamlet and on its walls were old paintings depicting the scenes from the legendry epics of Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Devgad – We took of from Rameshwar to hit the Devgad fort and it took us about 45 min to be there. Devgad is a small fort on a small hillock by the sea. It has a decent fortification and houses a Ganpati temple and a light house. The fortification offers a good view of the sea. We had a quick glance and went over to the beach.
Devgad is blessed with a lovely virgin beach which is enclosed within two small hillocks. On one of the hillocks are windmills galore which look so pretty. The beach also has a verdant suru corridor and the sand very fine and soft. Not may people visit this beautiful place and we knew it because we were the first ones to leave our footprints in the sand.
Day 7 : Dec 28, 2007
Early morning full of vigor and zest we started for Sindhudurg. The excitement was building up since the exhilarating destination of Goa was near and we targeted to reach there today. We wanted to have more of Goa!
Sindhudurg – We reached the shores of Sindhudurg around 9 am and parked the bike on the sands. We were all set for Shivaji’s very own Sindhudurg fort. As we were approaching the jetty we learnt MTDC has recently started snorkeling for the tourists who visit Sindhudurg. Our excitement knew no bounds and we decided to try out the same. But the registration took quite long and we decided to go over to Sindhudurg first.
The strong colossal walls of the fort had been inviting us since long. We got into the boat and sailed across. A 10 min boat ride and we were dropped at the entrance of the fort. It is a huge fort built by Shivaji on an island near Malvan. It houses the only temple of Shivaji Maharaj, a Bhavani temple, 3 wells containing portable water viz. Dudhbav, Dahibav and Sakharbav and a Shiva temple from which is a secret route to the shore of Malvan. The fortification is strong and stands intact till date. One gets to see the beauty of the vast sea from the fortified walls. The foot and palm imprints of Shivaji can be seen on one of the bastion walls. Another unique thing about the fort is that it has a palm tree with branches.
When we came back at the jetty the excitement for snorkeling superseded all thoughts. We registered ourselves and the boat left immediately. We were taken to the other side of the fort near the rocks in the sea. With snorkel on our eyes we got into the water. Each one had a guide along with who helped us wade far into the sea and witness the aquatic life. This was our first hand experience and it cannot be really described in words. We saw lovely giant sized corals and a variety of colorful fish. One must experience this when he is here and for just 250 bucks it’s a steal.
Sarjekot – After the mouthwatering lunch, we were to visit Sarjekot fort. It was just a few km away on the road which we used to approach Sindhudurg. So we headed back to check out the same.
Sarjekot is completely in ruins and all we can see of the fort are a few fortification remains here and there. The entrance is somewhat intact & inside the fort are fields yielding various crops. There are a few hutments too which serve as the dwelling place for the farmers. The most beautiful thing about the fort is the sea. Once can get a magnificent view of the sea which touches the fort walls at one end.
Tarkarli – A mere 7 km ride from Malvan and we reached the paradise called Tarkarli. Soft sands of silver, verdant suru corridors, clear waters of the vast sea and a glorious view of the Sindhudurg fort – Tarkarli indubitably deserves to be called the jewel of the Konkan. To top it all MTDC has a comfy beach resort here and now a few boat houses too. That adds to the delight and makes it a perfect getaway.
Tarkarli has beautiful back waters too – undeniably comparable to the ones in Kerala. The clear waters with coconut palms on both banks definitely invite you for a ride. MTDC recently has started with the boat houses similar to the ones you see in Kerala to wade far into the interiors of these backwaters.
We were to now reach Bhogwe beach and we were told that we could ferry across the bike from where we could easily reach Bhogwe in no time. Unfortunately the boat was late and it had loads of passengers. So the boatman denied to ferry the bike across and unfortunately we had to take the longer route. We enquired about the route and one of the guys suggested a dirt track for a few km before we hit the highway. We were a little skeptical but we followed the same and enjoyed another dirt track ride. With fields on the left, the waters on the right and sand below it certainly turned out to be a joyride and we were happy not to take the longer route.
Bhogwe – A 45 minute ride took us to another jewel of the Konkan – the Bhogwe beach. It resembled Tarkarli in all respects except that there was no beach resort and it was quite and secluded. With nature showering all its blessings on Bhogwe this proves to be the ideal destination for those who seek solitude.
There was a small shop here and we grabbed a few tidbits from here. We also ask for the Kokam juice which he got over to the beach. It was an overwhelming experience to sip on the luscious Kokam juice in the company of nature.
Kille Nivti – We reached Kille Nivti around 6 pm when the sun was about to go down. We parked our bike, kept our bag pack at a store and started to climb the fort. But as we began we thought it was it was wise to not be over ambitious and stay back here. So we got back promising the fort that we would return back tomorrow morning and headed back to the store to enquire about a place to stay. He said we could lodge ourselves in the verandah if we did not mind. We happily agreed and hurried to the beach not to miss the daily dose of salt water bath.
Nivti was a serene beach with soft silver sands. It was enclosed by rock structures wading deep into the sea at both sides making it a private beach for just the two of us. When we came here the sun was about to set and its light had spread a golden stratum over the clear waters of the sea. We were able to capture a few romantic moments between the sun and the sea.
We then got into the sea and drenched ourselves in the saline waters which dissolved our fatigue. We enjoyed the dip for an hour or so and unwillingly got out of the waters. It was dark and we headed for a bath at the place where we were put up.
We were delighted by the hospitality extended by Mr. Sawant (the shop owner where we were put up) and his family. They served us a delicious meal for dinner. The Bangda fry we had here was one of the best fried fish we had ever had. After having the lip smacking delicacies we spent a while talking to Sawant. Then we were off to sleep with Goa on our mind.
Day 8 : Dec 29, 2007
Kille Nivti – Early as usual, we went up to the Nivti fort. The fort is completely in ruins and there is a dense shrubbery of wild plants. Most of the fortification ruins are covered by these shrubs and what is visible is a group of a couple of bastions. This leaves nothing much to see on the fort but we can catch up some impressive views of the Bhogwe beach on the right and the Nivti beach on the left. The virgin beauty of both the beaches left us absolutely mesmerized and we fell in love with the topography of the place.
With glimpse of natural beauty still in mind and a promise to visit here again we left Nivti to head for the next destination – Vengurle.
Vengurle – An hour’s ride got us at Vengurle and we headed to check out an old monument in the city called Vakhar. I presume it had been a trade center to monitor the trade at the historically important harbor of Vengurle. This monument is completely in ruins and one can see nothing but dense foliage inside. It was very disheartening to see the sorry state of such an important monument.
Bhagyat & Sagareshwar beaches – A little ahead in Vengurle are these 2 small beaches. Very clean and serene and most importantly they are not frequented by people. Sagareshwar has a neatly maintained temple of lord Shiva which is worth a watch. MTDC has a beautiful resort here right next to the beach, thus promising a comfortable stay.
Yashwantgad – This was the last fort we saw before we crossed the state borders to enter Goa. It is a huge fort overlooking the gigantic spread of the sea and offering breathtaking views. This historic monument too was in complete ruins but whatever existed was an evidence for the grandeur of the past. We spent enough time exploring the wreck and wondering how beautiful it would have been in those days.
We also feasted our eyes with the breathtaking view of the sea. The beach was one of the best beaches I had seen and could not resist capturing it.
Redi – Apart from Yashwatgad, Redi is famous for it Ganpati temple. It is around 2 km from the fort & attracts a lot of tourists and devotees from all over. The idol of lord Ganesh is very pretty and there is feeling of devoutness in the temple. We had a quick darshan and we were geared up and excited about Goa. Go Goa!
Terekhol – 4 km from Redi is Terekhol which is the first destination in Goa and we reached in no time. Wow! It gave us a feeling of satisfaction that finally we have reached where we were destined for and our excitement knew no bounds.
We reached fort Tiracol which is now converted into a heritage hotel. It is a very small fort and I really liked the fact that it has been maintained in a unique way and the best part was that it was still open for tourists. The fort housed a small church and an idol of St. Anthony. The fort walls were strong and over looked the sea and the Tiracol beach. It has the fame of being the nude beach of Goa, but unfortunately we could not see any.
We then crossed the creek by ferrying across at Kery and reached the opposite end of Tiracol and set off for Harmal beach.
Harmal Beach – A half an hour ride on the streets of Goa took us to the Harmal Beach. It is popularly known as Arambol beach. Loud English numbers, fancy shops, shady shacks and plenty of foreign tourists – we could now feel the spirit of Goa. We hanged around here for a while gazing at the liveliness of the beach, grabbed an ice-cream and headed to our next destination.
Chapora Fort – The ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ fame Chapora fort was around 45-min drive from Harmal. The fortified stone walls of Chapora resided on a small hillock adjoining the Vagator beach. We parked our bikes at the end of the road which was almost half way up the hill. From here it was a mere 5 min climb to the fort.
The fort walls are in good condition but all they enclosed was open space with absolutely no monuments or ruins. But one can get a fantastic view of the shoreline from here. To the left is the ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’ fame Vagator beach, a small private beach right below and the Harmal stretch on the right. A few good snaps here and a short rest before we thought of moving ahead.
Panji – It had been a long day and pretty sunny too. We were almost exhausted by now and hence we decided to head straight to the guest house. We called up Varun for directions and off we headed in the direction of Panjim. We met up Lakshmikant (Akshay’s friend) at Kala Academy which was on the way to our guest house. We had a short chat and he directed us to the guest house. We took his leave promising him to visit his place the next morning.
Day 9 : Dec 30, 2007
Vasco – Lakshmikant stays at Vasco and hence early morning we went to visit him. It was a good 35 km ride from where we were put up. He stayed in one corner of the world and one couldn’t imagine staying there. But we enjoyed the ride and visited the church and Sateri temple enroute. We spent some time with him and his family and also relisehd the delicious Ghavane chutney cooked by his mom.
We left early from Lakshmikant’s place as we intended to explore South Goa today. He suggested us a few places and the Casavlim beach was one of the must visits. It was beyond the airport.
Naval Aviation Museum – As we were riding on to reach the beach after crossing the airport, the naval aviation museum caught our attention and we decided to pay a visit. It displays a good collection of various aircrafts and also had good pieces on the history and facts of Naval aviation. This is a must visit when in Goa.
Majorda Beach – I had been hearing about Majorda being one of the good beaches of Goa and since it was very close we decided to go over. It was just a few minutes ride from the museum and we were there. But when we were at the beach we felt it was just another beach in Goa which has really lost its charm. Probably we realized that Goa was just hyped up and beaches were definitely incomparable to the ones on the Konkan coast of Maharashtra.
Cabo De Rama – After the turn off at Majorda beach we probably didn’t really want to explore the beaches any more! So we decided to go over to Cabo De Rama fort which was almost the extreme end of Southern Goa. So we followed the NH17 to Canacona and then diverted to reach Cabo De Rama. It was a long ride and took almost an hour and a half to get there. But the ride was enjoyable due to the pretty landscape and we could witness the almost virgin untouched Goa.
Cabo De Rama is a strong fortification atop a small hill and accessible by road right upto the entrance of the fort. We parked our biked outside the entrance and quickly tiptoed inside. The fort walls still guard the ruins and the church inside. We got over the fortification and started walking over to check out the fort. We couldn’t much on the fort but the views of the sea were enthralling. There was a lovely quiet shore on both the sides of the fort and the hills around were majestic. It was a perfect landscaped and we were happy to see something so nice and secluded after the hustle and bustle of the tourists on the beaches we were before this.
We spent quite some time exploring the fort and gaping at the beauty of the landscape here. We also experimented with our cameras and oh yes – not to forget the constant blabber because of which we really enjoy each others’ company. 😀
Day 10 : Dec 31, 2007
We had planned to chill out today and not get fatigued as we had a long way to go tomorrow. So we took it easy and slept tight almost until noon. We did not want to be lazing around for the whole day though, and hence we thought its now time to get out of the guest house to explore something new.
Old Goa – We set off for old Goa following the HN4A and reached there in around half an hour. We visited Basilica of Bom Jesus, Santa Monica and the ruins of St. Augustine Tower. All these have been preserved as the World Heritage sites. What fascinated us most were the ruins of St. Augustine Tower and the efforts to preserve the same.
We then quickly grabbed our lunch and then visited St. Cajaten Church, built on the lines of a chapel in Rome. This too was the part of World Heritage site and the interiors were well preserved. The silence inside gave the feeling of sanctity and the experience was wonderful.
We also visited the viceroy arch and the gate to Adil Shah’s royal palace. Unfortunately the gate was the only thing remaining of the entire palace.
Aguada Fort – Though both of us had been here a couple of times earlier, I was still keen on getting here for getting some good snaps. Aguada is split into 2 – the small upper Aguada which served as the main castle and the lower fortification of which we see just a bastion these days. The lower Aguada has been taken up by the Taj and a beautiful beach resort stands here with pride sheltering a number of tourists.
Next to the lower Aguada is a small beach with loads of options for water sports. The banana ride was an attraction here. It was a huge inflated balloon in the shape of a banana. It was tied to a boat which was to pull it in the sea for a joy ride. Unfortunately the currents were so strong that the banana balloon could not withstand itself and the riders fell off into the sea a several times. It was fun to see the plight of these riders.
Reis Margos fort – The map we carried had a mention about Reis Margos pretty close to Aguada. We were under the impression that the Upper Aguada is Reis Margos, but we were proved to be wrong by the locals. They instructed us to go over to Coco beach and Reis Margos would have been very close. We followed their instructions and went over to Coco beach. It was the most secluded beach with not a single soul around and we were highly flabbergasted to find such a beach on the night of Dec 31st. We quickly took some snaps, enjoyed the virginity of the beach and headed to check out the fort.
Reis Margos was a strong fortification atop a small hillock which overlooked the quite shore of Coco. There was a church at the foothills from where the road lead right up to the fort entrance. The fortification was still very strong and the canons guarded the bastions. The remains were a mute witness of the golden era that might have existed long ago.
Bambolim Beach – It was quite some time before it would have gotten dark and we decided to go over to the Bambolim beach to have the saline bath. We had not had it since we were in Goa and I thought it would have been an injustice to Bambolim Beach if we did not go there even after being put up in the guesthouse that overlooked the Bambolim Beach. So we got to our rooms, changed and rode to the beach which was a km away. There was no one at the beach and we had the whole beach for ourselves. It was surprising to find such a secluded place in Goa on the New Year’s Eve. We were there for an hour before we got back to the guest house.
Review – It was mere 7 pm in our watch and we thought it was too early to step out as most of the parties would begin late. Since we had quite some time in had he wanted to review all the places we visited in the trip. So we reviewed the entire list of places all over while Akshay jotted it down. We were so engrossed in the same that by the time we finished it was already 9 pm. We realized it was high time we needed to move out as we had no intensions of spending the New Year’s Eve in the four walls of the guest room!
As we were put up near Dona Paula we thought we should check out if there were any parties happening on Dona Paula & Miramar. But to our surprise both the places were actually dead and we never felt that it was the New Year’s Eve and that too in a place like Goa.
Calangute Beach – We checked out at Cida – de – Goa, Sun ‘n Sand, Fidalgo and some of the cruise liners at the Panjim port. Things were very costly and every place was overbooked. So finally as suggested by most of the guys we asked; we headed towards Calangute.
Half an hour to the beach and a huge crowd greeted us. The place was over crowded and we took another half an hour to reach the parking place. Finally we were at the beach and oh! It was a nightmare to be here! The crowd was really cheap with drunkards lying all over and a few dancing on silly songs. It was a big time turnoff & I desperately wanted to get out of there. We did so in no time and were off to find a good eating joint enroute Candolim Beach.
Candolim Beach – After considering plenty of available options we finally settled for a small restaurant known as ‘Bending Bamboos’. This place really made our New Year. Good ambience, just a handful people around and neatly cooked authentic Goan food were the attractions. To top it all there was a one man band. ‘Rudy’ as he called himself played some wonderful numbers to make it a sweet end to the year gone by and welcome the New Year ahead.
We were out until wee hours of dawn and reached the guest house only at 3 am. The care taker was fast asleep and there was a huge lock to the main entrance. We tried hard to wake him up but all our efforts were in vain. Tired, Akshay finally thought we should sleep outside on the benches. I was not quite comfy but reluctantly agreed as we were out of options. We would have barely slept for 5 minutes when mosquitoes started biting and it was getting unbearable. We then woke up and decided to sleep in between the glass door and the iron gate. As we were about to do so we realized that we could slip in through the small gap between the gates. We did so successfully and went over to our rooms and were off to sleep.
Day 11 : Jan 1, 2008
Panjim – I was awake at 6 am and intended to leave early as it was going to be a real long day. 450 km from Panjim to Pune. We had calculated 10 hours to complete the journey and be back to our home sweet home. By the time we packed up and were ready to begin the journey back it was 7:30 am. We paid off the care taker & wondering how he did not come to know that we had sneaked in, set off from Panjim to get back to the routine.
Sawantwadi – 57 km of ride and we were at Sawantwadi. From here we were to take a diversion to NH4 and leave behind NH17. It was around 8:30 am and we thought it was the right time for breakfast. We hogged on the delicious poha, idli, sheera & much more. It seemed like we had not eaten since ages.
Amboli – After the heavy breakfast we were energized to take up the journey further. I was riding enjoying the beauty of the Sahyadris at Amboli Ghat and narrating the various thing that we did in our last visit to Amboli.
It had been joy ride for quite a distance; until we slipped off at one of the turns near the village enroute. I was really excited and not realizing the sharpness of the curve I was to take kept riding on. The bike was about to go off the road and hence I braked hard. The bike instantly fell off and we were flat on ground with the bike on us; not knowing what exactly happened. Luckily we were not hurt much and we were in a position to ride back the next minute. But a huge mob of villagers gathered around us to know what happened. I said it was a minor slip because of my mistake but they were of the view that we slipped because of the water which was being spilled by the lorry carrying fish. We had a long conversation and they did not leave us until we promised them to complain against the fish carrying lorry in the Amboli police station.
We rode on and without wasting our time in police complaint and stuff headed towards Kolhapur. Enroute Kolhapur we had to cross the small villages of Ajra, Gadhinglaj and Nipani. The road was not good and it really slowed down our speed. But we enjoyed the ride and the landscape around and I made Akshay listen to my favorite Marathi numbers explaining him the meaning. This served a good means of entertainment for us and the road to Nipani was covered in no time. At Nipani we hit NH4 and it was an awesome ride since then. We cruised at an average speed of 90kmph on this road and really enjoyed the ride.
Karad – We had planned to have lunch at Kolhapur but when we reached near Kolhapur we realized it was around 15km off the NH4. Thinking it would be a sheer waste of time we decided to ride on and halt at a decent dhaba on the way. A few km before Karad, we came across a good restaurant viz. Sai Palace and we decided to take a lunch break. It was around 2:30 pm then.
We treated ourselves royally out here relishing on the Kolhapuri Chicken with some accompaniments and ice-creams for dessert which made our day. Akshay called up his parents to inform that he would be put up at my place that night and come over next morning and I called up mom to prepare some good food for the night. We started with vigor and with the contentment that we would be home in just a couple of hours more.
Pune – We were at the Katraj tunnel around 7 and it was really getting on to our nerves to ride on. It was just half an hour more to go but we just wanted to end it off. But the end could not have been so sad – with the pain in the back and fatigue riding over us. So we decided to end it up with the famous and my all time favorite Kondhalkar Mastani.
Kondhalkar’s Mastani – When we landed at Kondhalkar’s our faces were worth a watch and Akshay did try to capture the same. But it was an unsuccessful attempt as the photos really did not depict our condition. With the helmets, our huge sack and our weary faces we attracted strange looks from the people around. We ordered for a Kesar dry fruit and Khus mastani and it was over in no time. Then we asked for Chocolate mastani as Aksahy was really fond of it.
We reached home around 9 pm tired and weary. We desperately needed a bath now. We had a hot water bath, had food, talked about our experiences and slept off to get back to the routine life the next day!