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Old 27th August 2012, 14:32   #1
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Default 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

Part 1: Detours Are Fun! OR, Making the Most of the Journey!

Early on Saturday morning, Samara and I joined up with 4 of my closest friends on a road trip to Konkan. We had no plan, no bookings, no destination. Heck, if we didn't get a place to bunk in at night, we are even ready to rough it out in the SUV.

All we wanted was a lot of driving, lots of photos, good Konkan food, and a great time.

We stopped for breakfast at Mulshi, misal pav, pohe and chai.

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Lots of pretty scenery on the way, of course!

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But then it was time for our first unplanned detour. We took the Mulshi - Lonavla road, and just past the Ashram, just 3-4 KM from the fork off the main road, we reached this amazing spot. The valley and cliffs are breathtaking, but be careful when you go towards the edge - it will be a pretty difficult climb back up for those going down to bring you back!

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It was time for some soft roading with Samara, and the deceptively sharp V of the spring we crossed was enough to rip off the lower right tail light. In memory of this "coming of age" ritual for Samara, I have now officially named this the "Tail Light point". Future travelogue writers, please note.

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We also met this gang of 4 from Pune, one of whom is a wannabe TBHPian, who was so thrilled to see the TBHP stickers on Samara, and witness some TBHP action.

An hour later, eager to get into Konkan, we took their leave and set off. It was a detour well worth the time and the lost tail light. Highly recommended for anyone going to or through Mulshi.
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Old 27th August 2012, 14:52   #2
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

Great start sir. For me the first snap was the best, mouth watering Misal.

Would be waiting for updates.
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Old 27th August 2012, 15:00   #3
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

Part 2: In and Around Diveagar - Afternoon Day 1

We reached Diveagar around lunch time. Quick note here on road conditions - the Mulshi Tamhini road is pretty motorable. There are a few bad patches, and it's recommended you take it real slow because some of the potholes are bad enough to break your suspension. However, for more parts, the road is decent, especially once you enter Konkan.

We checked pretty much every possible place to stay - and it was mostly empty. So we had lots of choice. Unfortunately, most of the places we checked had very damp/mouldy bedding, and small beds. Exotica was pretty expensive at 4000/night. We finally found the very decent Patil Guest House, next to Exotica - at 1500/night, with a free extra bed thrown in, with sparkling clean bathrooms and fresh bedding, this was really worth it, even though it did not have AC. The two rooms we took had a common gallery, so that was really convenient too! The very helpful room boy Pravin even gave Samara a very good wash and was refusing to be rewarded for it! Highly recommended.

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We were eager to explore, so took a quick "ghargooti" lunch at Swayam Patil Khanawal - again, highly recommended. I cannot speak much of the veggie options, but we enjoyed the Surmai and the chicken thali, got some extra Surmai too, washed it down with some awesome sol kadi, and finally, a masala paan to wrap it up.

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Refreshed and excited, we set out to explore the area. First, to Dighi, a small fishing village with a port (which was out of bounds for us).

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From Dighi, we turned back towards Diveagar, and then took a small road to the right that took us to Adgaon - a lovely fishing village at the end of a freakingly beautiful stretch of virgin beach and rocky outcrops.

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Time for some more snaps with Samara.

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Driving around Konkan is generally a pleasure - the roads are not too narrow, the tarmac is generally very well maintained (even though it rains like hell), and the slowly undulating terrain and curves makes for some really fun driving. (And the 3 guys in the middle row really bonded well!)

By late afternoon, we came back to the hotel, freshened up, and set off for the Diveagar shore, a short 5 min walk from Patil's. A long uninterrupted beach, calm waters, but the oily deposits on the sand are a turn off. If the Maharashtra government wants to promote serious tourism in this area, something needs to be done about this.

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It was also time to take the horse power in the water - and for once, there was no need to worry about corrosion!

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Notice the metal barriers at the entrance to the beach. If this doesn't warn you to keep off, maybe my future posts will.

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Until then, enjoy the sun set!

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At night, we made the mistake of going for Chinese and Punjabi at Shree Ganesh. Expensive and tasteless, it was a good opportunity wasted. We retired to our rooms, and while the rest played cards, it was time for me to rest and recuperate for what was to come the next day.

Last edited by siddheshb : 27th August 2012 at 15:06.
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Old 27th August 2012, 15:00   #4
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

Aah, trips without bookings and any time restrictions. What a pleasure!
I hope you have more pics and anecdotes to share.

Also appreciate reports of the current road condition, in terms of normal cars with average GC if you noted this.

Last edited by selfdrive : 27th August 2012 at 15:02.
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Old 27th August 2012, 15:34   #5
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

Part 3: Morning, Day 2 - Samara Meets Her Match

Day 2 dawned nice and early, and a quick walk to the beach was in order. The rains convert this part of the country into a lovely place with profusion of green foliage, the dark skies and the moisture in the air can be gloomy AND romantic at the same time - depends on your company, I guess

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After a quick checkout, and a visit to the nearly-completed laterite stone temple, we hit the road to Shriwardhan-Harihareshwar. Breakfast was needed, but we planned to catch it at some tapari along the way.

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That's when we spotted this virgin beach, a few KM out of Diveagar, just past the hill and a small fishing village.

Sometimes in life you wish you could rewind the last few mins, and live it all over again - differently. This was one such moment for us. The beach beckoned, the cameras licked their lips in anticipation, and Samara laughed off any doubts we had. It was a easy drive down to the water line, and some great pictures.

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But the way back was a different story. I knew I needed better traction and momentum, but getting a take off ramp on the thin slice of beach was difficult, and in a heart-wrenching moment of revelation, I knew we wouldn't make it. Just a couple of seconds of wheel spinning, and it was over. The rear right tire was spinning clear now, the axle at a scary angle, and the 2 tonne beast was resting on its underbody.

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A few villagers passing by stopped to dispense some very ill-timed advice on not driving on to the beach, others reminded us the tide was coming in - but many dropped whatever they were doing and came to help. A local Singham character marshalled the villagers with the expertise of someone who's seen a lot of "stupid city dwellers" get similarly stuck, and in a few mins - we were clear.

While Singham was helping us with his troupe, two of our gang went to a small village a few KM away, looking for a tractor. A young lad took my friend on his bike through small lanes and over a hill into a field, catching the only tractor in town that was for for the job. By the time though, Samara was clean and clear, and the services of the tractor were no longer needed.

Konkan people - you rock

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Looking back, it was an adventure - it was a lot of fun - and we should have taken the opportunity for a lot more photos and videos. But at that time, all we could think of was - damn, why did we need to do this?

All's well that ends well!


Last edited by siddheshb : 27th August 2012 at 15:40.
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Old 27th August 2012, 15:51   #6
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

Part 4: Harihareshwar, Evening Day 2

It was noon by the time we got back on the road. Suddenly the hunger, tiredness and sweat was taking it's toll.

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We stopped by a local village well for a quick bath and change of clothes, scraped through the NCP gathering at Shriwardhan and deposited ourselves in a lovely hut-by-the-sea at the MTDC resort in Harihareshwar. The view was breathtaking, and the restaurant, while it looked shady, served some delicious grub! The resort is in the midst of lush green jungles, but the cottages looked in need of maintenance.

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Rested, refreshed and eager to make the most of the last session of the tour, we went to Harihareshwar temple, and the amazing roct-cut formations behind the temple. A must visit for folks in the area - a treat for the senses.

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The rain clouds were looking really ominous, and we had a long drive ahead, so at 345, we gulped down some coconut water and malai, and said bye to the wonderful Konkan coast - headed to Mahad and Varandha, on the way back home.

But it was far from over.
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Old 27th August 2012, 16:07   #7
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Part 5: All The Excitement You Need!

Battered by heavy rain (Puneites, you have no idea what rain is unless you have seen this), we left Harihareshwar for Mahad. Missed a turn, and with no GPS, added a few extra KM to the route - to Mhasla, Goregaon and Mahad, enroute to Varandha. The road is bad, narrow and rough - although we were treated to some really pretty rainbows along the way. The road along the Savitri river might have been a better bet.

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Once on NH17, we had tea, and refuelled at a highway pump a few KM before taking the left to Varandha. Looking at the state of the pump, every neuron in my head screamed at me to find another one, but it was another of those moments you wish you could live again. A few Kms on, Samara started having serious trouble accelerating, especially on the ghat. Murphy's law struck again - a fuse blew off, robbing me of the horn, and the in-dash lights. Heavy rain and fog brought down visibility to within 5 meters.

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The beauty of the ghat was lost on us, as we tried to beat the odds and hit NH4 before any further trouble. Thankfully, the powerful Xenons and the rough and tough tires ensured we ploughed on without further trouble, and passing by a deadly road accident outside Katraj tunnel, hit the city lights around 730 pm.

It had been an amazing adventure, but we were all ready to get into a hot shower and a bed, and no one needed the rest more than Samara did. Tomorrow, she gets a well-deserved session at her favourite spa!
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Old 27th August 2012, 16:42   #8
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

I think I saw you in Varandha Ghat. I saw Same Color Endeavor in Varandha Ghat yesterday evening @6.30 pm. One Ford Endeavor was stopped on one of turn suddenly.
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Old 27th August 2012, 16:46   #9
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

Wow, a 4x4 can't do sand... Thank god it got out comfortably before the tide came in.
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Old 27th August 2012, 17:05   #10
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

Man, what a way to start the t-log? Right at the snacks time and I am looking at this first picture. Too bad

Beautiful pics. I love those petrol-free horse power!
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Old 27th August 2012, 17:10   #11
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

Hi Siddesh,

Wonderful pictures, narration and the scary video. Glad that your Samara made it out of the soft sand. The villagers seemed to be very helpful and their timely help and your presence of mind got Samara out of the sticky situation.

Did you have to replace the rear tail assembly or they just popped out and could they be just slotted in their place at the A.S.S?
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Old 27th August 2012, 17:45   #12
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

siddheshb, fantastic travelogue and amazing set of pics. The beautiful narration complemented the beautiful snaps. Love your sense of humour as well.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Adding this stretch to my "To be visited" list!
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Old 27th August 2012, 17:47   #13
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

@sushantr5, quite possible - although we didn't stop any where, except for 5-10 seconds at one turn to take a pic. That's when I realised she was sluggish to pick up - and that ensured we didn't make any more stops!

@MAS, the tail assembly should be easy to refit/slot back in. Doesn't seem to have taken any other damage, although one of the wires got ripped off. Will know tomorrow, when I take Samara for servicing.

@bharat4ever, actually, there was a lot of time for the tide to come up to where we were. Also, from the tide lines, I was pretty confident the water didn't come up to where we were unless at extreme high tide. That was actually one of the reasons we got stuck - the sand was mostly very dry.

Last edited by siddheshb : 27th August 2012 at 17:49.
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Old 27th August 2012, 18:06   #14
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

Nice travelogue Siddesh bhai!! Really loved the writing and the snaps. Looks like Samara had a tough time in the sand, I always thought the 4X4 was good enough to handle the sand.

But "All's Well That Ends Well" fantastic description of the beautiful Konkan. Planning to make the Konkan trip soon. Will give you a call for the directions and the road conditions. Planning to take BumbleBee (Swift ZDI) on his first "sort of" off the road trail.

Cheers!!
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Old 27th August 2012, 18:34   #15
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Default Re: 5 Friends, One SUV, 2 Amazing Days in Konkan!

@siddhesh beautiful snaps and narration. Getting stuck in sand is really scary.
We too got stuck at Osian near Jodhpur during one of our drives. One of the local Jeep guy helped to get through. He advised that moving forward and backward 10-15 times stablise the sand and then one can generate the required momentum to get out and it worked.

That was one of the moments where i feed even 140 horses were less. By the way my safari is 4x2.
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