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|4th February 2013, 20:41||#1|
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Chronicles of the Forts & Beaches Trip
Bangalore-Mahabaleshwar-Murud-Diveagar-Tarkarli-Cola-Kurumgad Island-Bangalore in 9 days
Starting point : Richmond Town, Bangalore
Destination : Mahabaleshwar
Distance : 823 km
My cousin was going to pick me up in his model 2005 blue Scorpio. We originally planned to start at 3 am but deferred to 4 am the previous day. He arrived promptly at 4 and the F&B trip was underway !
We drove through the city's deserted roads till we passed Sankey Tank. The diversions to get to Yeshwantpur got us lost for about 5 minutes - the only point in the whole trip we got lost was in our own city, thanks to the lack of direction boards !
We soon hit the elevated expressway. I had not been to this part of the city for a very long time and was pleasantly surprised how fast we passed what used to earlier be the bottlenecks along Tumkur Road. After the elevated section, the regular highway had some diversions in places, which slowed us a little as we had to negotiate them along with the trucks that were doing the same. We needed to stop for diesel after doing 68 km and I checked that the time was 5:15 am. Our next stop was for breakfast at a Kamat's around 7 am when I took over the driving, by this time we had done 300 km. This was my first time driving an SUV and it took some time to get used to the gears and the pedals as compared to my i20.
After driving for a while, I needed a bio break and we stopped just short of Belgaum. The time was 10:45 and we had done 500 km in less than 7 hours. Not bad at all.
My cousin took over the driving and our average speed increased even more. Our next stop was at Kolhapur at 12:45 for lunch and refueling of the vehicle. We spotted an eating joint called Hotel Prasad and went in. It was a typical local dhaba and some people were having some odd looking drinks as well. I joke not, there was one gentleman who was pouring a quarter of
whisky along with a quarter of rum and vodka into a jug in preparation to drink it. The local version of a Long Island maybe? Like good boys, we ordered nimbu sodas, mutton kolhapuri and chicken curry with rotis. The mutton was disappointing and we counted the first main meal of the trip as a failure.
Leaving Kolhapur at around 1:30, we passed through Satara town and took the Satara-Mahabaleshwar road, reaching Mahabaleshwar at 4pm and the trip meter reading 823 km.
We had booked a homestay called Savoy Village, which was fancy in name only. Having said that, the place was clean and the only complaint I have is that their bathroom is rather shabby and they only provide hot water from 7-8:30 am. Though with some encouragement facilitated by the exchange of some legal tender, we got buckets of hot water in the evening too. After washing up, we decided to explore some of the local vantage points.
First we headed to Wilson's Point, only because we happened upon a signboard announcing the way to it. Its more of a sunrise point and we walked around a bit, saw some senior residents take their evening stroll and then left. Next we headed to Venna Lake, which was about 2 km away from where we stayed.
Our stop at Venna Lake was for around 14 seconds, since we spotted the hordes of tourists, touts, horses and a whole amusement park to boot (at the side). Okay, now I am joking. Not about all the crowd, but about the 14 seconds. I wanted a photo of the lake so I had to maneuvre my way to a spot from where I could get the shot without the aforementioned hordes. Checking our watches, we saw it was still only 5:45 and we could fit in one more stop. Off we headed through the market area and onto Bombay (Sunset) Point. This experience consisted of 20 horses, their handlers, 1 sunset and about half the population of Western India.
While waiting for the sunset, we had some very forgettable chaat. I would not recommend the chaat to anyone. Or Bombay Point.
We hightailed it out of the parking lot before it became like a platform at CST and headed back to the centre of town. We found a parking space for the vehicle near Holy Cross Church.
It turned out to quite a quaint old church, established in 1831 no less and among the smallest parishes in the world with 7 families, 25 parishioners in all! Next stop was a bit less religious, we went into Treacher & Co, a local wine shop with an attached bar and restaurant. Also a pretty old place, established in 1880. We knocked back a couple of drinks and noted that in the evening the place seemed to be the local hangout for businessmen. Next we headed into the market street passing shops of video games, chikki and footwear (named in order of frequency of appearance).
Dinner was partaken at Imperial Stores, a place recommended by a friend. It was tough to order, with one having to queue up behind people who were buying groceries. We ordered burgers and a plate of fries. Finally, two large boxes appeared, with much smaller burgers sitting inside them. Hmm. No fries, they apparently forget about them. Being gluttons for punishment (and food), we decided to have dessert also here and asked for strawberries with cream and ice-cream. These were a bit pricey, but certainly worth it. We could barely finish our portions.
We also noted a strange phenomenon. The restaurant portion of Imperial Stores was deserted till we got there. So was Treacher's. But no sooner had we graced these establishments with our presence, they started doing roaring business!
We spotted a nice looking bakery on the way back to the vehicle, more on that later. I discovered that the vehicle did not have a name. Now since any self-respecting automobile worth its salt should have a decent name, I asked my cousin about it. He said he just calls it "The Bloody Car". I resolved to find a better name by the end of the trip. With that, we headed back to our rooms and turned in for the night after a long, tiring and interesting day.
We woke up late after the tiring first day of the trip. While motoring around Mahabaleshwar the previous day, we spotted a quaint looking restaurant called Grapevine and we headed there for breakfast. There were no other patrons and we ordered eggs with some sides.
After a long wait that made us ponder the question – which came first, the chicken or the egg – the very oily breakfast arrived. We had to order toast separately, not a good deal at all. We were still hungry after this so we headed to Elsie’s Bakery, the one we spotted the previous evening. We tried some patties and some other pastries. Ordinary stuff, so we decided against returning.
Next, we headed to Pratapgad at approx 11 am. Not a great time to be walking around the fort, I know, but there was nothing much else to do. The route was same as the way to Mumbai and it wound down the hills for about 15 km before flatenning out for another 8-10. The fort is not controlled by any government agency and is supposedly private property. As a result, there are no regulations about commercial exploitation of the fort and there are shops everywhere. We took a guide who gave us an hour’s tour, however, it went to only a few parts of the fort where the “touristy points” were.
This was one of the forts where Shivaji used to visit quite often. According to the guide, Shivaji used to visit twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Raigad, which was the capital and 60 km away. We debated how likely that would have been, considering that there were no roads or automobiles in those days and he would have had a very long horse ride each way.
It was really hot and by 1 we were frying in the sun. We stopped at a place that had a good view of one of the bastions and shared a Maharastrian thali - bhakri, kadi, ussal, papad, pickle, baingan bharta @120. The proprietor offered us sol kadi which was strictly okay. After some photographs, we left and were back at Mahabaleshwar by 1:30.
A friend had recommended staying at Dina Hotel, but as it was a bit expensive for our trip budget, we had skipped it. However it was also recommended for its food so we headed there for lunch only to discover that they had only a set continental menu for 600 apiece. We decided we were not THAT hungry and instead went driving to Lodwick Point and Elephant Head’s Point which turned out to be quite decent compared to Wilson and Bombay Points.
Lodwick Point is named after a General Lodwick who made some of the area popular during the British Raj. This made us thirsty and hungry as well so we went back to town to Treacher’s for beer, sizzlers and chinese lunch. Decent stuff. We discovered that in the afternoons Treacher’s transforms from businessmen’s den into a dating hangout.
After a good 45 minute nap back at the hotel, we headed to Panchgani, aiming to catch sunset at the Table Land which is a huge plateau there. Enroute, we stopped at Mapro garden to buy and taste some strawberries. The place was unnecessarily expensive for snacks so we bought some strawberry crush and jams and bought fresh strawberries from some vendors outside. Just Rs 100 a kg ! We bought 2 kg for our friends who were going to join us the next day at Murud.
Heading to Panchgani, we found Table Land after some odd directions from the locals. The views were worth it and after staying till moonrise, we left. Feeling a bit hungry, we stopped at Mapro again, this time having a strawberry shake each. At Rs 150 each, we did the math and visualised Mapro’s profit margins. Dont bother having anything at Mapro. They had veggie pizzas made in a wood-fired oven for Rs 400 each. And people were actually ordering them.
We headed back to the Savoy for a nice hot bath and decided to have a spot of dinner at the Punjabi restaurant in the same compound. The food was okay and by 11 we were off to sleep.
Starting point : Mahabaleshwar
Intermediate destination : Murud
Final destination : Diveagar
Distance : 150 + 65 km
Three more of our friends were going to join us from Bangalore, with their plan being flying to Pune and taking a cab to meet us near Murud. We decided to leave from Mahabaleshwar once we got confirmation of their flight landing in Pune. It was supposedly a 3 hour journey from Pune to a place near Murud. We were aiming to meet them at a place called Indapur, on the NH-17 which was around 2 hours from Mahabaleshwar. We had tea and hit the road at 8:30 am. We reached NH-17 near a place called Poladpur and the road was good.
We heard from our friends, who were in an Innova cab, that their route was by a pretty bad road (via Tamhini ghat) and they were not going to make it as planned. So we took it a bit easy and stopped for breakfast at a Vithal Kamat joint at 10 am, about 44 km from Mangaon. Very ordinary food and placing an order and delivery was a complete mess. We met our friends outside Mangaon around 11:30 and the whole gang headed in the Scorpio towards Murud. I was the appointed navigator (also photographer and chronicler) and I kept my iPad handy with googlemaps open. The roads were pretty decent and we made good time.
Near Murud we spotted some huge old tombs by the side of the road. Not a single sign as to what they were, only a board from the Archaeological Survey of India which proclaimed it was a protected monument and anyone defacing it would be fined five grand. They could have atleast had some information board there, unless these tombs were some state secret. Later I searched online and discovered that there were 500 year old tombs of the rulers of Janjira, called Khokari Tombs.
I had read on Team BHP and elsewhere on the web that Patil Khanaval was a good place to eat in Murud so we headed straight there. It was bang in front of Murud beach, it was low tide and a bunch of teenagers were playing cricket there.
As it was 1:30, we decided to have lunch before venturing out to Janjira fort. We ordered fish thalis each which came with a bit of fried fish, fish curry, rice, rotis, rice and sol kadi. We also ordered some mutton curry on the side, which turned out to be unbelievably good.
I never expected to like sol kadi, but turned out that it was really nice. After this sumptuous lunch, we headed out of Murud towards Janjira fort. There was a fork in the road at one point and there were 2 conflicting direction boards to the fort. We took a right and found it led to a jetty at one end of a narrow stretch of beach. It was quite deserted except for some people at the jetty. We learned that this was the motorised boat jetty but they only had 1 boat, which had just left, so it would be another hour before the next trip. We headed back to the fork and took the other road.
This led over a hill which overlooked the beach an finally into a more inhabited stretch and ended at a crowded and dirty beach – Rajapuri jetty. After parking the Scorpio, we walked a short distance to the jetty where there was a large crowd of tourists waiting for small sailboats, or dhows. There was no concept of safety and I didnt see a single life jacket anywhere.
People were crowded about 50 to a boat for the 15 minute ride to the sea fort of Janjira. Hopping off the boat was a bit tricky, but we managed without any fuss. We fell prey to one of the touts and agreed to a guide at a fee that would have put a smile on Charles Sobhraj’s face.
Anyway, after seeing all the major points of the fort, the good thing was that our guide took us to a fresh water well where we could drink and wash, as it was really hot. Apparently he only took 1 in 1000 tourists there. That follows, since only 1 in 1000 gets fooled like us. The interesting thing we learned was that Janjira came from the Arabic words Jal Jazeera.
As usual, our wonderful ilk litters like their grandfathers built the fort and one of the water sources was completely clogged with garbage. What a shame.
The great Indian litter culture
After an uneventful ride back to the mainland, we had some refreshing cocont water and left the place by 5:30. This was a tad later than what we had intended, hoping to be at Diveagar by 5:30-6.
The road was of average quality and we did the 65 km to Diveagar by 7:15, passing Mhasala (pronounced Mhaasla) and after stopping to fill diesel outside Diveagar.
On the way we passed a really strange sight. The hillside seemed to have been dug out all round one house leaving that house standing by itself on a pedestal of earth!
It was pretty tough to find the homestay we had booked at, primarily due to us not using the correct name while asking for directions.
It was called Airawat Sea Shells and we were happily asking for Sea Shells. Anyway, we finally found the place and got into our rooms for a good washing up.
Internet research had revealed that a good place to eat was Swayam Patil Khanaval (no relation to the Murud joint) and we called them as we were told they shut early. They told us to be there by 9:30 and we placed our order on the phone. Finding the place was another task, though it was on the main road and after passing a number of homestays we saw it. We had fish and chicken thalis, which were pretty good and the sol kadi was good here too. After dinner, we drove to the approach to the beach near Exotica resort (MTDC) and went for a walk. The beach was deserted and seemed fairly clean. Unfortunately we were not going to see it in day time as the next day we wanted to leave early to head towards Tarkarli.
Starting point : Diveagar
Destination : Tarkarli
Distance : 375 km
Republic Day! And a dry day. Hmm. Wonder why we aam aadmis are subject to the whims and fancies of the elite who impose all these restrictions but indulge in all sorts of skullduggery themselves.
Our plan was to check if the turtles had started arriving at Velas beach, a 100 km to the south, in which case we would head there to check them out. We made a call to the representative of the conservation society who sadly informed us that the turtles hadn’t yet arrived so there was no point in going to Velas. Our plan B was to head to Vijaydurg Fort which was 320 km to the south and from there do the remaining 85 km to Tarkarli. We left Diveagar at 7:30 am and headed towards Khed, which was on NH-17.
The route to Khed took us via a forest route to Mandangad on SH-100 and on to Khed. The distance was 65 km but it took us around 2.5 hours because of hilly, narrow and bad stretches. However, we all enjoyed the drive and would not have exchanged the drive along that forested stretch for a boring barren highway.
On the way we asked directions of a young lady who was stationary on a lonely stretch on a moped. We wondered if she was for real or some apparition. She wore a white sari. Hmm.
When we reached Mandangad, we stopped for breakfast at a roadside eatery. Omelette pav and puri bhaji was wolfed down by us hungry travellers before we carried on towards Khed.
We decided to abandon plans of visiting Vijaydurg since it was already 11:30 am and we had a good distance to cover before Tarkarli. SH-100 was a pretty good road and we soon reached Khed and NH-17. The highway wound up and down several hills and it more of a 1.5 lane highway in each direction, so our average speed was not spectacular, however the road surface was smooth and it made for a nice ride. Some of us had watched the Highway on my Plate TV show which highlighted an eatery at Chiplun called Abhishek which served excellent seafood. However we passed Chiplun with full stomachs so we had to give it a pass.
As we were passing Pali, I spotted a roadside ice cream vendor and we stopped for some delicious Vadilal kulfi. You hardly ever get stuff like this in Bangalore. After some other random purchases, we started off again.
At the lunch stop where we didn’t eat
We finally made a lunch stop just after Rajapur at a roadside dhaba around 4 pm. After waiting for a while for someone to take our order, we were told they didn’t have much on offer! Irritated at the waste of time, we found another place diagonally opposite called Green Park. This seemed to be buzzing so we headed in and ordered lunch. We all read about the laid back attitude of Goan restaurants and other service establishments. You ain’t seen nothing yet till you check out this stretch of Konkan. Getting the waiter’s attention itself is a major feat. Anyway, we were finally on our way at around 5 pm with around 110 km still to do.
We turned off NH-17 at a place called Kasal and headed towards Malvan. Googlemaps showed a route that turned off SH-4 and went along a river till it reached Tarkarli. Always follow the map I say. The road soon turned into a dirt track. At one point it suddenly turned away from the river and up some hill. We went along for a few metres and found some workers and a bulldozer actually trying to build the road. Not wanting to contribute to road building activity as it was now past 7 pm and almost dark, we headed back to the river and found there was another track heading along it.
We plodded along for a kilometre or two till we reached the end of the track and encountered some people returning from work. They showed us a diversion where the track went and joined a proper road. That led us to Tarkarli in about 15 minutes. We reached our planned place of residence – Shri Sai Gajanan Resort – at around 8 pm.
The place consisted of around 5 sets of twin cottages, housing around 20 people in total, with a dining zone and a small store. They sold kulfi at the store, among other things. By now, you see that I have a soft corner for kulfi.
The room was extremely small and we were 3 sharing it since the other friends were a couple who got to share one even tinier room. We also discovered that when people in these parts say they have hot water, they mean a ratio of 10 molecules of hot water to around 10 million of cold water. In the evenings it was reasonably chill, so for spoilt city brats like us, it was tough to bathe in almost cold water.
After cleaning up, we ordered dinner at the same place and contemplated our next moves. We were informed that the points of the interest in Tarkarli could all be covered by an amazing boat trip the next day. It being a holiday weekend the boats were going to get filled up and we should aim to book and leave by 6:30 am.
Ahem. There was about as much chance of us waking up for it as that of Anna Hazare being the next Prime Minister. Plus we didn’t like the sound of all these sight seeing points. We did however like the idea floated by a boatman who suggested hiring his boat to go for an evening cruise the next day. We decided to stick with our original plan of heading to Sindhudurg fort after breakfast and then going further north up the coast to some other beaches.
After sharing a few drinks (yes dry day, but we believe in the Scout’s motto – be prepared!), we had an average dinner and then we hit our respective sacks. Not before I tried the kulfi (Cream Bell) and that was a cue for everyone else to try one too.
Still to come : next 5 days of the trip...
Last edited by sharekhan4 : 23rd February 2013 at 16:34.
|5th February 2013, 11:22||#2|
Join Date: Jan 2013
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re: Chronicles of the Forts & Beaches Trip
If you're still in Maby, Try the strawberries & cream At bageecha hotel(extremely famous so wouldnt need to ask much for directions! If you're in the mood for as gujaratui Thali Try the Dreamland Hotel near the main market in maby! And if you're in the mood for a nice morning b'fast-willing to drive a bit-Go to the Apsara Hotel in Panchgani main market for the thinnest/Crispest Omlette I've ever had, Bun-maska and full milk Chai, Keema Pao for Sumptuous breakfast!
|26th February 2013, 12:30||#4|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Re: Chronicles of the Forts & Beaches Trip
This trip has been on my radar for some time now. Thank you for sharing the details Sharekhan4. Looking forward to more updates and pics.
What was the fuel efficiency you people managed to get? How many passengers in the vehicle?
|The following BHPian Thanks n.devdath for this useful post:|
|26th February 2013, 17:04||#5|
Join Date: Jan 2013
Thanked: 4 Times
Re: Chronicles of the Forts & Beaches Trip
I woke up leisurely around 8:30 am to find that my companions had already taken a walk along Tarkarli beach and pronounced it unfit for our exploration due to a surfeit of tourists and accompanying garbage. We decided to go to Sindhudurg fort in the morning, then a good beach a bit north and also fixed up with the boatman we had met the previous day to take us for a cruise in the river around 8 pm.
We had a breakfast of upma, poha, omelette and toast at our hotel and then headed towards Sindhudurg fort. It was a 20 minute drive towards Malvan and we reached the parking area after wading through about a hundred queries of whether we wanted to do diving around the fort. We declined and went to join the queue at the jetty. These boats seemed slightly less loaded than the dhows in Janjira and were motorised. After a 15 minute wait, we got into one and headed towards the fort. The views of the fishing fleet and the fort were quite good, as you can see from the photos.
We reached the fort and having learned from our “mis-guided” experience at Janjira, declined a guide this time. I had already prepped the group with pointers from wikipedia in the morning so we had some info with us. Sindhudurg fort doesn’t have much of the interior buildings remaining, with only the outer walls mostly intact.
Clear waters around the fort
At one point facing the sea, there was a huge breach in the outer walls. However, we were able to walk along almost the entire perimeter and the views of the sea were rather spectacular. A few Patel shots were taken and soon we started wilting under the heat. We headed back towards the entrance where there was a refreshments stall. A couple of quick nimbu sodas and life was restored again. I contemplated offering my services as a guide to the other unsuspecting tourists who were filing in. Deciding that we needed to reach a nice beach soon, we got into the boat and without further delay left Sindhudurg in the Scorpio and headed north.
Walking along the walls
Asking for directions to any good beach, we were told of a few options and decided on Kunkeshwar which was 50 km to the north. The drive was pleasant except that it was getting steadily hotter by the minute. We explored some turnings from the main road towards the beach and finally centered on one that led to what looked like a coconut plantation. There was another group already there and they were playing cards under the shade of the trees. We parked under what shade we could find and headed to the beach.
The beach was really clean, with white sand and a temple at the far end. There was no one in the water as far as we could see. The water was warm and inviting and we plunged in. I later took a walk towards the temple hoping to buy some water and snacks, and it turned out to be a really long walk there and back.
Clear waters of Kunkeshwar
After we had some refreshments we checked the time – 5pm and it was time to head back towards Tarkarli. On the way back, we got stuck in a traffic jam in Malvan. The roads were so narrow and both buses and SUVs had jammed some of them.
The Bloody Car enjoying some shady spot
We heard that food at the MTDC resort in Tarkarli was good so we planned to have dinner there. One had to order in advance it seems, so we headed there. But they told us that they closed by 9 pm and we would not be back from our cruise by then so we decided to eat in our own hotel. A quick clean up and snack of omelette rotis and and we headed to the jetty which was just outside our hotel.
Sunset on way back to Tarkarli
Simon, the owner of the boat and another guy took us out into the river. There was almost a full moon but not much other lights around.
Simon suggested going to Tsunami Island, which was one of the aforementioned “touristy points” around Tarkarli. He promised it would be good at this time since there would be no one else there. This turned out to be the best place we visited in the whole trip.
Open bar at Tsunami Island - imagine sitting with waves lapping against your chair
Tsunami Island was a sand bar in the delta of the river that was facing the sea. Gentle waves lapped against the sand bar. There were some makeshift shelters and tethered rafts there so we could sit down. Simon and his companion had carried plastic chairs for us to sit in the boat and these were moved onto Tsunami Island. We sat there sipping a drink and admiring the surroundings. The water level slowly rose till the sand bar was covered over a period of around an hour. It was time for us to head back and we bid goodbye to lovely Tsunami Island.
Starting point : Tarkarli
Destination : Cola beach, Goa
Distance : 172 km
We had resolved to start early so that we could reach Cola beach in good time to enjoy the sea and sunset. There was no cook at the hotel till 9 am so we left after drinking tea and coffee and without eating breakfast at about 8 am. Our plan was to visit Cabo de Rama fort in the south of Goa, a little after the Sal River passes Cavelossim and then head to Cola, which was another 10-15 km south. From Tarkarli, we headed north towards Malvan on SH-4 and then took SH-118 towards Kudal via Nerur gaon.
Heading towards Kudal
The road was excellent and we made fantastic time. We passed through Kudal MIDC and hit NH-17 around 8:40 am. We sped along on NH-17 and passed Sawantwadi, Pernem and Mapusa before deciding to stop for breakfast at around 10 am near Porvorim at Angel’s Resort. There didn’t seem to be any other eating place open along the highway, just bars – as we entered Goa we spotted one called “Reached Goa Bar”!
We wanted to avoid all the usual haunts of north Goa and decided to to stick to NH-17 till we passed the Verna plateau. We then took the road towards Majorda and then went parallel to the coast on the Dabolim-Cavelossim road. While this was narrow, the scenery was nice and we avoid the heavy traffic and dust of NH-17 as it passed near Margao.
Crossing the Sal river
We turned off the road towards the left for the ferry to cross the Sal river. We had to wait for the ferry to return from the other side and grabbed a quick beer at a small bar next to the jetty. There were a couple of elderly firangs there having a drink. As one got up and left, we noticed a puddle of water beneath the remaining gent. He said to us “Don’t look at me like that, its only sea water that dripped off me, I am not that old !!!”
The ferry arrived and we crossed over and then took a road that headed towards Cabo de Rama fort, passing a village called Canaguinim. Just before we reached the fort, we spotted a couple of bars and we stopped to buy some cold water and chilled beer. The time was around 1 pm. The fort was built by Hindu warriors and the Portuguese captured it around 1763 after defeating the Raja of Soonda. We were going to visit another fort ruled by the rulers of Soonda at Kurumgad later.
From the path leading down to the rocks
We parked the Scorpio near the entrance to the fort and went in. The entrance was like that of some old building and it did not look like a fort at all, except for the walls which spanned out on either side. On entering we saw an old church which was being painted and renovated on the left and then a lot of trees and shrubs dotting the landscape. My cousin had been here before and led us on a path for about 500m till we reached the walls overlooking the sea. It was VERY hot by now.
Rocky beach below Cabo de Rama fort
We came to a path leading down the hillside towards the sea. On the way we passed the spot where my cousin saw a cobra some months before. We reached the cliff and saw that the path down was a bit steep. As it was so hot, most of us decided not to go down, but my cousin went all the way and walked along the rocky shore there. We went back to the fort walls and sat in the shade sipping water and beer.
Church in the Cabo de Rama fort
A short walk back took us near the church where there was a tap from which we got cool water to wash up. Refreshed, we headed to a lookout point on the northern side of the fort which afforded a good view of the coastline.
View from the northern walls
We left soon after and headed on to Cola beach. There was a turn off the road towards the right and we went along a dirt track for more than 1km. We reached a sort of parking and saw that beyond that was the cliff and the sea. Taking our belongings from the Scorpio, we headed down the cliff along a narrow path. It was not that steep or tough and we soon reached the Blue Lagoon tented resort.
There were around a dozen tents along the hillside facing a fresh water lagoon which was fed by a hill stream. Beyond the lagoon was the beach and then the sea. Towards the right of the lagoon was the regular stretch of beach and there were a lot of rocky sections.
The tents were Rajasthani style, large, airy and each opened onto a tented bathroom at the rear. There was a small porch for each tent, with a table and couple of chairs to sit.
Blue Lagoon tented resort
We inquired as to the availability of seafood and were shown a sizeable red snapper and a really huge black snapper. We decided on the black snapper and asked for a simple lemon and garlic grilled preparation for half the fish, asking them to ice the remaining for the next day. We had some other snacks in the meantime and then hit the beach.
The water was much cooler than in Kunkeshwar and there were only a few places you could safely swim, unlike beaches like Palolem or Utorda. But it was still very good and we enjoyed ourselves till the waiter called us as our fish was ready. They had added some ginger garlic and other spices and almost ruined the preparation, but it was still decently tasty.
Sunset at Cola
The evening was spent chatting and relaxing outside our tents. There was no mobile phone reception there at all. After dinner, we took a walk along the beach and it was quite amazing to see all the stars since other than Blue Lagoon, there were no other lights at all on that stretch.
|26th February 2013, 17:11||#6|
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Re: Chronicles of the Forts & Beaches Trip
|26th February 2013, 17:34||#7|
Join Date: Jan 2013
Thanked: 4 Times
Re: Chronicles of the Forts & Beaches Trip
Here's an account of the last 3 days of the trip:
As the gastronomic delights at Cola were rather limited, we had planned to visit some old haunts at Palolem to bring some balance to the force. Destination – Cafe Inn for some sandwiches.
After waking up leisurely at around 8:30, we left Cola at 9:30 for the 25 minute drive to Palolem. The place was more crowded than I ever remember, its becoming more like the Baga Road with all the shops around. We parked in the main lot and walked the short distance to Cafe Inn, which is on the corner of the main road and the road leading to the parking lot. We ordered a lot of food – from burgers to chicken sandwiches, mezze and shakes.
Someone wanted to buy leather bags and tshirts so we walked around the shops till we found decent ones. I headed to see what the beach was looking like – not too bad, but getting more crowded by the day. On the way back, one of my leather sandals snapped so I ended up shopping for some rubber chappals. It was pretty hot by the time we finished up the shopping, so before we left, we headed into a nearby bar for a quick drink.
Lazing at Cola
Getting back to Cola by around 1pm, we lazed about for a while, then decided to check out the lagoon in front of us. My cousin and I started off in one of the kayaks available and we paddled up the small stream till we reached a very shallow portion and we had to turn back. Next we went into the sea and brought the kayak along. The others took turns kayaking out to sea for a bit. Meanwhile, the rest of the black snapper was waiting to meet its fate in the freezer of the restaurant. We opted for what the chef should have down as a tried and tested recipe (since it was on the menu) – Tandoori Fish. This got ready around sunset and we cleaned up and had our fill.
Twilight at Cola
We met an old British couple who were in a tent near us. They apparently visited Cola every year for 3 months and knew the person who ran the place for a long time. They had a tent “reserved” for them and an all inclusive deal with food and beverages. They were offering some books for swap, or just giving them to whoever wanted to read. Looked like rather heavy reading to me.
The rest of the evening was spent chilling out at Cola. We called it a relatively early night as we had to wake up early to leave for Kurumgad the next day.
Starting point : Cola Beach, Goa
Destination : Kurumgad Island, Karwar
Distance : 40 km
We woke up early and left Cola by 8 am, intending to have breakfast at a small eatery at Palolem on the way. It had 2 small tables and we had samosa, bhaji pav and tea. Getting underway quickly, the plan was to take a coastal road till whatever point we could before rejoining NH-17 to head into Karwar. This was also an important milestone in our trip – we named the Bloody Car ! After considering several names that were bandied about like Prime Ministerial candidates after a general election, we settled on – The Rolling Stone.
The Rolling Stone that goes over all the moss
The road wound round some hills and was quite scenic. We went on this narrow iron bridge to cross a river and backed up to take some snaps of the crossing. This was near Galgibag. After that however, we were not sure of the road being motorable and we decided to try and rejoin NH-17, which we did fairly quickly. Later it turned out that we could have followed that scenic road for some more time.
Put your right arm in, put your right arm out…oops you lost it!
Filling up diesel before exiting Goa, we crossed the Kali River bridge into Karwar at around 10:15 am and were at the jetty for our ride to Kurumgad Island shortly after. We parked the Scorpio in the Great Outdoors‘ parking lot and after some confusion with the boat operator (Great Outdoors hadn’t organised this well), we got into the boat and it headed towards Kurumgad Island.
Kurumgad Island in the distance
And that's when we began the worst experience of the F&B Trip. The place was not run well, there were some large groups of unruly men there at the same time, and in general it was a tiresome day. For further details check out the review here.
It was really hot so after some carrom before lunch, we rested and then headed to the beach only in the evening – it was not much of a beach, with slimy sea floor and we soon clambered over some rocks to sit and view the sunset.
Aiming to please
Heading back to the tented area, we were greeted by loud film music on one side, accompanied by a choir singing some devotional songs on the other. We cleaned up and then made our way to one of our tents on the other side of the island, where there was only the constant chugging of the generator filling the air.
Remains of Kurumgad Fort with other islands in the distance
Some chit chat and drinks later, we were brought some barbecued chicken by the staff, this turned out to be quite good. We had a quick dinner as we didn’t want to spend too much time around the pesky guests, and went off to sleep.
Starting point : Kurumgad Island
Destination : Bangalore
Distance : 560 km
After our travails of the previous day, we just wanted to exit Kurumgad ASAP and informed the staff to get us on the first boat out in the morning. This was slated for 10 am. We had an ordinary breakfast at 9 am and were ready to depart at 9:30. However, after we got into the boat, we noticed that both the large groups also got in with us. There was apparently a dolphin ride at 10 am and our return was going to be clubbed with this touristy experience of unfathomable brilliance. To make it even more fun for us, after the ‘dolphin ride’, during which no creatures of any sort were spotted, we returned to the island jetty to jettison one group of pests. No clue why they didn’t first complete the dolphin ride and then take on the guests who had to return. Anyway, we were at the Kali River jetty by around 11 am and at 1110 hrs, The Rolling Stone got underway with its cargo of 5.
Bridge over the Kali River
We decided to take NH-67 just before Ankola and we made good time on this scenic and good road that went through the forests towards Hubli. We stopped at around 1:30 for lunch at a place called Hotel Highway. There was no one when we entered and we were a bit apprehensive about how it might turn out. We ordered chicken Kolhapuri, dal tadka, rice and rotis. All the food was really good and we walked out happy and full. We soon got under way again and headed towards NH-4, passing Mundgod before hitting the main highway around 2:30 pm. There are some bad patches on this route, but its hardly a hindrance and can definitely considered as a route to take to return from Goa.
Onion rings at Hotel Highway
Once we hit NH-4, going was very smooth and we hardly noticed our speed as we cruised along. At one point I saw that we were doing 160 kmph, which is the fastest that I have ever been on the road in the real world.
Last chai stop
We stopped at around 5 for a rest and chai, I don’t recall where exactly, and after another uneventful drive, we reached the Yeshwantpur junction at 7 pm. After that, the drive times don’t really count, since we reached that Mecca of traffic messes – Bangalore. I was home at Koramangala by 8:30 pm, thus bringing an end to the F&B Trip.
Distance covered : approx 2500 km
Number of drivers : 4 (of which one did most of the driving)
Best spot : Tsunami Island
Best place to stay : Blue Lagoon tents
Best food : Patil Khanaval
Best beach : Kunkeshwar
Best fort : Janjira / Sindhudurg (tie)
Best road : Forest road from Diveagar to Mandangad
Word of the trip "Bhau"
|27th February 2013, 15:53||#9|
Join Date: Aug 2010
Thanked: 41 Times
Re: Chronicles of the Forts & Beaches Trip
F&B means more of food and beverages in your trip Just amazing how people remember each and every bit, like what kind of food you ate and also how good or bad it was.
Do you write it somewhere? or you were writing the travelogues while you were travelling.
Your memory is that good.
|28th February 2013, 17:22||#10|
Join Date: Jan 2013
Thanked: 4 Times
Re: Chronicles of the Forts & Beaches Trip
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