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Old 26th July 2016, 14:32   #1
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Default My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka


"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
" - Lao Tzu (Ancient Chinese Philosopher)

This is my favorite travel quote, and every now and then, an urge comes from within to travel aimlessly, with no fixed plans, without being intent on arriving. This is a story of one such aimless wandering.

I just love the monsoon - the rains! When it rains, the child within me wakes up. When it rains, I get restless indoors. I want to be outdoors. Therefore, monsoon is the time when such aimless wanderings happen most often for me. As much as I love rains (or even more, maybe), I love the lands of Konkan, Goa and the Western Ghats in general. These places have always enchanted me with their natural beauty, mystical forests, rugged landscapes and of course, the sea. And what better place to enjoy the full glory of the monsoon than these beautiful and somewhat mystical places? So this time, when the urge came from within, I did not even have to think. My mid had already decided on wandering around in Konkan, Goa and the Western Ghats in the monsoon.

As much as I love traveling with family and friends, I love traveling alone. So this was a solo drive by choice.

It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others...Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companion's questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.
― Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel

I always come back refreshed and happy when I travel alone. I get time to reflect, to get to know myself more, and just be myself. I feel the experiences are somehow more intense - maybe your mind magnifies them for you - when you are alone.

The "rough" plan: The general idea - but not a fixed plan - was to drive to and around Ratnagiri - Ganapati Pule - Guhagar area (all coastal towns) in Konkan (with a quick stop at Kolhapur on the way), then drive down to Goa exploring more coastal areas on the way, then cross the Western Ghats via Jog Falls, and drive back to Bangalore via Shimoga. The idea is outlined in the map below. One reason I love this route is because of the perfect mixture of different driving conditions, including smooth and fast highways, coastal drives, mountain passes and ghats etc., as marked in the map:

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-plan.jpg

Google measures this drive to be around 1850km. However, with various real-time diversions and modifications, in the end, the total drive was 2040km.

I had no fixed timeline, and was not in any hurry. I ended up doing this in a leisurely pace taking 7 days. I did not do hotel bookings for in-between stays, because that would put artificial constraints and timelines on my plan. My idea was to enjoy each day as it came, just drive around enjoying the place and the weather, and then decide where I want to stay. I did mostly last-day reservations using hotel booking apps from my phone, as and when required, along the way.

Although I keep calling this a solo drive, I had my trusted companion - my old faithful, my 2010 Maruti SX4 - with me. This car has given me such a wonderful company over last 6 years, in numerous such drives, without even a hint of a complain, that I never really feel alone when she is with me. I know that it is very common on this forum that people give names to their cars. However, somehow, I have never given a name to any of my cars. But I think the time has come. This drive brought back all the wonderful memories I had with this car over last six years, and with all that, I can't refer to her just as "my car" anymore. So let's call her "Dusty"! Dusty, after my favorite character, Dusty Crophopper from the movie "Planes", as well as because she was actually covered in dust most of the times through this drive.

My trusted companion, "Dusty" (at one of the locations from this drive):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02938.jpg

Thus, this is a story of I and Dusty wandering around aimlessly, enjoying the rain, experiencing the peace and solitude (in most places and on most roads, there wasn't another soul in miles around), and just having a good time! Please allow me to share this story through pictures spread over next few posts.


Last edited by Dr.AD : 4th August 2016 at 15:09.
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Old 26th July 2016, 15:35   #2
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Default re: My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka

This is a long story. I beg your patience, and request that you kindly stick with me through this. One reason why it became so long is that every morning, afternoon and evening in these seven days was worthy of a mini travelogue of its own. Thus, this ended up becoming a series of mini travelogues, if you will.

I invite you to read sequentially, and experience this journey along with me. However, here is hyperlinked "Table of Contents" that will be useful if you choose to jump around and browse through different sections. I have also given a preview picture in each section so that you know what to expect in that section. Below each picture is a hyperlink for you to directly jump to that section.


Table of Contents (and Preview Pictures):

Day 1: Bangalore - Kolhapur
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02623.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4022624


Day 2: Kolhapur - Fort Panhala - Ganapati Pule

2.1: A quick visit to the city
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0335_1.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4023019


2.2: Testing moments that almost ended the drive
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02635.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4023135


2.3: Scenic drive to Panhala
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02671.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4023399


2.4: Exploring Panhala and NH166
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02711.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4023753


2.5: Amba Ghat!
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02737.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4023874


2.6: Reaching Ganapati Pule
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0516.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4023938



Day 3: Ganapati Pule - Fort Jaigad - Hedavi - Velaneshwar - Guhagar - Ganapati Pule

3.1: Surreal morning on "my own private beach"

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02822.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4024157


3.2: Peaceful time at the Ganapati temple
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02884.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4024292


3.3: Poetic experience at Malgund

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02904.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4024525


3.4: Scenic coastal drive

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02943.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4024645


3.5: Scary moments at Jaigad Fort
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02981.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4024703


3.6: Crossing the river
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03066.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4025047


3.7: Driving through the land of beaches and temples
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03125.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4025723


3.8: Scenic drive through Konkan's countryside
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03173.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4025847


Day 4: Ganapati Pule - Ratnagiri - Fort Tiracol - South Goa

4.1: Stunning coastal drive
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03245.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4026161


4.2: Ratnadurga Fort
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0847.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4026238


4.3: Another special place, and driving on NH66 ("Mumabi-Goa highway")

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03301.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4026280


4.4: Fort Ticacol, and Hello Goa

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03315.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4026855


4.5: Driving through North Goa

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03398.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4026950


Day 5: Rainy day in South Goa

5.1: Leisurely drive around South Goa

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0988.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4027696


5.2: Watching the rain
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03430.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4027801


5.3: Relaxing on a beach resort

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0065_8.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4027816


Day 6: Goa - Jog Falls - Shimoga

6.1: Driving through torrential rain, and then through clouds
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03436.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4027909

6.2: Jog Falls
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03472.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4027972

Day 7: Shimoga - Bangalore
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0207_3.jpg
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post4028038

Last edited by Dr.AD : 4th August 2016 at 18:12.
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Old 26th July 2016, 17:26   #3
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Default re: My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka

Day 1: Bangalore - Kolhapur

I like to start my drives early morning, and usually I leave home around 5:00AM. This time too, I had decided to leave early morning. However, some minor medical emergency at home delayed my start. There was even a chance of me having to cancel this altogether, at least for that day. However, with a quick visit to a hospital, things got resolved by 11:00AM or so, and it turned out to be "all clear" for me. Thus, after this minor hiccup right at the beginning, I finally started driving towards Kolhapur a few minutes past 11:00AM.

Bangalore-Kolhapur is a straightforward (quite literally) drive on the beautiful NH4. It is a combination of 6-lane and 4-lane highways, and the entire stretch is smooth and straight. This is actually a routine highway for me since this is a part of my usual Bangalore-Pune drives, so no surprises at all on Day 1. However, just because this is a very familiar road does not mean it is boring or less interesting in any way. This is one of the best highways in this part of the country and I always enjoy driving on it.

My journey started with this beautiful 6-lane NH4, with the monsoon clouds hovering on the horizon:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0247_3.jpg


My first break in this journey was at "Approva Resort", just before Davangere. This is a pretty nice and clean place (with good food), and is my usual place for a break during my NH4 drives:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0255_2.jpg


Dusty taking a quick break, while I have my lunch at Apoorva:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0252_4.jpg


The nice setting of the tables - you can see the highway and the passing traffic (if any):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0256.jpg


The next break point - the recently opened Cafe Coffee Day near Dharwad:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0262_2.jpg


The "Straight Drive" - somewhere between Dharwad and Belgaum. The absolute straight 6-lane highway merges into the horizon, with clouds hovering over it:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0271_3.jpg


An occasional sweeping curve, in case you get bored of the straight highway:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0273_3.jpg


Ah, the rain! My first of the countless meetings with rain on this drive, somewhere before Belgaum:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0278_4.jpg


Rain on the windows:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0280_2.jpg


Rolling the window down revealed this fresh green landscape:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0283_4.jpg


Keen eyes can see the silhouette of the Vidhan Soudha building, far away on the horizon, near Belgaum:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0287_3.jpg


This is the "Suvarna Vidhan Soudha" building at Belgaum, located on the sides of NH4. It looked magnificent under the dark monsoon clouds:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02626.jpg


A close-up of the building:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02621.jpg


The highway looked magical as the evening turned into night, with light drizzle adding to the charm:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02623.jpg


My first overnight halt of this drive - Hotel Sayaji at Kolhapur. This is a brand new hotel, and apparently Kolhapur's first 5-star hotel. I decided to try this out, and oh boy, I loved it! I had a great experience at this hotel - beautiful rooms, ideal location (easy access from highway), very friendly and courteous staff, and fantastic food. I would rate this hotel 5 out of 5!
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02627.jpg


The hotel is adjacent to (actually connected to) a shopping mall (a point that I noted for future trips with family):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02629.jpg


Dusty got a nice parking spot for the night, and I bid goodnight to her.
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0298_1.jpg


Elegant and beautiful room:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0301_3.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0302_3.jpg


The parking lot was visible from the window. I always like when I can see my parked car from the room. I feel uncomfortable when the car is hidden somewhere in the basement parking. The hotel got bonus points from me for this clean, spacious, and visible parking lot:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02632.jpg


Ah, the food! Authentic local cuisine. The restaurant manager had a friendly chat with me, and after hearing that I was on exploration of local sights as well as food, offered this local fare. Jowar Roti ("bhakari") and stuffed (with spices) aubergine ("bharali vangi"), which is a delicacy in Maharashtrian food. And it was awesome! Totally authentic! 5 out of 5 for food!
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0304_3.jpg


I was not interested in any sweets, nor did I ask for any. However, the manager offered me this, and insisted I "sample" some of their sweets. Although I was not interested, the great food and then this "sweet" gesture won my heart:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0305_3.jpg


I ended the day on this sweet note, went to my room and had a good sleep. Day 2 was actually the beginning of my real Konkan drive, and as much as I was tired when I went to sleep, I was excited about what lied ahead on Day 2. As it turned out, little did I know what.

Last edited by Dr.AD : 4th August 2016 at 10:10.
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Old 27th July 2016, 11:09   #4
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Day 2: Kolhapur - Fort Panhala - Ganapati Pule

2.1: Quick visit to the city

Now that I was in Kolhapur, I decided to spend the morning exploring the city. I always loved this city. The city exudes hospitality, culture, and some magical charm wherever you go. So a couple of hours in the city sounded perfect before I moved on. The two main things came to my mind were the famous Mahalakshmi temple and the local food. So I decided to visit the temple, eat some local food, and then start driving towards Ganapati Pule. The drive to Ganapti Pule was through Amba Ghat, a beautiful pass through the Western Ghats, and I was really excited about that. And not too far away from that road lies one of the famous forts in the history of Maharashtra - Panhala Fort. So I decided to make a quick visit to Panhala on my way. So, this was the plan on my mind when I woke up after a good night's sleep. I was fresh and really excited about the day ahead!

This was the view through the window when I woke up. I could see some clouds, a bit of rain, and even a bit of sunshine:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0307_3.jpg


This is how the parking lot looked in the morning:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0308_3.jpg


On the lines on "When in Rome...", I say "When in Kolhapur, eat Misal Pav". The hotel had the usual breakfast spread, but I decided to ignore that and had this Misal Pav. It was really good! Perfect start for the day! I kept my breakfast light because I wanted to go out and eat food at local joints.
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0309_3.jpg


And though I resisted sweets the previous night, after the spicy Misal Pav, I could not resists this:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0313_3.jpg


Since I was going to the crowded part of the town, I decided to let Dusty rest in the hotel parking lot, and I took an auto-rickshaw to the temple. Surprisingly, the roads were sans any crowd:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0317_2.jpg


The area in front of the temple, where the rickshaw dropped me:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0318_2.jpg


Luckily for me, there was no crowd in the temple (many times this temple can get really crowded), and I could get past the lines and reach the main idol in about 15-20 minutes. I am not at all a religious person (in conventional sense at least), but I enjoy visiting temples as long as they are clean and not crowded. There is a certain good vibe, certain peace and calm in such temples that I really like. In that morning hour, the Mahalakshmi temple gave me great peace of mind and a nice positive vibe that I needed to handle what lied ahead (later on that).


Pictures of the temple and the surrounding area:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0319_2.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0322_1.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0323_1.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0324_1.jpg


The "deep stambha" - this is a decorative column with places to keep lamps during special occasions:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0327_1.jpg


The shops outside the temple. Some jewellery (artificial of course) and sweets (many of them had "Kesari Pedha") shops, as well as flower shops:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0325_2.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0330_1.jpg


After taking blessing of Mahalakshmi, I decided to move on to my other agenda - local food. I had heard about a place called "Fadatare Misal Kendar", a local place that is famous for Misal. I took an auto-rickshaw again, and started my ride towards that place. Again, I noticed that the roads were surprisingly less crowded, and asked the rickshaw driver about that (who was anyway talkative and was was chatting with me in a beautiful Marathi accent typical of Kolhapur - I really love the sweet Marathi they speak there) He said "most people are stuck because there is a lot of water". I did not understand what he meant and asked him to elaborate. He said roads around Kolhapur are flooded, and most people can't get into the city. This was the first time I was hearing about any floods there, and somehow I did not pay much attention. Little did I realize that this was actually an important news for me. I did mention my plans to drive towards Konkan, but we both dismissed the floods with the assumption that the major roads would be unaffected.


After a short rickshaw ride, I reached the place I was looking for:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0333_1.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0337_1.jpg


Even though they serve essentially some street food at very affordable prices, there is no compromise on cleanliness. The place is very clean.

What goes into the misal (and a spicy "rassa" - spicy liquid - is added on the top, which gives misal its distinctive flavor):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0338_2.jpg


They have these benches there. You just go and sit, and they will serve piping hot misal:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0339_1.jpg


I got mine in no time, and oh boy, it was delicious!
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0335_1.jpg


After the misal, I took the same rickshaw back to the hotel. I was ready to take Dusty and start driving away. I had forgotten about the rickshaw driver saying something about floods by now.


A parting shot of the hotel that I really liked, and where I would go back again in future for sure:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0342_1.jpg

Last edited by Dr.AD : 4th August 2016 at 10:22.
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Old 27th July 2016, 13:38   #5
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2.2: Testing moments that almost ended the drive:


After spending a couple of hours in the city, with a nice taste of spicy misal still lingering in my mouth, I started driving towards Ganapati Pule. The planned route was NH166, which is the Amba Ghat road that I was so looking forward to. From the hotel, I navigated through a couple of city roads, and a bit later I was on NH166, although I was still in the city. The maps showed me a river ahead (Panchganga river), and I thought once I crossed the river, the city would be over and I would be on the open highways.

However, just as I was about to come to a bridge, I saw this scene ahead:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0346_2.jpg


The road was closed because the river was flooded (and I immediately remembered the words of the rickshaw driver):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0344_2.jpg


I looked around and saw floodwater everywhere, and only then I realized the seriousness of the situation:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0347_2.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0350_2.jpg


I talked to the locals around there, even to some traffic policemen, and they all told me that most of the Westbound roads (from Kolhapur) were flooded. Some of them even scared me by telling me "more floods were expected soon", and that "there is no way I can go to Konkan from there". I spent some time talking to the people there and trying to understand the extent of the floods. Nobody had concrete information. Everybody was speculating. I did some google search, but nothing concrete came out. Finally, somebody suggested that I should go back to NH4, and go northwards, and from there find some roads towards Konkan.

So I put a connecting point to NH4 as next destination in my maps, and started following Google maps towards that. I drove for around 10km, mostly through city roads which took a lot of time, and eventually found myself on a wide highway, which looked like a bypass to NH4. This would merge into NH4 soon.

But just then, I came across this:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02638.jpg


This road too, was closed due to floods. One person was even washing his motorcycle in the floodwater:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02639.jpg


There were some policemen ensuring nobody goes ahead. The road looked pretty dry here, but I wad told that the river ahead was heavily flooded and water was overflowing on the road. They had closed it at this point, much ahead of the river:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02635.jpg


I again looked around to find gloomy sights - flood water, dark clouds up, and no visible path forward:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02641.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02642.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02644.jpg


One final look at the closed road, before I returned and started making other plans:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02634.jpg


Dusty waiting on the side while I tried to figure out what next:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02640.jpg


Again, I talked to the people there, including some policemen, trying to gather some information about the floods. The news from them was very discouraging. Most of them thought there was no way I could go to Konkan that day. They said most roads were flooded, and even if a road was open, there was a chance of floodwater coming in any minute. They said it would be very risky to try some road on my own (and I agreed with them - exploring new roads in the flood was way too risky). The policemen told me that the entire basin of the Panchaganga river was flooded, and it would take at least 2 days for the roads to open.

By then, I had realized the seriousness of the situation. A part of my mind was telling me that it would be wiser to go back ("get out of here while you still can"). I quickly ran some alternative plans through my mind. Maybe I can go north towards Karad (on NH4), and then drive through Kumbharli ghat towards Chiplun, and then go southwards on NH66 (old NH17) towards Ratnagiri. That would be a very roundabout way, but still, that would take me towards Ratnagiri/Ganapati Pule. However, the people there quickly dismissed my plans, with the news that Kumbharli ghat was also closed (Which I doubted, but I had no choice. I had to depend on whatever information I got at that point of time).

With Plan B (Kumbharli Ghat-Chiplun) also out, I quickly thought of a Plan C. Maybe I can go back to Hubli, and then take my usual Hubli-Ankola-Karwar route to Goa, and then go northwards to Konkan. I knew those roads would be open. However, I have driven that route so many times that I wasn't really keen on repeating that unless I had absolutely no choice. I wanted to try Amba Ghat (Plan A) as much as possible, since I had not driven through that before. Besides, I was losing time rapidly, and by the time I drove back to Hubli, and then to Karwar, it would have been too late to drive to Konkan the same day. With all these threads running through my mind, I decided to study the maps a bit more.

This is what I saw on google maps that time:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-screenshot_20160714114707.png

The usual blue dot shows my position. You can see that I was surrounded by the Panchaganga river, which was heavily flooded. So basically there was floodwater on three sides of me. However, if I go back to Kolhapur and take the highway (NH4) northwards, I could still escape the floods.

So this is what I decided: Even if I went back to Hubli, I would just stay there for the night, revising all plans. It meant that in the worst case I did go back, it was OK even if I reached there around 6:00 PM. So the latest I could start back to Hubli was about 4:00 PM, which meant I had some four hours to continue my attempts to go Northwest, before I quit and go South.

So in the end, I decided to take NH4 and reach the "Toap" town (that you can see in the map), and then reevaluate the situation there. From Toap, there is a road to Panhala Fort, and in the worst case even if I just visit Panhala that day and come back, I would call it a victory. That's what I thought at that point of time.

I took a U-turn, and started driving back to Kolhapur, with the hopes of getting onto NH4. As I came close to NH4, I could see floodwater through my window, like this:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02645.jpg


When I eventually joined NH4, healing Northwards, I had already lost a lot of time. To add to the delays, there was surprisingly heavy traffic, moving at a very slow pace, on NH4:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0360.jpg


I figured that since all other roads were closed, the entire traffic from nearby area had converged on NH4, causing serious jams and delays:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0361_1.jpg


I could see lot of flooded areas on the left. Ironically, I had to turn left somewhere to go to Konkan, and seeing the flood there, it seemed more and more unlikely that I could find a way leftwards:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0364.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0366.jpg


The traffic jam on NH4 was getting really annoying:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0370_1.jpg


I had already lost a lot of time, and it looked like I would lose a lot more time there, if I insisted on continuing. With visible floods everywhere, it seemed increasingly unlikely that I could actually cut across the Panchganga river basin and reach Panhala. Maybe the locals were right after all. Maybe I should just quit and go back. With all these thoughts occupying my mind, eventually at a moment when I saw a U-turn on NH4, I just gave up and took the U-tun here:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0372_2.jpg


However, after I took the U-turn and started driving back towards Kolhapur/Hubli, I immediately felt strong remorse - I thought I quit too soon. I should have continued at least till Toap, and there reevaluated the situation. With this strong thought gripping my mind, I decided to take another U-turn and continue back! Luckily for me, I spotted an entry to a service road, took the service road and used that to merge back at the same point where I had taken the U-turn. So, after this series of U-turns, momentarily lapses in my resolve, and the quick regain of the same, I came back on NH4, exactly where I had quit.

This time, I continued for a while, till a point where Google maps asked me to exit the highway towards Panhala.

When I exited the highway, the traffic was gone, the floods were left behind, and I was here:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0375.jpg


Finally I could see some hills and I was heading in the right direction (West). What a relief!

I was now on the road to "Jyotiba", another famous landmark in Kolhapur - a temple located on a small hill. I was still not sure if I could go all the way to Panhala or if I would have to return from some point due to flood. Google was asking me to take some crazy roads (some of them even non-existent), so by now I had started to ignore Google. I saw a signboard pointing to Panhala on some narrow road. I followed that road for a while. I was still traveling dangerously close to the flood water, and I had no clue how far I could go. I was mentally prepared to return back from any point, if I saw water levels dangerously high. At one point I reached a small intersection, and there were some shops there. I asked a shopkeeper about flood situation and how I could make it to Panhala. He told me not to take the direct route to Panhala, which was flooded, but instead go to Jyotiba and from there go to Panhala. That made sense since I would be on a higher elevation most of the times. So I decided to follow signs to Jyotiba.

After a while, the roads became terrible, and I had a feeling I was lost:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0380_1.jpg


But I kept patience, kept on driving, and bit later reached a much better stretch:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0382.jpg


I drove a little further, found a proper sign that pointed to Panhala, and lo and behold, I was on this road:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0384_1.jpg

What joy! Finally I was on a smooth road going through lush green hills, something that I was craving for all along. A quick look at my location on the maps made me realize that I had crossed all the flooded areas. I was at a higher elevation, and on a beautiful road now. Now there was no turning back. I knew I was going ahead now. I realized I would meet MH166 near Panhala (the road that I was trying to catch since morning), and I would meet it well past the flooded area. I knew I would reach Konkan by the end of the day. I had lost a lot of time, but with no fixed plans, time was of not that much value. As long as I reached Konkan before it got dark, I would be happy. And looked like I just could!

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Old 27th July 2016, 19:56   #6
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2.3: Scenic drive to Panhala


By now the floods and the mess of the closed roads was behind me. What a relief! I was very happy that I continued on my plan and did not give up! I saw beautiful smooth roads and even more beautiful landscape all around me. I was in an elated state of mind, and my real monsoon drive had just begun. With that awesome weather and the landscape around, I knew I was in a for a treat in whatever part of the day still remained.

Dusty was equally relieved to find this beautiful stretch of road after losing half a day searching for path forward:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02654.jpg


The scenic road to Panhala, and the lush green landscape around:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02653.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0394_1.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0399_2.jpg


Some beautiful sweeping curves that would please any driving enthusiast:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02660.jpg


The viewpoint at the left of the above curve, offered this view. You can see the flooded areas in the distance:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02665.jpg


Zooming on the flooded portions, showed the gravity of the floods:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02663.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02667.jpg


With roads like this, who needs lunch (something that I had completely forgotten about in the chaos of the morning):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02676.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02670.jpg


The landscapes around:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02671.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02674.jpg


I still can't get over how beautiful the roads were in this drive. This was just one of the many to come over next few days:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02682.jpg


Fort Panhala! I reached there, and saw nobody around. I was the only one, and the whole area had a deserted look. As it turned out, I enjoyed total solitude and peace on this drive as most of the places I went were completely deserted, and this was again just the first of the many to come:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02683.jpg


One of the buildings in the fort:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02686.jpg


I saw this very interesting board, calling themselves "zunaka bhakar dot com" (zunaka bhakar is the rustic Maharashtrian meal of jowar roti and besan preparation, which is very popular among both locals and the tourists who consider this a delicacy; of course I love this too). The board listed several Maharashtrian food items, which made me realize my hunger. I would have loved to have this food there, but alas, there was nobody around, and this board stood tall with just wilderness and loneliness around:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0408.jpg


I drove around the top plateau within the fort, enjoying some wide empty roads like this:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0412.jpg


And some deserted places like this:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0409_1.jpg


I drove down to the center of the town (Panhala is not just a fort, but a small town by itself), and there is this magnificent statue of Bajiprabhu Deshpande, the famous sardar of Shivaji who fought with extreme valour in the famous "battle of the Pawan Khind", sacrificing his life in the end but ensuring Shivaji's safe arrival at Vishalagad. This is one of the most inspirational chapters in the history of Maharashtra, and the name of Bajiprabhu Deshpande comes to mind whenever the name of Panhala is mentioned. A true legend:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02687.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02692.jpg


The statue was inaugurated in 1977:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02693.jpg


Very near to the statue, was one of the ancient buildings in the fort (unfortunately, there wasn't much information written there, nor was there any guide around, nor could I recollect from my memory what building this was. So this remained unidentified for me):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02694.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02695.jpg


The views from the side were spectacular:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02704.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02697.jpg


Zooming on the flooded area showed the extent of the floods:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02699.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02700.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02702.jpg


At this point, a quick but conscious decision making thread ran through my mind, confirming something I had already decided, although subconsciously. I was at a vantage point where I could see the flooded area, but that was all behind me. I knew the road (NH166) from Panhala towards Ratnagiri was not flooded any more, and talking to some locals confirmed the same. So I was definitely on my way towards Ratnagiri after this. I decided to quickly explore a couple of more points in the fort, grab some lunch (by now I was really hungry), and then make a move towards the elusive land of Konkan.

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Old 28th July 2016, 11:57   #7
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2.4: Exploring Panhala and NH166


Next I saw this building known as "Teen Darwaza" (which means "Three Doors"). As the name suggests, this building was one of the entrance gates to the fort. I saw that the pathway through the entrance was still being used, as you can see in this picture:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02707.jpg


A beautiful small temple at the entrance of Teen Darwaza:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0419.jpg


The entrance to Teen Darwaza:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02709.jpg


The inner walls of the Teen Darwaza:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02710.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02712.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02713.jpg


As I walked through Teen Darwaza, I was on the outside of the fort, facing towards the Panchganga River basin. A small road that goes down (presumably connects to the village down):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02715.jpg


This entrance back to the fort is known as "Konkan Darwaza":
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02718.jpg


Traveling in this area in monsoon has the advantages of the amazing natural beauty and lack of any crowds whatsoever, but on the flip side, almost everything is closed. All these stalls selling interesting food items were closed:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0421.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0422_1.jpg


Realizing that I was not going to get any food on the fort, I decided to start driving towards Ratnagiri anyways. I would find something to eat on the highway.

Luckily for me, I did not have to wait that long. Just as I descended down the fort, I saw this nice looking restaurant, and asked if they are open for lunch (there were no other customers, so I would not have been surprised if they were closed):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0425.jpg


Fortunately, they were open:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0426.jpg


Inside, I saw this nice little place:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0427.jpg


Dusty waiting outside while I have lunch. I always love it when I can see my car from wherever I am:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0428.jpg


I wanted something quick and simple for lunch, and they suggested Dal Khichadi. And it was delicious! Delicious hot food in the middle of a beautiful drive - priceless! I give 5 out of 5 for the lunch experience there:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0432.jpg


It had been a long time since I had my breakfast, and with flood delays, the confusion about whether I could continue or have to quit, and finally finding a way to Panhala and walking around there, I was really tired and hungry. On that background, this simple lunch felt heavenly! Feeling rejuvenated after this break, I started my drive towards Ratnagiri.

In no time after that, I was on NH166, the one which felt like an elusive dream just a couple of hours ago. And the highway did not disappoint me. Beautiful roads like these greeted me:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0437.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0440.jpg


Lush green scenery everywhere:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0442.jpg


The road was beautiful for miles and miles - I enjoyed every mile of it. I was now driving with great joy - a mental state of bliss that is hard to describe:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0444.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0449.jpg


Somewhere far away on the hills, windmills were rotating:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02722.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02721.jpg


A little bit later, heavy rain came down, as if to remind me that I was on a monsoon drive after all. I could see beautiful paddy fields outside, through the rain drops on the window:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0451.jpg


Rolling the window down, at the risk of letting rain in the car, revealed this beautiful picture - paddy fields and clouds merged together:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0452.jpg


Visibility was very poor, but I just loved to see the rain through the windshield:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0455.jpg


The road was visible in-between the quick swipes of the wiper:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0456.jpg


This blissful drive and scenery continued for a while, but something even more interesting was ahead, and I was eagerly waiting for that - Amba Ghat!

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Old 28th July 2016, 14:46   #8
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2.5: Amba Ghat


Soon, I reached Amba Ghat, something I was so looking forward to, and the experience of driving through that was even better than what I had expected. The road was beautiful, the mountains were lush green, and the clouds were showing their magic on the mountain tops.

Amba Ghat and the surroundings:

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0463.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02728.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0462.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0467.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0468.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02730.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02732.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02735.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02737.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02740.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02741.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02744.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02747.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02748.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02749.jpg


While in general the roads were superb, there were occasional potholes (understandable given the heavy rains), a pattern that was common all through my Konkan drive. An important cautionary note if you are going to drive around in that area; these sudden potholes can catch you by surprise. See this, for example:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02751.jpg


A parting shot, of Dusty in Amba Ghat, as I exited the ghat and came down on lower altitude:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02753.jpg


Although the ghat was over, the roads were not any less beautiful. Beautiful smooth roads, lush green landscape, and nice play of lights and cloud continued until I the end of NH166.
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02756.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02758.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02759.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02760.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02767.jpg


Another pattern that was common all throughout this drive. Rain can suddenly come any minute, and can become heavy all of a sudden. While I was just getting into the car, a heavy shower caught me:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02770.jpg

With that least heavy shower, I decided to get into the car and start driving towards Ganapati Pule. NH166 merged into NH66 (older NH17 - the "Bombay-Goa Highway" as it is known) soon. But it left long lasting memories for me - I will forever remember NH166 as one of the most scenic roads I have driven on!

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Old 28th July 2016, 15:58   #9
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2.6: Reaching Ganapati Pule


After I exited NH66 towards Ganapati Pule, the road became somewhat flat and straight, like this:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0477.jpg


However, it was still scenic, with such beautiful paddy fields on both sides:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0475.jpg


"Almost There"; Dusty on the last leg of the day's drive:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0482.jpg


Ah, the first sight of the sea, away in the distance:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02773.jpg


Zooming on to get a closer look at the sea:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02775.jpg


I don't need to zoom on any more. As I took a left turn towards my hotel, I got a much closer view of the sea, as that road ran alongside the sea:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02779.jpg


Finally! Relief!! After what turned out to be quite a dramatic day, a day in which I was told I would never reach Konkan, a day in which at one point I thought the only wise decision was to go back, a day which showed me some breathtaking views from Panhala and Amba Ghat, I was at my destination: Abhishek Beach Resort in Ganapati Pule:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0536.jpg


Dusty resting at the end of the day:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0512.jpg


Abhishek Beach Resort. This is basically a mid-range place (Ganapati Pule does not have too many choices for staying anyway), and everything here had a similar theme - nothing fancy, and not too bad at the same time:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0494.jpg


My room. It was a pretty basic but clean and comfortable, as you would expect in a decent mid-range hotel:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0487.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0486.jpg


The room had a nice balcony:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0492.jpg


From which I could see the sea:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0488.jpg


As I walked across the garden to the restaurant, I saw something funny - real ducks playing around fake ones:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0508.jpg


They had a restaurant in a nice location, overlooking the sea, but parts of it were covered as protection against rain:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0498.jpg


There was a nice terrace attached to the restaurant:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0501.jpg


View from the terrace - you can also see a pagoda-shaped view-point below:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02781.jpg


Pretty soon, it started to rain. You can see the rain falling on the terrace:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0502.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02788.jpg


I sat inside, watching the rain outside:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02789.jpg


After having a hot tea and some pakodas there, I decided to go to Ganapati Pule town and search for some local food for dinner. The town has many small shops serving very tasty and authentic local food, so why not go and eat something nice?

So I took Dusty out again, and while exiting the hotel, saw this view of the sea in the evening light:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0516.jpg


As I drove along, the sea looked beautiful in the evening light:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0524.jpg


However, when I reached the town, it was raining very heavily, almost everything looked closed, and it was impossible for me to get out and search for food:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0529.jpg


In fact, navigating through those narrow and deserted lanes, with rain, under headlights, it felt a bit spooky, like this:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0530.jpg


I decided to call it quits. Came back to the hotel. Had some simple dinner there, and retired to my room.

Oh boy, what a day! When I had woken up that morning, I had thought Kolhapur to Ganapati Pule would be a simple 3 hour drive. It turned out to be a dramatic affair that took the whole day, and left behind countless memories that I will cherish forever. One could not ask for more from a solo drive. I was thankful to my stars that I did not give up and persisted on continuing. I would have missed out on so many great experiences had I gone back. Fully satisfied with the day's drive, and looking forward to another exciting day ahead, I went to bed.

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Old 28th July 2016, 20:23   #10
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Day 3: Ganapati Pule - Fort Jaigad - Hedavi - Velaneshwar - Guhagar - Ganapati Pule

3.1: Surreal morning on "my own private beach"

After a nice sleep, feeling fresh and again excited about the new day, I quickly got ready and stepped out.

The first view of the day was this, from the terrace of the restaurant. The same view, but now in the morning light the sea was much more visible, and the landscape appeared fresh, as if it had taken a nice morning shower:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0534.jpg


I stepped out towards what the hotel claimed to be a "private beach", and saw this rather inviting sign:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0541.jpg


I followed the sign, and saw this beautiful path (stairs in stone) leading to the sea:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02838.jpg


I started walking down, and got breathtaking views of the sea:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02829.jpg


The view just got better and better. I was all alone, not a soul nearby, and was super excited to unexpectedly find a beautiful beach all to myself:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02831.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02834.jpg


I had the path towards the beach in front of me, and the sea on my left, with great views all around:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02837.jpg


As I got closer, the beach views were so beautiful, it felt almost unreal:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02828.jpg


The path that was taking me to the beach was no less beautiful by itself (like the scenic drives, this was the scenic path of the week!):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0550.jpg


The path that offered such views:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0551.jpg


And the path that led me here:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02822.jpg


And I was on the beach!
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02805.jpg


On a fresh and crisp morning, a beautiful beach all to myself alone! What joy!!
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02804.jpg


The rocky coastline:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02806.jpg


And patches of clean silky smooth sand to walk on:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02810.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02811.jpg


The sea was rough (as is common in this season), and angry waves were lashing on the rocky coast:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02813.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02814.jpg


Huge waves were breaking on the rocks, and looked mesmerizing:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02816.jpg


I was so thrilled to find this unexpected spot all to myself, I just sat there for a while enjoying the peace and the beauty of the nature. It felt as if I could watch those waves forever:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02820.jpg


Finally, time to go back, and one last look at the beautiful stairs as I climb back up:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02821.jpg


What I am doing here? Well, the air had so much moisture that my camera lens was getting fogged every few minutes. I thought of using the cool dry air of the AC vents to defog the lens, and it worked like a charm! No more foggy lens after this:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0563.jpg


After enjoying this beach, I started driving towards my next stop - famous Ganapati temple in Ganapati Pule.

And while I was driving to the temple, I had such views in my window:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0566.jpg


Wow! What a morning! When I saw that board pointing to the beach, I never thought I would find such a nice spot. I was actually going to the temple first, and just thought of quickly checking out the beach on the way. As it turned out, this beach was one of the highlights of the drive, and I spent enough time there to enjoy the experience to my heart's content. Now I believe even more in no fixed plans!


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Old 29th July 2016, 00:03   #11
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3.2: Peaceful time at Ganapati temple


In a few minutes, I reached the famous Ganapati temple. The entrance to the temple:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0569.jpg


This temple can sometimes get very crowded. However, to my pleasant surprise, there was hardly anybody in the temple:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02858.jpg


Well, there were some people a bit ahead, but hardly anybody to constitute a crowd:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0572.jpg


The queue lanes at the entrance were all empty:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0574.jpg


I quickly passed through the empty queue lanes and I was in the temple:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0578.jpg


The beautiful temple, located right on the beach:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02884.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02886.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02891.jpg


The temple is right on the beach, but has a fence around. The premises are very beautiful and peaceful:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02885.jpg


The gate to the beach was locked:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02888.jpg


The beach across the fencing:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02849.jpg


Although the temple's gate to the beach was locked, there were plenty of other ways to get to the beach, from right outside the temple. For example, this small lane outside the temple, lined with some shops, takes you to the beach:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02859.jpg


This temple is also well known for its beautiful path of "Pradakshina" ("Parikrama", as is known in many parts; it refers to walking around a sacred place in a circular path, keeping the place to your right). The Pradakshina path takes you around the small hill. This board shows the way towards the Pradakshina path, and tells that it is a 1km path that takes about 15 minutes:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02856.jpg


The pradakshina path is really beautiful. It is nice walkway, well paved and easy to walk on barefoot, and goes through thick green woods and a small hill. It is a very beautiful morning walk!:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02863.jpg


Looking back, I could see sun shining on the pradakshina path:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0595.jpg


Some more walk in the woods (I was again all alone in the entire pradakshina, and I loved it):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02865.jpg


And now, having climbed up a little bit, you have to climb down again to the sea level, towards the temple:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02867.jpg


Looking back again, the path just looked beautiful:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02870.jpg


Along the way lies this small place on the right:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02872.jpg


It is a "Dhyan Mandir" (meditation hall). What a lovely place for meditation!:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02873.jpg


A bit further ahead, I saw this water tank, known as "kund" in Marathi:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02877.jpg


A bit further, the path splits into two. The left takes you to the beach, while the "straight" path will take you back to the temple:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02878.jpg


I went straight, and now the path goes very close to the beach anyway, and from there to the temple:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02881.jpg


From there, I saw some camels on the beach:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02882.jpg


And back to the temple. Completed the pradakshina:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02883.jpg


Then I stepped out on the beach, just to check it out. The beach right next to the temple had a group of people, it was not clean, and honestly not that great:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02894.jpg


This man was waiting for customers for the horse ride. With hardly any crowd around, the prospects did not look too bright for him:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02892.jpg


Another look at the beach. You can see the temple in the left:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0601.jpg


Well, I had no intentions of spending any time on this beach. I had just come from a beautiful beach all to myself, and I knew I had more beautiful beaches all to myself just a few kilometers away. I merely wanted to check this beach, and that's all.

After spending some peaceful time at this temple, and after having a nice morning walk, I felt really happy. With that happiness, I set out for the next important business of the morning -breakfast! I had not taken any breakfast at the hotel because I knew I would find some authentic Maharashtrian breakfast in Ganapati Pule town. And now I was going to look for that.

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3.3: Poetic time at Malgund

My search for Maharashtrian food brought me here, to a simple and clean restaurant that serves authentic local food:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0607.jpg


I started the day with my favorite - Sabudana Kichadi:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0603.jpg


And then something very tasty - Thalipeeth (a baked roti sort of thing made of mixtures of a variety of grains and some spices):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0605.jpg


Next door was this shop selling Konkan food products. Ganaapti Pule has countless shops selling a variety of local grocery as well as ready to eat food items, sweets, savories etc. This shop was one of the best (the board lists some delicious and mouth watering food items):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0526.jpg


After this lovely breakfast, I started driving towards Jaigad Fort. This would be a scenic coastal road, a tiny road that literally runs along the shoreline. I was really looking forward to it. However, while on my way to Jaigad, there was something special ahead- something very special for my poetry loving mind.

And that specialty was something abut this:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02895.jpg


No, not this arch welcoming me to the next village, Malgund, by itself, but what was written on the arch:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02897.jpg


The arch mentions a legendary name in Marathi poetry - Kavivarya Keshavsut. The entrance is named after "Great Poet Keshavsut". Krishnaji Keshav Damale (1866 - 1905) was one of the greatest and the most influential poets in Marathi literature, and he wrote under the pen name of "Keshavsut" ("son of Keshav"). Keshavsut was born in this very village, Malgund, and the village is very proud of him. His birthplace is preserved in the form of a museum.


Of course, my next stop was the birthplace of the great poet, which is now a museum:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02898.jpg


At the entrance of the museum, there was a small office, where I was given this leaflet with some information on Keshavsut:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02899.jpg


Apart from one person in the entry office, there was absolutely nobody around. The whole place was empty, very quiet, and again all to myself. Of course, I did not mind at all. The solitude I felt there was something I would never be able to describe accurately.


One of the greatest minds in Marathi poetry was born in this very house, 150 years ago:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02900.jpg


As soon as you enter the house, you will see this portrait of Keshavsut:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02902.jpg


Close-up of the portrait:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02904.jpg


Inside of the house:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02903.jpg


"New Soldier" - one of the famous poems of Keshavsut:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02905.jpg

In this poem, Keshavsut calls himself "The brave soldier of the new age and new strength", and talks about a limitless world and universal brotherhood. He says that he would "never accept a limiting fence to his yard". I just stood there contemplating. In our own tiny way, doesn't this apply to us petrolheads? Isn't this the same spirit that is driving us, in our own little ways? I got a bit emotional reading this. I felt some deep connection to this famous poem, standing there right next to the room where the poet was born!


Inside is a typical Konkani house, very well maintained:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02908.jpg


This small room is the actual room where Keshavsut was born:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02911.jpg


The label on the room says "Birth room of Keshavsut"
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02910.jpg


Behind the house is this beautiful museum of poems of Keshavsut. Each plaque has one poem written on it:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02919.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02913.jpg


I must admit that standing there, right at the birth place of one of my favorite poets, reading his poetry, in complete peace and solitude, was an emotional experience. I almost felt some magical power, something intangible. I just stood there for a while, spellbound under that magical power. These moments are the reason why one should travel solo, at least sometimes! I would have never experienced that magic if there was even one other person in that museum at that time.

I continued reading the poems that I had learned in my school textbooks:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02914.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02915.jpg


The plaques announcing the inauguration of the Keshavsut memorial museum (1994), and the "poetry sculpture" - the museum of Keshavsut's poems (2004). Some legendary names in Marathi poetry and literature on these plaques:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02917.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02918.jpg


After getting almost some divine experience at this magical place, still under the spell of the poems that I had just read, I came out and started driving towards Jaigad Fort.

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3.4: Scenic coastal drive


After Malgund, I continued on the same road towards Jaigad. The beauty of this road is that it is a narrow road that runs literally along the sea. You can pull over any place on the left, and you would be on the beach! I was getting glimpses of beautiful sea in my left window all the time.


I could see such views in my left window:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02925.jpg


I pulled over at a spot where I saw a lot of empty space:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02920.jpg


This spot is called "Malgund Beach", and this government board there warned people against going into the unsafe sea. It also asked them to take care of themselves and others, and to keep the area clean. And finally welcomed everyone to Konkan:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02921.jpg


I decided to continue a bit further, looking for an even better place. The road was very scenic and I was enjoying every bit of driving on it.

The scenic road from Malgund to Jaigad:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02927.jpg


And then found another spot which I loved:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02931.jpg


Views from my left window:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02926.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02933.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02934.jpg


One of my most favorite pictures from this drive:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02938.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02939.jpg


The clean and quiet beach:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02941.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02942.jpg


I felt I could spend hours just hanging around here:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02943.jpg


But then, as was a common pattern in this drive, suddenly the rain came out of nowhere, and I rushed back inside:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02955.jpg


And in less and one minute, the rain turned into a heavy downpour:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02950.jpg


The beach was now behind a wall of water of my window:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02954.jpg


I finally decided to continue. The beauty of Konkan is that any road you pick, however, small and simple, is scenic, like the road I was on now:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02930.jpg


On the right hand side of the road I saw this beautiful temple. Since I had read about this in another travelogue, I identified this as the Birla Ganesh Temple. Looked very nice and inviting, but I decided not to go inside since I still wanted to explore Jaigad Fort, and then a few more things later:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02965.jpg


When I was close to Jaigad, I reached a plateau, and the narrow road became fairly straight and flat running across the plateau, like this:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02959.jpg


A few minutes later, I reached Jaigad Fort.

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3.5: Scary moments at Jaigad Fort


When I reached Jaigad Fort, as was the norm in this drive, I found it to be completely deserted. There was not a single person in sight, nor a sign of any vehicle around. I had thought I would like to hire a guide. I parked near the entrance gate and looked around. Forget about a guide, I realized there was nobody.

In fact, the whole scene was so deserted, I was not even sure the fort was open. There was a gate, which was sort of left unattended but open. I went in a bit hesitantly. I can't say precisely why, but for some reason, entering such a big historic site all alone felt a bit scary. Entering through those historic doors and exploring what is behind those ancient walls in a deserted fort when you are literally the only human being in the entire area is not exactly my cup of tea, but I was there now and I would for sure not come back without experiencing this and exploring the fort.


The main entrance of the fort:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0623.jpg


I entered through this door:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02966.jpg


And then another one just after that:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02967.jpg


Which led me to the open courtyard in the middle:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02968.jpg


This is the middle courtyard. It had a couple of buildings and some lonely trees, apart from lots of grass:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02969.jpg


This building seemed to be the main building in the fort:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02971.jpg


Each such fort I visited in the past seemed to have one big lonely tree in the middle. The tree gives the landscape a unique characteristic, and tells lot of stories. It feels as if the tree has seen the history of the fort over centuries, and is now the sole guardian of all the secrets. I remember one such mystical ancient tree on Bekal fort on the coastline of Kerala. This particular tree here gave me the exact same feeling:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-jaigadtree.jpg


The walls around the fort:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02970.jpg


A small temple, and stairs to climb up the wall:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02973.jpg


View of the middle courtyard from the top of the wall:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02974.jpg


One of the scariest moments of this drive occurred right here on this fort, when I was walking across such grasslands. I was walking near the wall on a particularly grassy patch, and suddenly saw a snake just next to my right foot! It was about 4 feet long. It took me a second to register this, and another second to step back quickly. The snake also ran back and hid away in the grass. And then the fear gripped me. I realized how lucky I was to see the snake just in time, and to not actually step on it or go an inch closer to it. But now I was in the grass, and there could have been more snakes there. To make it worse, I was wearing sandals and not even proper shoes. I had no choice but to walk back across the entire grassy area praying that there were no other snakes.

After I got away from that and reached safe (what I thought was safe) area, I was still shaken, still thanking my stars for being safe, but still very scared. However, I had not seen the entire fort yet. I had not even seen the sea view from the top of the walls. I could not have just quit and gone back from there. So I gathered courage, and decided to walk back there and see the fort again. And I went back in again, but I was a lot more careful about not stepping on thick grass and just being extremely watchful of every step.

Actually snakes are not very rare in the lands of Konkan, and the sightings are common too. However, seeing a snake just next to my foot, so suddenly and unexpectedly, when I was all alone on a big fort left me shaken!

These grassy lands remind me of that snake:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02977.jpg


And this is the view of the sea from the top of the walls, that I gathered courage and went back for even after the snake scare:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02978.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02979.jpg


The wall itself looked beautiful from top:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02980.jpg


More views of the middle courtyard from the wall:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02981.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02982.jpg


My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02983.jpg


On other side was this river opening in the sea, and a small port nearby. My next destination was Velaneshwar, a small beach some 20km or so north of the river, and the shortest way to reach there was to cross this very river and this very point you can see in this picture:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02985.jpg

With no bridge in the site, how was I going to take Dusty and drive across the river? Well, read on...

Last edited by Dr.AD : 4th August 2016 at 14:03.
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Old 30th July 2016, 10:04   #15
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Default re: My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka


3.6: Crossing the river

The answer was that I would take a ferry! There is a ferry service between Jaigad and Tavsal (the place just across the river), which takes passengers as well as vehicles. This ferry is the shortest way to cross the river. As an alternative, if I wanted to take a detour through the nearest bridge, that was some 50km odd detour. Anyways, the ferry ride sounded like a fun, so I decided to take the ferry on my way forward, and then later take the detour and drive the longer way back.

Once I reach the other shore, I would go to Hedavi and Velaneshwar, two small coastal villages with beautiful beaches, keep driving on the coastal highway, and then reach the town of Guhagar, which is another coastal town.

I saw this board between Jaigad fort and the ferry point. The funny thing is that the board says Velaneshwar is 18km, but that is assuming you take the ferry. All these boards, maps, even Google maps, just assume that the ferry is normal part of the road, and just give the distances and times including the ferry ride:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02986.jpg


I first reached this spot looking for ferry, but this turned out to be the wrong spot:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02987.jpg


I saw a line of auto-rickshaws there. The rickshaws in Konkan have this purple colored hard top. Looks nice I thought:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02988.jpg


After asking around, I reached the right spot, which was just some 100m ahead. Someone warned me that if there are many vehicles already in queue, I may not get space in the ferry. This ferry is the common mode of transport for everyone there, including the state transport buses as well as private "luxury" buses. I guess when a bus comes in, it takes a lot of space. Luckily, there was only this small tempo in front of me, and I was just second. I took my spot in the queue:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02993.jpg


The ticket office. I quickly went and bought ticket for Dusty (mine was included in that ticket; one person -the driver - is included in a car ticket):
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02994.jpg


There was some sort of local market right next to the ticket office, and it was buzzing with activity:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02996.jpg


Dusty waiting in line for the ferry:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02998.jpg


This is the boarding point for the ferry:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc02999.jpg


There was still some time for the ferry, so I took a stroll around the local market:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03000.jpg


The fruits looked fresh and tempting:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03001.jpg


By now the tempo in front of the line had disappeared, and Dusty was in front of the line:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03004.jpg


Dusty eagerly waiting for the ferry at the end of the jetty:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03003.jpg


I spent some time looking around. I could see Jaigad fort in the distance, and zooming on it showed the same spot where I was just a while ago and from where I had taken a picture of this river:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03007.jpg


Pictures of the nearby port:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03009.jpg

My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03012.jpg


Some other travelers were there now waiting for the ferry, of which there was no sign yet:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03010.jpg


I was feeling a bit hungry, and it was lunchtime anyways. So to kill time as well as hunger, I thought of eating some fruits from the market. These fresh dates looked interesting, and this turned out to be my lunch that day:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc_0630.jpg


While eating my "lunch", I strolled around the ticket office. There were many interesting boards and signs. This one, which was actually an advertisement of some local tourist guide book, had an interesting map of Konkan area, all the way till Mumbai:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03015.jpg


This board listed ticket prices. Now this was interesting. It listed "an empty car with the driver" as Rs. 140, and an "empty luxury car with the driver" as Rs. 170. They had not defined what is a luxury car. When I went and asked for a ticket, the person there asked me my car model and make. Not satisfied with my answer (Maruti SX4 is a pretty unfamiliar name in general, I guess), he asked me to show the car. After a quick look at the car, he asked for Rs. 170. Man, I was so happy! He put my car in the luxury car category. I didn't care what that meant but it just felt good. This must be one of the rarest of rare occasions when a customer was made happy by charging him more:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03017.jpg


Next to it was this timetable of the ferry. It runs every hour, from 7AM till 10PM:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03018.jpg


An auto-rickshaw came in and stood behind Dusty in the line. So we have company after all:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03021.jpg


Far away in the river, I finally saw something coming towards us:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03023.jpg


Yes! This was the ferry I was waiting for:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03031.jpg


It came closer, carrying vehicles and people from the other shore. It looked like there was more crowd coming towards us than otherwise:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03036.jpg


The ferry came to the jetty and pretty quickly everybody disembarked. There was a Land Rover Discovery in that ferry. I did not expect to see a Land Rover there, but nice to see one:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03040.jpg


The vehicles came out quickly, and the ferry was empty and ready for us to board:
My monsoon solo: 2000 km & 7 days of wandering through Konkan, Goa and Western Karnataka-dsc03045.jpg


(Continued in next post...)

Last edited by Dr.AD : 4th August 2016 at 14:09.
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