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Old 18th January 2010, 21:05   #1
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Cool The Beaches and the Ghats - Excursion on the year end...

Three friends decided to roam in a car and enjoy anything the roadside had to offer for a good four days.
Be it ghats, plains, beaches, jungles, whatever… the road was the destination.
No plans were made and no course was decided.


This is an effort to tell you what they did covering 1100 kms.
Here are a few pictures... details and more pics will follow.
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Old 19th January 2010, 13:16   #2
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The place seems to be sumwhere in Kokan...
Which is this place ??
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Old 19th January 2010, 17:39   #3
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The first few snaps are of Malvan and Devbag beaches, Sindhudurg fort and the last three pics are from Amboli...
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Old 22nd January 2010, 13:37   #4
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Good pics. Do write up the full travelogue with route taken, accomodation, etc.
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Old 22nd January 2010, 14:01   #5
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Amboli Ghat looks dull when visited not in monsoon.

However, when we were coming back from Goa last month at Xmas time, the fall in the Amboli ghat was still having water !
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Old 22nd January 2010, 15:25   #6
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Here is the travelogue...


The Eve:
The trio gathered at 10 PM and decided to travel towards Tarkarli beach passing thru Warandha ghat, seeing Konkan along the way. Rest of the itinerary was kept open. No hotel bookings were made hence a tent and sleeping bags were included in the luggage.

Day 1 (30-Dec-2009):
We set off at 7.30 AM from Pune in a Scorpio. With some packed snacks and lots of music, we were ready to spend the next 4 days on the roads.

After a halt on NH-4 to top up the diesel tank, we took the right turn towards Bhor. The road was narrow and pretty green. En route, the sight of Bhatghar dam was great. Surprisingly the water was still flowing from its gates. But the Neera-Devghar dam further down was awesome. The backwaters and the winding road around them was a real treat. With thin traffic and occasional rough stretches, the road was enjoyable too.

We drove further ahead and reached the top of Warandha ghat. The sight was breathtaking. And the vadapav-and-hot-tea treat at a roadside stall was mind blowing. Here we had a brief encounter with the monkeys. They seemed quite friendly with the tourists and were expecting, rather demanding, their share of foodstuff.

Winding roads of Warandha ghats were unfolding spectacular views one after the other. Maneuvering the famous u-turns and watching a ST Bus driver negotiating them inch-by-inch confidently was a real sight. The ghat road is wide allowing two small vehicles to cross each other easily. However the condition of the road is not good and one needs to drive carefully in lower gears.

The road meets NH-17 near Mahad and we took the left turn towards Poladpur. NH-17 is a well tarred, two lane road. There are no tolls. The traffic was not very thick and we were cruising at a comfortable speed of 100-110 kmph enjoying the sights of Konkan.

Kashedi ghat was at its best with good road and low traffic. We were soon in Khed and drove thru Lotyacha Mal to reach Parchuram Ghati by 1.00 PM. The view of Vasishthi river and the landscape was great and demanded that the cameras click. Some small red flowers made the roadside also pretty.

We crossed Chiplun feeling very hungry. But the search for a decent food joint on the highway tested our patience. As we reached close to Sangmeshwar, we found a good, clean hotel. The menu was quite exhaustive but we ordered pretty ‘safe’ items. The food pleased our taste buds and tummies. This is where we decided to move ahead via Sakharpa, joining NH-17 again near Lanja. A left turn on NH-17 in Sangmeshwar goes to Sakharpa via Devrukh. Sakharpa is at the base of Amba ghat on the Kolhapur – Ratnagiri highway. Mountains on all four sides of the village make it absolutely scenic.

The road from Sangmeshwar to Sakharpa was narrow, winding, but in a good condition. We could not increase the speed above 70 kmph, but the traffic was almost zero allowing us to cover the distance rapidly. En-route, we saw a sign board directing towards a farm, and recollecting that a close acquaintance was managing it, we took a detour on that small, semi finished road. After spending a few minutes with him and his family, we were back on the main road.

We reached Sakharpa in no time then and spent some time with a relative. He informed us of a road from Sakharpa connecting NH-17 at Vatul which would save some time and distance than the road leading to Lanja on NH-17. We resumed at 4.00 PM. Having covered 300 kms and having to cover another 175 kms in the next few hours, we decided to speed up a little.

We set on the route, initially thru small, winding internal roads. The travel was bliss. The tree cover on the road, and on small hills and in shallow valleys, was looking beautiful in the twilight. There were small villages, but pretty calm and quiet… the natives were probably already back home.

We reached Vatul and continued on NH-17 at a pace of 100 kmph. Soon the twilight was gone and the headlights were on. With a tea break at Kharepatan, we crossed Kankavli and reached Kasal. We took a right turn here and reached Malvan by 7.45 PM.

We had checked bookings at a few hotels on phone during the day while traveling. One new hotel, right on Malvan beach, had looked appealing on the website and they had a large AC room available. We grabbed it.

The 475 km travel had not tired us and the sight of the calm sea and a serene beach was indeed invigorating. We rushed to the sand. The tranquility was infectious captivating us in a trance. The near-full moon was an apt setting completing the scene.

After a good heart to heart, philosophical discussion over dinner, we retired for the day looking forward to the second day of Konkan Darshan.

Some Data:

Total distance covered on day 1: 475 kms
Time taken: From 7.30 AM to 7.30 PM with various stops en-route
Roads taken:
NH-4 from Pune to Bhor turn (4 lane pretty smooth toll road)
Bhor to Mahad via Varandh Ghat (small road, average condition; bad patches throughout)
Mahad to Sangameshwar on NH-17 (two lane road in good condition)
Sangameshwar to Sakharpa to Vatul (small road in good condition, very scenic)
Vatul to Kasal on NH-17 (two lane road in good condition)
Kasal to Malvan (small road in good condition)
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Old 22nd January 2010, 16:04   #7
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Nice beginning of an interesting travelogue. Looking forward to more pics and news from the sands of MH.
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Old 22nd January 2010, 17:00   #8
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Tarkarli is one of the best beach in Maharashtra.I ve been there in October. Unfortunately,couldn't explore more of it because of heavy downpour.But definitely a place to visit again..

Did u visit rock garden??
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Old 22nd January 2010, 18:01   #9
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Tarkarli is a good, clean beach. Devbag nearby is wonderful where you have the river meeting the sea.

I had limited time and could not visit the Rock Garden.
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Old 22nd January 2010, 18:26   #10
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Nice beginning. Hooked to it. All those beautiful places are in our list of must see places, so looking forward to rest of it.
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Old 23rd January 2010, 22:51   #11
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Day 2 (31-Dec-2009):
We woke up at about 7.30 AM to the sound of the waves and immediately went to the seashore. The calm sea was gleaming in the early morning sunlight. Some small boats had returned from their fishing trips and the catch was already carried to the market. The boats were now pulled on the sand and the fishermen were cleaning and inspecting their fishing nets on the beach. One large boat was being pushed to the sea from the shore. It was a mammoth collective exercise and a large group of people was busy in the activity.

Over the breakfast, we decided to take the day easy and to visit nearby beaches of Tarkarli and Devbag in the morning and Sindhudurg fort later in the evening. We got ready and set out on the narrow road passing thru the villages with houses on both the sides. Two cars would not pass on this road. And guess what… we encountered a ST bus coming from the opposite direction. Because of the driving skills of our team and the ST bus driver, the situation was resolved quickly. We were soon on Devbag back waters.

The spot was quite scenic. A large, clean creek with lush green hills on the backdrop. There were many boats in the area and the place also had a boating centre. But the activity was limited and the tranquility was undisturbed. There were a couple of good hotels right in front of this spot and we envied the tourists staying in there. We enquired for accommodation and were told it was available. Strangely, none of the hotels we went to in Malvan and the vicinity was fully booked during the year-end period. While that was good news for us, I was slightly unhappy because we could not use the tent that we had carried with us.

We went further down to Devbag Sangam, the spot where the creek meets the Arabian Sea. It’s a unique experience where you are standing on white, shining sand and see the creek on one side and the sea on the other. Actually you have water on all the three sides. A small tea and snacks stall serveed local food (Ghavan and Chatni) with local drinks (Kokam sherbet, et el ).

After spending some time at the beach, we went to MTDC at Tarkarli for lunch. The venue of their restaurant is just great - right on the beach, in the shadows of tall trees. Having food while watching and listing to the waves was an out of the world experience. The food was OK, but the location made it great.

We came back to the hotel from Tarkarli and left immediately for Sindhudurg fort. The hotel manager escorted us to the Malvan jetty from where we took a boat to go to the fort.

The boat ride to and fro the fort is pretty enjoyable and worth every penny. You see the fort on one side and the Malvan beach on the other. Big fishing trawlers are also moving around near the jetty. The ride is generally steady but it becomes jerky in some particular area. The sea is very shallow and rocky here hence the boat goes thru the predetermined route.

Sindhudurg fort was built by Shivaji Maharaj in 1664. A very elaborate and strong structure, it has three sweet water wells too. It has strong outer walls on all the sides and the only entrance to the fort is very well covered, rather camouflaged, so that the enemy cannot get to it easily. A 7 km long tunnel was built joining the fort and the land as an ‘emergency exit’. The fort boasts the only temple of Shivaji Maharaj and the idol is dressed as a fisherman. Impressions of hand and foot of Shivaji Maharaj are preserved on the fort.

The guide informed us that about 20 odd families stayed inside the fort and they had no means of transport in the monsoon and they become confined to the fort area. The school going kids had to make accommodation arrangements in Malvan during these 3-4 months of rains.

The sun was now closer to the horizon giving a great golden tint to everything. The fort, the sea and the seashore all started looking interestingly different. We had a great glimpse of the sunset while riding back to the jetty.

We reached the jetty at dusk. The jetty was busy with movements of people and boats, but it wasn’t like Churchgate station during rush hour in Mumbai. It was interesting seating there peacefully watching the hustle-bustle. It was end-of-business-day for many boats and they were being pulled out on the sand. Many trawlers were returning back from their trips. Interestingly, a large boat was getting ready with all the decoration and lighting for the new-year celebrations. We even saw a band, complete with their musical instruments, boarding the boat.

We too wanted to enjoy the New Year eve. On return to the hotel, we checked for the best restaurants in Malvan, and vroom… we were celebrating until early morning of 1st January.

Photos: (C) Milind
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