It had been a long standing desire of mine to do the iconic Mumbai - Goa Highway by car, wetted by our drive to Ganapatipule last year. I finally got an opportunity to do so a couple of weekends back, and a big Thanks to my wife for supporting me!
We started our drive at 6:30 AM on Friday. On crossing Panvel, we found out that a gas tanker had overturned near Karnala, necessitating a detour through Rasayani on the old Mumbai - Pune highway. That added 30 minutes. It was close to 8 by the time we crossed Nagothane. I encountered a bit of traffic, but as I rightly guessed, the traffic was all headed to Alibaug, and surrounding areas. As soon as we crossed Vadkhal Naka (the turn off to Alibaug), the traffic thinned out. And from then on, the drive was a dream. Being Mahashivratri, there was hardly any local traffic on the highway, and hardly any long distance travelers such as us.
We reached Chiplun at noon, halted for a chai, crossed Hathkkhamba (the turn off for Ratnagiri at 1:30), halted for refueling, and continued southwards, destination Goa. We were on the lookout for a decent place to halt for lunch, but we only found one at Kankavli. Neelam Countryside Resorts is strongly recommended for a break. The food was good, service friendly, and we refreshed ourselves with a game of carroms and table tennis!
The road narrowed after Kudal, and we had to slow down while crossing Sawantwaid, and entering Goa. As it was just around 6 when we entered Goa, we decided to head for Vagator beach to catch the sunset. Unfortunately, we encountered traffic at Margao, and just missed the sunset by the time we hit the sands at the base of Chapora fort. After a refreshing drink of coconut water, we reached our destination - my aunts' place in Bambolim - a little after 8 PM.
It was an extremely fulfilling drive, and strongly recommended for all road trippers!