Friday, March 09, 2007

Road Trip to Goa - Day 4

The next day, we headed for Tarkarli beach - 8 kms to the south of Malvan town. Again, the beach was nice, but not much better than Ganapatipule beach, as the guidebooks led us to believe. We had breakfast at the MTDC resort right on the beach. We then went back to malvan town, and took the boat across to Sindhudurg fort. The fort is expansive, with beautiful views back across the coconut tree fringed Malvan bay. At one corner of the fort was a small sandy cove, lapped by the crystal clear green waters of the Arabian sea. But the highlights of the fort are a temple dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj, and hand and foot prints of Shivaji himself.

We then did a bit of shopping for home cooked local Malvani stuff, before having lunch at the restaurant in the hotel we were staying. After lunch, we started our drive back - the time was 1:45 PM. The first part of the drive was along the Mumbai - Goa Highway, till Kharepatan.From Kharepatan, we turned right, off the National Highway to a State Highway headed towards Kolhapur. The road was narrow and twisting, but in reasonably good shape. We stopped for a chai at a small tea shop located on the side of a tree covered hill - was a nice experience. The time was 3:45 PM. We then hit a stretch of ghat, and as always, the Western Ghats was a beautiful sight to behold. Unfortunately, the condition of the road deteriorated as we neared Kolhapur. The traffic increased as well, consisting mainly of sugarcane laden bullock carts. We finally reached Kolhapur city at 5:45 PM, and had some snacks and coconut water on the banks of a lake.

We then drove through Kolhapur, trying to find our way to the Pune Highway. It took a fair bit of time, and it was close to 6:30 by the time we hit the phenomenal 6 lane Bangalore - Pune Highway. Mumbai was 385 kms away, Pune 220. By the time we stopped for dinner at 9:15 PM, we were about 30 kms short of Pune - an average speed of 70 kmph. We started our last stretch at 9:45 PM. A pleasant surprise was that the Katraj Ghat tunnel was operational (it wasn't the last time I passed this way, while driving from Varandhe ghat in October 2006). And what a tunnel it is! One can
easily forget that one is in India while driving along this stretch. We soon came to the Mumbai Pune expressway, and covered the distance of the expressway in 50 minutes! We reached Vashi by midnight, and home by 12:30. The average speed for this last stretch was 90 kmph!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Road Trip to Goa - Day 3

We left Bambolim after breakfast, headed for Vengurla in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra. Our objective was to check out some of the beaches in the South Konkan, before heading back for Mumbai via Kolhapur the next day.

We deviated off the main Mumbai - Goa highway before crossing into Maharashtra. Our first halt was at Mochemmad Beach. The access to the beach was through the village itself. The beach was completely empty, save for thousands of gulls right at the waters edge. Proof that humans rarely venture here. While the beach had clean sands, and water, it lacked shade where we could sit down to admire the view. It clearty did not measure up to the expectations I had, built up by whatever I had read about the beach.

We then headed for Vengurla town for lunch. Along the way, we saw a signboard for an MTDC Resort. We could not locate the resort on the first approach, and landed up at Vengurla town. We then backtracked and discovered that one cannot drive up to the resort, but had to park at the end of the road, and trek over a sand dune to reach the resort! On reaching the resort, we found that there was no accommodation to be had, as it was a long weekend on account of Shiv Jayanti. We also discovered, to our surprise, that this particular MTDC resort had no restaurant! We had lunch at a small restaurant at the place where we had parked the car. The lunch was homecooked, and quite delicious, though over priced (at Rs. 60 per fish thali).

After lunch, we checked out Sagareshwar beach. This was a nice stretch of clean golden sand, fringed by casuarina trees. The water was also clean, and inviting. We then decided to check out accommodation at Vengurla town itself. But as our guidebooks had mentioned, the hotels were very basic, though the location was awesome - overlooking Vengurla jetty, and the pristine stretch of sand marking Sagareshwar beach.

We then headed for Kudal, to check out accommodation there. And while it was definitely better than what we saw in Vengurla, it was a fair distance away from the sea, so we decided to hit Malvan town. We found decent accommodation right at the edge of Malvan beach - Hotel Sagar Kinara. We got a spacious room, overlooking the beach. We then strolled down the beach, taking in the sunset. We retired for the day after dinner in the room.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Road Trip to Goa - Day 2

We wanted to do nothing more than laze at a beach side shack. We debated between traveling to the far south (Palolem), but then decided to just check out the nearby Bambolim Beach. And the decision turned out to be just right. The beach met my expectations of the ideal beach. Clean golden coloured sand, fringed by swaying palm trees, and hills all around. So what if the water was not the clearest!

There were 2 shacks on the beach - one crowded with Indian tourists, and the other near empty. We obviously made it to the less crowded one (Bambo Bay). And had a delightful afternoon of beer, and delicious sea food. We then lazed under the beach umbrellas, and had an evening juice before heading back home.

For dinner, we headed to Sinquerrim, and 'Sweet Chilly'. There was a live band playing, and we had a nice dinner under the open skies. Thus ended a relaxing day in Goa.