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!