There are times when one loses oneself to the daily rigmarole, the daily routine. Life seems like a static camera roll written over and over again. It needed a rejig. Needed to break the routine and do sometime I had only imagined, only read, only heard. But it had to be done.
Left my job. Left my life behind. Maybe not forever, but for 16-days it was living a life far beyond my imagination.
Did not plan anything except to start from my home in Mumbai at 5AM in the morning and ride till wherever I could before I felt tired and had to stop for a nap!
The adventure began mid-July on a motorcycle, 4 luggage bags, 1 man, 1 soul, 1 dream – Ride to the Himalayas.
Not having a plan or a partner was perhaps the best thing about this trip. Do anything, stop anywhere, go anywhere, stay anywhere – it didn’t bother me. But it did intrigue others.
The trip was made memorable thanks to the many people I met on the road. From being offered cups of tea, to a free room and even butter chicken it was the awe and confusion most people expressed at my desire to ride 5100 kms, alone, on a motorcycle. What I really wanted was to be with myself. What I really wanted was to ride to a place where only few had conquered. What I got….was a humbling experience. To ride in the Himalayas is a truly awe-inspiring experience. But it does humble you. It teaches you a thing or two about yourself. It calms you down. It makes you a different person, a better person. It humbles you like nothing else can.
Riding across 6 states, day and night, covering 5100 kms – started off as one-off journey but ended up being something special.
The journey started off as trip to a destination but the journey itself reverberates in my mind. I remember the roads – good or bad – I remember the people, amazing at heart and quick to help without a second thought – I remember the grand views but what I cherish the most is how I felt after I came back home.
Humbled and satisfied but hungry for more.
Been sometime now since I got my CBR250R and well I am totally loving the experience. It was a 5 year dream to own a 250cc sports touring motorcycle and it finally culminated with me owning the Honda CBR250R. Initial hick ups aside, the bike is what I have always wanted. And the dream to tour on the motorcycle was no longer a figment of my imagination. It was a reality.
Fast forward to September 2011 when it struck me that a 4-day long leave was on the anvil from 6th – 9th October. Having asked around, Konkan was finalised along with routes and destinations. But going solo isn’t my cup of tea, not yet. The trip held promise but not until a gentleman named Jason Bourne (ok added the Borne for cinematic purposes!) showed up and told me about his Mount Abu plan. Now this became my plan. Quite a turn around this but as it turned out it was one of the best trips I have ever done!
So we headed out precisely at 5:45AM from Dahisar check naka to our destination Mount Abu on 6th October. Have never ridden on NH8 this early and the fog was just so mesmerizing. It was a dream world and I slowed down to enjoy riding in the fog as long as I can! It was eerie though sometimes as all I could see was a faint glimmer of a vehicle, mostly a truck, in front of me. We didn’t stop to take pictures here which was perhaps our greatest mistake during the entire trip!
We had decided to halt at 10AM for breakfast. But the sign boards kept egging me on to ride more. We reached Manor. Decided to halt at Charoti. Reached Charoti, decided to stop for breakfast somewhere at the border of Gujarat. This game continued and I realised later how much my partner, who was on a ZMA-R, loathed this idea of riding till hell breaks loose. And ride we did. Reached Ahmedabad in 7 hours flat. Now we had to stop. Made the mistake of going into the city thus we lost precious time negotiating the traffic and in turn, getting lost! Finally found a way out and we were out of Ahmedabad and the first hotel we saw, we stopped for lunch.
Now the roads from Mumbai to Manor are average and get better up till Charoti Naka beyond which the roads are a 6-lane bliss all the way till Vadodara. It was a pleasure cruising at 120kmph effortlessly! The two-lane NH8 from Baroda t0 Amdavad is a thorough disappointment. We did cover it in good time but a 4-laned highway would have been so much nicer! The expressway next to us didn’t help as cars zooming past was a sore sight!
Jason, by now, was not only famished but also didn’t like the idea of riding with me. I prefer to keep riding while his style is to stop, relax, ride – in that order! Two conflicting riding styles but one thing for certain was that we covered a good distance in good time! Now it was time for lunch and we hogged on some vegetarian food – paneer and mushrooms! Meal was good and the price wasn’t much which was great as throughout the trip, I was going to be spending a lot of money on fuel!
Left from here at around 2:30PM and next halt for us was Himatnagar. A heavy lunch reduced our speeds drastically and we took our sweet time to reach Himatnagar. Just 80kms away, but we reached there in around 1.5 hours! From here on, we were cruising leisurely taking stops regularly to keep ourselves hydrated. So while the first half of the journey today was according to my style, the second half was according to Jason’s so that everybody is happy! I must say that really awesome roads helped cover distances quickly and at the same time, allowed us to drive leisurely whenever we pleased to!
At one point on the Major District Road 49, we stopped for a good 45 minutes to just chill. From here on, Mount Abu was still a good 150 kms away and we realised we had driven pretty darn slowly. Picked up pace and we were off again! Stopped finally at around 20 kms before Abu Road to confirm directions. Finally reached Abu Road by 7PM. Spent the next one hour searching for a hotel. We found a few cheap ones, but bike parking was an issue and I did not want to park the CBR on the road especially in Abu Road where everyone was hankering over to have a glimpse of the bike!
Finally found a hotel – Hotel Durga – got a room for Rs.800 and called in a night! We realised we were tired the moment we hit the sack! Day 2 was going to be full of fun and we were already looking forward to going to Mount Abu early in the morning.
The route taken on Day 1 is here.
Its been sometime now since my visit to Bhandardara so finally decided to write about my wonderful experiences on this trip. Bhandardara is a hill station in Maharashtra and more information about this place can be found at Wikipedia.
Our journey started from Mumbai where we boarded a AC bus to Igatpuri.From Igatpuri we had to board a ST bus (Maharashtra State Transport) to bhandardara. Igatpuri is a busy destination for buses and trains alike so we could book a bus last-minute without any hassles. Before boarding the bus at Mumbai (from Kalanagar), we had dinner at Maharaja, a chain of restaurants and bars. The food here is excellent though the price is on the higher side. We had a relatively heavy dinner as we were under the impression that we will reach Igatpuri at 5 PM but instead reached at 3PM!. We reached within four hours and were left in the middle of nowhere it seemed. A quick walk to a petrol pump nearby and the people working there assured us that we were in Igatpuri. Phew!
We were stranded in the middle of no where (well, technically we were in Igatpuri), far away from home, searching for the ST Bus depot. It was a long way off but we reached their eventually. Passed by the Igatpuri train station and it seemed that if we planned in advance, we could have traveled by train as the ST bus stand is close by.
It was bone chilling cold but at least we weren’t tired walking. Once at the ST Stand, we were informed that the first bus will leave at 5 AM. So we had one hour to kill. Most of that time was spent gazing at the gazillion stars which are hardly visibly in Mumbai! Sigh, the pollution. The night sky was dreamy but we were tired and needed some warmth so went inside the bus depot, which with its hard, warm granite ledges, was as cozy as it could get!
The bus finally arrived but it had a punctured tyre so that took another 20 minutes and we were on the way to Bhandardara. Had heard that the road from Igatpuri is excellent and the view is even better but my body finally realised it was way to tired and I dozed off, missing most of the scenery in the process! Though in my drowsy state did realise that the road to Bhandardara is full of curves and would make for a perfect early morning bike ride.
We were finally there at Bhandardara. The bus dropped us near the entrance of the complex where most of the hotels are located. There is a ‘Cafe Dam Corner’, a Tea and Vada Pav stall, whose owner, Sanjay, was very helpful in giving us information on places to stay and things to do in Bhandardara. His tea, vada pav and bhaji are excellent by the way and he was our de facto breakfast/snack stop during our entire trip.
We then headed to our hotel Amruteshwar (named after the Amriteshwar Temple), which is a couple of minutes walking distance from Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). MTDC has the best view of the lake, especially the MTDC Cottages. However, we were unable to get rooms there as the rooms or guest houses had to be booked around a month in advance!
Anyways, we proceeded to our quarters but stopped a few times marveling at the scenery. MTDC seemed to have the best view but Amruteshwar too held its own with a great view of the valley. We were taken aback and choose to spend sometime out in the open marveling at the scenery even though we were very very tired!
We freshened up, book transportation and were on our way for sight-seeing. Off course, we had breakfast as well, a more detailed account of which can be found here. We visited the Umbrella Falls, which is actually a water outlet for the Wilson Dam. The dam is at a height of 150m and is the largest earthen dam in the country and one of the oldest in Asia.
The dam itself is visible from Bhandardara but a closer look provides a better view. At the base of the dam is a tranquil garden with streams and trees and makes for a peaceful environment. The water is pristine and the riverbed is clearly visible.
We went closer to the water outlets, where fruit bats were resting high on the trees,. They were harmless and we continued to get closer to the waterfalls. Man made maybe, but it was a gorgeous sight. The waterfall created mist kept the surroundings wet and moist all throughout the day.
The sun was above us but the trees and the waterfall kept us cool and with the fruit bats keeping a watchful eye on us, nothing could go wrong! It was clearly one of the prettiest sights we had come across in a long while. To see such clear water and breathe such pure air was an unique experience for people like us who live in the stale concrete jungle known as Mumbai!
Our next stop was Randha Falls, the third highest falls in India. Being close to summer season, the river had dried up quite a lot and the waterfall was just a fraction of what it is supposed to be. This was in February, so in the current heat, the waterfall may just be a trickle.While we went in February, the best time to visit Bhandardara to witness the true marvel of Randha falls would be during the monsoons. It was the middle of afternoon and we left soon after the mundane photo clicking session.
We returned back to our rooms and headed to MTDC for lunch. The food here strictly ok though they do serve a lot of Shrikhand! Lunch followed a couple of hours of lazying around and then we headed out for another trip around the Arthur Lake which is formed by the dammed up river of Pravara. The lake is a reservoir to the Wilson Dam and was formed way back in the year of 1910! Now that makes it a historic sight. There is also an ancient legend attached to the river. World66.com states the following about the ancient legend – ‘…Legend has it that Shri Agastya Rishi meditated continuously for a year, living only on water and air. Pleased with his tremendous devotion the Lord came down to earth, blessed him and left leaving behind a stream of Ganga – now known as Pravara River’.
While on this round trip, we came across many dried up waterfalls and figured that in the rains Bhandardara would be as close to heaven as one can get! Streams and waterfalls line the entire lake and what was now barren rock would be transformed into lush greenery where the big cats will come out to play.Yes, there are leopards here and panthers too! Jungle Book anyone?
Anyways without digressing, Bhandardara is indeed scenic though we were greeted by dried up water falls, lower water levels and barren rocks for most of our journey. We came across an old temple while on the way to the sunset point. Couldn’t get time to step out and take more pictures. It was an intricate temple and seemed like the holy place of worship was deserted!
The point offers a panoramic view of the surroundings including a Dam nearby. What was interesting was that the sunset point is located close to small forest which has a high population of panthers, as told to us by our guide. We shuddered at the thought of seeing one but thankfully (or sadly) we didn’t spot any. I did manage to spot an eagle which had made its nest high up on the cliffs. Ah! reminded me of the Discovery Channel footage!! Waited for sometime for the Eagle to return back to its nest, but it didn’t, I probably scared it!
Darkness crept quickly and it was time to leave. We headed straight for dinner after our mini excursion. It was a tiring day and all of us were awake for more than 24 hours and once back in the room, we dozed off quickly! The morning of next day provided us with some more exceptional views of the valley.
We were lucky to catch a glimpse of Mount Kalsubai, the highest peak in Maharashtra. The view from the peak is awesome though we were unfortunate to have not visited the peak on this trip, maybe next time for sure!
We stopped for lunch at Igatpuri. The place, Manas Resort, is a lifestyle resort providing a holistic experience. Naturally, the restaurant was expensive but the food was good. We had the chicken biryani which was like a Hyderabadi biryani though the same wasn’t explicitly mentioned. Overall a good meal. Soon after lunch, we boarded our bus and were back to the same old hectic life (ghissi piti life) in Mumbai.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience at Bhandaradara, one I am looking forward to for a pre-planned monsoon trip!
My uncle had been to Bhandardara a few months before we went and he scaled Mount Kalsubai. Below are some of the pictures he clicked.
There is something about a beach. The sound of the waves crashing, the touch of sand and the chills of the cold seawater on bare feet is but a generalization of an experience one can have on a beach. Yet it is amazing how each of these experiences is unique.
Over the last four months I stepped foot on more than 20 different beaches across Maharashtra and Goa. It is not an achievement I brag about (Well maybe I do ) but it is the experience that I treasure. Some of these visits seemed mundane while others were pure bliss. After all what is a visit to a beach if it does not enrich your soul, calm your mind and clear your head?
It all began with a trip to Kashid and Murud beaches which are ahead of Alibaug. Regarded as one of the prettiest beaches in all of Maharashtra, Kashid was one place I was eager to go. White sands and calm and cool waters was what I expected and it is what I got, or rather, experienced. A blog post about the trip to Kashid and Murud is up here.
But little did I know, that this little trip will set in motion a chain of events that would lead me to the point of penning down my experience of many more beaches, some of them pristine, untouched paradises!
The long-deserted stretch of the Diveagar beach won me over while the more famous Harihareshwar was only a small visit for the sake of proof through photographs for I was too eager to head back to my new found solitude at Diveagar. Harihareshwar though is an excellent beach with the waters calm all throughout the year!
Then, after a lull, came Goa. This party destination is the destination of choice to spend my new years eve. Unless I find another beach destination with lesser people and same old Trance/Techno/House/Electro music, Goa will continue to remain my preferred destination to ring in the new year. But this is not the only reason why Goa is a preferred destination.
For one, I am in love with Goan beaches and can never get enough of them. Secondly, beaches have a calming effect and no where but in Goa am I at peace within.
Be it basking in the sun on Calangute, or having dinner at Souza Lobo at Baga, or light snacks at Bob Marley Shack at Candolim, Goan beaches offer a lot more than sun, sand and booze and apparently great sights too .
Chill on every beach and enjoy the unique beauty was my moto on this trip. Offcourse, like a dog, I left my imprint on each beach I visited. The massive early morning waves at Calangute are not to be missed while the serene waters of Colva and the unpolluted ocean at Palolem is as close to heaven as any living mortal can get.
Anjuna has its own charm as well. The erstwhile rave capital of Goa still thrives just like any other beach. Tall cliffs that overlook the ocean make for a perfect sunset point. Baga, on the other hand, is dotted with clubs and discs and shacks that go on all night, but it is Anjuna where the real parties happen. It is not just the parties, the coarse Anjuna sand and the strong water currents are an attraction of their own.
But really, the most fun is the long stretch starting from Baga and ending at Taj Aguada. Different sands and a different colour of the sea every few 100 meters is a sight that greets one. It is like a beach buffet – every delicacy is there – choose the one you want! Speaking of delicacies, one should try out the Bob Marley’s Shack at Candolim. They serve good Vindaloo and excellent Veg Pakodas. It is also located in one of the less crowded parts of Candolim, partly due to the anchored ship there, which apparently no one wants to take responsibility for. Then there is X-Bar Restaurant at Calangute which serves good biryani and good food in general. Another is Manik which serves good Hukka too and has excellent chicken tikka! It is located just ahead of X-Bar on the road that leads to Baga Beach.
Moving away from the more commercialized yet very pretty north Goa beaches, we checked out the long deserted stretch of Colva. The day we went, there was a strike by the locals forcing us to take the longer, prettier road to the beach. Once there, didn’t feel like leaving.
A beach with so few people on it – surely this cannot be Goa in December. But it turned out that the strike was in part responsible for the desolation that was Colva. Anglers’ beach primarily, this is where many locals come as do the tourists.
The prettiest beach in all of Goa and by far the prettiest I have stepped foot on, Palolem was as enchanting as they come. A round cape, rocks and boulders mark the edges on either side. While the beach is pretty, it is the southern tip, which caught my attention. A natural pool by the sea, it was a pretty sight.
So much so that I chose to spend time sitting on the rocks there gazing out to the endless sea as if there was no tomorrow. A quick lunch at Chascaa was preceded by a long walk.
Amazed by the beauty, I felt sorry for the beach wondering how much pollution the resulting commercialization must be causing. But it was a clean beach suggesting that shack owners could be responsible for preserving its beauty.
Goa has so much more besides beaches. There is Fort Aguada with its majestic Lighthouse and the panoramic view of the Arabian Sea.
Then there is the Anjuna Flea Market which is probably the biggest I have seen so far. Excellent place to buy gifts and everyday items at throw away prices. Offcourse, one would need to bargain hard to get those throw away prices in the first place!
Palolem was my last beach visit in Goa. However, beach hopping did not end there. It continued with frequent visits to beaches across Mumbai and Maharashtra. I have penned down my subsequent travelogues in the following posts:
Had a chance not to long ago to visit Kelwa beach. A free weekend meant I could laze on the sand at a beach nearby while clicking some pictures for memories sake. Instead of the rush and dash to visit many beaches, this time there was only one. Apparently, the Queen of the Beaches in the Virar-Vasai belt, Kelwa is located near Saphale railway station and is easily accessible by rail or road.
Had planned this trip earlier but due to lack of time couldn’t really free myself for this trip. But this weekend I finally managed to ride all the way to Kelwa. Taking the Western Express Highway, one can drive down to Manor or take a l from Saphale. The Mumbai-Saphale Link Road is supposedly more scenic but we missed it and instead had to take the left from Manor.
Going through an industrial town early in the morning wasn’t what we had hoped for but it helped us reach the beach in quick time. Once there, we were greeted by an empty patch of sand that stretched for more than a mile on either side. A long and pretty beach is Kelwa but for some reason the far end of the beach looked visibly prettier even as it was hazy in the morning!
There is a small outpost (people call it fort) on the left end of the beach while on the right end is a dam. We did not have time to check out the entire beach but it was still fun walking the long stretch to the outpost.
The outpost needs to be climbed up on and only those who dared were successful. We on the other hand, were happy to lay besides the calm sea with the water gently caressing our feet. While sitting on the beach, we noticed a lot of crabs dancing around from one hole to the other. They got accustomed to our prolonged presence and did not seemed to mind us sitting there – they would go around us to reach their destination!
As the day progressed the crowds only got bigger. Conclusions were drawn. Kelwa is the Juhu Beach of the far-flung suburbs! There are quite a few stalls there selling cold drinks, nimboo pani and small biscuits and tea. So refreshments are easily available. Though behind the trees, there is market where the choice of the sellers is dried fish, lots of it! Probably a fish market more than anything else but it is kinda nice to see fishermen and women selling fish though would have loved to see some freshly caught ones.
There are horse rides available from the entrance to the fort and back though a walk on the beach wouldn’t do any damage. It is a pretty beach no doubt, and for my next trip I plan to check out the other end of the beach which looked deserted.
We rode back home in the afternoon and stopped at Vitthal Kamat at Manor for lunch and then back home via. NH8.
The previous weekends and trips were planned, to an extent, and so was this particular trip. Decided to check out some beaches close to Mumbai this time as opposed to going out-of-town for beachasms (a term I coined for ‘pleasures attained whilst visiting beaches’ – to be understood spiritually!). Had heard and read about Uttan and Manori. Hence, decided to out for myself, these beaches that were so close to Mumbai (Infact, they are in Mumbai!)
But, before that, I had to go to Ulhas River and capture the sun rise.
The sight of the sun shining over the waters with the fishing boats seemingly after the sun as a marker for their next destination is a picturesque moment that I had waited to capture all this while! Had planned a trip to the Ghodbunder Fort as well but the Republic Celebrations were in full swing and had to postpone the plan for a later day. From Ghodbunder we then moved to Uttan beach. However, for some inexplicable reason, we ended up at Pali Beach, ahead of Uttan. I guess the mistake we did was to ask people about ‘the beach’ and not ‘Uttan Beach’.
The beach isn’t must to talk about though the jumping fish kept us intrigued for some time.
There is the Pali Beach Resort opposite this place and ahead is a small cliff from where a panoramic view of Pali and Uttan areas is visible.
Pali is great place to go to see locals in action or locals just lazing around watching the sunset. The road along the beach keeps going north. Not sure where it goes to but it didn’t seem to end so we turned back.
This time we decided to go to Manori (with Uttan already forgotten about!). On the way we took to off-roading and landed up at Gorai beach.
Though a little unnerving at times, the route landed us right on the far end of Gorai. But since we had planned a trip to Manori, we rode across the beach onto the road and back on the trail for Manori.
Clear waters, lots of sea shells, wonderful sad and lime juice on the beach was just so heavenly! It is amazing that not far from Manori lies Juhu beach, one of the most polluted beaches in the whole of Maharashtra, and here at Manori, the water is clear!
It is a shame though that the beach is so small, for it gets crowded quickly. But what the heck, everyone’s here to have a good time. Manori too, like Gorai, has many resorts around its periphery and most people on the beach were living at these resorts over a long weekend.
There is a certain section of the beach with many sea shells which look, in the scheme of things, akin to gravel being placed on the road – dangerous often but easy to avoid. No dangers here though, only pretty shells. Though some of them did contain hermit shells as we soon figured it out!
It was a low tide while we were at Manori and the receding waters left behind a rocky terrain, something that I am quickly getting accustomed to! It was revealed to us but the receding waters, a couple of pools were made around Manori for people to enjoy the beach and stay cool in the waters the entire day (how thoughtful!).
A long day at the beach made us hungry and since Rock Chic was paying, we decided to eat at a place of Rock Chic’s choosing! Had lunch at Pixxy Resort (whose directions we had followed earlier in the day for our off-roading experience).
While chilling out and unwinding at the resort, we reflected back at the day well spent! Though it went horrible wrong early in the morning with the Fort visit still pending and the trip to Uttan being an epic fhail, it was still a successful day with both thoroughly enjoying the trip nonetheless. Even with all the travelling in the day, it felt like a lazy day. Coupled with lazy service, it just made us plain lethargic! The day finally ended when we, grudgingly, called for the bill, paid the money, and headed back home!
A visit to a pretty beach was what made our day. Just sitting and idling around was fun and for a change we happened to have the time to do that!
With this I end my three part ‘Beach Hopping Series’. If you guys come across any more beaches worth the visit, please to post in the comments! Trance Dude shall check it out!
Trance dude (TD, Me) thought of dividing part two and one into separate regions than talk about a few beaches here and there. I planned most of the visits in a similar manner as well with this part talking about his visit to Alibaug and its pretty beaches.
Alibaug happened more because of an adrenaline rush to just get up and go somewhere on a lazy Saturday. Though the initial plan was to chill at Kihim beach, the hyperactive puppy that I am, couldn’t resist checking out three more beaches in the same day!
I had my partners in crime, Rock Chic and Lord Chicken (come to think of it, they are my best travel buddies!) to go with me on this planned (or unplanned) journey. We got up pretty early on a Saturday to catch the 6:00 AM ferry from Ferry Warf in Mazgaon Dock. This is the first ferry from Mumbai to Alibaug and we were fortunate to catch the ferry as it was about to undock itself from the dockyard. Phew!
So, in the cold winter morning, we set sail to the distant land of gardens and flowers (or at least that is what I think ‘Alibaug’ stands for). A one and a half our boat journey does cut down on the long road trip and for unfit guys like me, it helps to enjoy the place more than the ride! Anyways, the early morning chill did not dampen our spirits and we began clicking pictures of anything we got hold of – seagulls, mountains, the sea!, anglers and the ferry itself! It is a pretty boat ride and I will recommend it to anyone wanting to go to Alibaug from Mumbai.
By the time we reached the other end, Rewas Jetty, the sun was already out but it was still cold. Since we were at Rewas and Mandwa isn’t far away, we changed our plans and headed out to Mandwa before going to Kihim.
The beach itself is next to the Mandwa Jetty, which divides the beach into two parts. On either side you have adventure sports activities though the side on the left is far better for the usual beach relaxation.
It is a pretty beach with calm waves inviting you to just sit there and watch the birds (and I mean seagulls) go about their daily chores. An hour spent at Mandwa in the cold sea with hot tea was an awesome early morning experience for me personally!
After Mandwa, we headed off to Kihim. Kihim too is two-faced, with a rocky side one on end and a plain old beach at the other. The entire length though is dotted with private bungalows. I envy these folks with such exotic views day in day out!
Kihim is a pretty beach though the rocky end is pretty deserted. This is where we spent most of our time watching the anglers and women go about their daily chores. What surprised us was how close they were to the shore while fishing. It seemed hard work but the rewards made it worth the effort!
We moved to the more crowded part of the beach but there was room for 1000’s of people there and we were just three! It was a low tide and anyone could walk quite a distance into the sea. Got into my shorts so that I could go in a bit deeper (still do not know how to swim, shame shame!) while the rest were busy clicking pictures.
It was only 11:30 AM and we were already tired and hungry. Said good-bye to Kihim beach and made our way to Alibaug. Had lunch at Hotel Fulora and then asked for directions to Alibaug Beach. This is the main beach of the city. A well-developed promenade, seating space, organised boat tours, vehicle parking was all there – reminiscent of Juhu beach (minus the boat tours!). We walked around looking for shade yet found none. The blazing sun beat down on us mercilessly but it was 2:00 PM so quite expected was this treatment of thee mortal souls at the hands of the all-powerful sun god (A bit too much eh? Nah! I am just getting started).
The Alibaug Fort is only a short boat ride away (or a short walk during low tides) and is a must visit if one is in Alibaug. As for us, our purpose was different (and besides the heat didn’t help either). We spent some time at Alibaug and later moved on to our destination.
Asked around, got lost, asked around again, got lost, asked around yet again and finally got the route! It was the last beach for the trip and my oh my, wasn’t it just worth the wait! A magnificent beach, it reminded me of Diveagar. A beach just ahead of Kihim (in fact there is an inner dirt road that goes here from Kihim). Oh yes! Trance Dude speaks about Awas, a place, for which, he has already made some special plans.
Awas is in fact like a copy of Diveagar with a creek on either end where anglers can be seen laboring throughout the day. A deserted beach, we shared this long stretch of sand with another group of around 15 people who were busy playing cricket.
It is hard to describe how pretty I found Awas in its raw state. Yes the beach needs cleaning up, Yes the sand isn’t as fine as in Goa, Yes there are way too many crabs for my liking but nothing was going to stop me from falling in love with Awas. Took a long walk on the beach and was quite surprised to see three different types of sands as well as a clear (clearer in fact) patch of sea in the middle of the otherwise muddy waters. Don’t get me wrong, the water was quite clear, just that the sand seemed loose for most of the stretch resulting in the ‘muddy looking water’.
It is a perfect beach for a long lazy day with your friends. We were here for around 3 hours and didn’t see as many people come even as the sunset neared. Sadly, had to get back to Rewas Jetty for the 6 PM ferry back home and hence caught the sunset whilst on the ferry and not the beach. But there are no regrets, for I found for myself a damn good beach. (Maybe I shouldn’t be posting here in the first place, the lesser people know about it the cleaner it stays!).
Anyhoo, that was the end of the second part. Four beaches visited in one day didn’t tire me out. Maybe, I am made for em’ beaches afterall! I will leave you with some more pictures I clicked from my faithful Panasonic FZ5, the grand daddy of the FZ Series!
Trance dude doesn’t quite remember when he went to Gorai beach but it sure was a long time ago! So TD (short for trance dude) and Rock Chic (RC) rode on TD’s pulsar on a hot Saturday afternoon towards the beach. But before that, the plan was to go the Global Pagoda at Esselworld, Gorai. The Pagoda, an immense structure in the suburbs of Mumbai, is one of a kind in South East Asia. Dedicated to Buddhism this imposing building is still under construction but does not fail to charm the onlookers with its golden colours and massive dome.
Even the smaller one is immense and is a replica of the bigger Pagoda. intricate carvings on the Door and sayings of Gautam Buddha are abound in these Pagodas. There is also an exhibition on the life of Gautam Buddha. It is an intriguing one to say the least. A beautiful portrayal of Buddha’s life right from the his childhood to his enlightenment. A word of advice though: Start from the left as we made the mistake of starting from the right side of the room and saw his life backwards. Come to think of it, it was quite cool!!
There is a video session as well which shows why the Pagoda is being constructed, how, donations received and purpose in the grander scheme of things. Lastly one can buy books and small items like fridge magnets (Trance dude loves fridge magnets and he bought one for himself).
The imposing pagoda is in the same complex as Essel World but we decided to hit the beach after a tiring walk around the structure. The nearest beach is Gorai and this is where we went. The beach is one of the prettiest along the Mumbai shoreline. The best part about the beach is that we can drive on in for most parts.
The pretty beach also has a few shacks and many private bungalows and resorts throughout the stretch. The grey colour sand does not please everyone but it wasn’t a problem for us. We actually liked this beach especially Rock Chic, for whom the beach is the best she has ever visited (doesn’t matter if Miramar in Goa is prettier but Gorai is the prettiest she says).
We even ate at the shack, Raju Koliwada, which is the closest one can get to experiencing Goa. Off course, still cannot sit on the beach and drink beer, a real shame though. Anyways lunch was good and we continued checking out the beach. Riding on the beach made us lazy and I cannot remember walking on the Gorai sand! A low tide helped in bringing the bike right up till the waves which was an experience I will never forget. Imagine splashing sea water all over as you ride from one end of the beach to another!
Not to forget the pretty treeline as far as the eyes can see. The beach grew more beautiful for Trance Dude as he spent more time on Gorai. And while there, we decided to stay back for the sunset as well. The evening lights brighten up the skies as if they are on fire. A shade of orange engulfs the sea and the sand and everything around them. It is such a pretty sight that I may never get enough of it, ever!
It was my first time to Gorai but most definitely not the last. A pretty beach like this tends to get crowded on holidays so planning ahead may help one avoid the crowds. It was lovely experience on the beach and for once a beach visit in Mumbai was a pleasant one!
Aarey Colony is the place where I go for my jogs. Ok Ok. Walks! Anyways, took my camera along on Sunday to click some pictures.
Below is the Oberoi Complex. It would be one awesome view from the top floor of the building. Imagine the green expanse between you and the horizon. Bliss!
One of the many tree lined paths out there.
Another one…if you are wondering what the brown spots are, well that is dried cow dung!
And another one…
Well this is one of the smaller ones
A Tree that makes you go round and round and round
Money plant covered Streelight
Damn! public transport reaches here as well!
The sunset, hidden by the bushes
The final moment before the sun disappears to rise again, another day
On the way….the morning clouds at Palm Beach Road, Navi Mumbai
The beautiful NH17
One of the many curves on the way to Diveagar
The View from our cottage, Vrindavan
Nature at work…or should I say Big Red Ants at work
A beautiful path to…..
a beautiful beach, Diveagar Beach
The Creek at Diveagar Beach
An old tree trunk, Don’t know for how long its been here!
Sunset at Harihareshwar Beach
Catching up at night at MTDC Resort
Sunrise at Diveagar Beach
Ripples in the sand, almost looks like I am in a desert!
The Road back home!
It is been a see-all-the-beaches-you-can-while-you-can for the last few weekends and this weekend was no different. A 2-day trip to Diveagar was planned for the Diwali weekend of 17th and 18th October 2009. Planned by a colleague, Daniel, I tagged along with another colleague Neville and Daniel’s cousin Rohit and common friend Nilu. We met at 7 in the morning at Sion Station and headed out towards Vashi. From there we went to Panvel and took the Mumbai-Goa Highway (NH17). For most part of our journey we were on NH17 which is a pleasant ride! Finally after reaching Mangaon we took a right turn to go to Diveagar, the place where a 1000 year old full-gold statue of Lord Ganesha was found!. Below is the road map of the route (Source: Google Images) we took to reach Diveagar.
We took 5 hours to reach Diveagar which was good time covered considering we took a couple of wrong turns, stopped for breakfast and stopped a few times to ask for directions! We booked a room at a cottage run by a family which, incidentally, is also a Hindustan Petroleum (HP) gas dealer. The name is Vrindavan but asking for ‘HP Gas Dealer’ works better .
Interesting here to note is that if a ferry ride can be availed from Murud to Dighi then Diveagar is only a short distance from Mumbai and not the 200 Kms that we covered! A quick search led me to some forums which state that ferries can be transported from Murud to Dighi. So its quite possible to do a one-day trip to this serene beach.
After reaching the cottage, we freshened up and went for lunch at Prathamesh Holiday Resort which only serves fish in Non-Veg Thali and Watana in Veg. The food though, is nothing to complain about. The Surmai Fry and Surmai Masala were really delicious albeit a little too spicy for my liking. Per Thali costs came to INR 140 which is cheap considering the amount and quality of fish served! A point to add here is that, it is better to speak in Marathi or they might not understand the order correctly even though it is a simple menu!
The delicious lunch was followed by a trip to Diveagar beach, which at 3 PM, and rightly so since it was quite hot, was deserted with only the Migratory Seagulls sharing this long beach with us! The beach is clean and one of the most picturesque places I have seen so far! One has to go through a dense cover of coconut and Betal Trees to reach the beach. The feeling you get after passing the forests and finally getting on to the path from where the sea is visible is irreplaceable. You have to be there to believe that such a place exists and is not so far from Mumbai or Pune!
We had earlier decided to only ‘have a look at Diveagar beach’ and head to Harihareshwar but instead we ended up spending close to 2 hours there! At 4:30 PM we finally did move on to the temple town of Harihareshwar which is considered to be one of the holiest towns in Maharashtra. The original plan was to watch the sunset at Harihareshwar and we almost ended up missing the sunset as we had a late start from our cottage. But thankfully, due to some skillful driving by my friend Neville and the fact that the days are longer for it being the summer season, we reached just in time to catch the beautiful sunset.
The sunset picture clicking session was followed by a light snack at the adjoining MTDC Resort. We had Kanda Bhajiya and Batata Bhajiya both of which were good and filled our tummies! Though it was a fun drive to Harihareshwar for the sunset, we soon realised that the more exciting part of the day, or should I say night, had only just began. It was pitch black and we had to drive all the way back, 35 Kms, to Diveagar! Scary but adventurous came to my mind. It was a slow drive back home and a bit eventful as well with the suicidal toads (the name we gave the toads that only crossed the roads when a vehicle would pass by) crossing the roads every now and then and the beautiful Diwali fireworks in the distance on our left. We did halt for lunch at a roadside Chinese eatery which is nothing to write about. It is unfortunate that we ate there since after arriving at Diveagar we realised that most eateries here remain open until 10 PM. Sigh! We did have ice cream at an Amul Ice Cream Parlour close to our cottage. That ended our first day on this short trip.
Day 2 started early, very early. Went to Diveagar beach before sunrise to catch the beautiful morning sun against the backdrop of the Betal trees. Took a round of the beach as well. Checked out the small creek which is teeming with fishes which in turn feed the migratory Seagulls! Ah! The cycle of life. There was a high tide in the morning which did catch me by surprise cause I had crossed over on this small patch of land divided by the creek and crossing back was a bit scary!! Anyways, after the scary incident, got back to my group, clicked a few pictures, took a bath and went back to the cottage. For breakfast, we were served Poha with grated coconut. It is the best Poha I have ever had and the grated coconut made it all the more better!
Sadly, it was time to leave as the check out time is 11:00 AM. We said goodbye to the family and headed back home. On the way back, we stopped at Vadkhal Naka for lunch at Upkar Restaurant which serves some good Prawns masala. That was the last stop until Neville’s car stalled as the LPG fuel had gotten over! Not a big issue though as he switched onto petrol (after a good 20 minutes did the car finally start!) and refueled at a nearby petrol pump. After that we headed back home, nice and safe and very very tired!
A brief Trip Log – Total Distance covered approximately (450 Kms, excluding the distance covered by taking some wrong turns here and there!)
Route taken (as seen from the map) – Mumbai-Panvel-Pen-Mangaon-Mhasala-Diveagar. We took the same route while coming back home.
On a closing note, I feel that a full 2 day/2 night trip would be suitable to visit all the places in and around Diveagar/Harihareshwar and Shrivardhan. They not only offer beautiful beaches and scenary but also quite a few temples.
Here is the contact detail of the cottage where we stayed:
Name of the place: Vrindavan
Contact Person – Sameer or Vasant B. Gandre
Ph: Diveagar – 952147-224270/71 | 9594142591
Mumbai – 9702037865/9960627965
Pune – 9890927965
It’s become a feature of my weekends now. A new place to visit and explore every Sunday and last Sunday was no different! Korlai was always on the agenda and this time my friends and me were eager to check out the lighthouse and the fort. Though the initial plan was to ride all the way to Alibaug, where Korlai is located, we decided to head by boat to save on time (Which we eventually didn’t!). A quick view at the Google Maps made us relatively comfortable that Ferry Warf (Bhaucha Dhakka), from where bikes can be ferried to Alibaug wasn’t so far away from Bandra, but alas we still ended up getting lost! Thankfully some really helpful and extremely sleep uncles (yes in that order) did help us figure out the way to Bhaucha Dhakka and boy were in time or what! Reached there just 5 minutes before the boat left the shores! Phew!
Once on the boat, it was going to take us 1.5 hours to reach Ravas Jetty, where the ferry unloads the bikes and passengers. Ravas is around 10 Kms from Mandwa Dock and around 10 Kms from Alibaug as well.
The nearest beach, I think, is Kihim. The road towards Alibaug isn’t good for bikes at all and is in stark contrast to the road leading to the Mandwa Dock – you know how I know this? Because while coming we took a wrong turn and ended up at Mandwa (this must explain how I would know how many Kms Mandwa is from Ravas!!).
It did not take us long to reach Korlai and we were directed by the locals towards the correct path to the fort and the lighthouse. The path is a bit narrow and only one car can pass at a time. Since we were on bikes it wasn’t a problem for us at all! The path towards the lighthouse is very pretty! The sea and a beach on one side and a hill on another side topped by the Fort make for a pretty heady combination! I can imagine why the Portuguese must have selected this location! When at peace, the men, women and children come out to play on the beach!
Anyways, once at the lighthouse, we were given a tour of the place by the guide there. He told us about the various characteristics of the lighthouse and what makes it different from others. Was quite a short but extremely insightful tour! The tour was succeeded by a visit to the fort.
The fort is situated in a good location and canons, rusted at that, dating back to the 16th century are still there. The fort is not as big as it is long. Infact it is hardly as wide as a 2 lane road and is rectangular in shape. It is a shame the fort hasn’t been renovated like the Shivneri one, but efforts are on to preserve this once might Fort. The visit to the fort was a satisfying one as it was only the 3rd fort visit for me in a year!
The visit left us hungry and dehydrated as we descended to Nagaon to find a restaurant. After nearly 30 minutes of searching we finally found and soon realised that we were lucky to find it in time as it seems to be the only one present in the vicinity with a descent menu! We ordered mainly for rice items including a Chicken Biryani, Prawns Biryani and Dal Fry and plain rice for the lone vegetarian in the group. The food was much better than what we had at Murud!
We then headed back home but missed the last ferry from Ravas to Mumbai which is at 4:30 PM. So we ended up taking a very crowded ferry to Uran and headed back to Mumbai. Reached home at 8:45 PM – extremely tired, exhausted but very very satisfied with the trip! Looking forward to doing another one soon!
Here are the Ferry costs: INR 30 per person/ INR 30 for loading the bikes/ INR 30 for holding the Bikes (not sure what this means but basically just to have the bikes on board after loading them costs INR 30 extra!). The rates are the same while coming to Mumbai though to Uran it’s a bit less since its just 15 minutes from Revas!
Food Costs (Vibha Restaurant): INR 120 for the Prawns Biryani, INR 50 for the Chicken Biryani – cheap rates, good food!
Kashid has been a long awaiting trip for me. Ever seen I saw pictures of the long winding roads leading to the beach and the palm trees lined up alongside the white sands, I have been itching to see this heavenly place with own eyes! The moment arrived on a Saturday when we set our course for Kashid in a friend’s car. It didn’t take us long to navigate the early morning Mumbai traffic and soon enough we were cruising on beautiful roads including the Mumbai-Goa highway. For most part the road was good, except for when we had to traverse Alibaug to reach Kashid. But that was only a small let down which did not deter us from pursing our goal.
In approximately three and a half hours we reached Kashid Beach. Taking into account the few stops we made for photo shoots, I think we made it to Kashid in good time. Once there, the four of us quickly ordered for some snacks – namely Omelette and Bread - that is the only thing, besides some chips, biscuits and tea that you get at the many shacks situated on the beach. But the best thing besides the beach, were the hammocks! Lazing around in the hammock, we took in the beautiful sights on offer.
The beach, the white sands and the muddy waters are surrounded by two cliffs on either end. The beach itself is a 3KM stretch and there are carts available for those would like to check out the beach in its entirety.
We weren’t interested in that and were more than happy to click some amazing pictures while lazing around the shacks. Some of us also caught a short and much needed nap. After Kashid, we headed out to Murud beach.
We also went to Rajpuri from where the ferries are available to go to Janjira Fort. The area is very pretty with palm trees overlooking the calm sea. Spent some time clicking pictures of the fort and the beach.
Though we didn’t get time to actually visit the fort – a trip we have scheduled for another time. Since it was in the middle of the day, we decided against going on the Murud beach and instead chill out by some restaurants overlooking the beach.
We had lunch at the Anand Vatika, Murud, which specialised on sea food. So since we were at the heart of a fishing community, we were all for a sumptuous sea food lunch. We ordered for Prawns fry, Pomfret fry, and Prawns Biryani along with a lone chicken dish – Chicken 65. The meal was good albeit a bit oily but good nonetheless. We paid INR 150 each, thought was a bit expensive but then sea food anywhere is more expensive than other meat products!
Once over with lunch, we decided to head back home. Reached home in around 4 hours. Overall, it was a wonderful trip. Was a disappointed that I did not get to see the sunset but besides that there are no complaints whatsoever!
Kashid is approximately 160kms from Mumbai. We took the Mumbai-Goa highway (NH17) and took a right turn from the highway to go to Alibaug. Once at Alibaug, we were directed to a bypass road that took us straight to Kashid through a small concretised stretch of road which is surrounded by trees and lovely houses. Murud is approximately 30kms ahead of Kashid and the road which goes to Kashid from Alibaug also goes straight to Murud as well. I am assuming if one keeps following the same road, they will reach Harihareshwar as well.
Here are the albums with pics:
It’s been a long time coming, a four year long wait to rid myself of the ghosts of the horrific crash that took place nearly four years ago – whilst returning back from Shivneri Fort. That unfaithful day, ended my blossoming hobby of sightseeing on my bike! But come September 20, 2009 and I was all pumped up to ride back up to the birth place of Shivaji Maharaj. Though in two minds, I decided to take on the challenge and rid myself of the fear once and forever!
Met up with my office friend Daniel and his friends at Borivali National Park. Since we were already in Borivali, we took the Ghodbunder road to Thane and finally to the Eastern Express Highway. Asked around a bit and got the way to Kalyan and then to Murbad, our first stop on the way to the Fort. The roads, winding through the lush green fields were a joy to ride on. Impeccably maintained, it was a real treat to be riding my recently serviced Bajaj Pulsar 150.
While on the way to Murbad and just after Kalyan we stopped to admire this standalone rock that was partly hidden by the clouds. Looked Oh! so amazing! Took some amazing pictures, infact all the four of us stopped to admire this lone rock. Soon after the entire rock got hidden by the white clouds, we got back to our rides and headed to Malshej Ghat. Stopped at a sightseeing point and took some more pictures. This was quite a long break for us – spent nearly 45 minutes clicking pictures and chit chatting.
We then headed out to our final destination though a few long cuts did increase our time considerably. We stopped briefly for some snacks – tea and misal pav at a restaurant in Junnar. The lady at the counter had quite some humour! She was helpful in guiding us to the route for Shivneri Fort and in no time we reached the fort. Offcourse, the entire journey took more than 5 hours and perhaps the time could have been reduced had we taken the route from Ganesh Khind, which we eventually did while returning from the fort.
Once at the fort, it was a long long trek. Took bucket loads of pictures! And thanks to the cloudy weather there was a nice cool breeze blowing across which kept the dehydration away!. Spent nearly 2 hours at the fort without breaking into a sweat!
Finally descended to the base and went hunting for food. Came across a veg restaurant on the road of Kalyan. Ordered for Thali and an extra serving of Gulab Jamun. The food was good, well cooked, not as oily as you generally find. Not extremely teekha either. For only INR 45, it was a worthwhile meal.
That was pretty much the last stop, or so we thought until the rains disrupted our ride and we had to take shelter for a good 30 mins. The unexpected rains forced us to search for shelter but by the time we found some we were already soaked! We did stop a few times after that to click some more pics – the most striking of which is the one with the rays of the sun break through the thick grey clouds (More pics on my Picasa album). Some of the pics where the clouds are kissing the top of the rolling hills are just breath taking.
Getting back home took us little less time primarily as we rode a bit faster than in the morning and more importantly took all the right roads!! Total KMs covered is approximately 380 KMs. Quite a lot for a just a second ride out of town.
Overall, a great ride. For most part, the roads were good though an odd pothole here and there played spoilsport in what was otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable ride.
Here is a small route guide: Jogeshwari – Borivali – Dahisar – Ghodbunder Road – Eastern Expess Highway – Kalyan – Murbad – Malshej Ghats – Junnar – Shivneri Fort.
While coming back it was the same road though before we touched Malshej we went through Ganesh Hind. I think it saved us considerable amount of time. Though the roads are not top notch at Ganesh Hind the scenery more than makes up for the disappointing roads!
Here is the web album on Picasa with all the pics clicked: http://picasaweb.google.com/godzi.85/ShivneriFort