GLIDING ALONG THE GOLDEN COAST.

GLIDING ALONG THE GOLDEN COAST.

Every trip should not be about reaching some pre-fixed destinations.Instead trips are made of journeys through an anxious traveller’s eyes.The mind of a true traveller seeks every byte of information from the surroundings and nature.Sometimes some trips should be unplanned with enough emotions of zeal because our nature is always a “Treasure Island”.So a traveller should go out without any limits of exploration ,into the road that fetches them the ultimate pleasure of enlightenment.Road trips are most ideal for a passionate traveller as it is benevolent in bestowing eager tourists with surprises that a traveller expects from nature.

I have always been an eager traveller and due to my past experiences in travelling I am always keen to do as many road trips as possible and traverse the versatile geography of my country.In that regard I always dreamt of flying above an ocean guarded by mountains ,where the roaring waves of the sea splashes on the foothills of the mountains.The dream inspired me to do a coastal road trip along the Western Ghats in India ,because that is where the state highway of Maharashtra intersects the slanting mountains that fall into the Arabian Sea.

The journey to discover the golden coastal highway inspired me to go on an unplanned road trip on the second week of February .It was unplanned since I did not book any hotel along the western coastal highway nor did I fix any destinations to travel.So I set off from Panvel in Navi Mumbai with a portrait of mountains and sea in my mind.

Alibaug was the first beach that I encountered when I started my western coastal road trip to Goa from Mumbai.A famous weekend destination from the financial hub,it offers adventure sports and a muddy trail to the Alibaug fort.The beach is crowdy with a large trail of shallow sands guiding the tourists to the fort.The landscape was normal like other sea beaches except that one can walk deep into the sea to visit the fort when the water retreats from the shore.It was a good introduction for me to start my coastal route to the most famous tourist destination in India as my journey proceeded towards less explored sea beaches.

Empty vast Revdanda beach with a rocky shore.

A half an hour drive from the famous Alibaug beach took me to this serene lonely beach which is known as Revdanda beach.We were proceeding towards the Karshid beach when suddenly from nowhere we reached a vast stretch of rocky shore with a magnificent clear sky enhancing the panoramic sea view.The Western ghats were visible by this time ,surrounding on the other side with a series of mountains of yellow dry grasslands.As we proceeded towards the south the bridges over the backwaters mesmerised me with the backdrop of standing and moving waters in a single frame.Sometimes I could see a small settlement of dilapidated port and ships making an equally different vision with huge constructing machines on the beach.I was stunned and anxious like a humble amateur child ,so I stopped on every bridge till I could capture the finest moments of landscape in my camera.The changing scenery kept me preoccupied as the road meandered along the Ghats and showed me a distant picture of an empty beach  full of coconut trees and a sea that was reflecting the colours of sky.

Since the beach was devoid of any crowd,tourists could get a wide angle view of the three horizons meeting in its most purest form.The state highway gave me the feeling of a parallel coastal road within a couple of hours in my journey to Goa.I became more anxious to travel further and explore the beautiful untouched Konkan.

A dilapidated port under construction.

Bride over the backwaters on the state highway.

Mumbai to Goa road trip through the Maharashtra state state highway unleashes itself after Karshid beach.The Konkan highway meanders all along the vicinity of the Arabian Sea coastline with the Western Ghats and its valleys adding to the pristine beauty.

This road trip travels in between the valleys and mountains with a panoramic view of the backwaters and the crystal blue sea.The beaches are clean with very less crowd that adds to a clear serene view of the landscape.What more does a traveller needs for a memorable road trip when the nature is providing them with mountains and sea together in a single view.True respect for all the labours who have devoted themselves in building such a scenic highway.This again proves that if we believe in our nation’s geography,it proves to be a continent covering the versatile geography and terrain.

Janjira Beach

My anxious moments of visiting a landscape of mountains and sea together came to reality when I arrived few kms after Rajapuri in Janjira beach.The place was windy but the ambience was peaceful for a travel freak to capture the stunning views of the Janjira beach and the fort.

After a hectic road trip and encountering numerous clean beaches of Western Maharashtra, I arrived at MTDC Harihareshwar in the evening.I was totally unaware of the trail to the beach in the evening but I could hear the roaring sound of the waves from the MTDC campus.I woke up early  in the morning in the hope of finding my way to the beach  to capture the sunrise. Delightfully I was impartially awarded with an awesome view of the sunrise.

MTDC Harihareshwar.

The beach was reflecting hues of gold and the water looked like waves of the blue sky.The beach was Rocky with black sands that surprised me even more.The locals told me about another clean beach in Harihareshwar but after arriving into this splendid beach I was sure enough to take my colourful memories in this black sand beach.People go to Greece to watch the black sands in Perissa but most of us are unaware of this sparkling beach of the MTDC Harihareshwar resort.

I felt fortunate enough to get an accommodation on a weekend in this beautiful campus made by Maharashtra tourism.Undoubtedly this beach ranks first on my list of the numerous  beaches in the Konkan trip.

After a surreal sunrise from MTDC Harihareshwar we took a ferry boat service from  Bagmandale to catch the National highway to Ganapatipule. Ferry rides are frequent to avail the shortest route along the coastal state highway in Maharashtra .On our way to Ratnagiri the first ferry we took was in Agardanda to Dighi and the second ferry was from Bagmandale to Bankot. The ferry also takes the car on to other side of the sea for Rs 150.The cars have to park  themselves in the reverse gear into the ferry so that when the ferry arrives on the other side ,the cars can directly face the road.Ferry services are available from 9 o clock in the morning till 10 o clock at night.

Agardande ferry station.

Availing the ferry clearly saves half an hour drive around the coastal highway.People may drive back along the backwaters on to the state highway but that will be a much longer route.After Bankot avail the NH66 highway for a faster route to Ganapatipule.

NH66 Highway.

Bagmandale ferry station provides a scenic landscape with a mangrove forest in the backwaters of the Arabian sea.That attracts a tourist for capturing numerous memories until the ferry arrives to board the passengers.

Mangrove trees and fishing boats in Bagmandale ferry station.

Bagmandale ferry station.

I was surprised to see such a decent waiting hall in Agardande ferry station that proves the efforts put down by the government for public welfare.Avail the two ferry rides before Bankot to enjoy a new adventure in the coastal highway drive to Goa. The ferry ride will show you a different geography of the Konkan along with the meandering roads in the Western Ghats.

The view of the landscape as the highway curved away from the sea and moved towards the mountains.

The famous NH66 highway to Goa was covered in 6 hours as we reached Ganapatipule by the sunset to watch the majestic last ray’s of the sun in the Arrey ware beach road to Ratnagiri. Instead of going directly to the beach we came across a panoramic sea  view of the beach from a cliff .The view was more than expected as the late afternoon sun rays camouflaged the crystal clear water of the sea with the blue sky.

The western ghats were bordering the road on the left hand side while on the other side there were sharp reflections of the Arabian sea.The beach was devoid of any heavy crowd and sometimes there were glimpses of a lonely fishermen walking over the yellow sands.It is said that Ganapatipule beach resembles that of a crystal clear long stretches of beaches like those in the Maldives. Well I havn’t been to the Maldives but I am sure enough that this beach is one of the cleanest beach in Maharashtra with pastel colours of the sea.

The view provided a visual treat to the tourist.The reflective colours of nature along with the top view from the cliff helped us in capturing the scenic Konkan terrain as it merged with the Arabian sea.Undoubtedly the trip was fetching me numerous coastal landscapes with the mountains that I was dreaming of long before I started my journey.

After taking my best snaps of the surrounding landscape from the cliff ,I proceeded my journey towards Ratnagiri , the mango town of India.The elevated coastal road was like that in Rajapuri with Western Ghats cliffs on the left side of the road, bordering the clear blue water of the Arabian sea.

As I drove down the curved path of the highway I saw a sign board mentioning Aare Waare beach road.Prior to my trip I have heard a lot about this beach nestling in the foothills of the Western Ghats situated just on the Ganapatipule and Ratnagiri highway.In few minutes I reached down to the plains of the sea shore and arrived at the beach.The beach was less populated with white sands glowing due to the last rays of the sunlight.I did not waste anytime in capturing the beautiful sunset over the sea.

The landscape was new to me as I had never seen a beach at the foothill of a mountain.The Western Ghats and the sea were merging together in the same place.The beach gave me numerous moments of photography as I tried to sketch the kaleidoscopic moments with my shutter and lens.

As I commenced my journey, eventually I came across a bridge over the backwaters of the sea.On my right side the shallow sands were reflecting hues of sunset while on the left side the calm blue water of the backwater reflected images of the mangrove trees.I decided to stay in this heavenly place till sunset to capture this illustrious moments of photography in this trip.

The backwater near Aare ware beach.

Our second day Konkan journey concluded with a sunset hue in Ratnasagar beach resort.Spectrum of clouds lingered in the sky creating rolling waves of hues ,glowing along the vast sky.The distant hill was dark and looked like a giant whale with numerous neon lights of the city, establishing the modern civilization. The magical view of the sky seemed to me like an illusion but the hot sands and the cool land breeze assured me of the vibrant sky on the beach.

The resort offers excellent cottages on the Bhatye beach with free breakfast for Rs. 3500.With respect to the location, I would say that it is quite cheap in Ratnagiri, the mango town of India.I didn’t prebook any accommodation in my Konkan trip except that in Goa.For Harihareshwar ,MTDC provided me with an excellent black beach while Ratnasagar proved to be equally mesmerising with a vast private clean beach.

My sudden encounter with this beach was due to this magical view of the sky creating astronomical colours in the evening.After my eyes caught the spectrum in the sky,I rushed out to this lonely beach with my camera and discovered this marvelous property on the beach.One can locate this property on the main highway towards  Goa from Ratnagiri. The property is covered with plenty of coconut trees and well decorated gardens of flowers.I felt fortunate enough to find such beautiful locations without any prior booking.

Ratnasagar Beach Resort.

A road trip always brings us stress but at the same time it fetches us with such unaccounted stunning landscapes and new ventures that stays in our memories forever.

Bhatye Beach just infront of the resort.

With pristine memories of Ratnagiri I proceeded towards the beach capital of India with more zeal to explore the beaches and forts ,further along the Golden coast of India.I hope the readers have found a divine picture of Maharashtra and the towering Western ghats making its way to some clean beaches in our country.Keeping in mind the anxious moments of my journey towards Goa,I am concluding the coastal dream in Ratnagiri to give way to a different geography of the Konkan in my next blog.

 

FORTS ON THE BEACHES IN KONKAN.

Road trips have always enchanted me with new destinations and geography of our incredible country.The versatile scenery with different forms of landforms always keeps me anxious to continue further and explore my beautiful country.After a marvelous road trip till Ratnagiri I was eager now to set off in discovering the history associated with the Konkan .I wanted to visit the forts along the pictorial beaches.

After bidding goodbye to the elegant Ratnasagar beach resort I commenced my third day of the road trip towards Goa in the late morning hours.With lots of spectographs through my lens I prepared myself for more adventures towards Vijaydurg Fort.I imagined this day trip as visiting the floating forts before reaching the vibrant beaches of Goa .It was only after a few kms drive from our resort, when suddenly my eyes caught a glimpse of Casuarina forest and eucalyptus trees on a lonely beach.Immediately I stopped the car and rushed with my camera towards this unknown beach.

Waves were splashing on the sea shore which was filled with shrubs of mangrove leaves all along the entire stretch of the beach.On the two longitudinal ends of the beach, hills were standing high creating a rocky periphery around the foothills on the shore.To my surprise what I could see was a vast space of empty sand drenched by the crystal clear blue colours of the Arabian sea and fenced by a forest and two hills on its other sides.The beach was devoid of a single person which was the most fascinating experience for me to start off my journey towards forts and beaches.As a traveller I was overjoyed to see myself as the only tourist in the vast stretch of this scenic beach.The beach had every geographical feature of my entire trip till that date.Yellow clean sands, mangrove shrubs, forest and hills painted the shore as the waves were being dispersed due to cosmological efects from the clear blue sky, onto the shore.


As my car traversed the coastal villages further towards south , we took a diversion from the state highway towards Vijaydurg fort.I had never seen a seaside fort before ,so my mind was stimulated to know the history about this historical 12th century fort.Amidst the cool sea breeze with the paintily fishermen boats floating in the Arabian Creek, I took help of a native villager to get some useful facts about the fort.Although later I found out that the required information was already present in Wikipedia.

Vijaydurg fort is the oldest fort in Sindhudurg ,constructed by Raja Bhoje 2, which was later extended by Shivaji. This is the only fort other than Torna where Shivaji hoisted the saffron flag.The fort got its name after Shivaji won it from Adil Shah in the Hindu Solar month called “Vijay“(Victory).The original name of the fort was Gheria. In pre-Independance era the fort was known as the “Eastern Gibralter” since the fort was unconquerable.The large enemy vessels couldn’t enter the shallow water of the creek while Maratha ships would be anchored there, always ready for the onslaught.According to some data there also lies an under water tunnel which if proven can also serve as an important part in the tourist and historical significance.Though most of the structures inside the fort are in ruins now but the remains still serve as classic examples of the Maratha culture.

During the British rule it was also believed that English astronomer Normal Lockyer observed helium for the first time on the surface of the sun from the observatory which was set up in the fort.Thus , every year on 18th August , since 2009 the world helium day is celebrated in the fort.The fort is now under the protection of Archaelogical Survey of India and they have undertaken the restoration work.

We commenced our journey further towards the sea food delicacy town in the konkan known as Malvan.As the road deviated from the shore line the journey again meandered through the plateaus of the Western Ghats.The vast highlands with strectes of yellow long grasses mesmerised me to imagine like a free  bird.The roads were empty ,intersecting the arid landscape along the centre to lead us towards the sea shore.

Malvan is a famous tourist destination in the konkan coast that boasts of some picturesque clean beaches , offering kaleidoscopic sunsets to the tourists. Chivla beach is one such pristine clean beach, which is a must visit to experience a romantic stroll by the seaside .It took me 2.5 hours to reach Malvan from Vijaydurg fort.On the way the Konkan coast kept me engaged with numerous beaches over the backwaters of the Arabian sea and plenty of plantations in the countryside.When the road was not along the seashore , it was intersecting huge plantations of mango and coconut trees.

After arriving in Malvan we decided to have our lunch since the coastal town is famous for seafood in the konkan.I took help of one of the locals from the area and he adviced me to visit Chivala beach.It was already late afternoon and since I wanted to spend more time in visiting Sindhudurg fort, I decided to appease myself with only one beach in Malvan.

Like all the Konkan beaches it offers some breathtaking view of the weekend coastal landscape with absolutely clean sand by the seashore.The beach had huge lines of coconut plantations on its right side .The right side of the beach was rocky while the left side had vast stretches of clean unpolluted sands that enhances romantic walk by the seashore .

Tourists can also try out scuba diving activities here ,which is organised mainly by the local fishermen.In the era of trawllers and motorboats people can still see numerous fishermen boats on this beach with which the fishermen catch fish manually in the early morning or evening.The fishermen still follow traditional methods in catching fish manually through fish nets in this beach.The huge contour of coconut trees, the pristine yellow sands and the delectable Malvani sea food were relevant enough to give me the jovial feeling of my presence in the konkan coast.

When I was planning my golden coastal route in konkan,I was ever so anxious to visit the Sindhudurg Fort in Malvan. Sindhudurg Fort was built by the great Maratha warrior Shivaji in the 17 th century on an island away from the Malvan shore.Tourists need to avail a motorboat ride for 10 minutes in order to reach the island. Sindhudurg Fort has a significant place in the history of the Maratha warriors as it was build to stop the advancement of the foreign forces and the Siddhis of Janjira. The fort is now a protected monument where some inhabitants still live.

The landscape around the fort consists of a rocky shore occupied by numerous sea gulls.The geography around the shore consists of numerous shapes of rocks creating rhythmic ripples,as the waves of The Arabian sea splashes on the surface of the rocks.A distant beach with numerous coconut trees is visible from the fort that adds to the delight of a photographer.

Learn history and enjoy the pristine blue Arabian sea with the splendid geography around by availing an adventurous bumpy ride in a long Trawler boat to this enigmatic fort of Maharashtra.

Last but not the least before the sunset and entering the vibrant city of Goa, I went to Tarkarli beach,my last pit stop in this coastal route. Tarkarli beach like any other Konkan beach is well guarded by a picturesque wall of casuarina and coconut trees along the length of the beach.The locals here charge Rs 50 for parking cars near the beach.The sand is clean and yellow and the beach is very less crowded

Perhaps Tarkarli offers a secluded vacation in the MTDC resort on the beach.As we move towards Goa the beaches become crowded with numerous shacks and resorts.The sunset on this beach has relevantly concluded the golden coastal trip with the golden hues of the magical refractions in the sky.Similar to the many konkan beaches a lonely standing wooden fishermen boat can be seen on this beach waiting for the high tides to sail it away.Capturing numerous photos of this scenic beach I commenced my journey with a fresh jovial feeling to spend my valentine vacation in Goa.