Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 8 - Waygani, Redi Ganesh and Amboli Ghat

As the boatman had suggested previous day, I waited till 10 am expecting any good news about dolphin sighting. Meanwhile I went to beach to spend some time. I noticed some fishermen working hard to pull out the fishing net. It was a very well coordinated job among 20 odd people. I watched them for an hour while catching the fishes. Around 10 am, I called them up to check the status but there was no good news. So I decided to pack up and head towards Wayagani beach. It is located in Vengurla around 40 kms away from Malvan. I reached there around 12.45 pm. The beach is nice and secluded and very few people know about it.
Secluded beach of Waygani
If you are a big group of  people certainly it would be a fun. I was running out of time so I kicked off after capturing some snaps. I was planning to directly head to Amboli ghat but I came to know that Redy Ganesh temple is 30 more kms. So I decided to visit it. It is almost touching Goa border. Temple is relatively small but Ganesh idol is big and attractive.
Redi Ganesh

Now it was almost 2 pm and I was already to late as I had to cover around 200 kms to reach Kolhapur. Route goes via Savantwadi, Amboli ghat, Ajara and Nipani finally ending at Kolhapur.
I wanted to spend some time at Amboli ghat as I had not been there. On the way rain cought me at Sawantwadi. I waited for 15-20 mins and then I wore my raincoat and moved on. Amboli ghat is 21 kms away from Sawantwadi. Its just an awesome place full of dense forests and waterfalls. Every place is more or less a view point. Mahadev gad point is one of the famous place 2.5 kms inside from main road. It was around 4.30 pm. I continued towards Kolhapur. On the way was dense forest near Ajara. I am not sure but I guess i saw 2 young bisons. This area is close to sanctuary so there is a good possibility that those should have been bisons. Some more distance and heavy rain drenched me. I decided to halt waiting for rain to stop. Around 5 pm I started back and reached at 7.30 pm.. Journey was very much tiresome as the road was in bad shape at some patches.

Day 7 - Tarkali, Malvan and Devbag

Today's plan was pretty simple visiting 2 beaches and exploring the snorkeling possibility. I started pretty late at 8 am from Kunkeshwar. First destination was Tarkarli. I headed to Malvan which is around 35 kms from Kunkeshwar. I had my breakfast at Mitbaon and continued till Malvan. I had to find MTDC Tarkarli to check the possibility of snorkeling. Unfortunately it was not started yet as the water is not so clear as rainy season was still on. On the way to Tarkarli beach, I rented one room.
Devbag Beach
The owner suggested me to go to Devbag  to take  boat ride to backwater. Devbag is around 6 kms from Tarkarli. I immediately kicked off for Devbag. I could find the place where they provide the boating service. Problem was that I was alone and they were charging 1000 bucks. It includes ride to Bhogve beach, Nivti beach, Dolphin point, Tsunami island.
After giving a prolonged and deep thought, I decided to go for it. In this ride, I specially liked Nivti beach where one can experience exotic beach and amazingly beautiful lagoon.. This place is pretty much untouched so clear and clean. The rock carvings along the sea shore, are also beautiful. Between the boatman were trying to get glimpses of dolphins but unfortunately we could not see anything. He mentioned that they saw a flock of 40 dolphins in the morning. While we were chatting, I asked him whether he has seen any whale in the sea. He told, it is seen very rarely once in a year or so. They are mostly found in deep sea and never appear in shallow water. Also, he added that he had seen mating of whales years back in 1985 and never saw such thing again and it was great to witness such a scene.
Nivti Beach

Then, we continued to the Tsunami island. It's a small island which was formed after the Tsunami struck in 2004. It goes on increasing in size as the rain comes to end. Also he mentioned that the strand at the beach is formed this year and such geographical changes keep on happening in this area. Overall it was worth spending, although we could not spot any dolphin.. He offered me a free ride next day if there were any other group coming. Finally we reached the shore. I asked them about lunch option specially prawns (Kolambi). They recommended "Athithi Bamboo" which is in Malvan and I rode all the way 12 kms for lunch :). Truly speaking it was more than worth.
Fishing boats at Nivti Beach
I turned back to my room in Tarkarli. Took some rest after my failed attempt to read a book.
In the evening, I went for a walk on the stretch of Tarkarli beach.. Cool breeze and piece of mind what else a human mind needs. While on my way back, I saw Ganesh procession going on. I was little bit surprised. Then I came to know from a local boy that some of them celebrate the festival for 21 days. I would not have known this if I had not been here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 6 - Purnagad, Vijaydurg, Devgad and Kunkeshwar

Today's plan was to visit 3 seaside forts namely Purnagad, Vijaydurg and Devgad along with Kunkeshwar temple.. I started from Ganpatipuley at 7 am towards Ratnagiri. On the way is Bhandarpuley village. It also has nice beach and more or less untouched. Ratnagiri is around 15-16 kms away from Ganpatipuley via coastal highway. I withdrew some cash and filled some fuel in the Pulsar before  continuing towards Pavas which is again some 15 kms away. Just outside of Ratnagiri city is Bhatey beach which is not so pleasant as the water is dirty. Muddy water from the creek meets the sea close to the beach. May be it was because of the rains at night. In Pavas i had breakfast and moved on for Purnagad which is just 7 km from Pavas.
View of creek from Purnagad
Purnagad is located such that it can be used an outpost to guard from any movements in sea and the creek. It was built at the time of Raja Bhoj in 12th century and renewed in the era of Maratha rule. It is in pretty good shape. Although it is small, it's military importance was recognized by Great Shivaji Maharaj while he was on the way to Sindhudurg.
Here I met an old person who is related to Shivsena. He helped me to understand the history and geography of  the fort. Also, he added about one marathi film "Bayo" was shooted in and around the fort. Film is based on love story of childhood friends. It was great to know all the information.
As per plan, next destination was Vijaydurg fort. However I decided to visit Kanakaditya temple in Kelshi village which is 5 kms inside from the road leading to Vijaydurg. It is one of the few temples devoted to "Surya"(Sun).
Ammunation storage at Vijaydurg
 After coming back to the main road which goes to Vijaydurga, there is a diversion at Pedal Titta and then straight road goes to Vijaydurg. Vijaydurg is a massive structure built by Raja Bhoj and restructured by Shivaji Maharaj. It has many strongholds, 2-3 levels of fortified walls. Walls and major structures are in good condition. We can see ammunition storage, horse stable and "Sadar", "Bhuyar" (Hidden route) etc. From the fortified walls, we get to see amazing views of blue see and fisherman's boats and typical Konkan villages. One more thing one can notice, is the hugh walls at the entrance.

Fortified walls at the entrance of Vijaydurg
So far I have not seen such hugh walls at any fort. Also, this fort has been witness of an astronomical discovery related to presence of helium gas on Sun. I spent more than an hour exploring the fort. After I left for Devgad after having some meal. It took around 45 mins to reach there. Devgad village is famous for its alphonsoes (a type of mango, famous for it's unique sweetness). My purpose was to visit Devgad fort. It is not so big and there is nothing much  remaining other than fortified walls. There is a lighthouse inside which opens between 4-5 pm. As usual being a side fort this also offers majestic views of Arabian sea.
Kunkeshwar Temple

Then, I turned for my last destination, Kunkeshwar temple which is on the way to Malvan. It's a temple built around 1100 AD by the Yadav rulers and it has beautiful structure.  It is devoted to lord Shiva. The village has a long sea shore and the beach around is nice to spend some memorable time. I walked on the shore to the other end to check out the fishermen trying to catch fishes.. On the way I could see jelly fishes dead on the shore which are thrown by the fishermen. I spent that night at Kunkeshwar itself but i would recommend not to stay here. There are not many staying options and facilities are very basic.

Day 5 - Welneshwar, Jaigad and Ganpatipuley

Welneshwar Temple
Today, I started from Dapoli towards Guhagar which is around 30 kms away. Destination was Welneshwar. There is a famous temple of Welneshwar (Lord Shiva). Temple is beautiful. I offered my prayers to the god. Behind the temple, is a beautiful white sand beach. It was not so crowded, may be because it was a weekday or it is not so much famous among tourists. I wandered around the beach for an hour enjoying the tranquility.

 Next I headed for Hedvi which is 4-5 kms away from Welneshwar. It is famous for Dashbhuja Ganesh temple. Then I moved on to check Hedvi beach but I did not find it interesting as it is not so long and not so much eye catching. I visited Uma-Shankar temple along the beach. Then I continued for next place Jaigad. For that I had to go to Tavsal to catch a boat to cross the creek. Unfortunately there was not boat available. So I headed to Kudli village where I would get boat which was better than taking road via Bhatgaon. Finally I got a boat to cross the creek and I was on my way to Jaigad. The route goes via Khandala, a small village close to Ganpatipuley. Jaigad is a small seaside fort. It is still in good condition specially the fortified walls and strongholds. Also, you get to see breathtaking view of sea and the creek. It takes around 30 mins to cover the fort.
Here also, I spotted 2 couples of white bellied sea eagle and I could capture them with my 4x optical zoom camera :)
Whilte bellied Sea Eagle
Reflections of light, sunset at Ganpatipuley
It was almost 2 pm and i needed to put something in my stomach.. After the lunch I kicked off for Ganpatipuley which was last place of the day. I reached there in less than 45 mins. On the way I had a look at Malgund beach which is adjacent to Ganpatipuley beach. It is also good with golden sand and less crowded. First of all I rented a room and left my luggage. Then I went to Ganesh temple.. After spending some good and peaceful time in temple, I went out for beach. This is one of my favorite beach. Clean, long, white sand, greenish water. I played around the water, captured some nice pics.. Took a long walk along the strand. I experienced an awesome Sun set..  The skyline was so beautiful, full of different colors and changing every few minutes. Now, it was time to get something spicy and delicious Konkani food. I went to MTDC restaurant and had a dish with fried fish and fish curry making my day worth.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 4 - Harihareshwar, Suvarndurg, Harnai

Today's plan included a visit to Harihareshwar, Suvarndurg fort and beaches of Anjarle and Harnai.
Pradikshina marg at Harihareshwar
I started at around 7.30 am from Mandangad and headed to Bankot which is around 30 kms away. I reached there around 9 am. Road was pretty much in good shape other than a few bad patches. Bankot is also known for sea side fort. 2-3 kms before Bankot, is a jetty at Veshvi. From here one can easily carry there vehicles across the creek. Launch takes us to Bagmandla. Harihareshwar is just 5 kms away from here. First I went to temple of lord Shiva. This place is known as Dakshin Kashi. One of the attraction at Harihareshwar, is pradikshina marg which passes through a hill and goes along sea shore. Here we can experience some of the beautiful rock carvings formed by waves. Also watching the splashing waves on the rocks is an amazing sight.
On the other side of the temple is Harihareshwar beach. Overall it is a good place considering religious as well as natural aspects. Then I came back to the jetty at around 10.30 am. Next destination was Harnai port to get boat for Suvarndurg fort. I had to take right turn to Kelshi on the way towards Mandangad. In the morning, I had seen the sign board indicating the diversion for Kelshi but on the way back there was not such marking so I missed the turn and wasted around 30 mins. Finally I was on correct route but the road was not in good shape but naturally it was wonderful passing through dense cover of trees. After Kelshi I continued to move towards Harnai. On the way is Anjarle village, there is a beach which is not so long but it is awesome and not so crowded. 
Anjanvel Beach

Suvarndurg from distance

Surprisingly, I witnessed a sea eagle (officially, there are only 60-70 sea eagles remaining along Konkan coast) catching fish in the sea. It was just unbelievable. Sometimes you get to see things you would  not expect to see. I would say, that was one of my memorable experience of this trip. Further, I continued towards Harnai via a bridge on a creek. This road further takes you to Dapoli. In Harnai, I asked for the availabilty of boat to take me to Suvarndurg. But unfortunately there was no boat to take me there.. The reason is custom department has banned tourist visits to the fort because of a mishap happened in May 2010 which involved death of some tourists. I was disappointed to hear this. So I turned back for my next destination Fattegad which is at Harnai port. Before that I had lunch at a small restaurant.. Left my luggage there to explore the fort. It is not in very best condition with wild grass covering the fort. I had a look at major places inside and I left the place for Kanakdurg which is nothing but a small fortified stronghold. Both of  these forts offer great view of sea and surrounding. Later, I departed for Dapoli for night halt which is just 15 kms away from Harnai.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 3 - Raigad and Mandangad

Pleasant morning near Mhasala village
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Today my plan was to visit Raigad fort via Mangaon and come back to coastal line for Harihareshwar. I departed from Mhasala around 6.30 am. The way to Mangaon was picturesque specially due to early morning sun light after heavy downfall at night. I stopped by some times to take pictures. Around 1 hr and I was in Mangaon. First of all my concern was to withdraw money as I was almost running short of cash. I could find one and only ATM in the town and I headed towards Mahad which was on the way to Raigad. After Mangaon it's NH-17, Mumbai-Goa highway. I reached Pachad village which is at the foot of the fort at around 8.30 am. I had a mini breakfast at a small restaurent. I left my luggage with them and went towards the rope way. For rope way, they needed a group of 8 people so I had to wait till then. Soon there was a group of people to accompany me. We reached the top within 5 mins. Journey was short but wonderful with breath taking panoramic views of beautiful nature. Before entering in the fort, we need to pay nominal fee for entry. Outside the ticket office, there were many guides who would explain us the history behind the fort. Initially I decided not to go for any guide as I thought that I knew the most part of the history. Soon I realized that it would be better to get a guide who would explain the different places. My decision proved to be worth. The guide was really good at information and he answered all my questions. He said that he and other guides are trained by famous historians Babasaheb Purandare and Ninad Bedekar. 
Tomb of Shivaji Maharaj
What I liked most is, his intensity and the way to narrate the history of the place. It felt like I was part of the events at the fort. We saw most of the places like Queen's palaces, Ashtapradhan Mandal office, Diwaan-e-Khas, Darbaar, Mena darwaja, Palakhi darvaja, Raj sinhasan, Nagarkhana, Bajaarpeth, Jagadishwar Mandir, Mahrajanchi samadhi, Takmak tok ani Shirkai devi mandir. Darbaar was built keeping in mind the acoustics so that even if anyone chatting/whispering in any corner, can be heard by Shivaji Mahraj sitting in Sinhasan. It can be experienced today as well. Nagarkhana has a sculpture of a lion with elephant at it's feet and one small elephant on it's tail. Lion symbolizes Shivaji Maharaj, elephant at it's feet symbolizes mighty enemies like Nijam, Adilshah, Englishmen, Portuguese and Siddhis. While the small elephant on the tail symbolizes Mughals which were like trying to capture tail of lion.
The marketplace was designed in such a way that the customers which were horse riders in most of the cases, would comfortably buy the goods. Then, the Jagdishwar mandir is constructed in such a way that it would look like a mosque from a distance.
Between I offered my mujara to Shivaji Maharaj. On my way back, I visited Takmak Tok which was a short trek. Finally, I was again in the ropeway for return journey. It was a life time experience. Then, I decided to move towards Mandangad which is on the way to Dapoli. My previous plan was to come back to Harihareshwar via Mangaon/Goregaon. So I took a left turn towards Mandangad after getting some fuel for my bike which was already showing indications that it would surprise me anytime. Mandangad is 30 kms from the turn. The fort is not so big and you can reach close to top with your vehicle. One can easily explore it in an hour. I was thinking to head further towards Harihareshwar after visiting Mandangad. Again nature came in my way and I had to spend 2 hrs at a tea stall waiting for rain and sky to get clear. After kicking off, I reached Mandangad in next 15 mins. As it was too late, I decided take halt here itself. I could easily find an accommodation. Instead of settling down, I went for Mandangad fort right away. Within 10 mins, I was on top as there is a road uphill. Then I had to park my bike on the way as the road was washed away by rain and I did not want to take any risk.
bounty of nature surrounding Mandangad
 Two of the villagers directed me the way on the top. There is a temple, 3 water storages and broken walls and strongholds. It is not so big. I could cover it in 30 mins. Important thing is, surround of the fort provides breathtaking views of bounty of nature.After enjoying the leisure walk on the fort , I walked back as it was about to get dark. I met the two villagers again on my way back. They were waiting for me as I was new to this place and they wanted to accompany me on my way back. We continued to walk down. On the way we could hear voices of monkeys. They added that there are other wild animals like wild boar, bison, leopards as it is an area covered with dense forest. Soon, we reached where my bike was parked and I came back to the room.

Day 2 - Murud, Diveagar and my punctured bike

Kashid Beach
Today I started relatively late at around 7.30 am. Aim was to cover Kashid, Murud, Diveagar and then head to Raigad. Raigad was little bit off track from coastal line. But, a visit to Raigad was on my wishlist for long time and did not want to miss this opportunity.
I started my journey towards Kashid and reached there around 8.30 am. I had visited this beach twice before so just spent 15-20 mins after having a morning walk along the beach. There were 2-3 groups of people enjoying early morning bath in sea.

Dandarajpuri village, Janjira fort in background
 Then I started again for Murud. On the way, I noticed a direction board pointing towards Fansad sanctuary and I listed it down in my future destination list. Soon I reached Murud around 9.00 am. Murud is famous for the "Janjira" fort. "Janjira" means a fort surrounded by water. It was an unconquered fort ruled by Siddis originally from Africa.
Murud beach
Near Murud, there is a palace belonging to Siddi's descendants but it is not open for public. Since, I had visited Murud as well as Janjira fort, I headed to Diveagar after capturing a few snaps.
Bike waiting for boat at Agardanda
I was on motorbike so I went ahead via Dandarajpuri to Agardanda. From here, I had to take a launch to cross the creek till Dighi. I reached Diveagar around 11 am. I faced lot of difficulties to find the correct way to beach. Between I visited the famous Suvarnkesha Ganesh temple. To reach to the main beach follow the direction signs of MTDC exotic resort. It was already 12 pm so I decided to have a lunch at Exotic resort. It was pretty good although little bit expensive. Then I wandered around the beach which is very close to the resort. Later I moved on for Raigad fort. I had to take the route via Mhasala reaching Mahad and then Raigad. Unfortunately my bike had a puncture on the way near Kharse village. Local villagers nearby helped me out. We stopped a motorbike for help and took the punctured wheel out. Then I went to find a puncture repair shop. Finally after spending more than 1 hr, I could ride my bike but now it was nature which came in my way. Rainy weather was forming around so I decided to take a halt at Mhasala instead of going further towards Raigad and taking any chance.