Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Spirit of the Western Coast - The Konkan Log - Episode 1

Chapter 1: Introduction
I shall start this post with a cliché - India is a country with the most diversity.

The mighty Himalayas and the Karakoram attract thousands of travelers and adventurers to embrace, to face the nature in its crudest form. Not only the horde of tourists, there are many souls who set out to the lap of the mountains to seek peace of mind and solitude.

One shall find barren deserts of Rajasthan and there is no dearth of adventure. People flock each year to experience a tiny bit of the nomadic desert life. As a lotus in the shallow water, jewels are hidden in the heart of the arid earth there.

Dense forests?? Yes, my friend, they are scattered all over this beautiful country. The Sunderbans are one of the biggest mangrove forests in the whole world. Ranthombore, Kanha, Bandhavgarh are just a few addition to this long, really long, list.

How can I forget the historical marvels? Trust me, I haven’t. Who can omit the great Taj Mahal, the Ajanta Ellora and the great temples of Khajuraho, Badami, Hampi, Konark? Just one visit to any of these architectural grandeurs will make you realize the culture we belong to and the height of creativity our forefathers reached once.

Want to spend some time at a sea-shore watching the sun setting in the horizon or a night on an island? Don’t worry; we have the whole of eastern and western coasts for you. Where the mountains pose a challenge to conquer, the sea-shores appease a traveler with countless waves with the sultry but soothing wind.

Enough with India’s geography, since I will surely digress if I don't stop myself here. I took this opportunity of such a long introduction to finally come to the point. I am going to pen down my experience – my first - of a journey (not travel) through the Western Coast on a long weekend in December 2011. Agree, this may be a bit late to write a triplog, but I think I am bettering myself, since I have narrated my honeymoon log after I have completed my 1st wedding anniversary.

Chapter 2: The Journey
After more than a month's confined office to home to office life, our patience ran out. Our wandering souls were trying to break free. The December long weekend arrived as a divine bliss and we wasted no time to finalize a trip to the Western Coasts. Rather it took a longer than anticipated time to reach to a conclusion as to which place to visit – since one long weekend was a really short time to explore the vast Western Coasts. Finally, having discussed with a few friends and colleagues and having read some truly inspiring trip reports, we finalized on the typical trio of Diveagar, Harihareshwar and Shrivardhan. Mode of transportation would be self-driven four wheeler.

On a Saturday morning, we started early at 6.30 am so that we can drive as fast as possible in low traffic. I wouldn’t give the boring description of driving through the concrete jungles, but as soon as we reached the outskirts of Pune (after Paud), the road started winding up and concrete jungles started to fade away into a distance, to be replaced by small villages surrounded by trees and hillocks. We reached around 7.45 am at a place called Pirangut – it was a small village, after which the drive would lead one to the famous Tamhini Ghats. We halted for a hot cup of tea at Pirangut, the place itself is non-descriptive.

We started towards Tamhini Ghat and now the road gradually became narrow and potholed at some stretches. Circuitous hairpin bends started to emerge and it continued to be an ascent – sometimes steep – till we reached Mulshi Lake. The Lake looked amazing with the gentle rays of Sun in the early morning; well it was already 8.30, hence not so early as some may think. A soothing breeze was to be found at the shores of this lake, whenever one arrives at the place.

The Mulshi Lake on the Way
We drove towards Tamhini now after clicking some photographs, the road became even more pathetic, but the scenery at both sides was too good to be missed. Steep cliffs at one side and gorges on the other, with the narrow road passing through in between, as if it tried to find its own way, constructed a sight we really longed for. The summer sun actually took its toll on the weaker vegetation and the place became brownish in color, as an after effect. To complement this vivid dryness, the Mulshi Lake, ran besides the road for a long time and looked as pretty as ever. It was quite contrary to what we saw when we were in Tamhini during the monsoon, earlier in the year.

The Drive through Tamhini Ghats
We drove for around a couple of hours to reach Mangaon, from where one needs to take a left and then an immediate right to reach the coastal destinations, crossing the famous (or notorious?) Mumbai-Goa Highway (NH 17). After Mangaon, the road was as smooth as butter. The initial drive was a complete ascent with numerous curves and turns through the thick flora at both sides. We were carrying some packed breakfast (courtesy – my mom) so we parked ourselves under the pleasant shadow (it might be December, but when the sun was out it felt like to be May!!) of a tree and devoured the same in no time and I also stretched myself and prepared for the next and final episode of the journey.

The Road towards Diveagar after Mangaon, a Smoooooth Affair
The next part of the journey comprised of a quick ascent through the smooth but sometimes congested roads, and around 11.30 am we reached the village of Diveagar. The atmosphere had a unique humidness and sultry flavor which can only be found in the coastal areas. Since we did not pre-book anywhere, we quickly found a place to stay for us. Diveagar does not boast of many luxury accommodations, homestays at the local Konkani is the best option. This is the spirit and uniqueness of Diveagar which we felt and cherished. We got a couple of rooms at Mr Praful Joshi’s homestay, neat and clean rooms, as good as it could be. The landlady was an ever-smiling face (Mrs Patwardhan) and advised that she could also arrange for food with prior notification.

After getting refreshed, we headed towards Murud-Janjira, the invincible and the unimpregnated Sea-Fortress.

Episode 2 -> Janjira Fort (Next)

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