26th November 2012
It was a cold morning, I had set my alarm at 6:30 A.M. but I was up even before the alarm rang. I wanted to experience the sunrise. I went out of my room, and realized that it wasn’t too cold, and could see the sun making its way up. I could see the sun rising above the mountains and fog covering the dam and the lower areas, immediately I took my camera and captured the magical moment.
My body needed some rest, thanks to the ‘super-smooth’ roads that I had taken in the previous days, hence I had decided that today I will ride in normal roads, roads which had ample amount of tarmac. Moreover I needed to update my blog, I hadn’t had good network since Mahabaleshwar, so planned to stay for the night in the nearest big city. People suggested me to go to Ratnagiri, as it will have good internet connectivity and they said that I need to go to Chiplun by taking the Koynanagar-Chiplun road, the same one that I had taken while coming from Patan. Once I reach Chiplun, I will get the NH17 and from there I need to take a left turn, then the road will take me directly to Ratnagiri. I started at around 8:10 A.M from my hotel and started descending the Kumbharli ghat section. It was a smooth two lane ghat section. I stopped a couple of times for clicking the landscape, but wasn’t satisfied with the pics as the mist didn’t allow me to get a clear view of the valley.
I decided not to stop again till breakfast, but as it always happens I saw something that forced me to stop again. The road till now had no dividers, it was just a two-lane road with a stripped white line separating the two lanes. Here I saw that there was a temple in the middle of the road near a U-turn, and the road construction authorities have built the road around the temple without disturbing it. I don’t know why but it felt very nice to see such concern from their part. While I was clicking the temple, I noticed a small road on my left. I had decided that today I won’t take an artery roads, but here I was, the fight between logical-decision and wandering-spirit had began. I took the U turn and the plan was to go straight to Chiplun. I continued ahead but soon I saw the entry point to that road on my right, I couldn’t control myself and turned right. I my logical reasoning cursed my wandering spirit, but I dint want to bother myself with all that and wanted to enjoy the unexplored areas that this road would take me to. The road soon came to a fork, I had to take the left one as the right one was blocked by a gate. After a km or so, I came to a village, surprisingly I couldn’t find anyone there and I moved ahead, soon this road also ended in a dead end and I turned back.
I was back on the highway. I was hungry now and wanted to have breakfast, so stopped at a place called Shirgaon. It was around 9:20 A.M. and still majority of the shops were closed. I later learnt that Shirgaon is closed on Mondays, even Chiplun which was some kms away also followed the same pattern. I wanted to get my bike’s chain tightened so was looking for a mechanic, but this news made me believe that I will have to continue with the loose chain. While on the highway I saw distance boards for Guhagar, which is a well known beach, and then again my mind started wandering, why not go there? And then take an internal route to Ratnagiri, rather than following the NH17 till Ratnagiri.
I crossed the NH17 and headed towards took the Chiplun-Guhagar road. Chiplun had quite a bit of traffic and I had to cross through the city to get to the open roads. The Chiplun-Guhagar road is a state highway and hence again a smooth one. The thought of going to a sea beach excited me and I wanted to reach there as soon as possible, because I knew that it would get really hot in the afternoon. I kept following the Guhagar road straight and didn’t take and diversions or trails till a point when I a stony road on my right. I couldn’t resist it, I wanted to see where does this road lead me, but alas it ended too soon in a lake and I saw a truck filling water in a tank. I asked the driver, where is this water used? He said “In all the lodges and hotels in Guhagar and nearby areas, as the sea water can’t be used”.
Within a few kms I came to a fork in the road, a left turn would take me to Ratnagiri via the State Highway 4 and the straight road would take me to Guhagar. I noticed something different in the road, instead of the reflective white paint on the edges of the road, someone had done some decorations on the edges. It felt really nice to see that, I realized that its not only us, the bikers, who worship the road, love to be on the open road, there are others too who love the black tarmac. It made me smile.
I, however, decided to head to Guhargar first. I reached Guhagar in the next 30 mins. Looked around and asked for directions for the sea beach. On reaching the beach I felt that I should stay here till sunset, I mean what better than watching the sunset set into the sea displaying its grandeur through the lovely colours. But it was just 11:30 A.M at the moment, so I decided to move ahead after clicking a few pics and freshening myself with some nariyal pani (coconut water). My bike loves to go off the road I guess, I took it to the beach, got stuck took the help of cursing locals to get it out of the sand.
The lone Wanderer
I was all set to start for Ratnagiri and then the nariyal-pani stall owner told me “sir, for sure go to the Hedavi temple of Ganpati, don’t miss it”. I nodded in agreement and started off. I reached the same fork again and this time I took the right turn. The road was pretty scenic and as I kept moving ahead I noticed something, there were hardly any vehicles apart from two wheelers on the road. It was strange as the road was good at that point, but this gave me a hint that something exciting is coming up next. Well, in the next few kms proved me correct. The road passes through villages, where the road becomes too narrow for bigger vehicles to pass.
Yes thats MSH4 – which felt like an extension of the villagers home. 😛
I kept riding along the State Highway, I was riding slowly keeping an eye on both the sides of the road to check for some trails if any. The last 20-30 kms of highway riding had bored me enough to compel me to look for trails. Soon enough I found a trail on the right. It was a small single road through a forest, probably used by villagers, and for sure not used by any vehicles. I took the trail and soon a flight of stony stairs ahead made me retrace my path to the highway.
I again joined the Maharashtra State highway 4 (MSH4) and continued ahead. A fork welcomed me yet again, the right one would take me to some internal routes while the left one would continue with the MSH4. I took the right turn and continued ahead. This was a lonely road as expected. I love the feel of these roads, you feel as if you own the road, and the feeling of solitude is a rare thing for people living in metros. I wanted to relish this moment, the moments when you have time to spend time with yourself, just sit down and think about random things, things that you have lost, that you have gained, things you want to do, things that you dream of. I decided to rest for sometime as the sun was hitting hard on me clearly showing that I was no longer in the mountains, co-incidentally I found a house, it seemed to be locked and I saw no signs of movement. It became my resting spot.
I started again, the heat was taking its toll on me, and so I wanted to enquire about the availability of food for lunch. But unfortunately I couldn’t spot anyone for the next 10-15 mins. I kept pushing myself forward on the same road and then I came to a small village. It was a fantabulous location with the sea directly below me; I was riding on the edge of a small rocky hill just along the sea coast. I thanked myself for taking this internal route. I could see some boats at a distance, and wanted to go there near them, near the beach.
After clicking the beach I noticed that an auto-rickshaw standing a few meters away. I stopped to enquire about food. The driver said that I can get food in Velaneshwar. He also added that I can continue on the same road and it would take me there as well as to the boats, he warned that the road is not good. I just smiled and thanked at him. My mind said “bad roads? Are you kidding me?” I crossed a village with road so narrow that most of our modern day cars would not be able to make it through. I then again asked for directions and a local guy on a motorcycle told me to follow him, I did as directed, and was astonished to see the ease with which he was riding his bike on those barely existent roads. It made me realize how lucky we city-bikers are; whenever we face bad roads we term it as off-roading and here, in this remote village it a daily routine for them to ride on these bad roads, I doubt if the fellow even knew about the four lane highways. Soon he waved at me and we parted ways and I continued towards Velaneshwar.
I was now riding at the level of the beach and I came to a point where there were boats parked on either side of the narrow muddy road. I stopped to click some pics. In no time I was surrounded by small kids. I asked them “yeh kaunsa gaon hai?” (which place is this?) in Hindi, but I realized that they didn’t understand Hindi. This itself made it evident that this was a very remote village and these kids are not frequent travellers to the nearby towns. I somehow managed to gather all the Marathi I have heard/learnt in the last few years and asked them the same question. To my utter delight they understood what I asked and told me the place was Borea Karol. I also enquired “why all the boats in the land were covered with a kind of roof on top of them? Do these people live inside them?” To which they replied that these boats have machines, I mean they said a lot, but all of them were speaking in Marathi and I could hardly understand it apart from the word ‘Machine’. I clicked a few pics with them and moved ahead.
The attention grabber
The road ahead had a steep ascent and it again took me to a very good scenic point, I was hungry, needed food but had to stop to capture this splendid view.
In sometime I reached Velaneshwar. The arrival of Velaneshwar is marked by the hoardings of the few resorts present there, MTDC is one of them. I straight away went to the beach side and saw a restaurant. I disembarked from the bike and literally ran to the restaurant. The owner was a very good fellow; he understood my feelings and got a fish-thali within 10 mins. I loved this place, what a place to have lunch, apart from me there were just 7-8 more guys over there. The mildly warm breeze from the sea made me realize that it’s going to get even hotter as the day progresses. There was a ATV in the beach, I felt like riding it but don’t know why decided against it.
The delicious fish thali
The owner even made a map for me on a piece of paper and handed it over to me and told me to go to the Hedavi temple. He also told me that I will need to take a ferry boat from Tausar to Jaigad. I was elated on hearing this. I know it’s not a big deal for many, but this was the first time I will be taking my bike on a ferry. With this thought I started out and just wanted to reach Jaigad, as I was too excited about the ferry thing. The road kept getting narrower and in no time I reached Tausar.
A stall guy informed me that the next ferry will come in 20-25 mins and will then wait here for another 10-15 mins and then leave. So I had around 50 mins and I decided to sleep. After having a brief conversation with the guy, I told him to take care of my belongings and went to sleep on the wooden benches. I guess my body needed rest because within 5 mins I was in deep sleep and woke up when the stall guy came and shook me out of my sleep saying that the ferry had arrived.
I took the ticket for my bike which meant that I could travel for free. I put my bike on the ferry and was waiting for it to start; I had something different in mind. Once they started, I asked one of the attendants “can I ride my bike here only for a few meters?” He was shocked on listening to this but after some persuasion he agreed. I was on top of the world, switched the ignition on and rode a few meters. It was a completely different feeling; I felt I was moving too fast owing to the combined speed of the bike and the ferry. The attendant indicated me to sop as we were about to reach Jaigad. I got ready once Jaigad arrived and zoomed of the ferry in poser style, well yeah, sometimes I do that too.
The road ahead was superbly scenic, with the sea on one side and a small hilly slope on the other side. I soon descended the hill and was on the outskirts of Ganpatiphule, a very well know beach. In one such photo-stop, I realized that the camera bag chain has again gone kaput, I tried to fix it, but it seemed that the sun was at its peak and I started sweating like hell. This was really frustrating and I decided to use the bungee net yet again.
On reaching Ganpatihule beach I was disappointed to see a crowded beach and hence decided to move ahead. I went to a nariyal pani stall and enquired about the nearest less crowded beach. He suggested me to go to Malgund beach which is just a few kms towards Guhagar. I decided to head towards Malgun. I went ahead only to realize that I was the same beach where I had stopped to click and my chain had got kaput. I decided to return back and head to Ratnagiri. On my return I took some trials yet again only to return after hitting a dead end a few meters away.
The crowded Ganpatiphule
The remains which would be burnt for cooking and boiling water.
I then decided to head directly to Ratnagiri, and capture the sunset there in some beach over there. Once I reached Ratnagiri, I took a hotel near Mandavi Beach, dumped my luggage and went to the beach to click the sunset. After that I went to have some food and get the chain repaired. But I couldn’t find one single shop which could repair the chain, so I just went to a fuel pump, tanked up for the next day and headed back to the hotel. Processed some pics of previous days and started to upload the blog, well this was the only reason for me being in Ratnagiri, a good internet connection.
The Parking Lot
The feeling of being in Ratnagiri was a special one for me for a special reason. 6 years back I had come to this same beach with my friends, my college friends who were not bike freaks barring one, but still they respected my passion and rode all the way down to Ratnagiri to celebrate my birthday on the road. The memories of those days, when wearing just a helmet was the only safety option we knew, the memories of our hands getting numb and we trying to bring them back to life by touching the hot engine or the exhaust, those were some days, I sometimes miss those careless days, my college days. With this thought I called it a day and went to sleep.
Total kms Done on Day 5: 210 kms