My Realm

Meet me - know me - read my posts and try to figure me! Well I am someone who is always thirsty for adventure, someone who simply hates playing sheep(u know the types - follow the herd!). An enthusiastic trekker, who loves to travel and ever ready for one of those wierd new found sports- luv to make new friends and njoy being my family's pet :)!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Konkan Bike Trail

Three of us had been on an amazing Bike ride that lasted over 1200kms. The ride along the coast of Konkan from South(Vengurla) to North(Revas). Nachiket(Nachi) on his Red Bullet Thunderbird, Suryakant(Bandya) on his Black Bullet Thunderbird and Me (Vinod/Vindy) on my Black HeroHonda CBZ were on this trip that lasted for 5 days (23rd December '08 to 27th December '08) and was a ride to cherish for the rest of our lives.

We rode through all kinds of road -good and bad alike. Many ferry crossings to get to the other side of the creeks. Sunny beaches to our sights with the blue skies to the horizon, with the cool shades at the coastal village and the barren land across unknown stretches, with the black tarmac varying in texture through the kilometers of well built roads to the dust patches across unknown paths. The ride was simply fabulous.

The following 5 blog articles let you ride alongside, and live the adventure
Day1 : Pune->Vengurla [1] ( ~401kms)
Day2 : Vengurla->Ratnagiri [1] (~233kms)
Day3 : Ratnagiri->Harihareshwar (~193kms)
Day4 : HArihareshwar->Nagaon (~170kms)
Day5 : Nagaon->Revas->Pune (~200kms)

Enjoy the photographs from the ride
Vindy's cam
Bandya's cam
Nachiket's version of the story

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Konkan Bike Trail (Day 5 of 5)

Day 5:
The day started as early as 7am or so. We had decided the previous night to finally do what one does in Konkan- get wet in the sea! It was a very cold morning, Nachi and me took a stroll outside, where we noticed all the vehicles parked were soaking wet -they were covered in dew. It was extremely chill, but walking around in shorts in that chill had a different feel to itself. We took a look around the wadi surroundings as we strolled through the garden full of 'supari', coconut trees and various plans. At the far end there was the 'otha' where we were told we could take bath in case we wanted chill water. The water was so cold, there was vapor rising off it. As we spoke our breath condensed to the cold surroundings. It felt refreshing :).

We kept things very slow- since we knew the day would not be packed. Had ample breakfast of amazing kandhe pohe and upith and loads and loads of tea. Roughly by 8:30 or so we departed for the beach. Here we notice some of our old friends - the 'langoors', just that they were bigger- all perched atop another wadi. We took our path to the beach through the pine trees. The beach was not crowded, but people were coming in. We picked a patch away from some guyz playing cricket. Got to our trunks and bang we made a dash for the waters. We just stood in waist high water gazing into infinity, then we got on to all sorts of kid games, pushing and playing around in the chill waters. The water on the surface was warm but at lower levels it was very cold. Splashing mud at each other and also regaining our lost swimming talent- it ws fun. We were playing like little kids. Soon the beach started housing many people, also the typical beach toys made their presence- 'tangas', parasailing, water scooter etc. By about 9:30 or so we reluctantly decided to get back to the the wadi. We wished we could linger around for more time, but we had to go.

The little bazaar now had all its shops open, here we had some routine tea followed by a very weird fruit you get only at coastal areas -"Tadgola". It looks like a little coconut, but once you cut it - inside lie 3 soft pulpy fruits(they look like plasma-ice ). We gave it a try - and it tasted pretty good. Back at the wadi, we decided to have a hot water bath. So Mr. Nandu setup a traditional method to heat water - a huge earthen pot full of water was placed atop a furnace. Then one by one we went on to get fresh -Bandya, me, Nachi in that order. In the free time, Bandya had a wonderful time talking to Mr. Nandu who shared all sorts of things. He showed us around the wadi and also explained what all fruits and flowers grew there. It was fun. His son too had been on a mega cycling expedition once, and he was very happy and probably felt pride in having us -bikers- as his guests. Alas we had to bid farewell and at 11:30am we bid him and Nagaon farewell.

We retraced our path though the mud path, via the road to the 'T' junction and then a left towards Alibaugh. The roads were crowded with vehicles, but being on a bike has its own share of advantages, we could sneak though the jam and get ahead. The road went on to meet Alibaugh. Alibaugh looked like a plain big city- I really felt relieved we did not stay here, since it looked like any other city! We took some directions and were on the road that led to Mandwa.

The road was straight - simply straight. It was wide and was lined with huge trees. This patch simply went straight, we could see various little towns zip by. The kilometer countdown for Mandwa fell to zero and it was to the left off the main road, but Bandya kept riding. Nachi and me got furious, Nachi got on some call with Ankush. I was confused and zipped ahead and got Bandya back to Mandwa phata. There he explained, it makes sense to get to a place called 'Revas' since that was the actual north tip for the konkan coastal path, a quick decision was made and we were on our way to Revas. The road simply went straight on. Soon the tree canopy was lost and the road got thin, to the left we could see the barren marsh land end into the sea and to the right was a another patch of barren land behind a fence.

The road ended, and we were at Revas. There were many vehicles parked here, also a couple of police vans. We were not sure where we were, sine there was nothing more than a building like structure ahead of us that led to a port. Well that's when we learnt- Revas was nothing more than a port- the village, which possibly small, lay somewhere behind (12:30pm , 1034.6kms). Here we sipped on some tea at a local store and made our way to the port, bought some typical konkani stuff like amba barfis and some chikkis. The path ahead was concrete and had a steel divider in between. It went straight ahead a long distance and turned left to a covered waiting area and opened ahead to the actual port. Far on the other side of the sea lay Bombay/ Mumbai.
We took the hike and reached the edge of the port. Many vehicles and people were waiting here to board for Mumbai. There was thick and a very visible grayish-brown dust layer on the other side- POLLUTION. The awful truth of where we live and what we breath could be seen crystal clear from here. Here we discussed a lot on pollution etc, took a last long eyeful of the ocean before making our departure. Had some neera at one of the stalls before getting back on our steeds.(~1pm)

From here we took the road to a point where the fencing ended and then a left to get to Pune via Pen. This section of the road was amazing, as in it went along side various hills and little villages. There was also a cricket match on at one of bigger villages -it was a sight to watch. Much of this section we had varying speeds. There seem to be many factories springing along these stretches, especially a prominent feature is a huge chimney jutting right atop a hill. Soon the little road got onto NH17 and we were on our way to Pen. It was fun riding on this stretch of NH17, especially some of the road bends were amazing - there was a point I took such a lean mean my shoes scrapped the tarmac. The roads were just too good- most of this section it was Bandya way ahead followed by me then Nachi. We passed though Pen(I am just guessing since it was a big town) at ~1:30pm (1072.3kms). There was a point at 1082.7kms when we eyed the sign board "Pune- 100kms" We rode with our thumbs up at this point. The road went on ahead and got ugly after we took a right.

The road was relentless, it simply did not give way- too bad. We were in Khopoli, The huge factories made their presence all around us. Soon the bad roads were a thing of the past as we rode on a well divided road and spotted the much familiar sign "Expressway :Pune right :Mumbai left". Well being bikers we inquired and somehow ended up taking a left and rode straight on though some town. Soon we took a right and turned around, the road eventually zigzagged uphill and took a huge curvature as we entered the Expressway (A section of the expressway near Lonavala is open for all sorts of vehicles). We zipped and zipped really hard. But it was of no avail , as the cars sped comfortably past us :). Riding on concrete sucks! But at traffic jams , it was a breeze to serpent though the maze of trucks. We regrouped near the Lonavala exit where the expressway patch for us bikers came to an end (2:35pm, 1121.9kms).

We descended to Lonavala. There were many hotels around, but none of them seemed to be safe enough to park our bikes. The hill station was crowded as usual, we decided to get off Lonavala and have lunch at some dhaba along NH4. So it was bye-bye Lonavala. The ride got us onto the old Pune-Mumbai highway. The expressway carpeted along side us to the right in a distance. It was a pleasure zipping along this stretch, the old Pune-Mumbai NH4 highway is amazing to say the least. Near around Malavli we spotted one Sheetal dhaba and detoured off for lunch (2:52pm, 1131.6kms). This place was huge and not a dhaba in any sense. The menu was expensive, a simple Veg-Handi was for ~200/- , we could have had 3 amazing konkani thalli for far less, around konkan, for that kinda price tag! None-the-less we ordered our feast- a usual roti daal and subji. Food was ok- nothing great. The best part about this place, the forts of Lohagad,Visapur and the hill of Batyashree made a massive presence on the other side of the highway.

Finally we departed at ~3:50pm and decided on regrouping directly at Sinhagad phata. Bandya and me needed to fuel in, but still we decided not to wait for each other. So from this point we rode on our own- I broke loose. The fuel indicator dipped low, but still I knew in the wost case it could reach Sinhagad phata on a reserve tap. The highway went straight along sections and took amazing wide twists at others, also many ups and downs along the twists. Soon I lost Nachi and Bandya to higher speeds. I was on my own to the road, all the fuel pumps were closed on my side of the highway. Somewhere near Kanhe I decided to take 'U' to the other side to fuel in (4:05pm, 1147.9kms). Took a 'U' back to my side and zipped on, eventually passed though Talegaon. One has to be careful along these stretches, as many locals carelessly cross roads. Nonetheless, soon spotted the massive Ganapati idol alongside the highway and finally took a right at DehuRoad phata.

Here I noticed Bandya riding extremely slow and relaxed chugging along. Well I was on a speed run so simply zipped past him.The roads caught more traffic, and finally I was in a jam and it got frustrating to speed through the mess. Finally at some point past Hinjewadi, trailed Naachi who too was chugging at ~50kmph. So slowly in some time we stopped and finally in about 5 minutes Bandya teamed in. We were at Sinhagad Phata (4:40 pm, 1194 kms). Sipped on some tea at a "Hotel Durga". We recollected some memories of the past few daysbut were pretty tired at the same time. Bid our final goodbyes as Bandya took the highway to get home while Nachi and me took the Sinhagad road. The traffic was heavy and the familiar pollution made its grand presence felt again. At Rajaram bridge Nachi departed off for home, while I rode straight on.

It was 5:09pm when I parked my vehicle and the odo read 1200.2 kms. Yippie we hit the 1200 mark! Had a warm shower and shared the pictures from the ride with Dad and Mom before crashing to bed early. The coastal ride lingered through my dreams as I sped through dreamland taking turns rapping with a langoor seated pillion.. "aHa.. BanKot" :).

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Konkan Bike Trail (Day 4 of 5)

Day 4
The day started pretty loose, with us catching the start of day at roughly 8am or so. Slowly we lazed off the slumber and were chatting at the corridor, here we befriended our neighbors. They too were on a "Coastal Ride" by their car North-South, so that sure did instill a lot of respect for our new-found friends, also helped them with all sorts of directions and cautions they need to take on their "drive" down. Cleaning up the bikes and hogging on amazing pohe, sheera and tea later we took a shower and decided to hike upto sunset point (we did want to see this Bandya's much hyped sunset point!).

So by ~9:45 we were on our our way to the temple. The road and the mandir alley was full of devotees, tourists and shopkeepers alike. Soon we waded our path through the crowd and eventually were on our way up a fleet of steps. A small path later we were climbing up a small footpath through thick bushes leading to to the top of a hill. Once up, we were blessed with an amazing sight. Water on all three sides and just enough ground for say some 5 people. Here we perched ourselves on a rock and sunk in the portrait that nature drew for us. From here we could see some people walking on the rocky beach far below, we were very fortunate to spot many dolphins!

Some snaps, lots of talk and enough silence to take in the calm later we backtracked our way down the hill, then steps off the mandir and seated ourselves at a little tea store for a cup of hot tea and wada paav :).
It was roughly 10:30am (832.6 kms) when we were astride our steeds thumping off the quint village of Harihareshwar. The roads from here took us over familiar terrain with the untouched beaches our left and wild road besides it. The road would go over twisting over and away from the hills at regular intervals giving us some spectacular sights of the distant beaches. I would not call the roads good- they were 30kmph or less roads. Soon we passed through Sriwardhan, but decided to give it a pass. Enroute we passed by many fishing colonies and could spot hoards of fishing boats and 'kolis' in the distance, the stench of fish was unbearable at certain points of the ride- we did get used to it. Soon at one point Nachiket stopped so did I- Bandya was missing. The last I'd seen him wa s taking some pictures of the distant fishing settlements.

Nachi decided to backtrack and hunt for Bandya as I stay put taking pictures of some playful langoors (11:30am, 866.7kms). In less than say 10mins or more both came thumping in- we were in no mood to know why Bandya was delayed and gave his smile a pass :). Soon we rode to Diveagar and followed Bandya's lead to take a right towards Borli (We really did not want to do that, since we thought of riding straight onto Dighi). But still we went on Borli and halted for te a yet again missing Bandya, who soon teamed in for tea. The hotel owner was probably a popular figure as he seemed to know everyone who visited his shop, also he was a helpful chap- gave us good directions to get to Dighi and also said that the decision to ride via Borli was good since the direct link through Diveagar was a very bad patch of road (kudos Bandya). Here we learnt that Bandya had bought a 'Halwa' fish from the kolhi's and a bargaining session for the right price had made me wait with the langoors :).

So Dighi (a boat ride to Agardanda/Rajapuri) was our next destination which was some 15kms away. The road went through the city center of Borli, so thick traffic and soon we were on smooth tarmac. The speeds obviously took a needle up. The road for the most part had some dry farms on both sides separated by bush fencing. We did stop for our routine leak, and when we left Bandy a sped off and his priced fish dropped off his saddle bag. Nachi and me tucked in the parcel and decided to trick Bandya over the "loss" of his fish. Now we had some fun to look forward to. Soon the roads got smoother and got amazing as it started to twist and twine through the hills. The road was just too good, it started taking a descent from the hills and went down straight to the distant town of Dighi. We could see the creek and the landmass on the other side from this distance.

Dighi was like any other coastal town, just that it was too crowded with tourists and school children (on a picnic) who were here either to take a boat or just got off it. A few inquiries got us winding through the very narrow streets and we eventually got to the jetty only to learn that the next earliest boat was at 2pm. (12:25pm, 884.9kms). Dejected- yes we were. The sun was beating down on us and skipping the boat meant we had to ride around the creek via Mahasala (truly coastal though, haha...) to Agardanda/Rajapuri which would add ~40-50kms. Decision was made- took a few snaps and off we were.

Retraced the road via the hill and smooth tarmac. This is when "lady luck" danced her way off our back. We were at ~80kmph, I was trailing Bandya and he had just narrowly missed a truck in the opposite direction, Nachi was trailing us way back at 'sane' speeds. At a bend to the right a motorcyclist was headed straight for me on the wrong side, nothing could be done to avert an accident (we banged along along our sides). I stopped within 20 meters of the crash and could still see plastic fragments flying and bouncing off the road, the other guy scared to his guts zipped away as I ran after him yelling. A quick inspection revealed nothing had broken off my vehicle, all plastic was his :). Cleaned the road of the plastic mess as the 3 of us regrouped. My foot peg had taken a bad hit and the guard rail and side fibre were bent. Nothing serious. Caution advices from Nachi -later we rode on.

The ghat road came to an end and we saw the Mahasala board asking us to take a left. So off were were to our next new destination- Mahsala. Mahsala is sort of a central town, for access to the coastal destination on the Murud and Diveagar sides of the creek, when riding down from NH-17. We were expecting crowds there. The roads were pretty much the same with fields and distant hills to the right and fields ending up to the water bodies in the distance to the left. The road did get narrow and wide at regular intervals and took a mood of of its own as it got flavors of bad and g ood in patches. Passing through various little towns and hills we were at Mahsala (1pm 911.1kms). The town was bustling with life- vehicles, humans ,cattle, dogs etc. all seemed to have emerged off nowhere.

From Mahasala we took an acute left (almost a 'U') and went on straight aiming for Agardanda. The roads were no w in a consistent bad shape- very bumpy- bad-on-ass roads. The sights were no different just that the roads seemed to be longer. The roads went up and down over the non-rhythmic bumps mandating Bandya and me to stand at regular intervals like rockstars on a performance- Nachi was undeterred and sat like a zombie bumping a consistent slow speeds. His ass had had enough, and by now he was complaining - which meant it was BAD. We had no option but to carry on. Soon we rode past Mandad, quick directions stated we go still ahead on the bumpy roads. Many an occasion I would speed off ahead and wait for the bullets to make an appearence- Bandya decided to ride slow with Nachi.

Soon we rode by Agardanda and now were nearing Murud riding past vast barren fields and horticulture ponds. Finally the familiar si ghts of island fort of Janjira made its grand appearance as wer e we rode over the hill that presented us with some amazing sights of the ocean. The roads had gotten worse by now. Soon we took a left and got down via Rajapuri and eventually though the thin Kolhi settlements and again up via the hill side then zig zagging down the turns down-hill and eventually though the bazaar to Murud.

The famous "Patil Jevanalay" was our destination for lunch - this place was packed with tourists. (2:30pm, 956.9kms) All tables were full and many tourists were lazing around in the compound and many other were feasting over nit-bits from the cart vendors. The wait here did let us relax and freshen us up. The crowds showed no signs of retreat, we decided to pick on some other hotel. Quick inquiries led us to a nearby "Hotel Vinayak". Here we relaxed and leisurely munche d over our plates, the location of this hotel was good -bang along the beach. Food was pretty ok- nothing great -simple. The traffic snarls with the weekend crowds were a sight not to be missed. Post lunch Nachi decided to change over to shorts and ride the remaining distance in shorts- The rashes were very bad and the lack of airflow through denim only made matters worse. We did wait a long time in Murud, and also took some anti-rash treatment advise from the hotel owner.

By 4pm we were ready to leave- 2 attired as riders and 1 as a weekender in shorts. The road from Murud to Alibaugh is very good and we knew the bumps were to be a thing of the past. We were correct. The road went straight on, later twisting up hill and eventually down consistently keeping the ocean to our left. At one spot we took a halt for some pictures, the sights were simply too good. The road had its own share of jeeps stuffed with weekenders. Eventually we rode down the bridge near Revdanda, past which we were under the thick canopy of trees as the smooth roads led via the town of Revdanda, very soon we were at Chaul. At Chaul naka, Nachi decided to visit a temple there (his village temple) as Bandya and me took a break at a local tea store near Chaul-naka. (5:05pm, 991.6kms). In roughly 20mins Nachi joined us and shared an incident of some local garland sellers where one of them saved him from a jinx-curse :D. Here we made up our minds to check out for rooms at Nagaon itself (Nachi's village ..haha).

Riding though the thin road we soon arrived at a 'T' junction from where we took a left to get to the Nagaon village. The road was long and was lined with all sorts of hotels and shops. We decided to get till the end of the road and start hunting for hotels bottom up.
The road ended at the beach as the orange ball was settin g behind a canopy of palm trees. The place was full of parked vehicles (5:50pm, 1000.9kms). Hotel-man went about his mission to get us a room, while two of us relished on some gola and a local juice at a cart. We had to wait for long as we could see Bandya go from place to place and disappear. Soon he came in and said there were 2 options 1. A 'Wadi' (traditional house with a room and external toilet) and 2. Expensive hotel. We decided to check option 1. As we rode behind Bandya, he gave some elderly guy a lift. The path went through a backyard sorts and though very dense well planted trees and bang we were next to a 'Wadi'.

The old man's name was Mr. Nandu Apte and he was a very jovial and a friendly person. He showed us our room and it did have an attached toilet. Here we learnt that this was some other 'Wadi' we were at (Bandya gave us a detailed explanation later), but nonetheless it was excellent. We had our customary cups of tea. The room was neat - A double bed and and extra thick mattress. The huge quadrangle outside the room had a typical traditional homely setting complete with a swing. Here the 'Halwa' fish secet came to play as Bandya got totally dejected when he learnt- the fish went missing.(This we played with him before we reached Murud). So when our host asked us about dinner and Nachi said "what if we gave our own fish to cook", Bandya's eyes lit up and LO we revealed the black ice stuffed packet to him. Here we all had a hearty laugh. Bandya played like a kid, insane, with the fish. Soon he and Mr. Apte rode down to the cook's house who was to prepare dinner for us.

A quick freshen up later the 3 of us decided to walk down to the beach but be back by 9pm (dinner time). In shorts and under the stars we walked down the path though the over grown grass towards the shacks and carts near the beach. The drunks decided to get some bottles, so we took a hike along the road and get some from the 'special' store. A bit of decision making later we bought the brew and walked down to the beach. Soon we got through the pine trees and onto the beach. A bit of hunting later, we found ourselves a quiet and open spot where put ourselves to rest. Talking all sorts of things and admiring the distant constellations and the beautiful reflection of Venus over the ocean we started wading our discussion though our last 4 days. We recollected all sorts of memories - the one common thing we liked and shared was the extremely hospitable nature of the konkan village people. It was simply a different experience interacting with the locals; soft and every ready to lend a helping hand right from the family at Vengurla who let us a room to the locals who lent an unconditional hand of help for loading the bikes onto the boat to the smiling face of Mr. Apte. So many people to mention and words dont do justice.

Well that's how we got philosophical. Soon we spotted a bunch of high intensity torch lights in a distance and they were coming towards us. Fearing they might be the law, we quickly stuffed the bottles and snacks into the packets only to discover they were a bunch of local kids hunting for abondened bottles. All of us had a hearty laugh over the incident, the kids were in splits especially one who kept repeating "Kaka ghabarle... Police ale tar ghabarayeche nahi ..sarrr zada maghe paloon zayeche... Pan kaka ghabarle haaha" ("Uncle got scared... if the cops come then don't fear simply run behind the trees... but uncle got scared"). This unsettled Nachi and he snapped "ok guyz go away and shut those darn torches, these scared uncles will give you the bottles once they are empty". And then they left and we got back to where were ... wandering thoughts from one place to another. It was nearing 9pm and the bottles were empty so we took the track back off the sands to our 'Wadi'.

On the way back, handed over the bottles to the kids :) and the drunk went back to the shop to get more brew. Me and drunk2 returned and set our dining table outside the room in the spacious surroundings. Our host too liked the idea and presented the grand dinner to us before. Nachi arrived with another set of bottles as we got down much on the food. The dinner was amazing- I really cannot comment about the 'Halwa' fish(me a Veggy) but Bandya,Nachi did say it was delicious so did a cat who enjoyed the served fish haha. The lights went off partway for sometime and our host instantly came out to present us a lantern. The sight was amazing, the star ceiling was something we had not seen in a long time. Soon dinner was done and we tidied back everything into the room, as the lights came back.

We spent some time seated in the cold outside (the coolest in 4 days- our teeth were rattling). Had a lot of fun mimicking 'dakkus' 'puhpa bhabhi' 'batman' etc with a blanket each and pulling each others leg. Eventually we retired to our beds still playing like crazy .. slowly the day ended, maybe after 1am.

For next day too we decided to leave late as our destination was to be Mandwa and later return to Pune via Pen. It was hard to imagine our ride was coming to an end, none of us wanted it to end- but good things too have an ending and tomorrow was the day for the same.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Konkan Bike Trail (Day 3 of 5)

I cant really say the day started, we were awake all night clapping the bugs away. Nachi woke up with a hood-ed sweatshirt - he said he got that on mid night to keep the buzz away. It was as early as 5:30am, we took a quick walk down to the ST stand in the wee hours for an amazing hot cup of tea. Back at the room we freshened up and were down to our bikes for the next days ride by around 7am. We had breakfast at a nearby restaurant- tea,pohe and puri kurma. Perfect, also witnessed an early morning minor skid accident.

The bikes roared back to life as we took quick directions for our ride to Ganapatiule via Nevare. This was an internal road that led through the heart of the city then went through the hills. Soon we rode off the city and were riding through a forest. At one point we were pretty confused at a turn and a local confirmed that the road to the left went over a new bridge and to Ganapatiule. Soon the hills were left behind and we came over a huge bridge- wonderful sights with the chill and the morning sun made this a perfect weather to ride. Once on the other side the road twisted and twined and soon we were on one of the most beautiful stretches we had ever seen on this coastal ride. The road went around a hill with the cliff dropping off to the left and the ocean beyond. The road was smooth tarmac and had grills along the cliff side (it sure did resemble "Route 1" for a minute). There was a beach far below and and it looked beautiful, alas we had a long day ahead. Took a halt and many pictures at this spot before we rode on.
The road curved along , led through a village and eventually we were on the main road that led to Ganapatipule to the left. This road was smooth and our speeds shit up. Soon were approached the mandir. Made some quick inquiries before we rode inside "No Entry" to park our vehicles next to line of little shops and hotels. (8:45am 664kms). We had an amazing breakfast (at a hotel Samrat )of wada usal, Nachi's recommendation and of course loads of tea. A few snaps and off we were to our next destination -Jaigad. (9am)

We backtracked our route a couple of kilometers then took a left for Jaigad. The road soon lost the luster but was still pretty good. We could see the distant cliff for Jaigad getting closer and rode over a plateau for that cliff. Here we took a halt at a cross road and asked locals for directions to the Jaigad jetty (and also about a "Rai Bhatkar" bridge to skip the jetty) and all answers were pretty confusing. We decided to visit the fort first. There is some power plant that has come up at this place with 2 huge chimney and defaces this place to all its might.

The road ended at a fence which had the fort of Jaiad (9:45am, 684.5kms). There was a police station to the left. Here we made inquiries with a person (possibly a cop) about the jetty and bridge. He gave us precise detailed information for our next leg, also said that we should go to the Jaigad jetty and not Jambhari since the latter had smaller boats. We paid Jaigad fort a quick visit , and found it to be no different from Vijaydurgh except that this was in a more sorry state. At about 10am our engines roared back life, we took a quick left from the cross road to the jetty. The road went twisting for sometime then eventually we came to a huge port. Quick inquiries revealed -the next boat was scheduled at 12pm. A local was offering us a ride to the other side at 100/- a bike (normal cost was 75/-). Our futile bargaining skills led us nowhere, but the local was kind enough to give us honest opinions about the bridge which was some 20kms away. Eventually we gave in for the boat-ride and parked our vehicles at the ramp.

The boat this time was a pretty big - looked like a mini house boat. The boat parked itself next to the ramp and then there was a repetition of the lift-bike load-bike saga. Soon all were mounted and our boat blasted to life. Out boatman was a young lad in his 20s with some 7-8 friends of the same age. The ride was pretty good and lasted a long time, in a few minutes we rode along side a bank and went further in towards the bank of Tawsal (Tausala) village. Dolphins too made an appearance every now and then. Once on the other side the boat parked itself next to some steps (low tide prevented us from unloading at the ramp) and then we had a saga of lifting the bikes off-boat then push them some distance then lower them to the ramp side and eventually to a local's little shack (11am 686.4kms).

Here we took a long break recouping from the stress activity and enjoyed an amazing glass of Kokam sharbat followed by tea. The place was tranquil with calm quiet waters and not a soul or any sort of pollution in sight. The local's son (a journalist) spent some time chatting with us, and shared all sorts of information about the area and also insisted we do let people know about this place. He pointed out the laid-back attitude of these locals some of whom from neighboring villagers sold their land to people from the city for a low cost. He had a spark and vision in him to do so much for his village (tourism centric and educational centric ideas) and said that no one from his village will or would sell land. The talk was interesting and he and his family particularly liked our idea of a bike ride along the coast. Well at about 11:30am we took quick directions before bidding them goodbye.

The road went trough trees and eventually rode by the waters. It went twisting leading to the usual breaks of open land at intervals. We soon rode past Velneshwar and Hedvi. Somehow I totally missed our path through these places, maybe I was too engrossed to the wonderfull surroundings and innocent looks on so many faces. The looks, as Nachi later pointed out, were pretty heartening- the kids saw their dreams go past them, the old folks saw what they could never do ride past , the middle aged people simply let the bike go past. None-the-less we eventually got down to Guhagar and here we had our next activity -visit the temple. (12:35pm 719.1kms).

Shree Vyadeshwar Devasthan. Here Nachi and me paid the temple a visit while Bandya decided to guard our bags. He sat near a little shop and had a nice time talking with the shop owner. The temple was pretty neat and tidy with a throng of devotees. The main shivaling was housed inside a hall and further down in a room with a huge angled mirror on top giving us devotees outside a good view. The arthi was to start soon, so Naci quickly got his archana done. Eventually we were out chatting with the shop owner, his wife asked us to visit a Durga temple down the road. We did nod but knew we wouldn't (press of time!) (1:00pm). Our next destination was Dhopave to get a ferry to the other side -Dabhol.

The road went uphill and we passed a point where we spotted a board to the Durga mandir. The road went up down and around little forested hills. Soon we came to a point where it got pretty confusing as to where the road for the jetty was. None the less we picked the right path and were on our way via little roads with the distant ugly sight of the power plant -Enron. The road got bad and our speeds fell.

We took a left and then a steep decline and further ahead the jetty was to the right (1:30pm, 733.6kms) . The Jetty was big and there were cars waiting. This was a ferry ride, where the boat could take in trucks as well. The person at the ticket counter informed us the boat would arrive in 20mins. So we sat near a local shop and had loads of wafers, tea and cold drinks. Sitting here, the 3 of us started rapping some words. Nachi suggested I do it in Marathi and so it came "Bankot Rap" it went "Maharaj ale eke kaali, jinkale te Vijaydurgi, nantar ale teen maharathi , hote te punyahooni , tyatla ek hota Vindiii, hota Bandya ani Nachiii.. Bankot.. aha Banko". From that day on anything we did or had to discuss was always part of Bankot rap :).

Our ferry arrived and many pictures later we rode straight into the launch. The boat was packed with vehicles. In no time the launch took off and headed for the other side. People were taking pictures and videos here - obviously travelers headed for Dapoli. Once at the other side we rode off the boat and decided on or next plan of action.(2:10pm). I stressed on the idea of riding via Ladgar to Dapoli- staying true to the virtue of a coastal ride, but possibly the tiredness made them think otherwise, some quick inquiries later we decided on taking the road via Ladgar. The road went uphill and continued straight. At a pont we came at a 'T' junction and some quick inquiries later were advised to take a left. The road got narrow and carried on endlessly. The fuel indicator was raging very low for my steed and that coupled with the hot sun made me enjoy this leg a little less. We arrived at a village, a right from there got us via Borondi which presented us some beautiful views of the beach. There were various villas here and many high end sedans parked as well. Riding past Ladgar the road led away from the coast and got us to a highway. We were at Dapoli. So effectively we made a 'U' detour off Dapoli highway and were back. Some quick inquiries and waiting for Bandya later we rode into the "hillstation". This place was packed with tourists. Many hotels and vacationers were loitering around. Here we filled up gas at a fuel station and eventually a bit of hunting later crashed at a "Hotel Vrundhavan" with Veg thalli on the menu. (3:10pm , 765.2kms).

Here we took a long break. It was 4pmby the time we departed and headed to Anjarla. The road was straight and was to be good tarmac as said by locals. And so it was, the road led off Dapoli and went down straight to the coast. Then on we were riding bang alongside the coast. An amazing sight and experience- untouched and kilometers of beach to the left and the road along side it. Here we took a few halts for some snappy sessions. Harne fort was visible in a distance. Soon roads lost their look and started misbehaving with torn tar here and there. The views of the beaches from here were amazing, low tides led to the formation of wonderful little lagoons. Eventually we rode through Harne and were now headed for Kelshi where road conditions deteriorated. Eventually we rode through Kelshi. The village was quiant but its roads were better left unmentioned- pathetic.Moving ahead roads got even worse. Nachi and Bandya by now were lagging far behind. I was riding alone- force to ride standing on most occasions. I mean it was a torture on the lower side. Soon we regrouped and carried ahead at a very slow pace. The roads became really bad in patches- to a point that the faithful Vijaydurgh-Jaitapur patch seemed better. Our speeds were ~20kmph. A cyclist- all attired- was pushing his bike in the opposite direction, I did want to have a chat with him, but looking at our condition and the setting sun, decided not to. The patch soon took a right and let up a very very ugly stretch uphill. This was unforgiving, relentless torture. But every bad thing has an end, and it came. Out of nowhere the path suddenly transformed to smooth tarmac, we could ride at better speeds down the road now.

The Bagmandala creek was now visible in a distance. The roads twisted downhill and eventually defaced itself. Spotting a ferry-board we took a bend to the left that went past a village. Then the same board reappeared and pointed right, this was a steep drop down to that same village! The road straight ahead led to Bankot. So I took the lead here and dropped down to the right for making inquiries. The village was deserted and I had no one to ask directions, then saw a kid playing in the quadrangle of a house. An elderly woman there was very pleased to see me and confirmed the direction to the Jetty but insisted I stay for some time and talk. But it was getting late with the sun setting fast so I pleaded my way out. Nachi and Bandya came thudding in shouting abuses -why I did not return back to confirm the directions, and had a good laugh over the scene I had to go through.

The road led to the jetty, which had a long path leading into the water where the ramp and ticket booking station was. We could spot the Bankot jetty at a distance in the golden dusk, this was "Vishwasa Jetty"(6:15pm ,826.4kms). Had some tea a local tea shack. The ferry ride was no different from the previous, all we needed to do was ride right in. The ride went through the dark waters- it was night by now. We had a good time chatting with the guy riding the ferry. Once on the other side(Bagmandala), it was quiet evident our next halt had to be Harihareshwar. The road was straight from Bagmandala. It possibly went through a canopy of trees (I really cant comment here since bike beams were my only sight of the road ahead). Soon we rode into Harihareshwar. Here we parked our vehicles next to the temple and Bandya our hotel-man got onto his task to get us a room for the night. (7:25pm 831.9kms).

Nachi and me sat at a tea store as Bandya came bouncing in with options, we picked on one and check the room. The guy who was managing this room was a young kid and was not wiling to reduce the price. We liked the room with no beds but 5 thick mattresses :). The 2 adjacent rooms had guests. We got our place to crash. Freshened ourselves up and relaxing and joking later we went down to a hotel and had some good konkani dinner. After this we decided to walk down to the temple and then go up a hill to sunset point. The temple was full of people, possible a colony/college gang staying in the rooms and quadrangle there. They were having a ball playing all sorts of games. Soon we went up the other side up a fleet of steps but returned defeated to the dark surroundings and Bandya's suggestive ghost stories :).

We paid the beach a visit, sat for sometime yapping all sorts of things and eventually called it a day. On the way back we stopped for ice cream at a hotel where the owner gladly offered us some amazing "black current sundays". So we had 2-3 of those -each. Here we called our folks back home from the STD booth before walking back to our room. Some chit chat and lots of laughs later the night ended to the calm of konkan.

The next day was not to be hectic, as we had our target set to no further than Alibaugh. So we decided to wake up late.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Konkan Bike Trail (Day 2 of 5)

Dawn sparked with Nachi's many wakeup calls stating at 8am. Quickly we scurried off our beds, rushed out to the boiler. This was an unique experience, getting out and siting next to the fading furnace to fill in water. Well soon we started getting our share of tea, pohe and upmas and were ready by 8 am. A few more snacks later we warmed up the engines, got attired for the days ride, settled the amount with the owner and were off to the nearby fuel station. It was ~9:40am.

The Vengurla Bazaar had pickup up life and there was a never ending halt in that little lane, soon the deadlock cleared and we fueled up at the nearest pump. From there we learnt we had to backtrack the bazaar and take a right to get to Malvan. The road led up a hill and twisted up giving us wonderful views of the ocean through the bushes lining the road. Soon the ride went through a patch of land as the road led as straight as it could to infinity - a barren patch on both sides and the black carpet beneath. The drive was wonderful and we crossed a wonderful bridge- the first of the many bridges we were to cross. Had a quick photo session and off we were towards Malvan. By now Bandya set the standard of racing ahead and clicking us as we rode in and I followed suite :).

We arrived at a 'T' junction - left led to Malvan/Tarkarli while right it we went towards NH17. We decided to halt at Malvan for breakfast near the S.T. bust stop at the same restaurant we had breakfast on our previous trip. Once at the S.T. stop we darted into the hotel and ordered some tea and a few snacks- Bandya cannot live on tea alone and that's written. Time was ticking at 11am, with 449.3kms on the odo). The waiter was the same enthusiastic guy single-handedly managing the whole crowd and also the constant batter of a guy seated next to us who was on some race to get what he ordered fast and gulp it the minute it was placed on the table. Amazing breakfast and re-living some old memories we took quick directions for Devgad (11:30am).

We had to back track a little and then take a left near some scrap yard as the road- a really bad patch- went through some not so good surroundings of marshy land. With the sun beating down at us and the roads- being the inner roads- kept our speeds at bay, but still we were getting some quick patches where we could see the endless road and let the needle turn at will. Soon we were riding by many political-party flags and saw the typical stage being setup for some 'bhashan' -philumi istyle, we went ahead and the the road took a dip to the left through a thick canopy and led to a village- A few locals confirmed it was Devgad ahead and the road behind led to Vijaydurgh. We decided to pay Devgad a visit. The road got narrow and led along side the waters to our right and ended at a gate. We went in, but decided not to linger around much- It was the fort of Devgad we were in. Here we got down to a little coral beach to the side, took some snaps, stretched ourselves before leaving for Vijaydurgh. (12:40pm, 504.1 kms )

The ensuing part of the ride was pretty much event less with us riding through similar landscapes. In about an hour we were at Vijaydurgh(1:50 pm). We were more interested in the port, since we needed to cross the huge bay to the other side. We rode alongside the waters and soon spotted the wonderful fort of Vijaydurgh. We rode right in and asked locals about the boats to ferry us. Everyone said the next boat to leave would be at 3pm. Some even said due to low-tide the boats would not leave. One very kind local at the fort suggested we take a new bridge -Ambarli bridge- which was supposedly some 20 kms away to get to the other side, he also pointed out in the distance, across the waters, to some mud cut area saying that's where the bridge was. He was a nice guy and invited us to visit "his" fort :). Well we took our steeds to a hotel Suruchi parked it there and had the best konkani lunch! Man having local food is precisely my idea of a perfect meal- not the paneer crap. Post lunch we went on to visit the fort, I had to pull the tired Nachi and Bandya in (or so I thought). The fort was pretty clean and surprisingly not in shambles, much of it was reconstructed and it looked like a strong fort. We set a turn-around time of 3pm and down we were by that time, only to be told by the locals that there were no boats - we had little choice but to ride down to Ambarli bridge. (15:05pm ,534.4kms)

The rest of the ride was going to prove to be a test for our patience, concentration, physical-torture etc etc. The initial section of the road was good and it seemed pretty cool and pretty much what we experienced earlier. Soon we came to a junction and on inquiries were directed onto a dust path. Some 2 wheelers coming off the opposite side confirmed our direction. (I guess we were at 'Padel Thitta'). The road was a mere dust path with stones strewn along and cut rocks along the side- this road was to be built soon. Our speeds fell considerably as the terrain shifted from bad to pathetic to worse and the color of our pathway transformed from shades of brown to black to white. The "road" went through a pass cut through the hill and led down a steep descent to the left and a few twists later we passed a little bridge hardly 30 ft in length and the scene re-iterated itself to the other side. That was the much hyped Ambarli bridge?!- that puny little thing we passed to torture our ass for the last over 1/2 hour! NO- we were to be proven wrong.

Soon the dust path ended to a good road as we reached the middle of nowhere with a whole bunch of stone workers at a mine. All of them were pretty exited to see us red-clad clowns attired under the beating sun. We asked them for Jaitapur jetty. Here there were mixed opinions, a couple said they would not load enfields on the boat- they suggested we take the road to Rajapur on NH17 and drive around the creek to the other side of Jaitapur. A quick discussion later we decided to ride down to the jetty and take all what comes at us. So we went straight across towards Jaitapur, very soon we came at another cross road and here we took a left along a good looking road and ended up at a village. There the friendly locals spoke a lot and assured us that all bikes could be loaded in the boat and directed us some 10 kms back along the road we came and go straight up till a big hut like structure from where we were to take a left. So we did that. This patch was an ugly tar road . It was bad. Slowly inching ahead. There were times when I would race ahead and wait for for my compadres to team in.

Soon we came at something that looked like an intersection with a broad mud path (no different that our previous - only broader) leading to the left. A couple of vehicles came in from that side, and they confirmed we had to take that path. A local standing near a house like structure confirmed the same "Aho hyoch rasta hay .. Highway hay hyo!" - He called that darn path a highway!!. He said the path ahead along the tar road led to Rajapur. We had little option and in we threw ourselves to the mud path. Here we rode along the corners of the path where it was relatively better- that meant 2 things: 1. Our asses bore less torture and 2. We could have a smother ride. But that had one drawback: at certain points when we had to get back towards the central section it translated to slips and skids. Our speeds were roughly 20 -30 all along this path as it went from village to another and finally through a cut mountain pass and LO!!!! We were on this huge bridge that crossed the creek with the ocean to our left- AMBARLI BRIDGE!. Yeah man we rode across with our thumbs up. The mud path ensued to the other side and soon it ended at a silk smooth tar road it had a board Jatapur to the left- some 10 kms!

From here we zipped, we threw ourselves at the road and made up for all that torture. This seemed like silk skidding over butter for our lower sides and we sped as the milestones zipped by 10 -9 -8... 6 I stopped for a snap as Nachi and Bandya passed and on - 5-4-3-2 .. We were at Jaitapur (5pm, 581.1 kms) as we saw the port. It was extremely small and simple, a quick inspection got our horrors to light - we had to load our steeds on a fisherman's boat. A few inspections and apprehensions later we decided to cross by boat. It was a macho task lifting those enfields manually onto a little boat- lots of sweat and muscles later all 3 steeds were on boat ready to ride across. The boat-man was very confident and said he did that every day and assured nothing bad would happen. We enjoyed it :). In 10 minutes we arrived to the side side. The unloading saga played in reverse. Again a drain of sweat and energy. We were on the other side by boat! There was a bridge being constructed across the creek and that would translate to a dip in the bat-man's wages. Local's said the work was in full swing and that the bridge should be done in a year. Had some quick refreshments at the local shop with kids darting in for their own tit-bits "taai 2 rupaye che goli dena - 3 rupaye cha icecream dena" etc. It was very relaxing. A few inquiries for directions and we pushed on for our ride ahead. (5:30pm, 581.1kms)
Our road for the rest of the ride was to be via Pawas to Ratnagiri. Some locals suggested we could also stay Bhatye. We rode on. The road was amazing and very smoth - highway standards. Soon we passed though Pawas, there was possibly some function on at the Samadhi there as the whole village was bustling with people. Soon we rode through some amazing twisties as we neared a beach that we mistook for Bhatye, moving on we arrived at Bhatye with the sun fading (6:40pm, 632.6 kms)). Here I called Prasad to check if he could arrange for some accommodation at a hotel in Ratnagiri, but he said that all were full. None-the-less we moved into an over crowded- mini metro city of Ratnagiri. Nachi and Bandya did the hard part of searching us a room as I guarded our bags. We were to lodge at Shraddha Lodge.(7:15pm ,635.1kms)

The lodge was perfect and bang amidst the bazaar. The room had a double bed and I opted for the floor. Here we relaxed. Later took a quick cold shower, which was rejuvenating after the torture we were put through. Soon we left for dinner. Me being familiar with this place, took us by rick to a Hotel Amantran. Had an amazing Konkan meal with "Wade" (Puri like rotis). Back at the lodge, we laughed at our original prospect of riding to Hedvi. The night was sleepless with the blood thirsty mosquitoes making sure we did not sleep.

The stop for the next day was to be Harihareshwar or Diveagar. We were pretty exited for this day as it was to cover some interesting points of Guhagar-Velneshwar, Dhabol and also 2 boat rides!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Konkan Bike Trail (Day 1 of 5)

It was that time of the year. Holidays and a long vacation announced by our company. Nachiket planned on another trip, but we had nothing concrete in mind. A day before the actual trip we had explored options of rides to Mt. Abu, a ring expedition Pune-Hyderabad-Bangalore-Bijapur-Pune, drive down to Dandeli stay a couple of days there and return and the well favored ride -all along the coast of konkan. Eventually by the time Bandya, after all his 'nakharas', teamed in -the destination decided: Pune->Vengurla via Amboli ->Ride along the Konkan coast with day1 halt at Vengurla;day2 around Hedvi; day3 around Diveagar and day4 around Alibaugh and finally back to Pune via Tahmini or Pen.

The plan was good and after usual delays we were finally at Sinhagad Phata at about 7:15am. Standing here we could recollect memories from the Karwar trip and we decided to keep the speed at ~80kmph along NH4. The engines roared to life as we thudded down the highway and in no time were past the Katraj bypass. We had decided to take a halt at the Bharat Petrol Pump post Natraj hotel. It felt good, we did not speed and maintained a max of ~80kmph. Fueled up, we decided on our next halt post Khambatiki Ghat at one of the many stalls for breakfast. Off we flew and zipped down the highway . Khambatki arrived and then came the incredible twisties- but early morning mist got the roads wet and we had to administer caution taking lean means. 8am -we were at a food stall past Khambatki, judged a couple of stores finally settled for one with pohe, wada and our fist of the thousands of cups of tea!(8am, 71.6 kms) Nachiket's enfield caught its ritual leak- one of the pipes was cut and that made way for a minor oil leak. A quick purchase of a cello-tape and a fine patch up put things at bay. Here we spent some quality time- kept discussing all sorts of things, I mean wih 3 monkeys like us laughter is not a premium.

Ah well, we carried on and made a tentative decision to halt post Karad at the hotel we stopped at on our previous ride or halt after an hour. It was 8:45 when we left. Here the ride got pretty monotonous and some how I decided to skip the 80 game and take a speed shot. We rode past Satara, the distant hill forts seemed to be floating on air with Clouds still lingering low over the city. Soon I lost Bandya and Nachi off the rear views. A few misses later we all synced up at the hotel past Karad for our next breakfast halt- Hotel Ruchura. Time was ticking at 10:15 (173.1 kms). A few relaxing stretches and mindless talks later we zipped off and decided to halt only if needed but making the Shippur hotel our next defined halt. The ride here was no different the usual monotonous highway with the sun rising high over our heads. Bandya and me started playing formation games and very soon we teamed Nachya in and all three of us played circle formations. Believe me this helps! It helps you kill the monotone. Well the traffic was starting to pick up and after some 1/2 hr of formation play we decided to simply ride our own way ahead. Very soon we were on Karnataka roads and NH4 bore the Expressway look. Rules there were to be broken at ones whim- "excellent roads" + "bad sense of driving" = "bad roads" :). Well we had to face this for some time. The fuel gauge started nearing the red mark and that made me search for pumps. But soon we rode past Nipani and I knew the hotel was near and we thudded in.
Hotel Satyawati (~12 noon) with his over enthusiastic owner made the halt there wothwhile. Here we were directed to abandon NH4 and take the road we saw opposite the highway -that would lead to Amboli via Ajra. We were also told that the nearest fuel station was ~20kms down that road. With 273kms on the odo and 12:40 on the clock we took the not so good road leading to Ajra. Enroute we went past Ollur (we had to bypass the idea of visiting Nachi's relative here due to press of time). The roads were not good and we had to be very careful negotiating various twists. All through we were finding it hard to even jump past 40. Eventually we arrived at the fuel station and got the mettle-bellies full(1:10pm, 292 kms). The road ahead went under a lot of shade with the forest thickening up to the kilometer. Riding behind trucks was very irritating, since at many places the roads were pretty thin and we'd have to get partially off road to overtake, also trailing cars was a pain since they'd put breaks at almost all ticks of the clock to the patchy bad roads. Bandya was far ahead with me trailing Nachi. That's when it happened, I honked hard and steady, Nachi stopped and I said "I have a flat rear tyre dude" We honked hard and saw Bandya ride off. Off we got our steeds contemplating ona plan of action. Quick inquiries from a couple of locals only revealed - the mechanic would be available at Amboli about 10 kms from where we were. (2:10pm, 333.5 kms)

Nachiket and me decided to get the rear wheel off ourselves and stuff in the new tube (The previous day, we bought a new tube- just for such occasions). The CBZ gave us a tough time getting the wheels off the body- that's when Bandya trailed in. "Damn guyz- I was waiting for you some 2 kms ahead ready to snap a pic of you guyz riding in" - we had a hearty laugh and got the wheel off the bike. Decided to change the tube ourselves and did it in the not-the-way-to-do-it method. Like clowns we stood on the wheel loosing the tyre and pulled off the tube, a quick inspection revealed the culprit: a darn nail -got rid of it. Soon stuffed in the new tube and again using the most hilarious methods possible in a truthful bid to do it right got the tube in and on started the air filling saga. 15 mins of sweat and excursion did not even get 1 PSI in the tube, that's when Nachi and Badya decided to ride off (on Bandya's thunderbird) to Amboli to fill in some air while I was to sit it out amidst the jungle. (2:50 pm)

The jungle was quiet and occasionally vehicles bounced by making me, the CBZ w/o the rear wheel, the glittering Nachi's red bird a sight to watch. No one, I mean not even one even cared to ask if I needed help -Jerks! Oh well. There was this little lake behind- so trotted off there and freshened myself up. The wait was exhaustive- so killed time with some photographic sessions. At about 3:15 got a call from Nachi "Vindya- the tube we put in that too was punctured!". "What... how.. we checked it yesterday". "The screwdrivers we used to tug the tube in managed to slit the tube a bit". Agghh.. So it took them some 15 minutes to fix the tyre and some 20 more minutes before they finally arrived. Then started the mania to get the wheel back onto the bike. Munching on wafers and joking over the past event and bathing in sweat, the vehicle was finally ready to shoot down the road. It was 4:15 when we finally bid my rest place goodbye.

Soon in about 1/2 hour we arrived at Amobli and stopped at a Hotel Swagat for lunch, but ended up having omlettes cold drinks and the ritual tea(4:35pm, 345.5 kms). "Who serves lunch at this hour" was the expression of the owner there :). Here we met a guy who appreciated our efforts to ride down all the way and glowed at our prospect of the coastal ride. Its that glow and such positive attitudes that gave us the strength, stamina and the right mindset to execute this trip in a flawless manner. Some 20 minutes later we left the village and were soon on a ghat- Amboli Ghat! What views.. What roads... What environment .. simply stupendous. It was a ghat through a jungle that led down over a majestic carpet of tar. We did take a photographic halt enroute where Bandya enjoyed his primate friends. The ride was effortless and the sun was setting low behind the canopy in a distance as we reached ground level. Very soon took a right some 3.5 kms before Sawantwadi to get to Vengurla. A couple of kilometers later we touched on NH17 rode a few kilometers before we got off it to ride down the State Highway to Vengurla. We saw the sun set in a distance as we thudded down the beautiful road at breakneck speeds to finally reach the town of Vengurla.

A few inquiries later we were directed to go straight, and the road ended at the port -Vengurla Bandhar. The clock ticked at 6:40pm and odo read at 401.8kms. We were at "our" Southern tip of Konkan. Took some time out and relaxed by the port looking around the soon setting darkness. Bandya -our hotel search man- very soon found a wonderfull place for us. Hotel Sea View had about 5 rooms with 3 beds and an attached toilet each with a hospitable owner and his family with a very reasonable price of 300/-. How can you say no! Well we soon crashed in - had a very chilly bath and were all fresh and ready for dinner. We were directed to one Hotel Amantran. This place was like a resort but the food was your typicall city food -Punjabi-Chineese no konkani stuff! Man I would not recommend this place if you want good local food- but I will recommend this place for its setting and the wonderful ambiance of amazing classic-old background music and the helpful waiters. Here we had the time of our lives- soon we picked on Kachara (the character from the movie Lagaan) and made all sorts of situations spice up around him -every little thing we spoke had Kachra in it. Then jokes after jokes , added to it the line of empty bottles, this was a laughter riot. Finally at maybe 11pm or so we decided to quit and walk down the street. The night was cold but our talk and jokes kept the chill away. The sky was lit up with a million LEDs- a sight we city dwellers dearly miss.

Soon we stood by the port and saw the fishermen catch their bait and spoke to them about how they go about it etc. It was some quality time we spent, then on my perusal we decided to climb up a hill to the lighthouse. But unfortunately the gate was shut so we decided to return only to find that our hotel Sea View had its door shut as well. Lots of noise and shouts later the owner woke off his dreams and let us 3 idiots in. Lots of talk and chats later we decided to at least try and reach Ratnagiri if not Hedvi for the next day.

We did assume that going anyplace beyond the Ratnagiri-Jaigad landmass could be and overkill- the next day's ride proved us absolutely correct. The lights went off with many drunk goodnights to the wee hours as we slid into dream land with the waves lashing against the bank across the street.

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