While the one through Tamhini and Mulshi is extremely picturesque, especially during the monsoons, the one from Khalapur pass has a good road and you can reach faster. The Pune-Mumbai highway is a pleasure to drive on ... considering that you stick to a steady speed and the right lane. Else impatient people can zoom by you from your wrong side ... leaving you with a high BP and wobbly knees for a long while.
We decided to leave early so that we can get the morning coolness for a long time in the journey. As we were heading west we had no problem regarding the direct sun ... but the heat would definitely increase as the day advances. We always drive at a leisurely pace ... stopping here and there to take snaps or enjoy a quiet place or grab a snack. This gives hubby some rest and driving on for a long time never becomes a problem. Only we keep in mind to reach before sundown.
The road to Harihareshwar is smooth and in extremely good condition.
We took the route - Pune-Mumbai expressway -> Khalapur exit ( it slopes down to the right if you are driving from Pune ... so keep to the right well before hand else you can easily miss it) ->Penn -> Vadkhal naka -> National highway ( nh17 ) towards Panaji (Goa) -> then any right turn for beaches like Murud, Srivardhan, Harihareswar, etc. ->Mhasla -> Harihareswar .
We reached Alibaug well within 3 hours and hubby was in two minds whether to take the turn to Murud and spend the day there ... we can always leave for Harihareshwar the next day. I must mention here that there was no reason for this other than Murud is our favourite getaway. Whenever we get a free weekend with all errands and pending chores done ... which is actually rare ... we head for this beautiful beach.
Anyway ... we finally agreed that since we have set off for a new place ... a new place we will go to. If we don't like it there ... we can always head back to Murud and spend the rest of our stay there.
We had heard a lot about the MTDC resort in Harihareshwar ... it is on the cove .... both from friends and blogs. We decided to stay there. We called up the resort and asked to book a room for us. The guy on the phone casually said that there is enough availability and we can book once we reach there. Fine with us. We reached around a little after 2 o'clock in the afternoon. When we approached for a booking we were told there was only one cottage left ... and that too was being booked by a couple right away. While we were considering trying another hotel luck favoured us. The couple did not have enough cash ... and the MTDC guys would not take cheque. So the we got the cottage automatically.
Another lesson learnt ... while going to remote places ... always have cash handy. Plastic money does not work there ... in fact to withdraw money the afore mentioned couple would have to travel all the way to Mhasla as the neasrest ATM was there.
The cottage came for 1400 bucks. It was beautiful though ... surrounded by trees and a small hillock, the view was excellent. It had an AC and a small open sitting area.
Even though it was late we were told that we can get lunch ... but only thali.
Great! I love thalis ... only because there is no stress of going through a menu card and deciding on a few dishes ... that most of the time won't be available ... and then we go through the menu again ... an exhausting process.
We freshened up and reached the open air restaraunt. It is right above the sea and the view is beautiful. The food is brought over to your table from the kitchen ... and remember to keep an eye on the guys bringing it. The breeze actually blows away your roti and if you are not alert enough ... there is a chance that the same one will be picked up, dusted and put back on your plate. :-)
Anyway, we were tired and the hot, simple food was great. If you can ignore the crows ... who won't hesitate to sit on your table and glower at you as if you are the intruder ... and the few cats ... who will keep rubbing themselves against your legs .. till you are exasperated enough to throw a few bits as far as possible .... you can really enjoy the food ... with the sea in the foreground.
Evening was spent on the beach ... which is a walk down a slope. Though rocky at some parts, there was enough flat, sandy beach to walk on.
The place turns wonderful at night. Just sitting near the dark sea and enjoying the cool breeze felt so good.
We spent the next morning in the water for a long while. Then had a great breakfast of dosas, poha and idli with tea.
Then left Harihareshwar for our journey back.
On the way we went through Srivardhan ... but did not like the beach ... so did not spend any time there. The drive was great and we were pleasantly surprised when it started to rain near Lonavla. We decided to pick up some date chikkis ... our fav .... and had some hot tea standing near the road in the rain.
It was a great trip ... all in all. :-)