Anyway, this time we were not in a mood to experiment with or seek new places. We just packed a bag, loaded the car and drove off to Murud, our favourite beach getaway.
There are many routes that can be taken to the Western belt of beaches ... and we have tried most of them.We have tried the route via Tamhini and Penn .... the ghats are beautiful if you are going in the monsoons ....what with the greenery and waterfalls and fog all around ..... but the roads are pitiful. It is a torture for the driver, the passenger(s) as well as the car.
All you need is to touch the Goa highway, NH-17 ... and then take any right turn to reach whichever beach you want to.
I am giving a map here that we had seen at the Harihareshwar resort.
Since we drive at a leisurely pace and stop whenever and wherever we want to, I cannot say exactly how long will it take to reach Murud from Pune.
But, if you drive at a stretch, a good guess is 4-5 hrs max.
If you start very early in the morning, then you will have the sun behind you .... which makes a difference .... coz starting late amd moving towards the west means having the sun beating down on you mercilessly throughout the drive.
We took the Pune-Mumbai expressway, from Pune .... and took the exit at Khalapur.
Remember to mention Khalapur at the toll booth .... else they will hand you a ticket for Kusnapur .... and at the exit ... which is not more than 100 mtrs away .... the guys will extract extra money from you.
A warning - just after the exit .... for about 300 metres ... keep a lookout for a huge ... huge crater on the road. If you are going by a car .... especially a small car ... do keep a lookout for it ... else it can do major damage to your car. Why? Coz the road is very good .... and you tend be in high speed ... and this dugout comes as a bad surprise.
After it ... the rest of the road is good.
Our first stop was at the Food mall .... picked up some calorie and sodium laden crunchies and munchies ... and also a pizza from U.S.Pizza. (It turned out to be the most tasteless pizza we have ever had). I hate cheese ... and it was so bland I Indianised it with some Haldiram bhujia sev. :-)
From Khalapur take the Penn connector .... the roads are really good here and there is hardly any traffic .... and I absolutely love to drive on this stretch ..... and you reach Vadkhal Naka in no time. Proceed to Alibaug and keep on going till you reach Murud.
The drive from Alibaug to Murud is through a small ghat .... and there is dense jungle on one side and the sea plays hide and seek on the other.
The sangam of a river (I forget the name ... will update later) and the sea.
Enroute, Kashid is also a great place for a break. The sea is slightly rough here ... but there are tea and fresh coconut water stalls. There are hammocks strung to the trees and this place makes for a great break.
Fresh and refreshing coconut at Kashid.
The beach at Murud is flat and the sea kind of laps the shore with small waves ... it is a safe and quiet beach. Below is the view from our window.
From our window we saw ,very early in the morning ..... bats settling down for the day.
During noon the water comes high up ... but this time it was full moon ... so we could see the water right up to the road at midnight. That was a sight to see!
Getting food in Murud is no problem ... but if you want good food ... and authentic local cuisine ... go to Patil's Inn. Now, this place is easy to miss .... there is a turn to the left of the main road ... go inside and you will find an open space filled with coconut trees.
It is here, under the canopy of the coconut trees that the plastic chairs and tables are laid.
Mornings are beautiful here .... sitting under the trees and having .......... a plate of hot poha / misal pav .... and of course a glass of their ginger tea .... is absolute bliss. The best part is the quiet all around ... with only the rustle of leaves and some bird calling out now and again.
Lunch and dinner is thalis ... chicken / fish / crab / vegetarian. The food is simple and absolutely divine !
There are steps cut into the coconut trees ... people climb up every morning and collect fresh juice from the coconut tree.
We noticed two new things this time .... the sea has moved back a lot .... exposing a vast expanse of beach .... and for the first time saw so many birds here.
Another very strange thing we noticed both evenings was a herd of cows would walk down to beach right up to the water and stand there quietly. They would stay there, facing the water till the sun set and darkness settles.
More snaps coming up ......
The Janjira fort is a few kms away. You need to take a sailboat to reach there.
For any details ... leave a line at kichukhonn[at]gmail[dot]com .... and I'll respond. :-)