Sometimes the best can be found in your backyard. And here I go exploring an area which is so close, yet so far!
One can ride to Goa a number of times yet never take coastal route as it takes almost 4 days via SH4. Although SH4 is called a highway, in reality it’s nothing more than a country road. On numerous occasions, it runs into the water and a ferry must be taken to cross to the other side. It was evident that if I wanted to do complete coastal route it should be an independent ride only to explore the Konkan region. Hence, the dream of a long stretched dedicated bike trip to Konkan was always coming up. The time finally arrived on 16th Dec 2017.
The ferries that I took can transport a car as well as a bus. In fact all the ferries could accommodate 8-12 cars. So this itinerary can also be used by those who decide to drive on the coastal route.
Before the ride I was provided tyres by CEAT. I had tested these tyres for less than 100 km before the ride and the initial impression was very good. The tyres have better grip as compared to stock tyres on my Yamaha R3. After the first 100 kilometres I was looking forward to clocking more miles on them. The tyre specs for my Yamaha R3: Front: CEAT 110/70-17 Zoom XL F TL 54H, Rear: CEAT 140/70-17 Zoom XL TL 66H.
The toughest part was to decide which places to discover and which to skip, since there are many island forts, virgin beaches, temples and abandoned ruins along the way. Below is the route that I opted for after doing an extensive pre-ride analysis.
Day 1: Mumbai – Panvel – Vadkhal Naka – Kelghar – Agardanda – Ferry Crossing – Dighi – Shrivardhan – Harihareshwar.
Day 2: Harihareshwar – Ferry Crossing – Kelshi – Anjarle – Harnai – Dabhol – Ferry Crossing – Dhopave -Guhagar – Velneshwar Temple – Rohile Beach – Tavasal – Ferry Crossing – Jaigad Lighthouse – Ganpatipule.
Day 3: Ganpatipule – Arey Ware Beach – Ratnagiri – Ganeshgule – Padel Canteen – Devgad Lighthouse – Devgadh Windmill farms – Malvan.
Day 4: Malwan – Gaganbawda – Kholapur – Mumbai
A day before the ride, I had worked till late in the evening leaving very little time for packing, yet somehow packed my bags before bed. I woke up at 6 but was able to start my ride at 9 due to some unexpected delays. Plans as always are made to be broken!
Day 1: Mumbai to Harihareshwar:
I started at 9. AM which was quite a late start, so I expected traffic on the way till Vadkhal Naka for the first 70 Kms. And the infamous NH17 didn’t disappoint. A few breaks later I reached Agardanda ferry crossing. Took the alternate route to reach Agardanda via Kelghar. As soon as I reached Agardanda Jetty at 1.00 PM, the ferry was there waiting for the vehicles to come in. Directly went in and parked my bike. Don’t know if it was a paid service or not, but I didn’t buy a ticket and nobody asked me to show one! The ferry ride lasted for 10 minutes and we reached Dighi.
As soon as I reached Dighi, I met a British rider couple Jojo and Catherine who were on a Royal Enfield and were riding from Mumbai to Goa via the coastal route. We all were looking for a place to have lunch and found one a few kilometres ahead. We had awesome prawns rice there. We discussed our plan and went our way hoping to meet again.
It was almost 4.30 PM when I reached Shrivardhan Beach. Had a stroll along the beach clicked few pictures and went ahead. I rushed towards Harihareshwar since I didn’t book any accommodation and could see many tourists heading in that direction. Reached Harihareshwar and looked for a place to spend the night. After looking at 2-3 places settled for a place called Khadapa Lodge (8446538741) and the room was decent enough with safe parking and clean toilets and that’s all that I wanted!
There’s not much to do there after dark, so I had dinner at the restaurant of the same lodge and went off to sleep ready for the next day.
Day 2: Harihareshwar to Ganpatipule:
As planned I woke up at 6, had tea and quickly hopped onto the beach. The beach was very clean compared to Alibaug Beach. Clicked many pictures and pulled some burnouts on the new CEAT tyres (the child in me couldn’t stop grinning). Next I visited Shri Kshetra Harihareshwar Temple. It is a holy place of pilgrimage and as the Government of Maharashtra has designated Harihareshwar as a tourist place, the place has seen a great influx of tourists. On one side is Savitri River, also known as Bankot Creek. On the other side is the huge expanse of the ocean and jutting out into the sea is a promontory that is Hariharswhar. Because of its holy status it is also called the Kashi of the South or Dakshin Kashi.
After visiting temple, had a quick breakfast at the restaurant in the lodge and packed my bags for the next leg of the ride. I knew it will be a busy day as I had to catch three ferries and still reach Ganpatipule on time to search for accommodation. Started from Harihareshwar at 9 to reach Bagmandla, which is 4-5 km away from Harihareshwar. As soon as I reached the jetty, I could see a biking group waiting for the ferry to arrive. There were some 20 bikes within the group and couple of cars in queue. Had a little chit chat with the group members and got to know that there were riding back to Pune. Again I didn’t pay any amount for the ferry service. Once I reached Kelshi the roads become very bad until I reached Anjarle, where the average speed was below 25 kmph.
As soon as I crossed Anjarle beach, got to see a magnificent top view of the beach from the hill.
Clicked few pictures on the same spot and quickly started riding towards Dabhol, where I had to catch another ferry towards Dhopave. This time too I didn’t pay any amount for the ferry, but the attendant asked for ticket on the ferry and I couldn’t produce one. He asked for ₹50 as fine towards a ticket of ₹65! The road passes through the controversial Dabhol Power Station. Within no time I reached Guhagar and started looking for restaurants to have lunch. Stopped at Hotel Rajgad and while I was about to order my lunch I saw Jojo and Catherine whom I had met the previous day. They were wandering and also looking for a place to have lunch. I knew somehow we will meet today as well. We again had lunch together and since this was our second meet we clicked a few pictures as well.
Bid them adieu and went ahead towards Tavasal Ferry crossing. The roads went through villages and were very narrow. Even the uphill section was very narrow and steep. At one section the roads completely disappeared into muddy and stone block road. But that lasted for around 1-1.5 km and could see the view of magnificent Rohile Beach. Reached Tavasal ferry crossing where I bought ticket for first time and it cost me 55 rupees. Ferry timing was for 5.45 and due to some technical problems the ferry arrived at 6. The ride lasted for 10 minutes and soon I started riding towards Ganpatipule. It was already late when I reached there and started hunting for rooms. Got one with ample and safe parking. Had dinner at nearby restaurant and went to sleep early as next morning I had to visit Ganpatipule temple.
Day 3: Ganpatipule – Malvan
So I woke up at 6 and visited temple at 6. Had a quick darshan of the lord and bought some prasad for people back home. Next on the list was Arey Ware Beach.
The main purpose of this trip was to witness the incredible Arey Ware Beach. This is one of the best virgin beaches the western coast has to offer. Spent some time at this location clicking pictures and went off towards Malwan. Before that I had to reach Devgad Windmill farms and Sarjekot as well and reach Malwan before 5 for some water sports activity.
After visiting this amazing places, headed to Malwan to search for accommodation. Found one place called Laxmi Ganesh Nyahari Niwas (9420734134), the rooms were very small even for a single person. I would not recommend this place to anyone but for someone who is on a tight budget. I have been to Malwan already so I had already visited Sindhudurg fort. Wanted to do water sports but it was getting dark so all centres were about to close and I had to give them a miss. Went around town and tried a few local delicacies. Wanted to sleep early as next day I had to ride back to Mumbai.
Day 5: Mumbai to Malwan via GaganbawdaIt was to be a long day of almost 500 km, and I was already missing this incredible ride to coastal Maharashtra. I was riding slow as I wanted to make most of the time left. Took an alternate route via Gaganbawda ghat to reach Kholapur and then Pune. Reached Mumbai by 6.30 and yet another great ride came to an end.
The CEAT tyres that I used took all that came its way. This tyre is very economical, but performs just like more expensive rubber. Only once the tyre fishtailed because of loose gravel and another time I had to panic brake because of unmarked speed breaker, and these tyres handled those two scary moments very well. These are great for your bike if you are looking for predictable tyre to ride on safely in both wet and dry conditions. The road grip is excellent. You just can’t get better for the price it is offered at.