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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Far from the madding crowds.....

                                   Here is a short travelogue from my sis ..with pictures.

  It all began with a casual chat with Sandhya about her holiday at Anjarle- a remote dwelling among the untrodden ways beside the coast of Konkan. Ever since, I wanted a modest 3 day holiday to that place and it took me nearly a year and a half to make it happen. The last family outing we had was 3 and half years back, to Kadkani, Coorg. 

   I surfed the net and booked the Kamat's Lotus Resorts at Murud of Harnai-Dapoli  ( there is another Murud beach at Janjira to which place I've been with Nandu, Vedu and Lavan on 26th Dec 2004-just when tsunami in Indian Ocean hit Tamil Nadu ) for a diwali vacation- but it was not to be as I suffered a slight setback in health. 

The advance money was non-refundable, but I could still avail of the stay within a time of 2 months subject to availability of rooms, after which time, it would lapse. Fortunately, I could make it in the 3rd week of Dec.

This beach on the konkan coast ( the western coast line of peninsular India is divided into Malabar coast of Kerala and Konkan coast of Goa-maharashtra) is actually just about 180 or so kms from Pune, but it would have been a roller coaster ride, given the road conditions- so we took a different route of about 240kms one way, across 4 districts-Pune, Satara, Raigad and Ratnagiri.

Day 1-16.12.2011-Friday:

After breakfast, left at 7.45 am-took the Bombay-Bangalore highway-got to spot some windmills on the hilltops on the way-took a right turn towards Mahabhaleshwar. Stopped briefly at Wai just to click snaps of the mandirs on the river banks-the only reason being they had featured in SRK's 'Swades'. Stopped at Panchgani for a toilet break. Panchgani btw, is famous for residential schools where many celebrity children have been schooled and Aamir Khan married Kiran Rao at his farm house there in an exclusive 'do'-don't mind the trivia or else the travel would feel more like a travail.

Mahabhaleshwar is the only hill station of repute in Maharashtra and so the Pune and Bombay crowd goes 'ga ga' over it-but it's no patch on our Ooty, Kodai or even Yercaud. Anyway, we reached the resort after a 6 hr journey of which 4 hrs were in the ghat section, through Wai, Maha..eshwar, Poladpur, Khed and Dapoli. 

The last stretch was very much like the drive to Kadkani with lush greenery on either side. The resort's signboards started greeting us every 2 km of the last 20 kms. It was 1.45 pm when we reached and so we headed for lunch rightaway. Food is a la carte but unlimited and all breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner are included in the package. I was suddenly overcome with a craving for 'கொழுக்கட்டை'  and on my demand, they served me that as dessert at dinner-Ask and thou shalt be given! The konkan region is famous for fish delicacies and so I told the girls to try it, but they chose to dig into to chicken and panneer instead.

Sukan retired to the room while the three of us sun bathed on the hammocks overlooking the beach. Later, as Chandru watched the sunset, lavan and I roamed around the beach. The sea is rather quiet with modest waves making it look more like a massive wave pool.  The sand is a shiny greyish black- கரிசல் மண். The crabs had left strange tracks on the sand-one even looked like the Palm Jumeirah of Dubai- Lavan says I just can't stop drawing parallels no matter what, which I must admit, is true. Later on, C and I spent a quiet time listening to the waves in the cool night air.

Day 2-17.12,2011-Saturday:

Daybreak saw Sukan and self on the beach. Murud beach is lined with 4 or 5 resorts all in a line parallel to the sea-all their backyards open out to the beach, with only the guests of the respective resort seen on the beach-it can't get any more private than this in India. The beach wore a new look now- the tide was low now and the previous evening's high tide had left a strip of shallow stream ( thank you, I appreciate you noticed the alliteration)- as you walk towards the sea, you first cross the narrow stream, kick some sand before the waves wash your feet. 

Sukan got so  busy spotting hermit crabs and oyster shells that she forgot to play badminton-we had lugged the rackets all the way from Pune. Shells were collected with an eye for variety, washed and wrapped for safekeeping ( and forgotten soon after it got packed-where on earth is it now?-who knows and who cares!). Day to go sight seeing. Suvarnadurg fort is a sea fort and one has to reach there by ferry at the mercy of local fishermen and it's not maintained well, I was told. 

Dabhol power plant is quite far away and is only of academic interest; Keshavraj temple is a trek of 150 steps and climbing in the hot sun is not everyone's cup of tea and is better enjoyed in a group. Dolphin-spotting can become a nightmare with no life jackets provided-just  a few months ago, several people drowned when their boat capsized-moreover, dolphins may not oblige you with a darshan-they are not IBM after all ( on demand, I mean). So I decided on a sensible 'sights for sour eyes' only- as one drives to the Kadyavarcha Ganpati mandir (ganpati mandir on a cliff) one gets to have a panoramic view of the sea fort of Suvarnadurg, the land fort of Kanakadurg (its twin), the sea, the coast, the verdant hills and a bridge across the backwaters-all in one sweep of the enchanted eye. 

Kadyavarcha Ganpati mandir

stopping by woods on a sunny afternoon

sukan searches for sea shells on the sea shore

blue moon ok pink sun anyone.

Mgnificent sunset at Murud Harnai.

retail raja of Anjarle.

aagaaya pandaliley ponnoonjal.

kya riddle hai

The beach actually lies at the foothill of the mountains. Beauty for once is not in the eyes of the beholder but at what is beheld! Everybody recommends this trip to the mandir just for this view. 

While returning, we took a small detour to the Wyaghreshwar  mandir and Zoladevi mandir en route Aasud village. The former is claimed to be a swayambhu lingam while the latter is a gram devata. Both are tucked away from the main road and the dirt track poses a challenge to any vehicle. The mandirs are more like sheds with gopuram atop. Anyway what captured our interest was the river flowing nearby. 

Here too, as in the case of our resort, the backyard offered more scenic view than the frontyard. Initially we were scared to test the waters as we heard rustles from the bushes lining the banks but the water was so inviting, we found a way around to get into the waters. 

footprints on the sand.......

resort's backyard

Sukan's Paduka.

widmills of gods

Photo op not photo shop

get set, go jet skiing

double action

sand art

We had time to stand and stare without a care, but the pristine beach beckoned us back to the resort. It was time for some aquatic adventure-the girls went jet-skiing and tho' it lasted just for a couple of minutes, it gave them an adrenalin rush all the same. Para sailing was not to be, as there was no breeze. They were drenched with the surf  and went to dry and change. As I waited for their return I was privy to the most magnificent sunset I've ever seen.

A host of sea gulls were flapping their wings so low over the waters in front of the setting sun-very much like the white-clad extras ( ல ல லா பெண்கள் as writer சுஜாதா would say) dancing around the heroine in a Bharatiraja song sequence. I don't know why, but whenever I watch a sunset, a sense of melancholy or rather a sense of solitude overwhelms me.

Every sight and sound fade into the's as tho' the sun is holding a private screening just for the oh so privileged me! எனக்காக,எனக்காக மட்டும் ...

As the sun changed colours in rapid succession and went down in a hurry, the horizon came alive in a riot of colours from a palette only Nature can hold..Everytime I watch the twilight sky, I recall amma introducing the word 'crimson' to my vocabulary. The girls returned to enjoy the surf and sand. 

twilight saga

Wai mandirs

Mt. Everest's country cousin

Sun playing hide and seek

Ganpati mandir is a white speck on the hill

but for the power lines..what a scenic view...

hands up, or else I photo shoot

Strangely, I never could spot a cloud-not even a solitary one in the vast expanse of the sky- remember the song 'அவள் பறந்து போனாளே' from 'பார் மகளே பார்'  where Muthuraman shuffles his feet on the  beach-sand beneath, sea behind, a myriad cauliflower clouds forming a canopy above- all captured in breath-taking black and white.I was hoping to capture some such scene (thank you once again) but no luck. Back to the inviting hammocks, as dusk changed to night. 'நைட்டு கலரு ப்ளாக்கு ப்ளாக்கு' I hummed in கொலைவெறி Dhanush style and my girls followed with 'அம்மா பிளீசு ஸ்டாப்பு '..Kya family hai! A lonely star came into view between the trees-couldn't help recalling Wordsworth's 'fair as a star when only one is shining in the sky'. Lavan managed to capture that in B & W . Snaps that we took that night in B &W look rather eerie as in TV shows on paranormal activities, tho' it wasn't so actually.

silent night,eerie night

pathway to horizon

silvery sheen

Palm Jumeirah,eh.

sundance on sea

view from the beach of the resort's backyard.

bridge on the backwaters

lonely star

beauty in B & W

Day 3-18.12.2011 Sunday

Goodbye Murud! Checked out at 11 am and drove back the same way stopping at Mahabhaleshwar for lunch, at home sweet home by 7.15 pm. Short and sweet, and just what the doctor ordered for stressed souls. Rejuvenated and recharged to take on the Monday morning blues!

P.S: When you are dealing with me, you must realize there is always something to be said even after everything is said and done. So here it goes..
Kamat's of the restaurant chains, now have beach resorts under the brand name 'Lotus' and city hotels under the name 'VITS'.

If you are planning a stay at this place, ask for a room upstairs-it has a better view of the shore and you won't be greeted by surprise visitors- a frog jumped in and out of our doorway and the next morning a spider greeted me at the bathroom- I had to hit it or else we would have had some not so hilarious 'Eureka' moments...

The ubiquitous SBI was the only bank I could spot on Dapoli main road-felt good about the family connection.

Last but not the least, if it's any consolation to you all, C and I were the oldest couple in the resort with grown up children and a child of about 2 years referred to me as 'ajji' ( grandma), thanks to the grey matter on the scalp- so go buy yourself a drink and laugh to your heart's content and make merry!
- photos follow in the next mail.


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