Disclaimer: This travelogue may take longer time than usual to read. Please spare some time and have patience to read it. Trust me, you’ll love every bit of this travelogue.
“A long weekend was around the the corner,so where are you heading off to” said one of my friends. I was contemplating for a long distance travel this time. When I was zeroing in on the places on the map, I figured out that only a couple of places in South India were pending and those can be done on a weekend itself. As I was looking further up on the map, there was a large and almost triangular-flag shaped state called Maharashtra. I was telling to myself, let’s go.
Let me introduce my motorcycle as Kronos. Some of his experiences will also be in this travelogue. Kronos and I have been having this itch to go somewhere far and secluded. So, we decided to hit the road by midnight.
DAY 1: A long way to go
Before we head into the itinerary, I’ll show the places covered and the total trip distance.
Here’s one confession what Kronos made:
“I would be happy with you riding me all day long as our bond has grown stronger each passing day and can cover more miles by the end of the day.We understand each other and can co-ordinate quite well when only we are together. Still for your(owner) sake, We’ll go for it.”
I gave him sufficient food(fuel) at Shell to last the distance and off we started by the midnight of Friday. I’m very particular about the quality of fuel Kronos takes in on the highways. It would affect his stamina(mileage) and his health and endurance in the long run.
I was super excited about the ride but that excitement was short-lived only up to a few hundred kilometers and after the crack of dawn, the kilometers covers were just dwindling rapidly. The night riding was a bit better as we managed to cover 400 kilometers within eight hours. Had to take breaks in between as the weather was very humid.
Another place which caused delay was an accident of a fellow biker on the opposite side of the road. I ensured his safety and his bike’s safety on the highway. We had waited till the ambulance had arrived and taken responsibility of the motorcyclist.
There was a 50-kilometer stretch where the National Highway road was as bad as a broken bumpy Bangalore city road. On this stretch, my motorcycle’s suspension started behaving weird. It was bouncing on the undulations similar to a DTB bicycle. I could literally feel the improper surface of that road for each kilometer I was riding . On stopping at the exit road, I was checking the front and rear suspension. Thankfully, the front was good. The rear suspension’s nut was so loose that if I had continued further on the highway for a longer time, I would have been dead. Luckily I had stopped in time and tightened all the nuts and bolts of the bike.
After breakfast in Hubli, we took a couple of pictures near Belgaum. The mercury was rising as the sun was rising higher. I was literally blazing the roads since i had to compensate for the lost time in the wee hours. After a few more kilometers, I had encountered the first Ghat section in the journey and oh boy!, It was a bliss riding on that road. Once the ghat was over, we had almost reached the Maharashtra border.
The moment I was on the Maharashtra side of the highway towards Kolhapur, this song called “Thalli Pogathey” and the scenes of the song was copiously lingering in my mind. I had asked a couple of local passerby for the best biryani in town. They all had just one answer: Hotel Jaihind Darbar. Trust me, it was an amazing place to feast on the the legendary Kolhapuri Mutton Biryani and mutton curry.
“I can feel the Adrenalin kick in me and lets burn the roads” he said. I told him let’s control it till Kolhapur, we’ll unleash our potential in the ghats after the lunch stop. That kick in him could be felt by me as he was pulling like a locomotive from 5,000 RPM onward.
Kolhapur is renowned for its legendary mutton biryani and mutton curry and my taste buds were excited the moment I saw the food.
After lunch, I had started my ride towards Ratnagiri. Some people were friendly and some were ignorant while I was asking for directions. Another thing about Maharashtra is they simply don’t seem to abide by the traffic rules. They just dart into street randomly without the use of an indicator or a honk.
By 4 P.M I reached the starting point of the switchbacks and it was pure bliss to view the Sahayadri mountains from the viewpoint. The true potential in both of us had unleashed and we were literally corner carving the roads. We were at such a pace that I almost got nicked thrice and manged to save ourselves by a whisker. Within 75 minutes, we made it to the home stay in Ratnagiri.
I was having an interesting conversation with the owner of the home stay and a few places to explore around town. After a cup of tea, I headed off to the beach to relax for a while and have some seafood for dinner. The dinner was made in a typical Marathi-Konkani style and it was amazing to eat those fishes on the platter and then signed off for the day.
DAY 2: Bumpy Ride
The alarm rings loud and I start getting ready to reach Ganapatipule by dawn. I had thumbed the motor to roar in its glory and off we went to discover some of the most serene spots I’ve ever come across in India. The views were surreal with the coastline adjoined to the road I was riding on.
Kronos and I were so happy after seeing such serene and virgin beaches despite the bumpy roads and other bottlenecks we faced. We were looking at the sun rise from the hills behind us and trust me, what a beautiful feeling I felt. I was just sitting and gazing at the coast and waves for an hour, it was so mesmerizing. I didn’t realize that I had to move to another place and we had rushed to the home stay to take our belongings.
Delight to the eyes and soul.
From Ratnagiri till Goa, the roads were nothing to write home about and our speeds were slow. I had breakfast in a small hamlet away from Ratnagiri. These roads were narrow and winding which took us an entire day to reach Goa and half a day to reach a place called Devgad.
The ride to Devgad was bumpy and hilly, with empty roads and humid weather by our side. All our worries faded away the moment we reached Devgad. The beach was an absolute delight and the windmills on the cliff were an icing on the cake.
” Though the terrain was taxing on me, I had enjoyed it completely”.
For your viewing pleasure,
We left for Goa after lunch. By sunset, we made it into Goa and had some time for picking up a couple of souvenir. I thought of continuing further, but my body and mind were not permitting me to continue further. Later, I sat by the river side having a glimpse of the river view dotted with casino ships, night sky and hoardings.
Kronos and I had decided to call it a day and continue the next day back home. I started searching for a Traveler’s Hostel. I managed to find one neat hostel at Arambol Beach. After check-in, I had met a few people at the barbecue party of the hostel. Quite a few foreigners too were there in the hostel. They were nice and were shocked at the same time the moment they saw the registration of the bike. My respect raised instantly among the local and foreign travelers and they had offered me some food and other stuff. A small brawl had taken place later that night on the beach and I had managed to sort it out alone.
DAY 3 :Home Run
I woke up early, freshened up and had a short stroll at the beach thinking on how to spend more time in Goa. My wallet wasn’t quite happy, so I had to take the road back home.
We left for Old Goa by 8 in the morning. After the Easter mass in the church, I was searching for a fuel station to tank Kronos up for the long haul. After a refuel and chai stop, we were setting the hills on fire and riding. All of a sudden I see a signage directing towards Castle-rock. Went towards the station and asked a couple of people if we could make it to Dudhsagar falls. They said I had to either wait for the 1 P.M. train or go walking on the track. Due to the time constraint, I clicked a few pictures in Castle-rock itself.
I told Kronos that ” Listen, we need to reach home by 10 no matter what and this is gonna be a fast-paced ride”. He readily agreed by redlining on the rev counter.
The road from Castle rock to Hubli wasn’t in great shape and my average speed did drop to 40-50 Km/h. Stopped at Hubli for light lunch and was thundering down the highway without a stop(except for a fuel stop) and planned to reach home by 10 P.M. I had ridden over 400 km in 6 hours but Bangalore’s unforgiving traffic added another half an hour to reach my house. On reaching towards my house, I could feel the numbness of my sore butt and my back, shoulders started to pain slightly. Had a steam bath and all the pain had vanished away in no time. Another surprise was that biryani was prepared for me for dinner. What more can one expect at the end of the ride.
“What an amazing ride it was. We have never done such a distance in such a short span of time. I’m really happy for us today, it feels like an achievement completed mate.”
On the whole, those three days were one of the most thrilling and best days of my life as I went venturing into unknown lands and territory. The distance covered was a staggering 1,750 kilometers. The only glitch I had faced was a conked horn towards the last 300 km stretch.
I never knew I could explore so much in Maharashtra. It is such an underrated state for travel and tourism. The factors that put it down are language and transport options in the hinterland. The hinterland and few stretches of the highway towards Goa roads seriously need a revamp.