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Published: April 27th 2016
8TH APRIL, 2016 – FRIDAY
On Ugadi day, we commenced our one week trip to Mumbai, various places of Maharashtra and Goa from Bangalore. Myself and my wife became frequent traveller to nearby and distant places from Bangalore. I love to drive our Hyundai Xcent car thru highways. Usually, she navigates the way as also keep a watch on the road. So far our combination worked reasonably well. This time my 90 year old father was also accompanying us upto Mumbai. Our son would be a late entrant to our trip but his joining was un-certain. Tour program
Our plan was to reach Borivali, Mumbai at my relative’s place on the same day, take rest next day and resume our journey (myself and my wife) from third day onwards.
Our holiday plan was as follows :
1. 8th April 2016 - Journey Bangalore to Mumbai,
2. 9th April, 2016 - Stay at Mumbai
3. 10th & 11th April, 2016 - MTDC Resort, Mahabaleswar,
4. 12th & 13th April, 2016 - Hotel Calangute Residency Annex, Calangute, Goa,
5. 14th & 15th 2016 - Dudhsagar Spa & Resorts, Dudhsagar, Mollem, Goa
6. 16th April, 2016 - Back to Bangalore
Hotel bookings were made in Advance.
Ugadi (Karnataka) & Gudi Pawda (Maharashtra) Festivals
Our trip began on Ugadi day, the auspicious day for beginning of Karnataka new year. Like Ugadi in Karnataka, this day was celebrated for “Gudi Parwa Festival (beginning of new year)” in Maharashtra. People celebrated this day by cleaning their homes, wearing new dresses and visiting temples to have blessings of God. Bangalore to Mumbai – 1035 Km
Route (Thru NH 4)- Yasvantpur-Pennya-Tumkur-Harihar-Chitradurg-Dharwar-Belgaum-Kolhapur-Pune-Panvel-Borivali
We started at around 6 AM in the morning. Upto Neelamangala, roads were having comparatively less traffic possibly due to Ugadi Festival.
A distinct advantage of Bangalore compared to other major Indian cities was that if there was increase in the mercury level, there would be a downpour mostly in the evening. But this season rain god did not spare Bangalore and the temperature was unusally high.
NH 4 was a six lane Highway, brilliant road and a pleasure to drive. At the same time it was painfully expensive due to innumerable no. of “Toll Gates” through out the entire route.
At around 10.30 AM we had a break for refreshment at Kamat Hotel, Rannebennur. It was scorching summer time. Several areas which we would travel in the next few days received less rain-fall thereby having severe water-crisis.
The next break was near High court at Dharwar to negotiate with the outside hot weather. There was caution notice of “Silence Please” being High Court area. Hence we started after brief stop.
Upto Belgaum (Belagavi) the drive was exceedingly smooth due to less traffic. Only around Hubli a brief portion was two lane highway needing careful drive. I thought of continuing our journey as far as possible to take advantage of afternoon less traffic.
As the journey progressed, I noticed the change in landscape, people and their dress, the houses. Nearby fields were dry with traces of greenery in few places. On the way to Kolhapur, occasionally there were sudden appearance of tractors/vehicles from the opposite side in the same lane. I found it risky and required caution.
After Kolhapur we had to slow down due to frequent road diversion consequent to road broadening work. This continued in Satara and almost upto outskirts of Pune. Journey around
Satara was very pleasant due to its panoramic beauty amongst hills. Afternoon sunlight touching the surroundings created a mystic environment. It was a pleasing drive.
At around 4.30 PM we stopped for a break at Kamat Idli Hotel between Kolhapur and Satara. Subsequently we came across “Vittal Kamat Hotel” in several places of our trip.
When we reached Pune City it was around 6.30 PM. Roads were filled with considerable traffic (noticeably large no of two wheelers). Somehow we could reach the toll gate of Pune Express Highway and started our voyage towards Mumbai. This expressway was well-known for its brilliant roads but again very expensive indeed. There were lot of steep curves and U-turns in the expressway which needed careful drive particularly at night.
The expressway ended near Panvel and we entered Panvel, Mumbai at around 8.30 PM.
At around 10.30 PM we reached Borivali at my relative’s place. There was comparatively less crowd in Mumbai roads also due to Gudi Padwa festival.
We were worried about father’s health condition, but he remained steady although occasionally un-comfortable throughout the route.
9TH APRIL, 2016- SATURDAY
Rest at Mumbai
10TH APRIL, 2016 – SUNDAY JOURNEY TOWARDS MAHABALESWAR (300 KMS):
Our destination was Mahabaleswar, a popular hill station (around 4500 Ft.) not very far from Mumbai. The distance was around 300 Kms (depending on the route we select).
We started at 5.30 AM in the early morning from Borivali to avoid the peak Mumbai traffic.
There were two usual routes for going to Mahabaleswar from Mumbai. The first alternative was to take Mumbai-Pune Expressway, to reach Pune-Satara-Wahi-Panchgani-Mahabaleswar. The other route was thru Panvel-Kochi Highway (NH 66) Karanjkhol-Mahad- Poladpur.
First route was convenient but the second route offered scenic beauty, more ghat distance to cover, two lane highway and above all crowded and risky.
Initially we thought of following the first route. However after crossing Panvel and touching the Expressway we changed our plan and selected the second one.
Both of us felt the urge of a morning tea break. The road side hotel where we had stopped just opened his shop. He took his time and in the end we were served freshly made idlis and hot tea.
We were driving thru Khapoli-Pali Road to get Mumbai-Goa road (NH 66). Initially the
road was narrow and went thru the forest. On the way, we came across two rivers, Amba River on the left and Savitri River on the right. Amba River
This river was following the Khapoli Road on the left side. It had less water possibly due to immense heat. But there were dense forests and hills on the other side of the river.
Gradually the road became wider and we crossed the river after reaching NH 66. A double decker train accompanying us on the left side. After a few kilometres suddenly a big river appeared on the right side. That was Savitri river. Beautiful turn of Savitri River
It was very wide and in full flow. After proceeding further the Savitri river took a beautiful turn. There was a restaurant on the river side called Neelkamal. The place was exotic that we fell in love with the place. We spent nearly an hour in that place. A Hot Spring and a temple were located on the opposite bank of the river. A small Dinghi was carrying passengers on the other side. We thought of going there but later on cancelled the idea due
to paucity of time.
A breakfast with omelette, pao and tea. Pao (bread lightly fried) is one of the most popular snacks items in this area and used in wide varities of food.
There was a banian tree on the bank of the river. We sat there, enjoyed the gentle breeze, calm and quietness of the place and splendid nature around. This place was so charming so that I wish I could visit it one day again. Poladpur
This was an important junction since the hilly road towards Mahabaleswar began here. There was a circle with Sivaji maharaj’s statute. There we had to take left turn. Mahabaleswar was around 40 Kms from here.
Initial around ten kilometres road condition was bad. A small river was following the river and construction of culverts were going on four places of the road crossing thatng stream.
Ghat section began thereafter That road had large no. of U-turns, sudden bent and surprise arrival of vehicles from the opposite side. The road was narrow at some places like normal hilly roads but occasionally having heavy traffic with all kinds of small and large vehicles. In certain places it was
steep with deviations.
Otherwise, this curvy and scenic ghat road was spectacular through tall mountain ranges, deep valleys and dangerous ridges, although dry due to scorching summer. Usually vehicles at the descent were very helpful. When our upcoming car was noticed, they usually stopped until we completely cross the turning. Overall it required due caution as well as patient driving .
Straw-berries and Mulberries
There are small refreshing places on the road. Small shop-keepers showcased various fruits like straw-berries, Mulberries, jack-fruits, guavas at various places on the way. Straw berries, Mulberries are famous in Mahabaleswar. I am not addicted to fruits other than sweet taste, but my wife insisted to stop and I bought a few for test. Straw-berry was attractive but a bit sour in taste. Comparatively I preferred Mulberries which looked black like a big ant and tasted better. Jackfruits were very big in size. We wanted a portion of it. Despite our insistence we could not convince any seller to part with a few seeds.
At around 1 PM we reached MTDC Cottage at Mahabaleswar. MTDC Resort,
MTDC Tourist Resort was located in a vast area, slightly distant from the main town. Individual cottages were spread one by one in two parallel rows, garden with trees, children’s play area in between. Reception & Restaurant were located slightly far away.
The cottage room was quite big, but room walls were shabby and with damp in certain places. On the other side there was a wide courtyard. This place was surrounded by big trees, but railings of the courtyard looked rusted. Lack of maintenance was evident. These rooms required renovation.
Otherwise the place was decent to stay and enjoy amidst nature. We saw varieties of birds, two giant squirrels and a monkey brigade sitting just outside the room.
There was a small room in between the bedroom and the toilet. A water-filter was provided. The water was pleasantly cool and refreshing. In my entire stay I enjoyed the normal drinking water provided by MTDC resort. It was nice to drink.
Our cottage charge was Rs. 2600. While reporting at the reception Rs 200 had to be deposited as a refundable deposit.e various fruits like straw-berries, jack-fruits, guavas at various places. Straw berries, R
Compared to the unbearable summer we experienced throughout our journey from Bangalore to Mumbai, this place was cool and comfortable. Market area and Veena lake
Our first destination was the market area. Keeping the car within the Car Parking area we started walking towards the Veena lake after having brief snacks. It took around half an hour to reach there. The lake was good for viewing. It has boating facilities, but there was not much time since we had to reach to our next destination i.e. the sunset point in time. We walked and spent time in the lake garden. Sun-set point
When we reached the Sunset point it was around 5.30 PM . The place was near to the MTDC Resort. There were horse-riding facilities to stroll nearby areas. Gradually the place became crowded with tourists. Sun-set timing was around 06.45 PM. Sun-set was ok, nice to observe.
Immediately after reaching Mahabaleswar, my AIRTEL 4G connection was lost. Subsequently the connectivity became erratic and disturbing. This problem I faced during my entire stay in this place. Dinner items
There were lot of choices in the MTDC Restaurant menucard. We selected “Methi
Bhajji (a preparation with methi vegetables mixed with spices)” and “Batata Mutter Rassa ( a soup mixed with vegetables)” along with other items. Methi Bhajji was delicious.
11TH APRIL, 2016 – STAY AT MAHABALESWAR A cool early morning
A cool and comfortable early morning. I woke up to see the nature. Munia preferred to sleep some more time. I was lazily standing near the car in front of my cottage. Suddenly two dogs came out from the bottom of the car. They expressed their un-happiness with my presence. Initially I was worried how to control the situation. I collected some biscuits from my stock and distributed between them. Slowly the entire family emerged with babies. My biscuit and snack stocks were getting depleted. But they cooled down and started playing between each other. I watched their happiness for nearly an hour till Munia woke up and called for morning tea. It was a very unique experience.
Forts near Mahabalewar
Mahabaleswar had many tourist places to offer like temples, viewpoints. Guide/Tourist Cabs are available in plenty and immediately after
approaching Mahabaleswar circle, there were enquiries for Tourist Guides/Cabs.
But I was fascinated with Glory of Shivalji Maharaj, the Maratha King from my young age and longed to see the places he ruled. There were two famous forts built by Shivaji and his people which were located near Mahabaleswar. They were Prataphgarh and Raigarh Forts respectively. Both the places were en-route to my journey which I covered yesterday on my journey from Mumbai.
I had only two days booking in this place. It was clear that if I opted for local sightseeing I could not cover those forts since both of them were located far away. Another issue was not operating of Google Maps (due to not having AIRTEL connectivity).
After initial hesitation, we selected for the forts. Pratapgarh Fort
This fort was around 20 Kms from Mahabaleswar. On the way to Poladpur (which we travelled yesterday) thru Mahabaleswar-Poladpur Highway, there was a left turn after around 18 Kms and then a narrow road reached the fort gate.
The fort was located at height of around 3500 Ft. The entire fort was surrounded by Sahyadri range mountains. The invincibility of the fort
could be felt only on personal visit to that place. The visitor had to climb around 300 steps to reach inside the main fort area.
While buying the entry ticket, we paid for a Guide (Total Rs 300/-) also. Without a proper description the fort visit would be felt like a dry old building.
The guide (Prem) was a simple young chap. His residence was inside the fort with his family. He earned his livelihood as a Guide throughout the year except three months of rainy season when the area remain inaccessible for visitor. He narrated the history of the fort quite lively.
Legend of encounter between Shivaji and Afzal Khan
The fort was constructed in 1656. It was the first major fort erected by Shivaji Maharaj. There were several battles in this fort, but most famous was the “Battle of Pratapgarh” between Shivaji and Afzal Khan (the commander of Adil Sahi Kingdom of Bijapur).
As per history when Shivaji and Afzal Khan privately met at a place near the fort, both were prepared for others treachery. In the name
of embracing Shivaji, Afzal Khan applied his dagger towards his opponent but did not succeed. Shivaji immediately attacked Afzal with his hidden “Bagh Nakh” (Tiger’s nail).
Later on Afzal Khan was killed by Shivaji which ultimately paved the way for his winning the war against the Adil Shah dynasty of Bijapur. In brief this major victory culminated to the destruction of the dynasty of Bijapur and rise of Maratha Empire.
We travelled to the interiors of the fort, the watertank, soldiers abode etc. The huge main door still looked invincible. Later on we went to the Ma Bhawani Temple and Shiva Temple respectively inside the fort. Guide showed a place from where the traitors were thrown from the fort to death.
This centuries old fort was still owned and maintained by ancestors of the Maratha rulers. There was a big statute of Shivaji on horse-back which was inaugurated by the first prime minister of India, Pdt Nehru.
The whole visit ended in one an half hour. When we came back to our car, it was around 12 Pm in the afternoon. We decided to go to our next journey, the Raigad Fort. Raigad Fort
This was the largest fort of Shivaji. Located at the height of around 2500 Ft, this place was the capital of Shivaji. Shivaji ruled his kingdom from this place for six years from 1674.
For visiting Raigad Fort we had to travel through the route which we covered yesterday. Starting from Pratapgarh, first we had to come to Poladpur thru Mahabaleswar highway, then to take right turn to touch NH 66. After driving around 20 odd kilometres, we took right turn in Mahad and drove another 22 Kms to reach our destination. Total distance travelled from Pratapgarh to Raigad was around 70 Kms.
When we reached Raigad, the area looked to be deserted due to scorching mid-day heat. We heard that there was a Ropeway to reach to the top of the mountain. But the circumstances made us sceptical whether it would be operational. In that case our entire effort would be wasted.
To our relief we found the ropeway operational. Car Parking fee was Rs 50/-. Ropeway charge was Rs 250 per head.
It took hardly ten minutes to reach to the top. The ropeway journey was delightful with a panoramic view of
the vast area of mountain ranges.
Here also we hired a guide (Charges Rs 200, although officially he did not ask any specific amount). This fort was maintained by Archaeological Survey of India. A fort worth visit:
The fort area was huge and from the downhill it was difficult to believe that such a vast land existed on the mountain top. The Shayadri mountain ranges surrounded in all its sides which made this place safe and difficult to conquer.
The guide explained that ropeway thru which we reached to the fort was actually at its back side. The main door was at the other side and one had to climb around 1700 steps to reach to the top. He took us to the main area where a multi-storey wooden house was there.
There were ruins of rooms for Shivaji’s queens, his ministers and other trusted associates. Then there were Deewan-e-Khas (for visiting ministers and dignitaries) and Deewan-e-aam (visiting commoners by the king).
Next there was a vast king’s courtyard and place where Kings throne was situated. Presently a statute of Shivaji was erected at the place of his throne. Right in front of the
courtyard was the huge entrance thru which the coronation of Shivaji as king was made. Then there was big marketplace where the transaction could be done on horseback.
Death of the great king also came here. His Samadhi was made slightly far away in front of a temple.
The fort was destroyed by the British during first half of nineteenth century. Each and every portion we saw had interesting story. We were en-thrilled and mesmerised. We thanked the guide for his nice description of history.
The only disadvantage of our voyage was the un-bearable temperature on top of the fort thru mid-day sun, which was further escalated due to heat generated from the hot stone at the fort site.
When we finished our fort-visit, it was around 3.30 PM. We felt exhausted and my wife was feeling un-easy. After a brief rest at the down-hill we began our journey back to MTDC Mahabaleswar at around 4.30 PM.
But the journey was not comfortable since she became un-well due to mild sun-stoke. Somehow we came back to our destination. But in the evening her un-easiness increased with nausea, headache, vomiting and other un-easiness. It stretched further
at night and at one point of time I was thinking to suspend our tour.
12TH APRIL, 2016 - MAHABALESWAR TO CALANGUTE, GOA (370 KMS)
Munia could recover from yesterday’s distress. With a sigh of relief I resumed our plan to pack up for our next destination, Calangute, Goa. I decided to start late morning to give her some time to feel better and to prepare ourselves. It would be a long drive thru Ghat road. To tackle the heat we accumulated sufficient liquid of Glucose, Butter-Milk and Electrol apart from normal water in the car. Route
There were two alternative routes to reach Calangute as follows :
i. Via NH 4 – Mahabaleswar-Meda-Satara-Kolhapur-Niphani-Ambali-Calangute
ii. Via NH 66 (Mumbai-Goa Road) – Mahabaleswar-Poladpur-Ratnagiri-Goa
NH 4 was a six lane highway and ideal for drive. Moreover, it was a known route. Also it would be a different route upto Satara which we did not travel before. Hence we opted for the same. Journey to Calangute, Goa
We started at around 9.30 AM. The road from Mahabaleswar to Satara via Meda (around 60 Km) was a two lane highway. Initially after
Mahabaleswar it was narrow and jig jag at Ghat section. Road quality was ok and there was not much problem to drive. There were notices in Marathi (apaghat or accident-prone area) particularly in turnings, which reminds the driver for careful drive.
In Satara there was a small difficulty in finding out the link to NH 4. Our Google Map directed to a small lane which was blocked. Ultimately we touched NH 4 at around 12 PM.
While driving at NH 4, I was looking to check my car tyres and to fill up Nitrogen in a Petrol Pump. Unfortunately, Nitrogen filling stations were very few and one such station although detected but I missed out.
Both myself and the car were feeling hungry. I gave a break after crossing Kolhapur to fill petrol and ate some fruits and liquid from our stocks.
After Niphani ( around 2 Hours journey in NH 4) and before Sankeswar, we took a right turn to catch the state highway. This road was narrow and it took time to negotiate after a smooth drive in NH 4.
At Ajara we stopped briefly to have a tea break. It was around
3 ‘O Clock and our destination was still around 90 Km away. Drive thru Amboli Ghat Section
Next journey was thru Amboli Ghat section. Suddenly the landscape changed and we were driving thru majestic mountains and the deep valleys. Afternoon sunlight created an amazing contrast on the horizon. There were caution boards at the road side against dangerous driving and landslides.
It was a beautiful drive and probably the best part of our entire tour. The scenic beauty was breathtaking with mountains with lush greeneries all over, although it needed careful Ghat drive. This portion took around an hour to cross.
Sunset at Calangute Beach
When we reached Calangute, Goa it was around 6.15 in the evening. We had the advantage of late sunset due to longer summer days. We checked in Hotel Calangute Residency Annex (a Goa Tourism budget Hotel very near the sea beach) quickly and rushed to the sea beach.
It was a perfect sun-set. The beach was full with thousands of tourists, a sizable portion being foreigners. Even after the night fall the beach was crowded. I was damn tired. I lied down on the
beach and had a nice sleep in cool breeze. I heard somebody telling his buddy on the way “pii ke sou gia (look, a drunkard is sleeping)’. Doesn’t matter as soon as you get the comfort you deserve. Splendid dinner at Souza Lobo
There were no. of restaurants held at the Calangute Beach, offering Drinks, Dinner, snacks and other food items. Ignoring others request we selected Hotel Souza Lobo for having a Candle Light Dinner in the open air since we were interested for Fish Food.
The hotel was situated very near to the beach entrance. There were various fish food items mentioned in the menu card. But Pomphret preparations were beyond our budget. We selected “Grilled Macarel” which were least costly along with other items. The food was extremely delicious. There was a live singing arrangement also.
Cute cat watching our dinner
While eating, we suddenly saw a mild sound “miao” and two naughty healthy cats came out slowly from inside a food table. We were frightened, but the waiter boy assured that they would do nothing. He also advised not to give any food to them. To our delight, both
the cats moved away after some time.
To summarise, we had a memorable dinner at this hotel. Whoever comes to Calangute, this restaurant would be a “must-eat”. Calangute Market
Apart from all kinds of food stalls, restaurants, the noticeable thing was so many shops for tattoos. There were shops for hiring two-wheelers. Also lot of shops were selling light beach garments. A sizable portion of tourists were young couples, groups of boys and girls as also families with children. Even desi tourists (men and women) were travelling wearing shorts and very light dress. We saw hoardings in Russian Language in many shops. Hotel Calangute Residency Annex
The main hotel called ‘Hotel Calangute Residency (a hotel of Goa Tourism)” was located in the most lucrative position in Calangute (almost on the sea shore). Our selected abode (Hotel Calangute Residency Annex, also a budget hotel of Goa Tourism) was situated slightly far away, but very conveniently placed and most significantly in front of the bus stand. Hotel tariff (Rs 1500 with complimentary break-fast) was also quite reasonable (courtesy Makemytrip.com) compared to other standard hotels in the locality.
Noticeably there were very few boarders in the hotel,
god knows why. We found the rooms are reasonably good and clean. A small disadvantage that there was no lift. That was not at all an issue for us.
13TH APRIL, 2016 – STAY AT CALANGUTE, GOA Package Tour - South Goa
Goa tourism arrange “package tours” at various places of Goa, most popular among them were “South Goa” and “North Goa” tours. We had to select South Goa since we were told that AC buses were available only for “South Goa” (package cost Rs 300/-) trip.
The bus arrived nearly one hour late (9.45 AM). Condition of the bus was also not ok. Some of the seats were broken and not usable. Goa being one of the most popular destination, Goa Tourism should look into those minor glitches.
We travelled to various tourist destinations through-out the day. Separate entry fees were payable for visiting Aquarium (Rs 150) and Big Foot Loutolim (Rs 250) respectively. We found both these places quite ordinary. Kolva Beach
Stoppage to Kolva Beach was worth remembering. Guide explained that it was the 2nd
longest (19 km) sea beach in India (after Marina, Chennai). There were varieties
of water-sports arrangements like Para-sailing, Jet-skiing, Surfing, Speed-boat ride . All the sports seemed to be interesting, only if you have deep pocket. Better to have it than to repent later
We started negotiating for Para-sailing but became hesitant due to price quoted. Suddenly we saw, one of our fellow tourist, an old and thin person man came, paid the money, took a sip of drink from his liquor bottle and became ready for the trip. So far we were ignoring him because of his weak look. Within minutes he flew into the air with the running speed-boat and a dazzling parachute on the sky. It was an amazing sight.
There was no time for us to join and we left the beach with an interesting experience. Spectacular Indo-Portugese architecture in Shantadurga & Mungeshi Temples
There were two beautiful temples in our tour. Both these temples are the most revered in Goa. First-one was the Shantadurga Temple. After lunch we visited Shri Mangeshi temple which was connected to the legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar and her family who originally belonged to that place.
The architecture of both these temples were totally different from temples that
we normally saw in other parts of India. It was built in western style with arched windows, multi-coloured glass-panes, a big chandelier and a wide hall in the temple premises. Adjacent to each temple a multi-storied lamp tower was built.
Another noticeable feature was the cleanliness maintained inside the temple premises. An overall serene atmosphere prevailed in both the temples. We saw a water tank also in the Mungeshi temple. A beautiful Classical Bhajan was being played during our visit to the Mungeshi temple, may be the legendary voice of Paluskar or his gharana, I am not sure. Overall it was a brief but nice experience worth remembering. These two temples are must visit in Goa, according to me. Basilica of Bom Jesus
The last point was theBasilica of Bom Jesus which holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. It was a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist places in Goa.
The church is more than 400 yers old and one of the oldest church in India. St Francis died on the way to China. His mortal remains was brought back and kept in this Church. His remains is kept
for public viewing once every ten years and attract viewers all over the world.
But time allotted by the guide was only twenty minutes, too short to visit such a large and important place. Sun-set Cruise by Goa Tourism
Last but not the least was the one hour river cruise sailing thru the Mandovi River. Tickets (Rs 300/- per head) were purchased from our Package tour guide. Tour bus dropped us near the jetty.
When we reached, there were already hundreds of tourists waiting in the que to board the ship. But when the entry gate opened the entire crowd was managed in a very well-planned and disciplined manner.
The ship was quite big and three storied. Luckily we could occupy seats on the top floor. Sailing started at around 6’o clock. Entertainment program started immediately after that. The whole show was skilfully managed by a DJ and his associates. Initially there was a music and dance performance by local professionals. In due course he called and involved the audience to participate. There were separate dance program among tourist couple, only ladies, only men, only children one after another. Many of them joined and
enjoyed the show to its maximum.
At around 6.45 PM we watched a breath-taking sun-set kissing horizons around the Mandovi River. Every one was so engulfed with joy as if there was no grief and sorrow any-where. Entire one hour period was so thrilling that we came to the reality only when the ship touched the jetty.
We returned to our hotel by Public bus. It was about an hour journey. We were very tired. Had dinner in the hotel itself.
14TH APRIL, 2016 – CALANGUTE TO DUDHSAGAR, MOLLEM (70 KMS)
We had booking in Dudhsagar Spa & Resorts, Mollem for the next two days. The distance to be covered was not much. It was planned to start late.
Morning I had a nice bath at the sea beach. While commencing our journey the pending work of getting the tyre pressure checked and filling nitrogen again occupied my thought. After continuous enquiry for more than an hour we could trace a tyre shop in Panaji to fill Nitrogen. Tyre puncture
Unfortunately, the tyre pressure of one of the tyre was found to be quite low. I became very much worried since
we had to take a long journey after few days. The shop-keeper advised me to go to one “Geeta Bekary” for tyre repair. This was so well known, everybody knew but after lot of twist and turn we could find it.
I was amazed when the shopkeeper detected a nail inside the tyre. The problem of tube-less tyre was that it was not easily visible with a look at the tyre. Any way it was a huge sigh of relief and unless detected the puncture could spoil my journey in mid way. Dudhsagar Spa & Resorts, Mollem
Around 3.30 PM we reached the spa. The journey was thru NH 4A. This spa was placed immediately after a checkpost at Mollem and just before the “Bhagawan Mahabir Wildlife Sanctuary”. A very calm and quite place compared to the crowd of Goa Beaches.
The room-tariff was extremely low (Rs 600 per day including complementary Break-fast, courtesy Makemytrip.com), but the amenities at the resorts were excellent. Argument with Resort officials
I booked for two persons i.e myself and my wife. My son joined today with us. When I requested for the extra bed at our alloted room,
the hotel officials demanded Rs 1500 extra to accommodate him. Their argument was that the concessional tariff availed by us would not be applicable for the additional person and I would have to pay the original room tariff.
It was big blow for me. Initially I thought of going back tomorrow morning itself. However after arguing continuous they agreed to accept the proportionate tariff of Rs 300 for providing an extra bed.
The resort was located covering a vast land area. There were two types of rooms, one was Cottage where we stayed and another choice was tent. All of these rooms were spread throughout the resort area . It has got all modern facilities like Spa, Swimming Pool, Activity area, splendid garden etc.
Although initial response was slightly painful, we were delighted to see the Cottage allotted. It was equipped with all modern facilities like AC, nice wardrobe, cosy beds, small but clean toilets etc. Overall it was a nice place to enjoy our stay at a very reasonable cost.
Lunch time was over. We decided to visit Kollem railway station, which was around six kms from there. Our purpose was to visit the well-known
Dudhsagar Waterfalls by train. But after reaching station at around 5 PM we came to know that sometimes back a train already passed thru the station. There was no further train today. Pleasant memory of our earlier Dudhsagar trek thru railway tracks during full monsoon
Kollem was a small railway station. There were few shops outside the station. We had a pleasant memory of visiting Dudhsagar Falls two years back during full monsoon and coming back to this station
It was a eleven kilometre trek thru railway tracks from Castle Rock railway station upto the Dudhsagar falls. There was incessant rain throughout the day. After crossing no. of tunnels thru rail tracks when we ultimately reached our destination, we were fully exhausted.
But the majestic and roaring waterfall made us mesmerised and at the same time frightened. It was a mixture of fierce and beauty at the same time. There was no return train in the evening and we had to board a Goods Train to reach Kollem railway station. Trekking on railway trek is banned in Dudhsagar
But that was altogether a different story. We came to know that trekking thru
railway track was strictly banned now due to no. of accidents that took place on the track. Even getting down from train at Dudhsagar falls was prohibited. Railway police maintain strict vigil to avoid any possibility of mishap at Dudhsagar.
Only way to visit Dudhsagar was thru Geep Safari which started from Kollem Railway station. We decided to come back tomorrow to avail the safari.
There was a small temple on the other side of the station. The temple was maintained by railways. The priest was an aged and very simple person. We had a chat with him. He travelled throughout India and shared his experiences of this place.
We had a tea and snacks break at a local shop. After spending some more time when we returned to our resort it was almost dark. Dinner and Duck Army
We had dinner at the hotel. The dining area was spacious and decorated nicely. But the dinner was ordinary compared to the price.
On the way to dinner hall we saw an army of around ten ducks. They were coming towards us. We were ignoring them, but two stewards cautioned us not to
proceed further since they would bite (kat te hai). We changed our track to reach the dinner hall.
After finishing dinner while returning to our cottage suddenly we heard a huge noise. We noticed that the “Duck Army” were chasing two girls and they were running towards the garden. Possibly there was nobody to caution them or may be they ignored it. On the whole it was an interesting episode to watch.
15TH APRIL, 2016 – STAY AT DUDHSAGAR, MOLLEM
It was the penultimate day of our tour. Todays program was to visit Dudhsagar Falls thru Geep ride from Kollem station. Loss of our APPLE IPAD – A big blow
After breakfast, we reached to the car parking area at around 9’O Clock to begin our journey towards Kollem railway station. After reaching there, I found that I forget to bring the car key. My son was carrying our APPLE iPAD, since the car was locked. He kept it outside the car. Munia came back with the car-key. That was the last time we saw our iPAD.
We started within a few minutes and at Kollem Railway Station we realised
that the iPAD was not with us. We searched the car, but could not find it. Immediately, we rushed back to the resorts, searched every nook and cornered but in vein. We complained to the hotel authorities. They showed us the CCTV footage at the gate showing our car going outside the resort. But the iPAD was lost for ever.
Apart from its cost, it was almost a member of our family. Hundreds of photos, whatsapp, google map, internet, facebook all gone leaving a big vacuum. We suddenly realised our dependence on this gadget. We were extremely disappointed and not getting the energy to continue our visit.
Afternoon, we resumed our plan and reached the spot from where the Dudhsagar Geep safari starts. On the way, the Kollem Police Station was spotted, but the iPAD sl no. and other details were required for making a loss report to the police. Unfortunately we did not carry those details. Jeep Safai to Dudhsagar falls
When we reached the Jeep terminus, already no of people were waiting. One jeep could accommodate seven passengers. Total duration of the ride would be three hours, one hour each for ongoing and return.
Balance one and half hour was for enjoying at the waterfalls. Cost of safari was Rs 450/- per head. Interestingly we were directed to compulsorily wear a life jacket while riding Jeep itself. It was so hot outside, thus we were surprised and it became little inconvenient also.
It was a bumpy ride throughout a kachha road inside the dense forest and mountains on the horizon. Dudhsagar river was often seen on the left side and the railway track on the right. Twice on the way the geep came down the stream, since there was no road bridge on top of it. The scenic beauty was excellent to watch and enjoy.
The jeep driver was very friendly. He informed that around 300 jeeps were engaged in this safari tour. He usually used to get a call once in two to three days, but allowed for a single journey only. Hundreds of local people are engaged in this activity. Definitely this ride boosted the economy of this area. The ride remain closed during monsoon for four months beginning from June to September.
Asking about the railway track trekking, he seemed to be against it since it was illegal
and also it used to affect their livelihood. He further recalled that earlier he used to take tourists from Kollem to the waterfalls thru a very narrow walking route just adjacent to the railway track by motorcycle. I remembered to have seen that during our earlier visit. That ride was not only difficult but highly risky also. Swimming at Dudhsagar falls
We reached the waterfalls at around 2 O Clock. Flow of water from the top was very low. Compared to the veracity of our earlier experience, it was like a skeleton. There was lack of rain last year in several parts of India including this region and even this year too.
Dudhsagar was a multi-tired waterfall and the railway track passed thru the middle portion of the waterfall. We reached to the bottom of the falls from where a beautiful panoramic view of the top, railway track crossing the falls, the surrounding western ghat mountains as well as the green forest were visible.
Compared to the very hot and sunny atmosphere, the cool water was a pleasing contrast and difficult to ignore. My son had a refreshing swim in the waterfall. Importance of the life
jacket was now understood. Water level was quite deep in certain points, but with life jackets every one including small children were enjoying the swim in cool water. It was extremely delightful.
We came back to Kollem rail station at around 5’o Clock and refreshed ourselves with cane juice. Tamdi-surla Temple
The localites in the tea shop (located opposite railway station) advised
us to visit this temple. Distance was around 30 Kms and it was located on the other side of the main road (NH 4A). The road was two lane (sometimes narrow) but well maintained. There were indication at important points to locate the destination. Occasionally we were passing thru small villages. A magnificent 12th century architecture
After nearly an hour’s drive we reached the temple at around 6.30 PM. The temple was located inside the forest area. There were few shops at the entry gate and the shopkeeper advised to rush to the temple immediately. We were lucky since the temple gate keeper was just locking the gate.
He re-opened the temple on our request. We had the darshan of Lord Siva. According to the inscription outside the temple,
this ancient siva temple was built during Kadamba dynasty in the 12th
century. The temple was small in size but its architecture had been magnificent. Most noteworthy was its exquisite location which was inside the forest and surrounded by western-ghat mountains. Nice Country-side Dinner
On the way back to the resort we decided to finish our dinner. A small hotel on the road-side was selected. Hot chapatis were served with dal, sabji and fresh Anda Bhujia (fried egg). It was a delicious treat at less than half cost.
16TH APRIL, 2016 – MULLEM TO BANGALORE – 570 KMS
We came to the last leg of our journey. I thought of beginning the journey in the early morning to avoid the summer heat. But having breakfast, carrying enough water/ other liquids and checking out from hotel took time. Nevertheless we started at 9 ‘o clock.
NH4A where the resort was situated and thru which we were proceeding was going towards Belgaum, Karnataka. Immediately the road entered the “Bhagawan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary”. There were thick green forests on both sides of the Ghat roads. The scenic beauty was extremely pleasing.
On the way we
came across several railway crossings. There were two toll gates also where we paid the levies. Very few vehicles were visible on the entire journey till we reach near NH4 (Mumbai Bangalore Highway). Also the road look deserted and sometimes we were driving miles after miles without seeing a human being.
After reaching NH4, it was a smooth journey towards Bangalore. There were two stops, the first one for petrol filling. The second halt was after Tumkur at Kamat Hotel to have snacks and tea. While enjoying the break, suddenly there were a brief storm followed by a down pour. We welcomed it since it had happened after a long gap.
We reached home at around 7.30 PM. The whole trip was pleasant except the unfortunate incident of loosing our dearest iPOD. We were loaded with memories which we would cherish for months to come till our adrenaline will force us to go for the next tour.
The speedometer clocked 2570 Kms for the whole trip. Approx total expenditure for the whole trip was as follows :
1. Petrol (150 Ltrs) - Rs 9,800,
2. Hotel tariff - Rs 8,200,
3. Food, Toll Charges,
Entry Fees and Misc. other charges - Rs 20,000
4. Total Rs.38,000
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; mem: 1.4mb