Day 4: Ganpatipule to Tarkarli My Motorcyle Road Trip via SH4 Coastal Route Mumbai to Tarkarli:

Route

Ganpatipule — Aare Ware — Ratnagiri — Pawas — Purnagad — Nate — Jaitapur — Mithgavane — Padel — Jamsande/Devgad — Naringre —  Poyare — Kumbharwadi — Tondavali — Malvan — Tarkarli

Distance

Around 170 kilometers.

Comments

Ganpatipule to Tarkarli was our longest leg of the journey so far. It brought us the best and worst of times.

The most spectacular scenery of the whole trip came just after Ganpatipule, as the road descended around a cliff to Aare Ware beach and then climbed back up again to provide mesmerizing views of the beach from the other side. The beach itself is deserted and unsafe for swimming though.

Pleasingly, the condition of the roads was also the best we’d encountered. Yet after Ratnagiri commenced a lengthy, monotonous and uninviting inland stretch of SH4, atop hills barren with red laterite soil.  Towns and food were scarce, and the motorbike started having some performance issues.

According to the GPS, SH4 appeared to worryingly run into the water at Madban beach. The locals said that there wasn’t a ferry to Vijayadurg, where SH4 seemed to recommence on the other side. So, we changed course and took Major District Road (MDR) 61 down through Mithgavane, crossed a number of bridges, and turned onto Rajapur Road where we rejoined SH4 in Padel.

By 2 p.m., we were so hungry and fatigued. We were ready to eat anything and stopped at a nondescript roadside restaurant that claimed to serve “homely food”. It was devoid of any customers, and we were served whatever had been cooked and was available. Thankfully, it turned out to be a delicious coconut-based vegetarian thali costing only 60 rupees.

From Devgad, we took the more direct inland Achara-Devgad Road, which was in good condition and rejoined the meandering SH4 near Tondavali (the beach at Tondavali is beautifully isolated and worth visiting).

We were relived to arrive at Malvan by 4.30 p.m. but then spent an hour with a mechanic trying to figure out the bike’s problems. After much angst and deliberation, we decided to take it to the Bajaj Service Center in Kudal the next day, and stay (chill by the beach!) for three nights instead of two while it got an overhaul. (I can’t say enough good things about the professional, efficient, skilled staff there). Sadly, this meant that we had to skip proceeding on to Vengurla beach though.

Accommodations

As the very popular Maharashtra Tourism resort provides the only accommodations right on Tarkarli beach, we opted for a homestay on quieter Malvan beach. It was the weekend and our first choice, Sagar Sparsh, was already fully booked. The owner referred us to his neighbor’s homestay, Morning Star, and we were so glad he did. 

The two properties are similar in that they both have a cottage with three independent guest rooms. However, while Sagar Sparsh is just steps from the beach, Morning Star is a bigger property with more personal space for guests. Its cottage is set further back in a coconut grove, with hammocks, chairs and tables in front.  The accommodations are only a few years old, so they’re attractive and modern inside. The owner is friendly, honest, and helpful. He’s non-intrusive but is always around to take care of guests’ needs. Rates are usually 1,500 per night, but we got an off-season discount and paid 1,300 rupees. There’s plenty of hot water, and home cooked Malvani-style fish thalisfor only 200 rupees. Plus, the roar of the ocean can be heard from the rooms. Paradise!

Return Trip via NH17: Tarkarli to Devruk

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Route

Tarkarli — Kankavali — Rajapur — Devrukh.

Distance

Around 170 kilometers.

Comments

After riding for over an hour along more country roads, we were thrilled to join the NH17 at Kankavali. Its double-lane, straight road made riding a breeze and greatly cut down on travel time. The bike was running like a dream too, after having had a number of parts replaced.

We decided to take a short detour from the NH17 to stop at Devrukh for the night, as the accommodations along the highway aren’t very appealing. Devrukh is an off-the-beaten-track destination on the top of a hill (yes, more winding roads!). It’s quite a picturesque village, with the main attraction being the Devruk Museum and its works of fine art. There’s also a kokum sharbat factory and the Ved Pathshala, dedicated to Vedic studies. Marleshwar Shiva temple, Karneshwar Shiva temple, and some hot water springs can be visited in the vicinity as well.

Accommodations

The main reason why we chose to stay at Devrukh was O’;Nest Homestay. This rustic oasis abounds with nature and birdsong. I was really missing the sound of the ocean after hearing it every day for a week but the soothing energy at O’Nest helped greatly. The homestay has cottages, rooms, and a fantastic tree house (with air-conditioning and western bathroom), all freshly painted and decorated in earthy colors. The tree house costs 2,500 rupees per night, which is quite a bargain. Hammocks and swings are also interspersed through the garden.

Unfortunately, our fish eating frenzy came to an abrupt end, as meat is not cooked or served there on Mondays. However, the Konkani vegetarian thali was tasty and satisfying.

Return Trip via NH17: Devruk to Kolad

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Route

Devruk — Kosumb — Sawarde — Chiplun — Khed — Mahad — Mangaon — Kolad.

Distance

Around 190 kilometers.

Comments

Although this leg was the longest distance that we covered in a day on the whole trip, it was quite easy going as we stayed on NH17 for most of it. However, after Chiplun, the highway begins its ascent and descent through the ghats (mountains), with many twists and turns. It was quite alarming to see an overturned truck on one of the bends.

Wanting to prolong our time in nature as much as possible before returning to big city life, we decided to break the journey by staying at a farm in Kolad.  This area is known for its farm stays, camping, and adventure sports.

We arrived back in Mumbai the following day, after riding for another 120 kilometers on the NH17. Upon taking my helmet off, I discovered my face covered in dirt from trucks on the road. Aaah, welcome home! We were jubilant that we made it without incident.

Accommodations

The lovely owners of Kittu’s Farm were kind enough to accommodate us on short notice. Their peaceful farm, located next to a sizable dam, grows mangoes, chikoo, and coconuts.  It has a large family room with space for up to 20 guests, plus a couple of smaller rooms. This makes it a fantastic family getaway.

The polite and efficient staff cooked delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian food for us, made to order. Notably, the towels were soft and fluffy, the beds were comfortable, and the bathroom had quality fittings (with a rain shower!). The rate is normally 1,800 rupees per person for a 24 hour say, including all meals. However, since we were only there for dinner and breakfast, the owners generously gave us a discount.

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