Driving to a coastal town with a random group of people for 3 days was the plan when I booked Western Routes “Uncharted Konkan Lands – Dapoli” trip… It was going to be a fun and exciting experience. Ever since I moved here, I kept looking for ways to connect with people and create a social circle. This would be an excellent opportunity to bond with new people, explore a new place, and enjoy the beach and ocean. Having done a few day trips with Jayesh, I knew the trip would be well organized and the food would be yummm.
Packed my backpack and was ready Friday morning to head to the meeting point. After a bit of struggle to find the location reached 10mins late but made it.., We were a small group this time, 7 of us in the van + a family of 3 coming by car .. Off we went towards Dapoli, with breakfast break slated in the itinerary.. But knowing Jayesh, there would be chai and loo breaks as well.
Breakfast was at Quick bites, between Bhugaon & Mulshi. A beautiful property overlooking Mulshi lake and that morning it was chill. Good thing I had carried a light jacket along.
I tucked into a plate of Idli, vadai with chutney & sambar, and also had a bite of the sabudana vada and toast that we’d ordered. The coffee was decent [ most places here serve instant coffee only, oh well]. After filling our tummies, emptying our bladders, and taking a few pictures of the place around we were back on the road.
Along the way, we chit chatted and got to know each other… I love meeting people and this was a group that had Corporate HR, a retired couple +1 and a lady who taught French [had grown up in Mauritius but moved to Pune close to a decade ago].
The route was Pune – Chandani Chauk – Paud – Mulshi – Dongarwadi – Tamhini Ghat – Vile – Nijampur – Mangaon – Mandangad – Mahad – Dapoli
What we did during the 3 days in Dapoli –
Day 1 –
After being on the road for nearly 5+ hours, we reached the property [Serene Ravine, more about this place below] at 1.30 pm. The place looked rustic and homely, with naked brick walls, and plenty of plants and flowers in the garden. After checking in, and getting our room keys, we had 2hrs to chill..
That afternoon after lunch, we chilled a while – reading, watching a show, napping etc…After lunch, the 3 elders in the group took off in search of their ancestral locality & temple, which they found amidst a remote town about 30kms away. They came back all smiles and a sense of achievement.
In the evening around 5, we stepped out for a short stroll towards the River to spend some time chilling there. The river was cold, and calm & the perfect setting to be lost in with a book & some music. We instead spent an hour or so sitting on the stones, with our feet in the water. Most of the fish gravitated towards Jayesh’s toes, nibbling & cleaning them.
We got back to the property and sat around yapping with a round of chai & coffee when the last family arrived from Pune. Soon it was time for dinner & sleep.. We were all quite exhausted, so sleep came easy. The night was fairly cold, I used 2 blankets but did have the fan on low speed. Slept well and was up by 5.45 am, even though we didn’t have to be ready till 7.30 am. Lazed about in the bed till I heard rustling in the next room & slowly got out.
Day 2 –
Post breakfast, we headed towards Keshavraj temple [Vishnu temple] nestled in the forest near Asud.
Now, getting to the temple we were told was going to be a small adventure. You walk into the forest, down 70 steps [cut out from the mountain], cross a river & then take a flight of 120-odd steps towards the temple. The temple is said to have been built by Pandavas, and legend says it was built overnight. There is also a natural spring on the premises. I wonder who found this forest, and decided it would be good to build a temple deep within and create a pathway the way it is.
Along the way near the parking lot, we crossed small houses, and a few shops that people had set up selling local pickles, powders and drinks, along with piping hot steamed modaks. One couple who had such a stall said they paid Rs1000 rent for the space and brought stuff from a nearby village by their scooter. Saw the man get two packets of water bottles about 100 yards from the store, and then haul them down the hill and up into the store. They had a gas stove, used to make modaks and served them on jackfruit leaves. The stall also had different spices which the lady said were from their home, along with jackfruit chips, kokum syrups and a few other snacky items. They had put out a few plastic chairs around the shop, ideal for weary travellers to rest in before making their way to the temple or back to their vehicles.
While walking Jayesh spotted a dog and told him in Marathi to come along, which the fluffy did.. He came back with Jayesh and sat with us, asking us for pets & modak. Gobbled up 2 modaks, drank some water I served and wanted to come along with us. Was such a gentle guy, and seemed like he was familiar with the area and people.
On the way out, we stopped at a few of the small stalls along the way getting back to the temple, had some cooling drinks – caronda juice, lemon ginger juice, tried some local spices, and some modaks before heading back on the road. We had lunch at Shreyas in Dapoli. Post lunch, we will head to Murud beach to chill for a while, and maybe do a boat cruise to sight dolphins. But couldn’t do the boat ride, so decided to head towards Harnai side [near the Forts] and experience the daily fish auction. It was a life-changing experience watching the cow carts collect the daily catch from the boats, and then watch the auction happen.
From there, we also bargained and bought 10 pieces of Pomfret fish before heading back to the homestay. That night’s dinner was a BBQ dinner with a bonfire.
Day 3 –
Checked out and headed towards Murud beach for the dolphin-watching experience. It was crazy fun, sitting on the boat, with the ocean lashing around us, and spotting a dolphin or two dart across.
After an hour of fun, we headed towards Kadyavarcha Ganpati mandir [translates to Ganapati on a cliff], a Ganesha temple on top of the hill. We drove past Anjarle beach, which was magnificent. The temple was originally made of wood but it was later restructured in the 1780s. This temple is an excellent example of Peshwa architecture. There are stories of how most temples along the ocean were washed away & so Ganesha said he was going high up where no one can reach. There is a small spot with a feet-like imprint said to be Ganesha’s first step here. We got a small cup of prashad – Sheera [ kesari] and got to see plenty of turtles in the temple pond as well.
Wait, that was not all. Made a beeline towards the stores across from the temple, sampled Alphonso mango drink [made with mango pup], and some local snacks before moving along.
On the way back from the temple, we stopped at Alphonso Mango county property for lunch – which was again a simple fare. We also got Sweet puran poli and Til Gud sweet [considering it was Sankranti]. The property was small but very quaint. With that, the trip was drawing to an end. We were back on the road for the next 6hrs or so and reached Pune around 9.30 pm…
What a fabulous 3 days it was. Million cups of tea, snacks, history beyond all the places revisited, some memorable experiences and interesting people we met everywhere we went. and the amazing thing about these Western Routes trips is they are never packed to the brim or leave you exhausted..
You get to do things at your own pace and pick what you want to do 🙂
Accommodation: Serene Ravine Homestay~
The property is located around 7kms from Dapoli Bus stand. Once you leave the main road from the Bus stand, the road is quite rough, but nothing a car or bus cant handle~ Heard it gets slushy during monsoon season. The lush greenery on all sides is what makes the place so magical.
At the entrance, there is a huge shoe rack with flip-flops across sizes. You take off your footwear and can pick up one that fits you or choose to remain barefoot or use one of your own. Quite liked this concept~ You then walk into the lobby/reception area which also leads to the dining room & top floor with a big chunk of rooms. There is one room on the ground floor, which is where we stayed- called the Bamboo room. It was quite a surprise to the 2 of us, as we walked in and spoke about which side of the bed we prefer, only to discover there was a 2nd bedroom beyond the door. And then came the bathroom. The rooms are spacious, my part of it also had a TV & Cupboard with extra blankets. We each had 2 bath towels and 1 smaller towel. There was also a tea coffee maker and a small verandah sit-out area with a comfy rocking chair. The rooms upstairs came with their own terrace. Most rooms have been designed to work for families, with kids. Infact heard that a few rooms upstairs had 2 bathrooms. Quite thoughtful.
While typically breakfast is included in the package, for us it was Breakfast & Dinner, and Lunch on the 1st day we arrived. Food is simple Maharashtrian cuisine, and I loved it. The Kokum Kadhi was the highlight, not to forget the hot hot modaks served with Ghee that I just couldn’t resist.
The staff are absolutely amazing, very sweet, helpful and obliging, quite friendly as well. Did I mention the property is pet friendly? Yes. There were 3 hounds that belonged to the owner Shekar – Ice, Chilly and Snow. Such beauties. On the last day when we were checking out, we spotted 4 more hounds on the road, off-leash but standing calmly. Such gentle giants~
So, if you love gardening, flowers, chill spaces and dogs, this place would be perfect for you! The highlight of this place is NO AIRTEL, NO BSNL, NO JIO, NO WIFI… Vodafone-Idea did work in many parts of the property, or there is a landline that you can use~ How cool, right?
What you can do around the property –
Walk around the space, enough to keep you engaged for a few hours. Beautiful plants, flowers, hidden pathways, find a quiet spot to sit and read, or just chill. There is a river a few 100 yards, get out of the property, turn right, and find the gate that will take you to the river. It was magical to head there and sit with our feet in the water, waiting for the fish to bite… It is a super super quiet and relaxed atmosphere all around. Was told there is a natural waterfall that happens during monsoon season inside the property.