Travelog: Konkan Bike Trip (January 2017) - Part 1

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.

- John F. Kennedy

About the trip

Few weeks back, I completed a ~750kms. long bike trip to Konkan area. This blog would try to document the journey. I wanted to write this blog, so I can share my experiences and this could serve as a guide for anyone planning a bike trip in the same region.

Initially, I thought I would write it all in one post, but as I kept on writing and adding picture, I realised that the post is getting quite big with pictures and stuff. So, I divided it in two posts. This is the part one of this travelog.

Why?

Every time someone asks me a "why" question, I counter-question them "why not"? I mean seriously, what reason would you give if you had the option to either

  • Live the life on road, witness the mother nature at its best, eat fresh fish and submerge your feet in cleanest beach you have seen
    or
  • Sulk in your bedroom in from of your laptop, over the long weekend.

I couldn't think of any reason to stay back, and therefore took my bike for a long ride.

Tools of trade

Here's a list of things that I had in my bag:

Travelog:

Day 1

(27 - Jan - 17)
I was originally supposed to start the journey on 26th, but somehow couldn't leave. Therefore, my original plan to visit Malvan/Tarkarli was cut short to Ratnagiri. I woke up at 5 in the morning, put things in my bag, wore my biking gear and got out. I left home around 7am or so.

All set

The traffic was minimal, and weather amazing. Except for the diversions, the road was pretty good too. After 70 kms and one hour or so later, I took my first break just before the Khambatki Ghat. Rehydrated myself, walked a bit, ate energy bar (or two) and I was on my way.

Just before the Khambatki Ghat

Once I crossed the ghat, the roads were amazing. In fact, somewhere around or after crossing Satara, I was cruising around 100+ KMPH for quite some time. This route is also where I finally hit my bike's RPM limit @ 9000 RPM. I also found out the my bike maxes out at around 135 kmph (I didn't drive this fast, I read this on Internet. Seriously, maa!). I took my second break in Umbraj, around 150 KMs away from home. At Umbraj, I finally had my morning tea. While sipping the tea, I inquired about the various ways to reach Ganpatipule from local people. The people suggested me that I should take right from Karad and go via Ambaghat. And so I did.

After leaving Mumbai-Bangalore highway and taking a right, the road turned from 4-6 lane highway to 2 lane road with no divider in between. The road were still in good condition. However, the sun was above my head and it was getting hotter. So, I decided to take a break, rehydrate myself and remove inner liner of my jacket. And this is where I crashed embarrassingly. Embarrassing? Crashes happen all the time, then why are you ashamed of this one? Here's why,

I decided to take a break, and therefore searched for a place to rest and park my bike. Got too excited after finding a big tree with good shadow. So, I decided to get off the road, and as I slowed down, I failed to pay attention to the road below. The road below had tiny gravels and not knowing that, I applied the front brakes and CRASH!! I was on the ground, fell to my right, that too at the speed on 5-10 kmph (this was the embarrassing part of crash).

Some passerby saw me, helped me back on my feet. He also scared me by telling about a freak accident in Malkapur ghat section, where a car crashed down right in the valley, killing a family of 4. The incident was dark enough to jolt me back to the most attentive state. And so I started my journey on what a rider friend of mine calls "Twisties".

Somewhere around the start of Ambaghat ^ Somewhere around the start of Ambaghat

While riding through the Malkapur ghat, I did see a car crashed into the valley, and it was scary enough to force me to drive very cautiously. While going through Ambaghat, I took a break and while checking my phone, I saw a text from friend who knew about the trip. The friend spoke highly of the Marleshwar Temple, located not far from where I took my break. The temple is surrounded by hills on 3 sides and is quite beautiful. I was intrigued and wanted to cover this while coming back. But then I realised, I might take a new route to reach back home, so better finish it right now. So, fed the location to Google Maps, and boy oh boy! The route that Maps decided. Toughest 20 kms of my whole trip. Here's the route that I was presented by Google:

Ambaghat to Marleshwar Shiva Temple ^ Just look at those curves.

Once I reached the temple and parked my bike, I saw some stairs. Huh? That wasn't a part of the plan. I decided to ask some random person about stairs count. "Around 500 stairs only. Give or take.", an old lady casually told me. Wait, what?!?! Nobody told me there will be a ton of stairs to climb up to. I was in no condition to climb up, that too after 6-7 hours of bike ride. Therefore, I decided to ...

Climb up. And I would daresay, it was worth it. So, if you are in the area, I would definitely recommend it. The view surrounding the temple makes up for the difficulty of reaching here. And I am glad I wasn't aware of the stairs, I probably wouldn't have come here if I knew.

While climbing the Marleshwar Temple

After my little side-adventure, I was on my way to Ratnagiri again. The rest of the way was good, except for the parts where I took one or two wrong turns and therefore ended up witnessing this beautiful place:

I don't know where this place is exactly ^ I took a break here and was mesmerised by the view.

Here's the thing: my destination was never Ratnagiri. In fact, I couldn't visit Ratnagiri, despite being so close to it. My destination was Ganpatipule, a small calm town in Ratnagiri distance, some 30 odd kms from Ratnagiri city. I already had booking in a guest house, in Malgund. Malgund is another small village, immediate neighbor of Ganpatipule village.

So, I reached the Malgund beach just in nick of time to witness the beautiful Sun taking a dip in Arabian Sea. For people who love numbers and such, I reached around 6PM IST. And when I parked my bike and took a stroll towards the beach, I have no words for what I felt. There was a strange sense of accomplishment, calmness inside me. The view in front of me, I forgot all my worries, the pain in my butt for that very moment. I sat there for around half an hour, doing nothing, but just staring into the horizon, the endless sea in front of me.

Sunset Day 1 ^ If you look closely, you can see the birds, in upper half of the picture, returning to their nests.

My favorite picture from the trip ^ This is probably my favorite-st picture from the trip.

Beach!

After admiring the vastness of the sea and realizing the tininess of my own in comparison to it, I checked into my guest house. And the first thing the guest house owner asked me, "Where are you other friends?". He was very surprised I was came alone, all the way from Pune. Well, I explained it to him that it's just me. And it is okay to do things alone.

After unpacking, changing clothes and freshening up, I took a power nap. I don't think I have appreciated the presence of a bed that much ever before. I woke up around 8.30 and inquired about good dinner place close-by. I specifically asked for places nearby because I don't like staying out late in Konkan area. More details about why in part two (The post is long as it is). Thankfully, found a good dinner place serving fish nearby and I was there in a flash. Ordered Pomfret Fry thali, and I have to tell you that it was the best fish I have ever had.

Mouth-watering fish ^ Yum! Yum!

After finishing my dinner, I rushed back to my room, called my friends letting them know that I survived. And I don't remember a lot of details after. I scantily remember reading about Yossarian faking illness in Catch-22. But that's about it. Details about day two and three in part two of this blog.

Oh, in case you were wondering, here's the exact (almost) route that took:

The almost exact route that I took ^ The almost exact route that I took