The Konkan Journey: Pune- Tamhini- Raigad- HariHareshwar and back

It was like any regular evening in the hostel when we decided to visit Mulshi, knowing nothing about the place. Holi was next day. We were four of us, all medical students, and that was the road where we had not been before on a bike. Mulshi was a dam, this I had heard before, so we headed to Chandni Chowk on two bikes, and took the turn to Paud. The road is beautiful, and things looked good as we crossed the Pirangut ghat, the sun was setting and we went ahead, reaching Mulshi after 20 kms. Mulshi Dam is a huge water body, but there was no place which looked good to get into the water. The road moved along the reservoir, where we clicked few photographs, including the full moon. Grossly dissatisfied, I remembered that this way led further to Alibaug, from a previous bus journey. I asked a local who confirmed. Those with me gave a nod, and we went ahead. As we went further, the road condition worsened, and there were many turns where… At one point, there is a narrow road running between steep cliffs on both sides, crossing it was a thrilling experience. The road is generally avoided in the night, as there are incidences of robbery. It is a road less used, and during our journey down the ghat, hardly any vehicles came from the front. This added to our fears. None of us knew where we would find the next petrol pump, and we weren’t prepared. After some distance, we found an armed forces establishment- The Rajmachi Centre, and the guy there directed us further. The road was bad, and we did not know how far Alibaug was. On descending down the ghat, and buying adulterated petrol, we reached a diversion, and took the wrong turn, reaching the road which goes to Mahad, much south than Alibaug. The moon accompanied us throughout, and as we returned to civilisation, there were villages where ‘holi’ fire was being burned. We went down to Mahad, hoping to find a less expensive lodge, but not getting any place to stay, inquired about places where we could visit the next day. We realised that Raigad fort was nearby (30km) and set off for Raigad at night. All the way, there were huge fires being lit for Holi. People said that it was not a good idea to go to the fort at this time. It must be around 1 am by now, and moving at a slow pace, negotiating the slippery gravel and turns, we reached Raigad in 1 hour. There, we could not see a single soul. There was a group of dogs, that barked the whole night, not letting us sleep. We saw a bus stop, and then, slept there, to catch a nap of 2 hours. On waking up, and having breakfast, we waited for the sun-rise, and then, went to trek the fort, reaching up in an hour. There is a ropeway too, for those who cannot walk to the fort. It felt nice to see the morning sun between the hills of Sahyadri. Raigad was once the capital of Shivaji, and this was the place where he was coronated as king. The fort has ruins of the market in those times, a durbar, temples and the final resting place/ tomb of Shivaji. It was a nice experience being there- Accidently.
Coming down was tiring, after the lack of sleep. Now that we came here to see a beach, we proceeded to hari hareshwar.
The roads in Konkan have many characteristics. They are narrow, red soil on both sides, there are many ways to reach a particular place, via different villages, the signs are sometimes misleading, as the same place can be reached by different routes. Ask locals, and confirm. Though if you do not have time constraints, trust your gut feelings and you will discover for your self the best places that nobody can tell you. Bike is the best way to enjoy these roads, but the riskiest too.
After a long ride, going up and down on the ghat roads, we had our first sighting of the sea for the day, and this sea was going to accompany us for a while. On reaching HariHareshwar, we visited the Shiva temple and went to the beach, which was an average beach. After spending some time, getting wet, we inquired about nearby places, and after skipping the srivardhan beach, went straightaway to Dive Agar. The road to Dive Agar passed along the coast, and while coming back, we enjoyed the sun-set. Reaching there, we took our bikes to the beach, and for the first time, rode bikes on a beach, This was truly a great experience, as we took them into the water, and somehow, brought back, later pulling them out of the sands, after the tiring journey. The temple here has a gold idol, which was found in a nearby stream. From there, it dawned on us that we had to return, and the road was dangerous, and now that we knew what lied ahead- the bad road, we asked if there was another way. The alternate way is too long, but people adviced us against going on the Tamhini Ghat section in the night. Still, we decided to go by that route, and drove continuously for 100 kms, then after a 5 minute stop, drove again, and reached Pune by 10 pm. All our friends were searching us the whole day, as Holi is celebrated in Hostels in the most memorable ways. The guy whose bike I took was cursing me, to whom I apologized, but we had a good time.

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