Cycling to Ratnagiri
2nd - 6th Feb 2010
Ratnagiri Cycling Tour ‘10
Our Bhramanti's Cycling trip II with 4 participants was completed successfully safe & sound.
Starting from Shrivardhan & ending at Ratnagiri, we totaled a distance of 230 Kms. in 3.5 days. Coastal route adopted was where ever possible & winding through small hills with lots of uphill & downhill climbs.
Last year during Feb09, we toured from Mumbai to Harihareshwar which was around 166kms. This time, we planned to go further south into the Konkans.
It was 2 nd Feb10 when we started out with our first leg of tour ie traveling from Mumbai to Shrivardhan. According to our plans, we had packed our bicycles which were partly dismantled. Each packet weighed around 18 kgs. We were quite excited at the moment when we finally met at Mumbai Central ST stand & frankly, I should admit that only at that moment, I realized that this trip is ON! Till then, I was quite unsure…
Myself, Lalitesh & Prasad met at Mumbai Central Depot while Jolly was to meet us directly at Shrivardhan next early morning to start the cycling tour. He had made a comfortable arrangement to stay overnight at Suvidha Lodge which was just touching the Shrivardhan ST stand. It takes around 7 hours to travel to Shrivardhan & we reached at 10pm .
We did the check in the lodge & had our dinner at a nearby lunch home. Assembled the cycles & took small test drive!
Next day early morning, we all 4 met & started the tour on cycle at 7.30am . from the ST stand. Our Bicycle were all different make: Raleigh M350X MTB, Schwinn Hybrid Searcher, Trek 4300D MTB & Canondale F9 MTB. We had our luggage tied on to the carriers. Our immediate destination was Harihareshwar which is 20kms. This route is 90% flat with the best of the roads. Towards the last 3-4 kms is a small ghat which descends into Harihareshwar. It was like a time trail for us! We reached in 1hr 15 mins. Had very good & heavy breakfast at Gurugita. We proceeded to Bagmandla which is 4 kms from Harihareshwar. Bagmandla is a small coastal village which has a tiny jetty for crossing over the inland back water of the sea to the Bankot coast on the opposite bank. We reached just in time when the ferry was just about to leave. It ferries to the opposite Bankot coast. Took couple of snaps while on the ferry. The Bankot village is also a tiny coastal village with fishing being its primary livelihood. We had to shoulder our bicycles till the road head which was about 80 feet above the sea level through the village. My bicycle weighed the heaviest with 16.5 kg for the bike & additional 5-6kgs for the duffle bag. So had to muscle out the load ferry!
It was a pleasant ride from Bankot, bypassing the Bankot fort to our left. We headed towards Velas. The initial few kms is a nice coastal ride. We spotted the long beaked cranes along with couple of King fisher birds. Took good snaps & proceeded ahead.
Velas is about 4 kms from Bankot. It is a nice serene coastal village. Nice Temple right besides the road. Next place to reach was the Ashapura jetty which is around 6kms uphill & downhill. The road condition is not so good. I had a crash while descending during this course. Reached a speed of 52kmph during the downhill & encountered scree on the path & it became difficult to control & somehow managed to crash after lot of braking, controlling & escaped without any injury or scratch. Henceforth, my downhill would be much slower were typically at speeds of max. 35kmph. However, the uphill climb were quite healthy & could do majority of the climbs using my M1-M2 gear setup. This stretch to reach the Ashapura jetty is highly frequented by the dumper trucks which carry the Bauxite ore to the jetty from where it is exported. After enquiring the exact location of jetty to ferry us on to the opposite banks of Kelshi village, we found the downhill stretch of the road branching towards right. Having reached the tiny jetty, we were tongue tied to see the tiny boat with oars which would be used to ferry us. It was hardly 10 feet long & 3 feet wide. To our unbelief, all our bicycles were trashed one above the other with my heaviest cycle lying on the top! The oarsman was hurrying up to avoid the rising tides to some. Constantly, we had to dodge the oars from hitting our head! We were silently admiring his arms & shoulder power that alone was doing the work. This tiny boat left us on the sandy coast from where we had to further carry our bicycles on our shoulders for a distance of 100mtrs crossing the knee deep sea water. It was a tough time for me to shoulder the weight of my bicycle while crossing. Sometimes the sand below my feet would be quite soft & I feared getting trapped! Ridiculous moment was to get constant calls from my office during this moment! Opposite bank was the Kelshi village coast. The stretch of this muddy coastal road is lined with the tall pine trees which look quite inviting after that hard work. It was about 1pm & the right time to have our lunch break. Lalitesh’s rear tyre was constantly leaking out. We took an entry into the Kelshi village towards our left. This is a scenic village with lots of natural beauty around. We found an ideal place to rest & lunch at Bewalkar’s home. All these home are actually typical wadi’s ie. They would have there own small farm of coconut/mango trees. We had good vegetarian food. Lalitesh replaced his tube & also repaired the punctured one.
We left for the rest of the day’s journey which would end at Harnai. Harnai is about 18 kms from Kelshi. The route is uphill. We encounter the Ade Bridge over the inland sea water & enter the village called Padale. This is also a coastal village with a beach. We also crossed the Anjarle village & encounter a bridge which crosses the inland sea water. Just at this point, we somehow missed the coastal route & bifurcated to the good stretch of road which goes uphill with a steep climb on to the left. This was a diversion from our planned route. So instead of riding the coastal stretch of 4 kms, we ended cycling steep uphill & then again riding downhill on the other end & join back to the coastal road at Harnai. The hill top offered good view of the Anjarle village, Suvarnadurg sea Fort & the sea water. This village of Harnai is a major place for fish auctions. It has huge spread of fishermen boats/launches which skirt the sea horizon at far off distances. We managed to find a lodge which was pricey we felt. Dumped our bags & rushed to the nearby lighthouse, located on a hillock. By the time we reached, the sun had already disappeared. We caught good glimpse of the fish Market which was located on to the beach. We had covered about 67 kms on day1. We had some excellent fish for our dinner which we had at.
Our today’s planned destination was Velneshwar & was going to be the longest part of our tour. We had been enquiring a lot about this day’s route as to whether we can reach Dabhol using the coastal route or do we have to go via Dapoli. We got mixed feedback on this. Going via Dapoli means climbing a long ghat. Dapoli is about 18kms from Harnai. Finally, after having breakfast, we came to know we had to adopt this ghat! We finished our breakfast at a good place ie. Sai Savli farm cum hotel & left at around 8.30am . The road in this ghat section is ok with broadening work going on. Since it’s a major road going to Chiplun via Dapoli, there is traffic plying on this route. After a steady climb for about an hour, we reached Dapoli & passed the Balasaheb Sawant Krushi Vidyapeeth. (Agricultural college, Dapoli) on to our left side. Further ahead, the road would pass through ups & downs to reach Kolthare. On the way, met school boys who were quite eager to know about the geared bicycle. It was good to see them with there cycles on which they used as a vehicle to commute between home & school. On the way, we left the right turn which takes to the villages Ladghar & Tamasteerth. These coastal villages have descent beaches too. But traveling to these places would mean going down hill to reach the beach & then again climbing up to reach the main road. So we avoided so as to reach our destination on time. We reached Kolthare, again a coastal village which is about 18 kms from Dapoli. We encountered the steepest decent just before we reached this village. Kolthare is quiet serene village. Not at all accessed by tourists. We decided to visit the beach in this village. It was a village muddy path about a km long to reach the beach. After reaching, we found to our expectations a beautiful virgin beach. It was a wonderful sight to see nobody except we 4 on the beach. We clicked lot of photographs of this discovered secret beach. Finally after a satisfying time spent, we proceeded ahead. We passed through the next tiny village of Panchnadi . It has one of the most beautiful: Sapteshwar Temple . We decided to again break here. It was a serene Temple with vast surrounding, cool water well & with nobody except us 4! The tranquility was mind boggling. We regained much of our energy. It was time to again break for lunch. We had cycled about 35 kms with numerous ghats on the way & still more to come! Just after this Temple , we came across a small Joshi family who arrange for meals. It is located slightly uphill & deserves a visit. We ordered for the veg food. Meanwhile, the surrounding was beautiful with coconut trees, cashew trees etc. The grand daughter, 4 years old Sakshi offered unlimited entertainment! We had good sumptuous meal. Finally, we left for Dabhol at about 3pm . It was again an uphill route & 7 kms to reach Dabhol. On the way, we could see the Enron power chimneys at a distance. At 3.30, we reached Dabhol Jetty. Had some refreshments. For us, the Soda kokum drink was a delicacy & found it extremely refreshing. We had to cross to the other side of the creek to the place called Dhopave village. The Gopalgad/Anjanwel fort was visible at our distant left side. Having crossed using the huge troller ship which even ferried the cars, we again saw a huge climb inviting us to our left side. This was one of the steepest climbs! It was about 4pm . Our planned destination of Velneshwar seemed to be a distant place. The route onwards would take us through Enron, Ade village, Guhagar & then Velneshwar. This is about 30kms! We started the climb & then at the top, enjoyed the sea view. On the way, we spotted a beautiful peacock & then a fox. The road is good here. There are Enron quarters on this way. The road then descends into Ade village. Just on this slope, we caught a nice glimpse of the Ade & the Guhagar coastal villages. It was 5pm as we cycled through the Guhagar village streets. At this point of time, it seemed my right knee ligaments were giving away! Was managing my ride using my left leg! So wanted a rest. We reached the Guhagar ST stand & the same road continued ahead to Velneshwar which was 16 kms ahead. This route was again through the hills & through forests. We started the climb which was quite steep. After about 30 mins, we reached a junction from where we had to take left turn to reach Velneshwar. At this point, we saw that the road was passing through lots of wood & it was already getting darker. So we decided to undo the climb & ride back to Guhagar. That means early next morning; we had to do this climb again! So we hit back to the Guhagar beach downhill. The decision seem to be a good one. The beautiful beach offered nice time to have some chat dishes & cold drink. There was some school trip from Satara & the students were enjoying the sunset along the shore. Not much of tourists seen. The aura was good & shortly we were in the darkness. We had to go back to village & search for our accommodation. Riding back a kilometer & half, we just knocked at one of the houses & to our good fortune; the family had a paying guest accommodation facility. The room was spacious one with 2 attached bathrooms & another room. Nice place to rest. We had to go to a hotel near the ST stand for our dinner since it was a Thursday & fish cooks were not available due to the fasting day. We rode 76 kms through numerous uphill & it was a tiring day. We finally had to believe that there was nothing called as a flat road in Konkans. In this way, we were mentally prepared for the next day ride before we could go to bed!
We started early morning at 7am . My knees seem to be back into action for the first climb of the day as soon as we left Guhagar. The day end destination was planned at Ganapatipule or somewhere ahead. Our immediate next halt was to be at Velneshwar beach. This is about 16 kms from Guhagar. Taking a right turn at the junction where we had turned back the previous day, we rode through the rising sun towards our left. We reached Palshet village in 40 mins. This is about 8 kms from Guhagar. Riding further ahead, we reached a hill top from where we got beautiful view of the Velneshwar beach. A steep descend led us right next to the beautiful Velneshwar Temple ( Shiv Temple ). We parked our selves at the MTDC resort hotel for a breakfast which is touching the beach. We freshened up, visited the Temple & had our fill. We had good long break. The place was quite peaceful & worth cherishing the moments of rest. We finally left at 10.30. Next place on our route was Hedvi. This sacred place also has a beautiful Ganesh Temple . It was a steep hill climb again! We visited the Temple & clicked few pics. We left at 11.30 & again through ups & downs, reached Narvan village in 20mins. The route ahead went through very scenic beaches which seem to be completely unexplored. The nature was at its best too with comparatively cool breeze. At a distance, we could sight the Jindal power plant which is actually located adjacent to Jaigad fort. Finally skirting the scenic coast line & through hills, we descended into a tiny village called Tavsal at 12.40. This was the most scenic spot we came across inside any village. We will be crossing the sea water in a ferry to the other side called as Jaigad Bunder. The location of the place where we had our lunch was right on the banks of the inland sea. It was again a serene place with cool breeze due to the cool trees; coconut weaved roof tops of the shacks etc… We even had the best of the fish lunch at this place. We spent quality time at this place. We left at 2pm on the ferry. It was a special trip for 4 of us & quite enjoyable with good coastal sceneries around. Reaching the other bank, we could see the Jaigad fort on our right side at a distance. Again a steep 1 km rise on the road was waiting for us! Having climbed, we came across a T junction & started enquiring for our next leg of journey to reach the famous Ganapatipule. The route was mostly coastal. Around 19kms yet to go. We rode via the Undi phata & on the way just before Ganapatipule, crossed through yet another beautiful village of Malgund . The Malgund bridge built over the inland sea welcomes us. As we neared Ganapatipule, the traffic increased since this being a tourist cum pilgrimage center. We reached at about 4.30pm . After having visited the scenic Temple , we started ahead to find a good place to make a stay. We wanted the place to be far off from such crowds. Just a couple of kilometers away on the coastal strip, we found a very tiny coastal village known as Bhandarpule. The day was getting older & we managed to find a descent place to keep ourselves. It had huge room with nice verandah & a pet parrot to entertain us. We rushed to the beach which was again infested just by us 4 cyclists. We took good pics of the extra long beaked cranes which we found were the Eurasian Curlew. Enjoyed yet again the sumptuous veg meal offered by the host lady. This would be our last night for this trip. Next day we shall be leaving to reach Ratnagiri & travel back to Mumbai during following night.
We had leisure time with us. So we got up after having the bonus sleep. Having our breakfast of the tasty pohe, we left for Ratnagiri at 11 which was the last leg of the tour. Ratnagiri was about 23 kms. As usual, the steep uphill road invited us! It was a nice ride which basically took us away from the coast line. The vegetation turned to mango trees & we lost sight of the coastal trees & the mangroves. We reached the busy streets of Ratnagiri just before 1pm & got the luxury bus tickets booked for the night travel back. After our lunch, we saw off Jolly who had to reach Shrivardhan & then he would travel back to Dombivli.
We tied our bicycles on to the top of the bus. After an overnight drive, we reached Mumbai early morning & glad to see our bicycles in good intact condition. Rode back the last few kilometers to reach our homes & end the tour!
-- Kiran Sarode
Cycling in Kasara
Kasara Killer experience:
Cycling Over the Kasara Ghats ( 1st Mar 10 )
As scheduled, we started on Monday early morning to cycle in the
Kasara Igatputi region. I had to catch the 1st Kasara local from Kurla
at 4.30 AM . As I am afraid of dogs chasing me during odd hours, I
decided to start early and take an auto from Bandra to Kurla. I
started at 3.15 AM and as luck would have it, found an auto right
outside my home and reached Kurla at 3.30 AM itself! The ticket
counter opened only at 4 AM . Meanwhile, Kiran started from Andheri to
Ghatkopar on his cycle and was chased by dogs at least 3 times! (this
is how he gets his training guys!) Both of us boarded the 1st luggage
compartment in the train.
Enroute, we decided to get down at Khardi itself (in order to cycle
more!!) A milkman suggested that we go right across the tracks and
avoid the station master at the end of the platform (as he guessed we
may not have luggage tickets for the cycles!) We got on the highway
and started cycling away around 7 AM . We were in for a treat as the
highway was newly contructed and there were 2+2 lanes and also
separate kerb lanes that become our own cycling lane through out the
day! The weather was pleasant and we got to watch the beautiful
sunrise and got great views of kulang/Alang/Madangad fort and also kalsubai. We
cycled about 20 kms with some ups and downs and stopped for breakfast
opposite Orange City & about 5kms off Kasara
Next we started going up the kasara ghat - the gradient was modest
and I cycled in my mid-gear through out (2-3/ 2-4). I pushed myself
and went up the hill as fast as I could manage. We then took the
diversion on the left towards Khodala and started cycling along the
beautiful countryside. At this junction, the diversion route passes
below the railway bridge. Shortly we pass the Vihigaon village.
We were in for a treat here again as we
descended long into a valley. There was an amazing waterfall (probably
an upstream dam was let out) which flowed into a small canyon!
The name of this river being " Vaitarna River " which flows from the
source Vaitarna lake above the ghats.
We spent about an hour exploring the area including a stone bridge that
was built a long time ago in 1910 by the Britishers over this Vaitarna river.
There is huge project started for a dam 1350cr. project. This beautiful
bridge, the falls, canyon would be all submerged! We turned back from here (leaving cycling
to Khodala for another day) - about 45 minutes of cycling took us to
the Killer Kasara ghat (alternate route to the main highway). We were
immediately taken aback by the steepness of the gradient. Even, the
king-of-ghats (read Kiran) said, it looks difficult! It was 11 AM and
was getting hot. We started going up the hill slowly - soon, I was on
1-3, 1-2 and finally 1-1 (I never went on 1-2 or 1-1 during the
coastal trip earlier this year). Even at 1-1, I found the going tough.
I softly cursed the beers (and cigs) I had last week! I thought of
stopping many times (again, never stopped or thought of stopping on
the coastal trip). Later Kiran told me that even he thought of
stopping many a times!
I endured for about 20-22 minutes of continuous climbing and reached
the top - only to see that there was another 20 meters or so to the
top. Cursing myself again, I peddled on and on...I crossed a telecom
tower and got up from my seat to peddle the last 10 meters or
so...this proved to be a mistake as there was nothing left in my
legs..I promptly had to get down from my cycle...I tried walking but
couldn't manage more than 3-4 steps (I think they call this 'bonking'
- when the muscles run out of all glycogen)...I really thought I was
going to collapse!...I stood there for about 5-10 minutes (as the
story of my life went inside my head)! Thankfully, I came back to the
world and walked to the Ghatandevi temple at the top (understanding why
the goddess is there)......Kiran was sitting coolly under a tree
awaiting my arrival...we rested for a little bit and cycled down along
the new highway...again this was a treat as the road is superb and you
don't need to break at all as you come down at high speed.
We had lunch at a dhaba (the food was coloured and all but did not
give any side effects!). We rested at my place and started for Kasara
station around 2.30 PM - it was really really hot by this time. We
tried buying luggage tickets for the cycles but were told that there
were no rules for carrying cycles on a local train. (The normal
procedure of booking the cycle and putting in the break van is for
normal trains). We were told to pay a fine (of Rs.30!) if caught by
anyone at the time of exit. Fortunately, we were not "caught". I
cycled back at ease from Kurla to Bandra and promptly hit the bed by
8.30 PM (never happened before).
I think it was one of the most intense experience for me. I am going
to train harder and get over that ghat without getting that 'bonk' feeling...
-- Prasad Kancharla