Day 1 - At the Indian West Coast, District of Ratnagiri, State of Maharashtra, India
Join me and my parents at 5 am in Mumbai, during the March of 2020 aboard a Bombay-Goa Konkan Railway Train. I was visiting India after a very long time and they wanted to show me their newly discovered favorite sea-side destination.
I found the sturdy leather seats in the ac (air-conditioned) chair car (meaning train compartment), the huge windows and generous amounts of leg space utmost impressive! Of supreme delight was the hot dip tea!
The 'dip tea' or 'dip dip' literally describes the action of dipping a tea bag in the hot water and milk. It is one of my fondest childhood memories of travelling by train. A rare experience for us Indians, who make tea as a one pot drink on the stove, by boiling loose black tea leaves and often a range of aromatic spices. Even today to me, no train ride is truly complete without a dip dip tea! :)
Out of the train window
The western coastal region of the state of Maharashtra (almost a 500 km stretch) is the Konkan region. Konkan is the land of coconut trees.
It boasts of stupendous gardens of fragrant mango and cashew trees, parrot colored paddy fields, bushes of juicy conkerberry, never-ending stretches of white sandy beaches (with huge waves and fantastic sunsets), opportunities for water sport, islands and strategic historical forts in water, red earth, houses of red bricks (called locally as 'chira')- even many villas (all with sloping roofs - monsoon hits hard at the coast).
The one of a kind cuisine of Konkan with its spicy fish curries (many with fresh coconut milk or dried coconut in the spice mix), scrumptious plates of whole fried fresh-fish, and preparations with local produce is a sure contender for the bucket list. (a detailed food diary in my next posts ;))
Marked in blue above is the Konkan region, comprising of its' many districts. Each district prides itself about its unique set of beaches, the raw rural experience and the allure of life amidst nature at your doorstep. At times, the geography is so distinct, that you know you are changing districts.
Lets start with arriving in the district of Ratnagiri. My parents chose this route, as they wanted to visit a beautiful temple and some relatives at the sea-side in Ratnagiri, before heading to our final holiday destination in the district of Sindhudurg.
If you want to venture around in Ratnagiri, you can simply rent a local taxi (often also available as a van or jeep). Just an year ago, the prices were at about Rs. 700-1500 depending on the car for a distance of 30 km (1 hour ride). and yes, the one-way train ride, was at Rs. 1000 per person.
Out of the Taxi-Car Window
Premises of Temple of Adivare
Visiting the temple of Mahakali was a multifaced experience. There are many small temples located inside the big one. The floor tiles were hot in the noon sun. Some visitors took fancy in pulling out water from the very deep well adjoining the temple. They also have a lodging and boarding facility available there, if it is of interest to you. The stalls selling 'prasadam' (food that is offered to God and then snacked on ;) )- of sweets, nuts and coconuts were colourful as usual.
In the Temple
Dear Sea Lovers, not far from the temple of Adivare are the famous beaches of Kasheli and Vetye :)
I hope to see them next time. For, we had another agenda for the day- a stopover for lunch in a village close to the city of Rajapur. Which has its own share of sandy beaches and forts in the near vicinity.
Can you find the door in the picture above? :)
Another tree variety resembling a coconut trees, in this region is 'areca nut'. Crushed areca nut enveloped by a beetle leaf is consumed as an after meal delicacy (called paan') through out India. An addiction is to be avoided;) due to associated health risks.
I recommend hiring a taxi on these roads, as many of them are so narrow, that you happen to see waters of the creek, instead of the road below, when you glance out of the car window ;)
There would be yet another stop-over at a random roadside restaurant for a hot shot of masala tea. It tasted just as expected- strong, spicy and overly sweet. Just what is needed to relish the dusty scorching afternoons in India.
And then we would resume the drive to the newly discovered favourite seaside holiday destination, that my parents had picked for me.
Arriving in Tarkarli
Tarkarli is located in the district of Sindhudurg. We arrived just before sunset. It was a breath taking, balmy evening. Just the start I needed, for the severely pined beach holiday.
I will write in detail about our resort, the village of Tarkarli and how wonderful every next day turned out to be (yeah yummy food included) in my next post. Can't wait to share my remaining vacation with you!