maharashtra – down the konkan coast
The itinerary is suggested from Mumbai, but easily adaptable from Pune. While it’s a longish trip, one can choose to skip some parts or just go straight to Goa!
One can decide to use rail / bus / drive. Rail requires a plan that is hatched well in advance and tickets booked. Driving or biking is recommended as you can meander your way from Mumbai to Goa, stopping on the way and drinking in the hills and the beaches – side by side. Plus it open up possibilities of stopping at small villages, munching on a vada pav, having some fresh coconut water, and even searching for ruins of forts along the route (look out for one between Alibaug and Kashid)
Mumbai to Alibaug (145 Kms)
Take a ferry to Alibaug from Gateway. It stops at the Mandwa Jetty and from there it’s a 45 minute bus ride to Alibaug – which is part of your ferry ticket. If you are driving then it’s a 3-4 hour ride – the roads are smooth and the scenery (once out of Mumbai) is gorgeous. Be the early bird and leave before the normal Mumbai traffic sets in.
Stay in this area for a couple of days. I would recommend staying at Kashid, as Alibaug beaches can get quite crowded and dirty. There are some new and up-market beach resorts between the jetty and Alibaug and on the route to Kashid.
While you are here, visit the famous Murud-Janjhira Fort, green just after the monsoon – otherwise the boat to the fort can be quite hot. But climb high onto the ramparts and look at the sea surrounding you. You are standing in one of the forts of the one of the strongest Navy attacks of those times. Touts will push you into trying the scuba diving. Do check the diving site first, when we visited it was dirty to say the least. Of course, they might have cleaned it up, so do give it a dekho!
Alibaug to Dapoli (a detour off the coastal region)
A tiny ‘hill’ station from the British era, with nothing else to it. But staying at Serene Ravine could make the trip worth-it. Especially given that they ‘own’ a river given that it runs through their property. In the monsoons you have mini-waterfalls which make for a good back-massage. Expect a rough road off-Dapoli to the home-stay.
Or else continue to Ganapatipule (Alibaug to Ganapatipule : 174 kms)
Drive along to Ganapatipule… it’s a 4-5 drive from Alibaug. It’s a beautiful beach though a little rough, so check on tide and ask locals before you choose to swim. It’s a little more populated and busy, with the famous Ganapati temple, so try to do a weekday / non-holiday season if you hate crowds.
As in any coastal town in Maharashtra, there is always a fort around. Of course after the first couple, they can get boring, unless you are a history buff. But do stroll around, climb up to the highest point, act like Shivaji Maharaj and defend the coastal belt from invaders!
Ganapatipule to Tarkali (Vengurla or Sawantwadi)
Known as one of the most beautiful beaches along the Konkan Coast, Tarkali is a must see. With growing popularity expect some crowd – or else make it a week-day trip. If you want a quieter option – albeit with no stay options on the beach – check out the near-by Vengurla beach off-Sawantwadi. You can stay at Sawatwadi and drive down to the beach (25 kms). Stroll around the beach, visit the port, walk around the town, take some photos!
And then to Goa…
From Tarkali / Sawantwadi, Goa is just a hop and skip away (Around 80 kms). So end the trip on a high!
The drive back from Goa to Bombay is around 12-14 hours. You can take the alternative route via Kolhapur. While the Mumbai-Goa highway is scenic and lets you stop at tiny villages, the Kolhapur-Mumbai highway via Pune is an expressway (most of the way) so gives you a quick, smooth journey back. Of course, it lacks the character of the laid-back highway that runs through villages – take your pick!
Or else use the Konkan railway or take a luxury bus back!