It had been ages since I last went for an actual bike ride. Though I did manage couple of camping trips around 80-100 kms from home but the single big ride, which I yearned for was eluding me. So friday night admist wondering why aren’t the rains haven’t fallen yet, I made up my mind to do a impronto trip to our very own Konkan. I decided to take the route somewhere in the coast and watch the south west monsoon clouds approaching. I rode to Karde Beach in Dapoli which falls in Ratnagiri District. Despite crossing these regions a lot of times, I haven’t really been to the beaches on the lines of Karde; which are – Kelshi, Harnai, Aanjarle, Murud, Karde and Ladghar. Dapoli was my chosen destination was in my mind and most convenient route of reaching Dapoli was a straight run on the Mumbai-Goa highway till Khed, with a deviation towards west for another 40kms on Khed Dapoli road. But, I decided to take some crooked, unknown roads which I haven’t travelled prior to this. I was very well aware of the NH 17 route – i.e. from Panvel to Vadkhal Naka to Mangaon to Poladpur to Khed to Dapoli and I just didn’t want to ride it so I dug into the maps and find out some alternate routes. I started on the Pune highway (NH4) and reached Goa Highway (NH17) crossing over the ghats and forest routes which connects these parallel highways. The route I took to reach Mangaon which falls on NH 17 was
Ambarnath – Lonavla – Tiger Point – Amby Valley Road – Bhamburde – Aaherwadi – Tamhini – Nizampur – Mangaon.
The above route was a surprise to me as this route greeted me unending panaromic view of green forests and grasslands with the beautiful view of lakes and rivers. All that I had seen in regional movies and textbooks, stood live before me. Anybody willing to take an alternate route to reach Konkan from Mumbai or Pune, should try this route. On the flip side, the route is very deserted with hardly any hotels or petrol pumps, no mechanics, no garages and uneven road designs with sudden turns and dips. But, the startling beauty of the place makes up for it. The roads are okayish in the general sense with 60-70% as good road and 20% as broken tarmac. 10% is bad but compliments the rustic feel of the place.
After Mangaon, I didn’t want to ride on the Goa highway till Khed, Instead I took the interior routes through the village roads to reach my intended destination. The route had enticed me enough by now, and the narrow curvy uneven roads were my dream come true. Looking at the map, I found a diversion towards west just 10-12 kms after Mangaon, which was a place called Lonere. A right turn from Lonere lead me to Goregaon. The roads were a bit busy initially between Lonere and Goregaon as these two villages fall very close to the National Highway. But, one can easily squeeze out of the traffic and hustle of the village road and get back to road with scanty vehicular movement. 4-5 kms after Goregaon I took a diversion on left towards Ambet. Crossing over the Savitri River, I rode down further to Shenale and Mandangad. This is the kind of route on which I can ride again and again, without getting bored. Dense forests at places to small hamlets and villages with minimal population are a treat to eyes. The breathtaking views soothes the nerves. The road from Mangaon to Bankot is another stretch of amazing route with plush green views all around and now being the monsoon, all the fields have spurted tender shoots of crops, which give a fluorescent shine amidst the dark shades of green.
10-12 kms before Bankot, I found a deviation at a place called Kelshi Phata. Taking the left at Kelshi Phata I reached even more remote location and hardly saw a single soul for sometime. At Mandivali another deviation took me to Velvi Kelshi road. The actual Sagari Mahamarg starts from Kelshi. One has to ride down south and travel parallel to the ocean on the right. Another diversion off the main route will lead towards Aade, Padale, Savane, Anjarle and join the highway again towards Murdi. Crossing Murdi, I rode on a bridge over creek. At the end the road divides into a fork where the right goes towards Harnai village. Harnai Village is a famous fishing village in the region and if you are a dried fish lover, you can shop for it at dirt cheap prices. If you aren’t a fish lover and get turned off with the smell of dried fish take the diversion on the left which goes uphill and bypasses Harnai village (and the smell ofcourse) entirely. The bypass road will go uphill and give you another gorgeous view of the sea from the top of the hill. I found many resorts coming up the hill. Getting down the hill I continued on the coastal highway towards left with signboards showing Murud, Karde, Ladghar etc. That route is again a diversion from the main coastal highway going west wards.
While I was there I hunted for a good hotel in my budget for taking the night as camping was skeptical due to monsoon. There were many hotels lined up with a direct sea view for picking. I finally found a reasonable hotel which although didn’t offer a direct view of the sea, was good as far as cleanliness and hygiene was concerned. The hotel quoted 1200 for the non ac room which I negotiated and paid 1000 bucks.
My return journey started around 10.30 in the morning and I rode straight through the common route from Karde – Dapoli – Khed – Mangaon – Nizampur – Tamhini – Aaherwadi – Bhamburde – Lonavla – Ambarnath.
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