Day One (27th Oct 2009)
Having seen most of the hill forts around Maharashtra, we felt that once we should also visit the numerous forts along it’s coast.
Kishore chalked out fourteen seaforts, namely, Yashwantgad (near Redi), Nivati fort, Sindhudurg, Surjekot, Bharatgad, Bhagwantgad, Devgad, Vijaydurg, Purnagad, Ratnadurg, Jaygad, Suvarnadurg, Kanakdurg, Bankot. The beaches and cuisine were complimentary.
27th October 2009, never seemed to come fast. Yes, that was the day, when we would finally go visiting sea-forts and beaches along coastal Maharashtra. And finally when it came, to start with, I was late for the 8.30 reporting at Vikroli station east, by half an hour. Happens! But then Amit Sawant came to my rescue, not literally though. Our man, as it was exposed later, was in the gym at 8.30 pm. It is still a mystery as to why he was working out, when he was supposed to reach the pick up point. Unintentionally, he also saved Badya and parivaar, who were packing, when I was being taunted for being late.
Anyways, when Amit, finally arrived at around 9.30 we all hopped into the bus. Picked up the Shitole family from Chembur and reached Belapur where Jaison, my cousin was waiting with his and my luggage. My brother and nephew Noel had come to see him off. Everyone who knew Noel, asked him to join the gang. He looked at me and I looked at my brother, who in turned asked Noel to take permission from his mom. When he had achieved that, we rushed home to pack his clothes. So the final count was eighteen.
Amit and I had got a handful of CDs which had songs by Kishore, Rafi, Lata, Mukesh, old classics, latest hits. But soon we realized that we weren’t updated with the latest technology, when Sachin the driver, told us that the bus had a player which supported only USB chips. Thankfully Kishore was carrying his laptop, so we managed to transfer some song onto the chips, but on a later day.
The first night was a little uncomfortable because we were traveling till morning. Everyone slept or rather pretended to have slept, because next morning when we were having breakfast somewhere near Sangameshwar, I heard some complaining on how the cool breeze that sneaked through the window didn’t allow them to sleep, while others were impressed by the driver’s skill on the wheel. Some were explaining about their unsuccessful attempt to sleep on the bus floor, while others thought that winter had set in, thanks to the morning fog.
We were running very late. Our initial plan was to reach Digambar Kesarkar’s house at Kiley (as in fort) Nivati, freshen up and then start our proceedings. Oh yes, Kesarkar, who? Well Mr. Kesarkar is a villager, who stays very near to Kiley Nivati ST stand and allows tourist to stay at his place at very nominal rupees hundred per person per day. He also serves you breakfast, lunch and dinner as per your requirement, obviously not included in the above-mentioned lodging charges. Baskya aren’t you guys expecting a little too much, if you thought khana, peena aur sona for a mere hundred? After intensive research and numerous phone calls to every Tanaji, Digambar and Hari (read Tom, Dick and Harry), Kishore had managed to arrange such places for our overnight stays.
This temple has an interesting history. It is believed that one night in 1964, Ganpati Bappa appeared in a village boy’s dream and told him that he would find his murthi if he dug up a certain location. So the boy and some villager started digging and after some days they did manage to find a sculpture of the Elephant God. Later the whole place was dug up with the help of construction companies and a temple was built around it. The news spread to nearby villages and pilgrims started visited.
When we reached there in the afternoon there were many visitors. We skipped going to the nearby beach and instead headed towards Yashwantgad. This fort, which is also called Redi Killa (fort), for it’s close proximity to the temple, was full of ruins. Creepers had covered the walls and it looked a perfect location for a horror movie. Amit, Jaison and Kishore showed us their climbing skills, scaling up the walls with the help of creepers.
We had a late lunch at Hotel Konkan Kinara. The food was good but personally I was disappointed with the quantity of solcurry. The last time, when I was in Konkan, some seven years ago, they served unlimited glasses of this appetizer/digestive made of kokam (I guess a type of tamarind) and coconut milk. Alas, commercialization had sneaked in. They served solcurry in small waatis (very small steel glass). I guess the Takila shot – glasses that you get at bars are much bigger.
After lunch we headed towards our first night halt. By the time we reached there it was twilight. We managed to go to the beach and spend some time there. The sand was so smooth that it was as if were walking on milk powder. No one went for a swim, postponing it for the next day.
Kesarkar Kaka informed Kishore that early morning if we ventured into the sea in boats we could spot dolphins. But he wouldn’t guarantee. However he volunteered to go in the morning and inform us if he spotted dolphins and then we could hire a boat and go.
At dinner, we discussed some time-management. We unanimously decided that we would have our shower in the night before going to sleep and in the morning only brush, freshen up and leave. This would save us a lot of time.
That night, everyone went to sleep hoping to see dolphins next morning.