On the second day I got up even before my 5.30am alarm could ring. Reason? Sachin Ramchandra Tendulkar was having a shower. Yes yes…I know we had agreed no showers in the morning, but then there are exceptions. Not because he shared his first name, last name and almost similar middle name with the cricketing legend, but then this chap was the youngest adult, atleast looks like a bachha, and secondly his hygienic habits was never a reason for delay for the entire group. He is ready even before most of us (read Badya) has stopped snoring.
After having poha and chaai for breakfast, we were ready by 7.30. And since, Kesarkar Kaka, didn’t have any encouraging news about the dolphins, we headed towards Malwan to see Sindhudurg fort. We enquired about the scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities, but were informed that scuba-diving hadn’t started yet, but we could do snorkeling.
We took a guide, Hitesh, who gave us some gyaan about the fort – how it was named Sindhudurg (Sindhu = sea, Durg = fort), built by the great Shivaji in 1664. Many people were given different responsibilities on the fort. They were provided with land to stay on the fort with their families. Some fifteen families continue to live on this fort even today, with farming, fishing and tourist guide being their occupation. Two muslim families were given the responsibility of playing the nagara (drum) in the evening during prayers. This ritual is followed even today. Three months during the monsoons, old people, pregnant ladies and sick people are shifted to their relatives’ homes in nearby Malwan or elsewhere, because travelling by sea during emergencies could be difficult in the rough weather.
There is a unique Y-shaped (branched) coconut tree on the fort which until 2004, before it was struck by lightning, gave fruits. I remember seeing it complete when I was there last time. Unfortunately, both the heads are gone. However the Y-shape branch still remain.
Oh yes we visited the Shivaji Maharaj temple, believed to be the only temple of the great leader, built by his son Rajaram. We also saw a handprint and footprint of Maharaj embedded in one place of the fort. Among many brilliant strategies and thought proceess that went into the construction of the fort, Hitesh also explained and showed us a hidden passage which looks like water storage. The passage is believed to go under the fort, some 12 kilometers beneath the sea and opened at the nearby village. It was used to rescue women if the enemies entered the fort.
Finally we had some kokam sarbat, nimbu sarbat, avla sarbat. Well I don’t even remember some of the other sarbats that were available. Sunil SharmaJi tried a cocktail of all. His facial expression wasn’t very convincing after he had few sips.
Anyways, we then changed into swimming gear, cos now it was snorkelling time. There is coral reef on the outskirts of the fort. Even the bus drivers, Sachin and Shyam joined us. It was a first time experience for all of us. We swam with the help of life saving swimming tube, dipped our heads into the water and marveled at the life under water. Colorful corals, starfish, seashells, fishes of various color and sizes, everything was just spectacular.
After almost two hours of snorkeling, we went and ate at Hotel Ruchira. Now let me not discuss the menu, because almost all of us had sea food throughout the trip. Sunil (Sharmaji) who wasn’t a very fond non-vegetarian also chose between pomfret, surmai and prawns. Even here, solcurry was disappointingly limited. Nevertheless we order extra glasses of it every time we sat for meals.
Once lunch was done, we returned back to Niyuti. Kishore and I were excited to show all the others, a secluded virgin beach, between the rocky hillocks near the Niyuti fort. Both of us were bragging continuously about how we had discovered this beach during our last trip and how it wasn’t any less than the foreign locales we saw in our hindi movie song sequences. Our excitement was washed away when we found that the beach had disappeared. The soft sand was covered with boulders. The place was very unexciting.
After an unsuccessful attempt to find a better place, we climbed back and went to the beach near Kesarkar’s home. For everyone else, even that was thrilling. One because there wasn’t a single soul other than us and secondly it was so clean and calm. While Kishore, Sachin (Tendulkar) and Sunil went clicking photographs, everyone else went into the water. Sumita was teaching everyone to float. While Salil, Patcy, Noel and others learnt, Manoj and I managed to intake a lot of salt water.
We also played kabaddi on the beach, before we went back to the house and had shower. Soon after it was singing sessions lead by Arun. While the elders crooned, the three kiddos got into playing cricket. There is this cricket game that they play sitting. You use your fingers. Sorry…I don’t know how to explain this…please ask Sujit, Parth or Noel whenever you meet them.
Once again we had some great sea-food for dinner and went to sleep with a faint hope of seeing dolphins in the morning.