Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Around Pune: Trip to Dapoli

My road trips to the coastal belt of Maharashtra have started connecting on the map with dots starting downwards from Mumbai with Beaches like Kihim - Alibaug - Akshi - Kashid - Murud (Near Janjira Fort) - Diveagar - Srivardhan – Harihareshwar, two more which got added on recent trip are Murud and Palande beach.

I was planning to visit Bhandardara during long weekend and public holidays of Holi - Good Friday, unfortunately I missed out on the booking schedule for the resort planned and I stumbled on to Nisarga Sahavas resort on Trip Advisor while searching for alternative destination & hotels. This change of plan worked for us and we really had a good time exploring the coastal town of Dapoli and nearby beaches.

We followed (1) Tamhini Ghat – Mangaon route, alternative route available is via (2) Mahabaleshwar – Wai – Bhor - Varandha – Khed also would help you reach Dapoli, the second one is slightly extended one but good to drive.

Started from Pune on 28th Mar in the afternoon at 2:30 pm towards Chandni Chowk road heading towards Pirangut - Mulshi, encountered traffic in the city and managed to drive through Tamhini ghat by around 4:30 pm and took a break for evening tea and breakfast at Orchard Resort (Gold Valley) right after the Tamhini Ghat ends. It was already 5:00 pm and we were yet to touch Mangaon. Few bad patches of road in the ghats did slow us down. A small stretch of almost 4-5 Km road ahead of Orchard resort towards MIDC area is very good to drive, Moving forward from Nizampur we reached Mangaon.

From Mangaon keep driving straight on a patch of 10 km Mumbai - Goa road which is in very good condition, and then you can take a turn right near Lonere Bus Stand going towards the first village ahead which is Goregaon - Purar - Mhasala - Ambet - Mhapral - Kumbharli - Chinchali - Shenale - Dhutroli OR you can continue ahead of Lonere instead of taking a turn right towards Goregaon village and once you reach Mahad you can take a turn towards Latwan village road which also connects to Dapoli

While on SH 70, we luckily took a diversion at SH 100 instead of following Mandangad Route shown on Google Navigation as it was already dark and we double checked with a local before taking this route. This is a narrow 2 lane road, however in very good condition to drive, seems to be recently constructed.

On SH 100 go straight driving past Kumbale Village - Palgad and a right turn connecting SH 96 at Kumbharvadi - Pisai - Kherdi and then Dapoli, from here at Ambedkar Chowk take a right and again a left at short distance from Kalaskar Chowk towards SH 96 and at Jalgaon Village take a right turn inside a dusty road up to 3 Km which would lead you straight to Nisarga Sahavas Resort. We reached at 8:30 pm and were literally exhausted. Currently this resort has 7 rooms in total, we booked an A/C Bamboo Cottage which is very hygienic and clean, though surrounded by dense tree cover all around, no mosquitoes or any other bugs troubled us during the stay.

Nisarga Sahavas initially started as a nursery plantation 35 years ago and spread over 10 acre promoting Agri Tourism. After keeping our luggage in the room we headed straight towards dining area which has a nicely constructed walkway to a tent based structure. I had a chance to look at various awards and accolades Amrute family has won in Ratnagiri for promoting Agri Tourism and supporting tribal population in the nearby area with work related opportunities from their farm based occupation.

Starry sky looked very clear from the verandah of our room, for a difference no television works best when you are away from the hustle bustle of city to be close with the nature. An angry crow banging on to the window outside woke us up in the morning (No alarm needed), this crow is a regular visitor here and keeps fighting with his image he sees on the reflective glass on window pane outside, a thought came to my mind a lot of us keep doing that in our lives even without a reflection.

Having tea in morning and evening on the verandah leaves you with a feeling of bliss, strong breeze blowing across and hearing birds chirping all around, it really could not get better than this. Room service is prompt. You can order breakfast in your room as well.

There are some activities at the resort to try like Burma Rope, Obstacle task, Archery, Rifle Shooting, Net climbing etc. paying extra charges. They also organize bird trail visit, Tribal dance show, Bullock cart ride and Barbeque on request. Nisarga Sahavas has lot of plantation variety in their backyard with ample Cashew, Chickoo, Jackfruit, Mango and various other trees. We spotted an entire herd of Gray Langur’s moving through trees behind our cottage; luckily I was able to take good pictures of them as they played close to the activity area which had lot of interesting stuff for them.

Mr. Ashish Amrute who currently overlooks the management of this resort with his staff won us over with their warm hospitality. Our kid found company to keep himself engaged with his son Advait. The food is really awesome and being home made it tastes more sumptuous. When you are in Konkan you cannot miss having Solkadi, Apart from Rice, Daal and Chapati we had variety in food like Moong Usal, Valachi Usal, Kothimbir Wadi, Ukadiche Modak and a special gravy dish made out of kaju seed which is plucked while cashew is raw.

We decided to pay visit at Kadyavarche Ganpati temple next day which is 30 Km away from the resort, driving down a pleasant ghat ahead of Dapoli, touching road leading to Palande beach which fulfilled one of my dreams to drive along a coastal road adjoining the sea, the entire view was magnificent which enhanced further the moment we started an uphill climb to a newly constructed bypass road leading to the temple, Shady and long coconut trees, short and narrow lanes winding through small villages, the picturesque view all along was very refreshing.

While returning from the temple we halted at Palande beach which has few spots where you can take your vehicle on to the beach directly. It was past noon and the sand had really heated up so we did not have any chance to relax on the rock bed nearby or the beach, spent some time in the water and moved ahead on way to Dapoli. We saw some ad boards on SH 96 road retailing cashews at factory price; travelling 7 Km ahead from our road to resort just before the ghat begins for Umbarli village there is a cashew processing factory by the name Samartha Cashew. You can buy flavored cashews like Chocolate, Litchi, Chili Masala, Schezwan, Black Pepper etc. from them and also avail a free tour of their facility with a staff member who explains the entire cashew processing system.

Next day we left for Murud beach which was also very clean and well maintained. Hopped on to a boat for Dolphin show and spotted two of them slightly away from the shore line, my kid was really excited watching dolphins on his first boat journey in the sea, back on the beach you can drive ATV bike, go paragliding, ride banana boats, high speed water bikes, camel ride and many others to choose from. We left from the beach by afternoon and headed back to resort as my kid was down with little fever that day and wanted to go back to the resort. We decided to skip tour of Suvarnadurg fort and Amrute’s nursery walk around in the evening to relax and let our kid rest before leaving for Pune next morning.

I did not expect a wonderful resort like Nisarga Sahavas to be present amidst a forest in a village area. Hats off to Mr. Ashish Amrute and their staff for maintaining such a lovely place, I wish they continue upkeep of this resort the way they are doing currently and improve it further in terms of overall infrastructure of the premise. Mr. Amrute quotes on promotional material for Nisarga Sahavas as “Hospitality is a way of Life" and it proves to be true which is really great and something that a guest would always cherish post their visit.I am willing to skip any beach facing resort for Nisarga Sahavas to stay and visit tourist attractions nearby which I have missed during my current trip.

After having breakfast next morning, Little Advait gave a parting gift to my son which was a sketchbook of flowers and visiting birds at Dapoli, We hardly got a feeling of leaving a resort but surely departing from a home away from home. Starting at 11 am, we took the route towards Mandangad fort on our return which is not very good but motorable and safe to drive during daytime, it also has lot of small ghats with great view all along. I surely have honed my ghat driving skill on this trip.

My Chevrolet Beat (Petrol) pulled with ease across all the ghats as I had never taken it for a frequent uphill drive before anywhere, hardly had to switch off A/C while driving up across ghats, unless the climb was very steep. It handled rough roads well and did not cause much body roll, except for slowing down on specific patches in Tamhini ghat which are really bad and demand cautious driving.

It was Rangpanchami on Easter Sunday and lot of villages were celebrating Holi again. Few miscreants at  2-3 villages on the route to Mandangad were trying to stop cars passing by to collect paltry cash in the name of Rangpanchami celebrations, however we sneaked past them without stopping just to get my car soaked in few colors of Holi it had remained safe from during the actual day when color play happens.

Passing from Mangaon and Nizampur we took a lunch break at Orchard Resort again which was very crowded with visitors returning to Pune from their long weekend trips, from here we went driving slowly across Tamhini ghat up to Mulshi taking pictures on the way and reached home by 6 pm closing on to our memorable vacation. March was just the right time to take this trip as view of mountains and farms across the way were beautiful, with foothills still surrounded by green cover before it vanishes completely after the summer sets in, even Mulshi river has enough water right now to provide a great landscape view.

Dapoli serves as a multipurpose destination to places around which are easily accessible and if you like clean and less crowded beaches, places of religious interest and prefer to have safe travel with family, Dapoli would definitely not disappoint you and I surely recommend visitors to stay at Nisarga Sahavas for a unique lodging experience you would treasure in your travel memoirs.

Montage clip of the trip below and Image gallery link on Flickr