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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Edition 8: Yearend at Dapoli

A year went by…
Another year has flashed past. Looking back, it was all so frenzied. I must thank sonu, my cousin for thinking of such a great way to wave goodbye to it. This New Years eve, we decided to go to Dapoli in the Konkan, thats coastal Maharashtra
We were just two families from Pune. We set off early on 30 December in a hired Toyota Qualis. The first stop was at tamhini ghat which has a very picturesue landscape and rich flora and fauna, Theres a popular joint near Mulshi lake called Green gate, which serves excellent Maharashtrian snacks. It was chock-a-block with what appeared to be half of Pune, escaping from the crazy city. The smart set jostled with the hoi polloi at the counter, elbowing their way through to breakfast. Gorging on Bata Wadas, Misal, Poha and Sheera, we set off once again. We stuck with the Goa Road till about twenty kilometres from Mahad, when we left the highway and plunged into the hinterland.
The landscape changed dramatically as we crossed Goregaon (not to be confused with the Mumbai suburb of the same name) and started climbing towards the Ghat section.
We stopped at an excellent little hotel, quaintly named Parnakuti. It was poised on the lip of a gorge and the view down was simply breathtaking.
Some of the sights really jolted us from our city-bred cocoons. Colourful herds of goats & sheep and womenfolk washing clothes at the well. It was all so quaint and strangely exotic.
After a good six-hour drive, we reached Dapoli, re-grouped and proceeded to Karde, a village about 10 kilometres away. The road had three hotels on one side with a massive hill as a backdrop and the Arabian Sea on the other. It was a sight for sore eyes. Pristine white sand and blue Im not joking blue water. For our eyes, used to the brackish and black waters that lap the shores of Mumbai, clogged with oil from Bombay High, this was soothing balm. We lost no time in checking in to rooms that were clean, but basic and charging into the ocean. We wanted to have a dip before the sunset, which is early on the western coast as my eleven year-old son pointed out worriedly. He didnt want to waste a minute. There are boats which take you to dolphin spotting.
My cousin sonu had had planned the 31 December agenda carefully. The first item was a visit to the Durgadevi temple at Murud, a village about five kilometres away. It is a lovely little temple that reminds you of the Kerala style of Architecture, with a sloping roof and terracotta tiles. The village also had the children whooping with pleasure as they caught sight of an authentic bullock cart. It told us how far away from their roots we had come.
This little village is also known as the birthplace of a great pioneer and architect of modern India Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve. His memory is well preserved with several landmarks named after him. Sulekha will have another connection here through one of the eminent bloggers, Vikram Karve, who is a descendant of the great man.
The next item on the agenda was a visit to the Keshavraj temple, which meant a half-hour hike and climb through on of the most picturesque paths I have ever seen. It was through a Supari farm. Tall and slender supari palms climbed to awesome heights, bearing bunches of nuts that looked liked miniature coconuts. They would yield supari or betel nuts when dried.
Getting back to the hotel for the evening festivities was like an anti-climax after the visual treats we had sampled. But tradition had to be followed. We did go through the motions, but not after witnessing a spectacular sunset as the sun set for the last time in 2009 off the western coast of India.
The New Year was welcomed in serene settings. Absent were the drunken louts, loud music and garish lights of Mumbai and other metros. In this forgotten part of the country, there were hardly any tourists. Indeed, this is a sad reflection on the entrepreneurial spirit of Maharashtra or lack of it, but it suited us fine. I for one wasnt complaining. I have quit drinking years ago and prefer nowadays to appreciate the nuances of the (mis)behaviour of others, rather than be a subject. The other benefit is that I now appreciate food more. Over the three days, I simply freaked on the seafood. Prawns, Pomfret, Surmai, Bangda.ahhh. And to wash it down, the divine Sol-kadi. Sheer Ambrosia.
We checked out early the next morning. Amod has planned another temple visit, this time to the Ganapati temple at Anjarle. On the way, we passed the Harne Bandar, where we saw some lovely fishing boats.
Lunch was at a house in the Anjarle village. Villagers make a buck or two by this side business. Lunch was sumptuous vegetarian stuff at Mr. Sathayes residence, served on banana leaves and eaten, sitting on the ground. The village too was dotted with houses that took my breath away. If and when I retire, I want to retire to a place like this.
Coming back to Pune after all that was an anti-climax of sorts. The resultant traffic jam of returning revellers didnt do anything to improve our spirits. But the abiding images of that trip that we carried were solace enough

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