After long time of no travel, I decided its time to do a backpack. A mild luxury added on would always be a perfect vacation. Sometimes its good to spoil oneself.
What started with a tour to be planned for Hampi got extended by few more days to include coastal Maharashtra. Some beaches not visited by many, mostly Marathis so far. The white sands were inviting and calling to be stepped upon.
Off did the trip start by VRL Travels from Bangalore to Kolhapur. It was not a good beginning to the tour when the bus broke down in the middle of the night. But I wasnt worried much since I was on a relaxed backpack tour. I was in no hurry to reach the destination. The good part in travelling by VRL is they got an awesome service. The driver managed to reach their shed somewhere in north Karnataka, not sure where. And we had a replacement bus of the same type. No compromise on quality of travel.
By morning with an hour of delay we reached Kolhapur bus stand. After freshening up & munching a vada-pav to signify the entrance to Maharashtra, took a local Maharashtra Transport bus to Dapoli. Dapoli is the birth place of Lokamanya Tilak. It is the only hill station in India which is half-surrounded by beaches. It wasnt as cold as one would imagine a hill station to be. It is pretty much a 7hr journey by local bus from Kolhapur to Dapoli. No reservations taken, it took time to search for a hotel before decided to settle down in “New Pathik Hotel” about 3-5kms away from Dapoli bus stand.
There isnt much to see in Dapoli or to do in Dapoli. What was exciting was to walk down to Maharashtra Tourism Department Hotel down from New Pathik Hotel (about less than a km) in the night to get dinner in complete darkness. That was when I found the usefulness of the Tiny Flashlight App, the light was brighter than the torch I was holding in my hand!
Tired from long journey, decided to take an extended rest & lazying around watching TV. Finally by afternoon decided to go to town, take a bus to Panhelkaji to see the caves. With no buses to directly reach the caves got into one of the bus which was just then leaving the stand. On enquiring for Panhelkaji, the conductor was amused & tried telling us that there is no way to reach there even if that bus stopped somewhere near. And there would be no buses to return later in the night. One of the other passenger in the bus asked us to go back to stand and take another bus. Everyone confused and amused, reminded me of the trip in Kerala few years ago.
Asked the conductor where the bus would go to, Dabhol & took ticket to Dabhol. Who cares where we go. It is not important about destination in these kind of trips. Adjustments were always possible. What to do in Dabhol, got down took a ferry across the river. Spent about 20mins, took another ferry came back!
Shahi Masjid built by Aisha Bibi is one of the oldest mosque built in the Konkan region. Its quite surprising that except the main gate, the doors from within is secured & locked with all possible ways preventing people to explore the beauty of the Masjid. With help from local, did manage to go all the way up. We don’t intend any harm to the Masjid and its sad to return without exploring. On a search in google there are videos and photos available of the inside of the Masjid.
One way they are justified that further damage is prevented by not allowing people to the top. On other side, it does need some renovation. It could be worked upon & beautified.
The third stop in the tour of Dabhol was to Chandi Ka Devi Temple. Tried bargaining with few auto drivers who were demanding crazy money just because we were tourists! They couldn’t understand a backpacker! We cajoled a share auto driver, walked up from Shahi Masjid about 100mts & got in. A trip of about just Rs.10/- for which auto drivers were demanding Rs.100/-!
Apparently this temple has a cave inside which one can crawl through, in which alsoentry is denied by the temple priest. When I entered the temple from ground level into what looked like a cave I was excited but within minutes the disappointment was written long on face.
But there is a big arealeading to the temple & also up the caves where there are mango groves. To which nobody can deny entry or walking around till the time one wanted to.
After spending long time trying to get into the cave with failure, walked back to the main road. Took the bus back to Dapoli.
By now the excitement of getting to the beaches were more. The idea of visiting Panhelkaji caves were dropped again. A short trip to the main town was made interesting by two goats fighting intially and later ending up licking one another.
Later in the noon packed bags, headed off to the beaches. Murd beach!