Who doesn’t love roadtrips!? I absolutely do. Many a times I’ve left home on my bike early in the morning just to get on the road and feel the gusts of invigorating fresh air rush past me. The whole idea of carrying just a backpack and no-itinerary-whatsoever-weekend-road-trip itself is so exciting for me that I jump at every opportunity. All I need is a free weekend and enough fuel in my bike! Sometimes, it’s with friends, but many times it has been just me and the wide open road. This is the next part of my solo road trip. Read the first part here.
[dropcap]L[/dropcap]eaving behind the tiny atypical town of Malvan, I accelerated towards the next destination: Nivti Fort. One of the many maritime forts along the coastal Maharashtra Nivti Fort was held by the Sawant family of Sawantwadi in the 17th century and remained unconquered until (as usual) internal feud allowed its capture by the British only in early 19th century. Situated atop a hillock, the old, battered fort has a spectacular view around it. The Bhogwe beach can be seen below on to the right, on the left is the hamlet of Nivti and in the front, the vast blue Arabian sea. I am not sure how long I sat there lost in the thoughts. How negligible we really are in this vast unfathomable universe! I’m sure it takes humongous efforts to make a dent in it but that’s some reason worth living then. Not really in the mood to leave, I lost track of time. Awakened only by a drop or two of rain, I realised it was almost evening. I still had to find a place to spend the night. Considering how far inside I had come from highway, I needed to restart my journey. It probably also meant, I can’t make my target by day end and most likely will have to extend my journey for another day.
The road back to the highway was not very wide. At one point, I was almost going to get into a minor accident with a jeep maneuvering a turn. The mere 35 km took nearly 2 hours but it was well before the sun started going down as I reached Vengurla, a historic commercial port. If you didn’t know, this was the northernmost footprint of the Dutch East India Company while they lasted in colonial India. Getting a firmān approved from the Adilshah of Vijapur they built a warehouse cum fortress here for their spice trade. Popularly known as the Dutch Factory, its ruins are still seen here and the place is dangerous to meander about. I had a nice chat with a gentleman nearby about the history of this place. Since, I was now in the town of Vengurla, I was sure that I’d manage to get a place to crash for the night. So now that’s settled, where do we go? Of course, the beach! It’s probably a favourite spot of the locals too as they flocked along with families. I watched the camel rides (!) on the beach with curiosity as every kid was excited to have a go. As I started back to the town, thinking I need a place for only 8 hours, I managed to negotiate a deal to stay in a dorm-like 3 bedded room at a hotel for mere ₹300. “Deal”, I said happily and crashed on bed right away.
I was back on the road the next morning, sharp at 6 AM. And I am thinking, I’ve an entire day to spend and the southernmost tip of Maharashtra (which is where I set out to reach) is mere 20km from here, which also marks the border of Goa. Smiling at my own thought, I raised the throttle and through the misty road shrouded by foliage reached Shiroda beach in 20 minutes. This is one of my favourite beaches and it always brings back pleasant memories whenever I think of it. Once, when I was here with my father, we had spontaneously left on a boat trip into the sea early morning and had seen dolphins far away. While talking to a family on the beach, I realised the beach has not remained the same over the years. Apparently, this is now a new hip location for the crowd weary foreign tourists. As I took a stroll on the beach, I wondered if it would safe to locate and explore the Redi Fort which is close by. The mornings generally are very refreshing and this was no different. Hunting the location of the Redi fort, as I moved through the sleepy village of the Redi in the wee hours I felt rejuvenated. There was not a single person to be seen around as I entered the ruins of this beautiful fort with a distinct Portuguese air about it. Hidden among the tall trees and bushes the fort probably had seen grand glory days in its past. After spending an hour here, I moved toward my ultimate destination: Terekhol.
Incidently, the Terekhol fort isn’t open for public as it’s a five star hotel. I was a bit disappointed but I made friends with the guard at the gates and he let me in for a walk through the property. Needless to say, I couldn’t afford even the tea at this place. Although it was only 10 in the morning by now it would have been obviously stupid to go back all the way to touch the highway. Especially when the Goan ferries exist! I crossed over the creek of Terekhol in a ferry into the wonderland of Goa. Had a funny incident here, the ferry couldn’t go all the way to the shore as the water had receded and sand surfaced near the shore. It was my lucky day it seemed and I had to push bike through sandy shores of the creek to the road. By 11:30 I was in Arambol and after a sumptuous lunch and loads of memories the return journey began. This time, however, on the national highway 66, as I didn’t want to be driving after sun set.
Do you ever set out on such a spontaneous journey? How does it go for you?