Trip Report: Bikepacking @ Vengurla

#1 Jul 23rd, 2015, 18:30
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#1
First of all, apologies for the delayed TR. I did this trip back in the last weekend of April.

# Bikepacking = Bike + Backpack

The trip was originally meant to be a backpack trip of the Vengurla Taluka in Sindhudurg district usign local transport. As things moved on and the list of participants reduced to two from six, we decided to try if we could manage to find a bike to ride around. Adds to the fun dosen't it?

Another agenda of the trip was to visit the elusive Kondura Beach.

Our intended plan:

Friday, 24th April, 2015:
- Board a train from Mumbai to Sawantwadi (try and book in tatkaal else cattle-class)
- Overnight in Train

Saturday, 25th April, 2015:
- Arrive at Sawantwadi city at whatever time
- Pick up a bike on rent/favor
- Head to Vengurla
- Cover the northen part of the taluka
- Overnight at Kondura if possible

Sunday, 26th April, 2015:
- Cover the southern part of the taluka
- Return to Sawantwadi city by 4pm
- Board the Madgaon-Mumbai holiday special at 5:30pm (prebooked)
- Overnight train

Monday, 27th April, 2015:
- Arrive at Panvel by 3am

The trip that actually happened:

Friday, 24th April, 2015:
- Could not get a prior reservation, so traveled cattle-class in the Dadar-Tirunelveli Express upto Kankavali.
- Overnight in Train

Saturday, 25th April, 2015:
- Boarded a sleeper bus from Kankavali to Sawantwadi Bypass and then a rickshaw to Sawantwadi City
- Picked up a bike (an aging Splendor) arranged through a friend
- Headed to Vengurla
- Post lunch (OK), headed north to Kondura (gorgeous, trekked too)
- Then headed still northwards to Kelavi Bunder
- Again northwards to refuel at Mhapan and then headed to Nivati (missed sunset)
- Dinner (spectacular) at Mhapan and overnight at Nivati

Sunday, 26th April, 2015:
- Headed to the northern extreme of the taluka at Bhogave (beautiful)
- Then marginally southwards to Nivati Fort (gorgeous again)
- Back to Mhapan for lunch (good)
- Returned to Sawantwadi Station via Pinguli-Kudal
- Dropped the bike
- Boarded the Madgaon-Mumbai holiday special (prebooked)
- Overnight train

Monday, 27th April, 2015:
- Arrived at Panvel sharp at 3am

Some Insights:

1: Train travel through Konkan region can be very unpredictable. If you are planning to backpack through the region, always have a contingency plan at the back of your mind if you don't want your trip to be thrown off track entirely

2: Road travel is no less unpredictable though. Narrow winding roads are aplenty here. Add to that the inclines and declines and you have a very tricky combination. The road quality is good though.

3: Best time to be in Vengurla is sometime after the monsoon to about new year. The beaches are at their best and you can expect a decently cold night. Noons will be hot though.

4: There are plenty of mango orchards by the roadside. But they are guarded very well. Beware in case you plan to 'borrow' some.

5: Apart from mangoes all local fruit is easily available at local markets. The Vengurla cashew is famous too.

6: Quite a few accommodation options are available. The MTDC Bed & Breakfast list for Sindhudurg is a good directory of places and rates.

7: The people of this region are generally good-natured. Though the ill-effects of the easy tourism money is beginning to show. Be aware of the rates and beware of cons.

Notes:

The trip had us travelling through places like Sawantwadi, Vengurla, Kondura, Mhapan, Bhogawe and Nivati. These places are as yet unexplored and hence offer a very rare kind of solace. In all the places that we touched, we were the only non locals and that too at the peak of the vacation season.

The southern side still remains unexplored for me - Mochemad, Airavali, Terekhol beckons. The next trip will mostly be in the early winters - post Diwali.

The pics and detailed TR is on my blog, will share a few pics and the links in later posts.

Till then .. cya!
#2 Jul 24th, 2015, 08:57
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#2

Intro and Day0:

Why the trip?-Boarding the train-Seats!

Blog Link:
The Vengurla Backpack Trip: Intro and Day 0

There's an empty bench in the next coach. We enquire , if its taken. The lady sitting there welcomes us. She'd fought for the berth for her husband and family but the husband found nice seats elsewhere. So we get seats! We are elated!

Train reaches Thane. All window shutters and doors are closed so that no one enters. The space inside the coach is precious.

Attachment: The elusive Kondura - pic from September 2014. We wanted to spend some time here
Attached Images
Optimized-IMG_20140921_125127[1].jpg 
#3 Jul 27th, 2015, 18:32
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Day1: Kankavali-Sawantwadi-Vengurla-Kondura-Kelavi-Mhapan-Nivati

Blog Links:
Part1
http://kapilankar.blogspot.com/2015/...-1-part-1.html
Part2
http://kapilankar.blogspot.com/2015/...-1-part-2.html
Part3
http://kapilankar.blogspot.com/2015/...-1-part-3.html
Part4
http://kapilankar.blogspot.com/2015/...-1-part-4.html

Highlights from the blog:

We alight at Kankawali an hour behind schedule. The Ratnagiri-Madgaon passenger was actually supposed to arrive at this time. We enquire at the booking counter. They say that the passenger is not expected anytime before 0645 hrs. And they will not be giving the tickets. Nice ...

We get our bike - an ageing Splendor+. We will have to make do with whatever we get. No other option.

We have crossed through the Vengurla town and its old marketplace (built by the Dutch in 1836 apparently) and approach the Vengurla bandar (bandar = harbour). An expanse of turquoise-blue punctuated by white spans to our left.

Our total lunch bill was Rs 280: Rs 130 for soundale thale, Rs 120 for prawns, Rs. 60 for veg and Rs 10 for the extra glass of solkadi.

We arrive at Kondura Beach. This scene is somewhat different from the one I'd seen last September. There's a new kutcha road going from the road-head to the beach and is broad enough for a truck to pass. We descend along the staircase next to the Lingeshwar temple.
There's too much sand deposited on the beach. The water is unapproachable due to the drag. The brook no longer reaches to the sea; the sand deposit has stopped it midway. I was disappointed and suspected foul-play. The beach still was a pretty sight.

Arrive at Nivati. We book a room at My Dolphin Cottages for Rs 600. Asking price was Rs 1000. We miss the sunset while bargaining.

Mangoes!!! Its a surprise dessert. Our dinner costs us Rs 280.


Attachments:
1: Hotel Viva Konkan on the Sawantwadi Bypass. Decent food and good washrooms.
2: Ancestral home at Sawantwadi
3: The view from the Vengurla Bunder road
4: Kondura chi Aatya (aunt) with Haricharangiri Beach in the background
5: Wayangani Beach as seen from Kondura
6: Mangoes for dessert.
Attached Images
1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg 6.jpg 
#4 Aug 8th, 2015, 11:18
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#4

Day2: Nivati-Bhogawe-Nivati Fort-Mhapan-Kudal-Sawantwadi

Blog Links:
Part1
http://kapilankar.blogspot.in/2015/0...-2-part-1.html
Part2
http://kapilankar.blogspot.in/2015/0...-2-part-2.html

Highlights from the blog:

We reach Bhogawe beach. We check the northern shore first. The Devbag sangam on the opposite side looks as alluring as ever. I've fond memories of the place. The tsunami island is seen too, with another sandbar popped up due to low tide. We also see people para-sailing in the distance.

We head to the Golden Rock. There's a pathway that we can see from our seat. We think that it might lead us to the southern side. We ascend the rock. Its a steep fall on the other side, but the view is simply magnificent. Clean turquoise blue waters, a white strip of sand, idling waves and a smallish lagoon.

We are at Bhogate's Mess. This time its chicken thali with surmai fry for both of us. We make our love of solkadi known to the owner. He might run out of it soon if we continue our expression of this love. The food is, again, very good. We have a bill of Rs 500 - surmai is expensive after all.


Attachments:
1: Nivati Beach, early in the morning
2: Bhogawe Beach
3: Nivati Golden rock and hidden beach

[facing some issues with the upload ... will follow up again]

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