My trip to Alibag kindled my interests in travelling during weekends.. I said this to Swapnil my friend and he too felt that it is a good idea to take an occasional break. My cousin Bharti, she too felt that it was a great idea to get to see the nearest locales, and that too with the kids and family. So we decided to have a master plan of going around the places .

Therefore when my son came back from school saying that he had a long weekend break we felt it was the right time to execute our plan of visiting places.

We set forth and very soon , and chalked out an itinerary to visit areas in the Konkan region.

Konkan is a narrow strip on the coast of Maharashtra and the Sahyadri Hills are its main feature. The Arabian Sea lashes against the coast on the west and the area has beautiful districts like Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Thane to visit. The coast has the best kind of beaches, forts and temples.

Our tickets booked by Tatkal in the Mandovi Express and we then made out a complete tour for the next five days. My other cousin Lakshmi, the tourist guide also joined in.

As the train chugged out and raced with the countryside ambience outside, the eight hour journey seemed less for us as we had lot of fun and frolic in the train. As we got down at Sindhudurg at 4 in the evening, the atmosphere welcomed us to have more fun. Lodged in the hotel , we went around the place feeling the ambience and sniffing the historical feel there.

The next morning, we got ready to go to the Sindhudurg fort. Yes, I had read about it . How it was constructed with rocks on the island at Kurte. Built under the brilliant guidance of Shivaji Maharaj, this fort had 500 stone splitters and stone breakers, 200 black smiths and 3000 laborers who worked on this. We first went to the Malvan pier by a hired taxi and then went to the fort by boat. The tide supported and it was low tide so we could go. There were two islands – The Dhontara and Padmagad. There was a small passage between these two through which the boat passed. We had Lakshmi as the guide and she told us all about the fort.  As we entered the fort, we saw the firm stones which were the foundation and went through the rampart. This majestic rampart ran for around 4kms and was approximately 9 m high and 3m wide.

“See these are Shivaji’s footprints and palms.” Lakshmi said. We saw that they were preserved in dried lime slabs and were in a tower. As we walked inside the fort, we saw the temples of Shambu Mahadev, Bhavani Mata, and Mahapurush.

“All forts in Maharashtra have a Bhavani Mata temple.” Said Lakshmi. Kavya posed and asked Shiv to take a photo, after which all of us took a group photo. I continued taking the video and it was exhilarating to be a in an ancient historical fort. The door was enigmatic. This is the main feature of Maratha architecture. The technique adopted such that the enemy would be deceived by the blind curves and the zigzagged walls which permitted Shivaji to see the enemy approaching from any point in the fort.

“Shivaji used the Surat booty to build this fort.” Continued Lakshmi.

Number of bastions were there here and Shiv counted it to be around 42. The ambience and the surrounding exuded history, chivalry and valour. To think that once Shivaji Maharaj lived here itself gave us enough excitement.

Satisfied and elated with the magnificence of the majestic fort, we proceeded next to the Shiv Rajeshwar temple. This is  a world famous temple and is around 345 years old. Believed to be the only temple dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj, this temple was built by Rajaram, Shivaji’s youngest son. We went into the temple and saw Shivaji’s idol there. He was standing in a dress of a boatman.

“Mom, that’s not Shivaji” said Arjun. Bharti replied that it was Shivaji without a beard. This is the only place where we might see him this way. We walked out and saw a beach there.

“yes, that’s the Ranichi Vela” said Lakshmi. This was the Queen’s private beach. Here Queen Tarabai, Shivaji’s daughter in-law used to have bath.

“who are these people?” asked Rohan. Lakshmi said looking at the settlements in the fort that they were some families living here for years together. There were both Hindus and Muslims.

“Hey look wells! “ exclaimed Swapnil. We all went to see the three wells all of them having potable water. This was amazing as the fort was surrounded by sea but it had well water.

“What’s that fort?” asked Rohan. Lakshmi said that was the Padmagad fort. It was ruined today but in those days was the shield in case anyone used to come to attack Sindhudurg. It was also a shipbuilding zone.

“What are those people doing on the shore ?” asked Kavya. We looked at some trawlers which were coming back from the sea and some on the shore.

“Oh this is a very interesting sight here” said Lakshmi adding that the fishermen were auctioning the day’s fish catch. The highest bidder gets that catch.

We then came back to shore by boat and then came back to the hotel. We spent the evening discussing and watching the photos and videos we had taken. We also went around the local place and did some little bit of shopping.

The next morning, Lakshmi took us to the Tarkarli beach. This narrow stretch of beach land 20kms away was a beautiful sight I had heard from my friend Pooja who often comes here with her family. The waters looked pristine here and the beach was located at the place where the Arabian Sea met River Karli. Lakshmi said that if we were lucky enough we could see the depth of the sea bed. That was the clarity of the water here.

As we reached the beach, we sensed the tranquility and calm that the place exuded. Certainly this was the Queen of Konkan I thought. There were lovely boats cruising in the sea waters and they lazily bounced as the waves pushed them lightly here and there. We were excited to see a houseboat facility available. There were two – one was the Hiranyakeshi and the other was the Karli. We took the Karli. As we entered the houseboat, we felt we were inside some hotel room. The boat was equipped with Hi-tech items and the entire area of the room had all the luxuries available. It was an exciting and unique way of spending time on the Arabian Sea. We just took the boat for two hours and came back. Then the kids wanted to try some of the water sports. So we took a ride in the small rides that were given to the children.

Swapnil tried scuba diving. It was adventurous and exciting. We all had Kombadi vada on the shore and when SWapnil came back he just gobbled up food as he was quite hungry after that exciting activity.

It was afternoon and after a lovely delicious sea food we packed our bags and took a bus to Kudal. This was a lovely town on the NH17. Home to the Laxmi Narayan temple which was around 15 kms from this town, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to visit this temple. We reached just on time as evening was setting in and we didn’t want to push the temple visit to the next day. The Laxminarayan temple was a lovely piece of architectural elegance and the Hemandpanthi style was adopted here. This Lakshmi told us. It had three levels. The entrance hall and the central hall and a palanquin like sanctorum. As we entered the temple we saw the teak wood construction here. We entered the central hall first. It was huge and spacious. With lovely pillars all over the roof also had similar carvings like the pillars.

“Oh this door is quite short isn’t it?” asked Bharti. Yes the main door was short but we were taken in by the carvings on it. There were lotus flowers carved on the main door.

“What a lovely bell” said Kavya. Sure enough, we did agree the bell was beautiful on the door. Lakshmi informed that that was a Portuguese bell and the letterings on it were in French.

Thus Konkan with all its history and geography presented to us a sight never to forget. I would certainly come back here to enjoy the remaining sites to visit like Ganpatiphule.

Word to Diary : Live KOnkan love Konkan.