I was more of a homebody than I would like to admit, a few years ago. Other than traveling to and from work, I ended up making plans only to ditch them because my bed seemed like a nicer place to spend the weekend in. I was socially awkward and despised all sorts of travel. I got called out on it a lot, but never budged.
Everything was smooth in loneville until May 2013 when my dad announced that we were taking a trip to our hometown- Malvan. As always, I tried to wriggle out of it by citing innumerable reasons, all of which were expertly hit straight out of the park. I must tell you, I did not stop whining the whole week, waiting for a crack in his resolve to take me along. I pouted and sulked, and feigned anger. Let’s just say it didn’t work, and I found myself on a train snaking its way to a quiet fishing village along the coast of Maharashtra.
We boarded the 7.00 am train from Dadar station and slept most of the way. By mid-afternoon, we were at Madgao. The air was thick with the smell of mud, or was it grass? I couldn’t tell. I was visiting for the first time and I was dreading whatever lay ahead. First and foremost, the roads were extremely unsupportive. The ride home was bumpy and as the sun set, the night seemed to get really deep, really quick. We decided to stop for dinner at a homestyle diner and were ushered in by smiling hosts. We, a family of five, ordered fish thalis which came loaded with delicious local fare inclusive of fried fish, a prawn curry, steaming bowls of rice, pickle, and the famous ‘Solkadi’. Since it was in season, we also ordered bowls of ‘Aamras’. Things were looking fairly good by this time. Bundling ourselves back into the rickshaw, we finally reached the house.
I was too weary to complain about the house and was fast asleep before I knew it, lost in what seemed like the kind of undisturbed sleep that came rarely to my eyes. Morning came fresh and bright, the sun sifting through the windows in golden waves, the air filled with chirping of birds. I have lived in Mumbai all my life but this morning was different. It was a scene torn from the fairytale that lay beneath the rows of crime thrillers in my bookshelf. After a modest breakfast of beaten rice soaked in coconut milk and jaggery, (delicious!) we set out to explore the many things to do in Malvan. It took me a while to get adjusted to the unbearably hot day but we kept ourselves hydrated with refreshing coconut water that is found in such abundance in this part of the country. We were on our way to Tarkarli beach. And when we finally did reach, here's what met our sights:
This beach is beautiful and surprisingly clean! Devoid of any kind of human footprints (read human trash), this is literally one of the cleanest beaches I have ever set foot on. One of the most serene and calming destinations in Malwan, Tarkarli beach is sure to take your breath away. No matter the distance, this place is an absolute must visit! A new attraction at this famous Malvan beach is Malvan scuba diving! This exclusive activity cannot be undertaken at any other Malvan beach and is a surefire winner if you are into adventure sports. If you ever want an international experience in national waters, Malvan scuba diving beckons!
We ended up spending all day at Tarkali, and as the sun collected all its rays and slowly set into oblivion, we stayed to watch the stars come out. And what a sight that was! A sky full of stars blinked back at me as I stared in awe at this wonderment that I was kept away from in the hustle of the city. Suddenly, all my resistance to travel was challenged. Something inside me broke, everything had changed. Sleeping under the stars at Tarkali should be on the top of your list of the things to do in Malvan, and you can take my word for it.
We gorged on the simple yet delicious meals served to us by ever smiling hosts and slept on mats on the floor. The house was entirely plastered with cow dung, a villager's way to keep cool in the sweltering heat of summers. In the days the followed, we took long walks along the road with tiny houses splattered across both sides, watched cattle graze leisurely in lush pastures, and drank fresh milk sans the packaging. The simplicity of the life in my hometown was slowly but surely growing on me.
There are a number of places to visit in Malvan but we couldn't do them all because we were there for a short while. In the last leg of our trip, we decided to pay a visit to the Sindhudurg fort, a remnant of the glorious life of Shivaji Maharaj- King of the Marathas. In times when traveling across the seas was banned, this fort was built on an island with exceptional skill and vision. A tiny city inside a fort, it was built on a strong foundation and was one of the best laid constructions of its time. One needs to cross the sea and reach the fort on a boat. If you are unsure or unwilling about said transport, watch from a distance because the boats are pretty low and ferry a big number of passengers at a given time. Even though I was scared myself, the pull of being able to be a part of a bygone era was stronger and I ended up gulping my fear and getting on the boat.
This majestic historical monument was worth the crossing. This prestigious Malvan fort was built to ensure that the people who would live here would never be bereft of basic necessities. It is like a quiet village, snuggled inside a village! This is one of the most famous attractions when you are scouting for places to visit in Malvan because of the strong historical significance attached to it. I was stunned at the sheer brilliance that shaped this fort and it was a while before I could convince myself to take the ride back. It was a wonderful feeling, like I had shed my skin back on the shore. Who set foot in this fort was a completely different person. And now, as I looked at the sea from the other side, I looked with the eyes of a warrior, and that of a woman who finally met her calling.
As we packed our bags that night, I felt a surge of relief wash over me. I was born to travel and I was to realize this in a quaint little fishing village, atop the Malvan fort. I was finally home.