My Weekend getaway this time was kind of planned & unplanned. Planned because we knew we wanted to go to Konkan. Unplanned coz we couldn't figure out where exactly.
We tried checking a few destinations and came down to two places. One was Amboli which is almost 600 kms away from Mumbai and other was Dapoli about half that distance. However, due to some or the other reason we had to cut down on our duration to 1 night & two days only ( Initially we thought of 2 nights as it was along weekend ) . With such limited time going to Amboli didn't make sense. So, the focus was shifted to Dapoli.
Exotica is one such good homestay we were looking at but, just when I was scrolling down on Booking.com I came across this tiny resort called Chaitraban. The pictures seemed really good. Ideal for the quaint place lovers. We did a little bit of a research online and finally confirmed to stay at Chaitraban. This is how it looked online. ( must check )
Day of Travel : On the second day of Ganpati i.e. 26 th Aug, we began our journey from Borivali via Ghodbunder road. As we started empty stomach I was hungry within 1 hour of our travel. We thought of stopping by Mamledar Misal. Its strange that for a foodie like me , the legendary Mamledar Misal was pending since forever ! So, this was the chance to finally grab.
For those who don't know Mamledar Misal, it's a very basic simple place that serves spicy authentic Misal- pav. You make sure you tell them level of spiciness while you order your food. My friend called for Spicy one where as I called for least spicy. Unlike a lot of places the Misal here had lots of sprouts hence it was thick and nice. We also called for Taak ( Chaas ) which is apparently good here generally. But that day it wasn't. It had turned sour. We told the server about it. He changed it. Even the changed chaas was sour. We gave up and told him to cancel it. He accepted their fault and didn't charge us for it at all. It was indeed a good gesture.
With our stomachs full we got onto the road again. There are two ways to get towards Dapoli. One that goes via Pen. The other that goes via Khalapur. First one takes more time about 7.5 hrs whereas the latter takes about 7 hrs (on papers ???? )
With the weather getting just right, the surroundings were simply beautiful. As we left the city, we got closer to greenery.
Only bad part, the roads got really bad from Khopoli. This pic is taken somewhere near Kolad.
Somewhere near Mangaon, a resort called Open Umbrella is where we stopped for a quick cup of chai and garam garam bhajiya. Who can resist Onion Pakodas or Kanda Bhaji. ( I have mentioned this place in my earlier Konkan posts. This resort has clean washroom and ample space hence it helps for that little break between the drive to catch some fresh air and stretch your legs)
As we approached Konkan the route got even more scenic. My favourite part of these journeys is the arched crowns of the trees that are formed over these narrow roads. Unlike highways there are so many trees near these roads and with lush paddy fields on both the side of the road, clouds touching down near far away mountains.. it's all just blissful.
We did cross a couple of rivers / small streams under the narrow bridges. But my favourite was this particular stretch where we saw a beautiful waterfall/ stream . I'm not very sure of this place. Guess this was on Savitri River. We stopped and saw there were quite a few people who got off their cars to enjoy the ice- cold water of the stream. ( okay, not ice cold but it was really very cold ) We spent almost 1 hr there, doing nothing just enjoying the sound of the stream and letting out our inner child to play with the water.
Here's how beautiful that was.
From here, another one hour's journey and we were at Mandangad, where we halted for Lunch. Chavdar was the name of the place that served indeed chavdar ( Tasty) food. Both of us being vegetarians, we called for a veg thali with some solkadhi and masala papad. A meal without sol kadhi ( Kokum Curry ) when in Konkan is not a meal! We had at least 2 glasses each.
Meal comprised of Chapati (We wanted Bhakri ☹) Chana Masala ( Marathi style ) ,Masoor Bhaji and a thick tadka dal along with curd , chaas , rice and papad. It was very tasty and one thaali was more than enough for the two of us which costed us just 220 bucks.
We started our last lap of the journey which was our destination approx. 1.5 hrs away. But trust me the beauty of the place only got better from here. We crossed some really patches with dense trees.
Now again, to get to Harnai google maps shows two different routes one that goes via kadivali and other that goes via Dapoli. We went via Dapoli. From Dapoli it's the coastal highway and its gorgeous. I recommend you take this simply for the beauty of the nature!!
From the sea-shore you see these mountains. Here,the road to our resort was directed. At the base there are couple of other resorts - Sagar Savli etc. They too have a direct view of the beach. Way to our resort - Chaitraban was uphill and scenic.
View from the top of the hill en-route the property.
One side was the mountain and other was beach. There came a point when we reached the top but we saw no sign boards for Chaitraban Resort. Phone connectivity was very bad so calling the resort people was impossible. Somehow we managed reaching the property. Now this property from this point is downhill. One has to be very careful while driving this patch. Afnan and Aziz greeted us upon reaching who had taken our booking.
We were assigned a base category room. We had a look at it and it was lovely!! I couldn't believe my eyes when I stepped into the balcony of the room. These are more like Eco -Cottages. All wooden and have a very subtle classy décor. Comprising of all necessary amenities such as AC, LED, Toilet accessories etc. The products used in the rooms are very classy.
Here's what the base category looked like.
When we actually looked around, we realised that there weren't many people staying at the property at that point hence we requested for an upgrade. They happily offered us the same.
There's only 1 suite. Difference is its bigger in size and has Spanish hills beds. Also bathroom is much bigger with a bathtub.
All the rooms are surrounded with lush greenery. Each room has a sit out area with a swing chair. Balcony overlooks the sea ( not an immediate sea view. It's pretty far but it's very soothing.) This is the view from the room.
After freshening up we thought we'd go to the nearby beaches. Mistake number one, we should have asked the resort people for their recommendation.
So, we reached the main road downhill around 6 PM and started towards Harnai. It is actually a fishing dock and has no touristy value. It's very smelly and cluttered. Roads leading there are very narrow and hence I do not recommend anyone to visit Harnai Dock.
From here we came to the point where we started and asked a couple of people for the nearest beach. We were told Murud Beach. Since we had visited Murud Beach earlier we got a little confused. For those who are in the similar confused state of mind - Murud is another beach close to Dapoli. This is completely different from Murud Janjira. We started for Murud and saw some other beach (which we thought was Murud) No network connectivity here so Maps wouldn't work. We did see a couple of families at the beach. Again, a non-touristy one but it wasn't very pretty. (don't be disappointed there is something better coming up)
By the time I set my foot here, it was sunset & all the people vanished from the beach. We too headed back to our resort. There are no eatery stalls around so don't expect Alibag kind of scene here.
On our way to Resort we stopped at a wine shop and picked up booze. You don't get much variety here and also its expensive.
Getting Back to resort was another task with compete darkness outside and no streetlights , no sign boards and heavy rains. We were lost for a few mins. In the end we did manage !
Later on sitting in the balcony we sipped on some beer. Strange enough they didn't have the Beer glasses. We were given whiskey glasses first and then wine glasses.
Doesn't it look like some sparkling wine ? or maybe close to that ????
For dinner, they served us some piping hot home-style Bhindi Masala and Paneer Bhaaji. We Mumbaikars are not used to early dinner hence we had requested for dinner at 11. They happily agreed. In fact whenever we called them they were always available. 5 pointer for their hospitality.
Next morning, we woke up a little early with all the chirping of birds around. I sat in the balcony with a hot cup of green tea first thing in the morning. After some time we headed for breakfast.
Chaitraban has a common dining area which looks very natural and interesting. Here's how it looks. We called for Upma , Pohe and Shira. All were yumm but took a little extra time.
Both the owners, Afnan and Aziz were there during our breakfast. This is when we had a good hearty chat with these two young men. Both of them, Dapoli residents have been college friends and they wanted to start something of their own. Chiatraban Resort belonged to some Pune Residing owners until July 2017. From August, these two took it over and since then have been putting in a lot of hard work to bring it to people's notice. They are not on any other online portal except booking.com. I, in fact suggested them that they must create their social presence coz such gorgeous property and such lovely hospitality needs to be highlighted. It's totally meant for people like us who need quaint, serene getaway places to rejuvenate without paying a bomb.
Our total cost here including breakfast and dinner was 4.1 k. Absolutely economical.
After breakfast we chilled out near the swing facing the mini pond with lotus flowers. I can't explain how peaceful that was.
While chatting up the owners we came to know about Anjarle Beach which is about 5 kms away from the resort. There is a small Ganpati Temple too. Both of us shorts clad people went to the temple, we thought that the people may shoot some weird look at us or comments. Surprisingly they were very sweet to us. The temple was very peaceful too.
From here we went to Anjarle beach. We almost got lost once as there are very narrow lanes leading to the beach and hardly any people to guide you. The moment we reached the beach we felt super excited. It was a beautiful ,secluded beach that made our visit completely worth it. Since it was raining in between the weather wasn't too hot. We were there for good one hour !
unfortunately I do not have any pictures of this beach
Another mistake - For lunch there were many small Home style eateries around but we didn't stop at any. Nor did we stop at Dapoli which is a main market. And after that there wasn't anything to eat at all!!! We were starving and there was no eatery in sight. Not even vadapav!!
This was Ganpati Season. The most celebrated festive in Konkan where every household has Ganpati. Therefore it's very important to keep in mind that there are hardly any places open including big restaurants. Also, we were told that there could be a lot of traffic in Konkan considering Ganpati festivities but we were surprised the roads were completely empty. It was like we owned the roads ????
So, coming back to our lunch which we had at 6 PM at a tiny jugaadu eatery where we expected to get some local food but no! All they had was Chinese and Vada Pav ! Yes, Chinese food is a big craze that we saw all over Konkan. That spicy, bright red, Greasy, Desi Chinese! We had no choice so we opted for Schezwan noodles. One bite and I realized that it wasn't veg. When we asked the cook (one man show) he simply said, everybody eats non veg here. You should have told me you need veg. (Our bad! we shouldn't have assumed he'd make chicken one ) He made a fresh one (Vegetarian) It was very tasty nonetheless and we finished it real quick ????
Rest of the journey was again lots of rain, good music , great conversation and gorgeous sunset.
A very important note - Internet hardly works here so you make sure that you ask atleast 5 people for the directions so you don't get lost. On our way back we again got lost and went in the wrong direction for almost 5 kms (the roads are bad so these 5 kms feel like 10 kms )
I know it's a very long travelogue but the beauty of Kokan which I got to experience during monsoon for the first time, needs all the description. I was mesmerized and can't wait to plan my next monsoon Konkan trip !
P.S. - Cover Photo Courtesy - Purple Bus.in