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India: Ajanta Ellora, Alibaug, Bhandardhara with Ajanta and Ellora, Diveagar, Ganpatipule, Kodaikanal with Madurai & Rameshwaram, Koyna Nagar, Panchmarhi, Raigadh
by Abhijit Choudhary, India
Sharing with you 4 fun filled days at Dapoli, Guhagar, Ganpatipule and other gems in the Kokan region of Maharashtra. Essentially, this article should help future travelers with the directions.
We left Pune at around 7:30 am and went through Tamhini ghat via Mulshi. Just before the ghat, there is a restaurant by the name "Quickbite". One can have some snacks at this place. There is no other decent place to eat till you reach the Goa highway. After crossing Tamhini ghat and Nizampur, a small town, you will reach Mangaon which is about 110 kms from Pune. In the Kokan region, you will come across various short-cut routes. My suggestions is to keep away from them and stay on the main roads. Internal roads are lonely, not in good condition and you can have major issues if the vehicle breaks down. Main roads are better and properly marked. Thus, we chose to be on the main Mumbai Goa highway and reached Bharne about 86 kms from Mangaon. From Bharne, turn right to reach Dapoli about 35 kms away.
Dapoli is regarded as a hill station of Kokan. Contrary to popular belief, there's no beach at Dapoli. We stayed at Aryavarta resort. There are independent bungalows which suit needs of large families. The food is also good. We reached Aryavarta resort around 2 pm and had lunch which was included in our package. Then we went to see nearby places like Keshavraj temple of Lord Vishnu; Ganesh temple at Kelshi and the Anjarle Harnai beach. The route is very exotic.
Next day, our aim was to reach Guhagar. By road, the distance is about 110 kms. However, we decided to use the ferry instead. We could load our vehicles in the ferry. We alighted at Dhopave, a jetty near Guhagar. We travelled only 38 kms in our cars to reach Guhagar. It was a very thrilling experience. After reaching Guhagar, we stayed with our relatives. Guhagar doesn't have good hotels. Tourists need to make arrangement for home stays which are quite popular in Kokan. That's also a good way to enjoy authentic Kokani cuisine. When in homes, avoid smoking & drinking. That's part of good paying guest etiquettes. That whole day and most of the night we were at the Guhagar beach - enjoying the pristine location.
After saying goodbye to our relatives who offered us good food and stay at their home, we drove towards Ganpatipule. On route, we visited Hedvi and Velneshwar. They are famous for Lord Ganesh and Lord Shiva temple respectively. We came to know about a new road which took us to Ganpatipule in lesser time. The route is known by a bridge on a river called Rai-Bhatgaon bridge. As described earlier, this one is a shortcut but the road is good and used by a lot of private cars and therefore safe. Before reaching Ganpatipule, we decided to visit Pawas, a place which is famous for mangoes and Swami Swarupanand Ashram. By evening we reached Ganpatipule. Thereafter we spent the time at the Ganpatipule beach and the Ganesh temple. Though the beach is inviting, it's advisable not to swim as the under currents are pretty strong.
We left Ganpatipule towards a place called Sangameshwar which is on the main Mumbai - Goa highway. Watch out for a road that leads to Marleshwar - famous for lord Shiva temple and a breathtaking waterfall. The temple is in a cave at an altitude. The cave is dark within. It's a good idea to carry a torch. And by the way, if you are lucky, you will see some snakes too. The distance we covered so far was 100 kms. Our next stop was Dervan - famous for Shivasrushti. There are very beautiful statues of Shivaji Maharaj taking you back on the glorious historic era. Dervan is just before Chiplun. From Chiplun we turned towards Koyananagar. After enjoying the beauty of the Koyana Dam and its back waters we headed back to Pune via Patan and Umbraj on the Bangalore - Pune highway.
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