Mumbai people decided to go via sea road. No no, there is no road which goes through sea. Actually there is a ferry service from Bhaucha Dhakka which allows you to carry your bikes. To make sure we enjoy maximum time together, we decided to catch earliest possible ferry. The first ferry is at 6:30 am but it was too early to reach there before 6:30 am. We planned for 7:30 am ferry. To ensure everyone is on time we asked everyone to reach before 7:00 am at Bhaucha Dhakka. As Gurdeep stays in Ulhasnagar and it would have been almost impossible for him to reach there by 7:00 am, he stayed at my place on Friday. So did Pravin stayed at Sreegith’s place.
We got up early in the morning at 4:30 am. We had decided to give wakeup call to each other. Sreegith gave me a wakeup call. I was still in the sleep and didn’t realize that Sreegith had given me the wakeup call and called him back to wake him up. It was a joke. We all tried to call Sunil but he was not picking up the phone. I thought that he ditched us. Later we came to know that he had kept his cell on silent mode. Aata mi kaay saangu?
Gurdeep and I started at 5:45 am only. We all, Gurdeep, Ranjana, Sreegith, Pravin, Renjith and I met at Kanjurmarg and started our journey together towards Bhaucha Dhakka. It was 6:55 am when we reached Bhaucha Dhakka. Sunil and Pooja were already there with tickets. It costs Rs 30 per person and another Rs 30 per bike. We loaded our bikes onto the launch and the ferry started at around 7:30 am. Actually the ferry people load your bike and you need to pay them Rs 20. You need to pay another Rs 30 for unloading the bike. It was one and half hour journey. The picnic was planned in such a way that we will enjoy bike riding as well as sailing. But Pune people decided not to come to Mumbai and directly join us in Alibag. It was a wonderful journey which we enjoyed watching sea gulls, clicking photos, contemplating beautiful sunrise and having Wada Paav and a cutting.
We reached Revas (the other side of the sea) just before 9:00 am. Before resuming our bike journey on the road sandwitched by trees, we didn’t miss chance to take some snaps of a beautiful background at Revas jetty. It was around 30 Kms journey towards Alibag. These 30 Kms were awesome. There was no heavy traffic, the morning was cold and the road was in very good condition. We took a pause at Alibag for breakfast at around 9:45 am. After the breakfast we resumed our voyage to reach our actual destination: Nagao which is 7 Kms from Alibag. Finally when we reached at the Simran Bungalow, which I had booked 2 days before, thanks to Mandar, it was 10:30 am. We were pretty much on schedule.
We were all happy to see the bungalow. It was an ideal accommodation for our group. It is a 2 storey bungalow with 4 really big rooms; two of them have attached bathrooms and 2 halls. Most interestingly it has got a Zopala (Swing). We were fighting with each other to get it for 2 days. Pune people had not reached yet so we had enough time to enjoy sitting there. The plan for the day was to go to the beach, have lunch by 2 pm and leave for Murud-Janjia fort by 2 pm. And Visit Birla mandir while coming back.
After missing road many times, Pune people finally reached at 11:30 am. They too were very happy with the bungalow. Even after asking many times, nobody was ready to come on beach. Everyone liked the bungalow so much that they wanted to just relax there. Finally Ranjana and I left for the beach as I had to give her bike riding and swimming lessons. Since I have got a Unicorn which is 150 cc and it’s not ideal for learning bike riding, we borrowed Sreegith’s Splendor. I was insisting Ranjana to wear a helmet but she refused. I initially decided to put the bike in 2nd gear and then give it to her, but I was surprised to see that she already knew how to pick up the bike in first gear. After a couple of hick ups, she comfortably started driving. Later I had to only tell when to put in into 3rd gear and when to bring it back to 2nd gear. We continued our bike tuition for another 15 mins and then it was time for next tuition: Swimming.
You can enjoy a lot of water sports here including paragliding, banana ride etc. Without wasting time we tow directly went into the sea. Initially Ranjana was very worried and not at all ready to swim. She took at least 15 mins to be comfortable. I taught her how to move her feet, how to immerse the head into the water. I think it will take another 3, 4 turns to move her hands with the feet. No worries, swimming is not that easy. First thing one has to do is get rid of the fear. I think she managed to do that.
When we came back on the bungalow, it was 1:45 pm. Everyone was shouting on me as I was the one who forces everybody to adhere to the timeline and this time I was late. I was not really late as like them I was not supposed to have lunch since I was on fast. 15mins were enough for me to have bath and get ready. Anyway, they had right to shoutJ. In any case it was not possible to leave for Murud by 2 pm as the food was not ready. The vendor said that it would take another half an hour. When we called him again, we came to know that it would take another half an hour. When food finally arrived, everyone was very hungry. I think everyone enjoyed the lunch.
As usual nobody was ready to get up after the lunch. Ranjana and I utilized this time to learn bike riding. This time we rode on the Unicorn only as I was quite confident about her driving now. When we finally started, it was 4:00 pm. The journey to Murud is 45 kms and the road is not so good. At some places it’s full of path holes. So I estimated one and half hour to cover the distance. When we started, I realized that the air in the front wheel is not enough. I was scared. Had it been a puncture, we would have lost at least half an hour which we didn’t have with us. We managed to find a garage where we filled air and the mechanic confirmed that it was not a puncture. It was a big relief for me. While doing all this, we had left far behind others. They waited for us after around 10 kms at a beautiful scene clicking photographs. Since we had one bike extra, Nitin didn’t get his car. We resumed our caravan and took a pause at a beautiful Kashid beach. This is the most beautiful beach of this area. Unlike Nagao beach it has got dry (almost) while sand also. Since we had to cover a lot of distance we could not spend enough time there. We had Nariya Paani (Tender coconut juice) and resumed our march towards Murud Janjira fort.
We reached Murud just before 6 pm. The Janjira fort is in the sea and you need to take a boat ferry to reach there. We were a bit late but fortunately managed to get the last boat. These boats don’t use motor to propel, rather they use sails. It reminded use of hindi movie Swades. We enjoyed sailing that approximately half Km distance with a faint fear of sinking. The boat carried 30 people.
The fort is very big and looks very strong. It would have taken generally 4 to 6 hours to see the entire fort. But we had only 45 mins as it was getting dark. The sun was setting. It was a beautiful scene to see sun setting from the fort. We hired a guide for Rs 250 who later bombarded us with a whole lot of history. As per him, the fort was built by African traders. They used the fort solely for trade. The fort was guarded by Siddhi Johar (this is not the same person who put a siege around Panhala). The fort was never conquered by any other king. The original name of the fort is Jajira meaning fort built in water. From the remains it is obvious that the palace in it must have been a glorious one. It was a 6 storey palace. People from 3 religions used to stay there: Hindu, Muslims and Buddha. There are remains of their temples.
It was almost dark when we left the fort. We started our journey back immediately. However we took a small tea break in Murud where my right foot got Sreegith’s bike’s silencer burn. I tried to calm it down using water, cold drink bottle. Thankfully the restaurant owner had burnoul. As per plan, we were supposed to go to Birla mandir on return journey. Most of the people were not interested to visit the Birla mandir. I hand only Nitin, Jayanti, Sreegith, Renjith, Sunil, Gurdeep and Ranjana with me. Others would directly meet us on the bungalow. It was already 7:45 pm there and the temple was still 30 Kms away. We came to know from the localites that the temple closes at 8 pm. There was no way to cover 30 kms and reach the temple in 15 mins. So we had no option but to drop the plan. Nevertheless I thought of just going there. At least I could show the temple dome to Ranjana. Others agreed with me.
We 8 started our journey back. It was very dark and was not a suitable condition for bike riding. The vehicles coming from the other side were continuously disturbing us with their head light. Nobody was using dipper even though we were requesting a lot. On one occasion, I had to go out of the road completely as I was not able to see anything in front of me due to a huge headlight of a bus. Then instead of leading, is started following other 3 bikes. Nitin and Sunil can drive comfortably during night so they were leading. We reached the temple just before 9:00 pm. Surprisingly the temple was still open. Everyone was very happy. The temple is beautiful. It is surrounded by a well maintained garden. Cameras and cell phones are not allowed inside. It’s a place which you must visit if you come to Alibag. Unfortunately we could not spend much time there. Nevertheless we were contended.
Happily we started our journey back to the bungalow which was just 12 Kms away from the temple. I think we reached back at 10:00 pm. The food had already arrived. After not having food for the entire day, I was looking forward for the dinner. The non-veg eaters were very excited as they had Promfet, Halwas and Surmai fry with prawns’ gravy. After a small yoga session we had a good dinner. Unfortunately, the vendor had delivered jain food which we had ordered for Pooja to some other group. Sadly she had to be satisfied with daal and roti. The vendor didn’t charge us anything for Pooja’s rice place.
We slept at around 12:30 am but before that we had a long gossiping session. The hot topic for our discussion was unnecessary opposition of parents in love marriages. Some of us played cards as usual.
Next day, Sunday, I woke up at 7:00 am. Then Ranjana, Jayanti, Gurdeep and me went for a morning walk on the beach. Ranjana drove the bike till the beach. She was getting more comfortable with my Unicorn now. We walked a long distance on the beach. Jayanti was in dietician role and gave us a big lecture on what should we consume in the evening. Nitin, Sreegith, Sunil and Saurabh had gone to the beach even before us. Then they went for Datta mandir which they said was an awesome experience. We missed it but we will go next time when we come again to Alibag. After coming back Ranjana, Gurdeep and I went to have breakfast. Then we spent a lot of time at bungalow just sitting. Pooja was suffering from acidity so she didn’t go anywhere. Meanwhile Atul, Vinayak, Pravin, Gurdeep and other went to beach where they enjoyed banana ride. There are so many tamarind trees there. Ranjana and I decided to get some tamarinds from the tree. Since these trees are owned by people, it is not easy to steal them. However we tried to get some from a tree. Surprisingly the owner had no problem rather they offered us tamarinds from their home. That’s why Konkani people are known for their hospitality. But we enjoyed snatching tamarinds from the tree directly using a long stick. We returned to the bungalow with handful tamarinds. Everyone enjoyed the sweet-n-sour taste of tamarinds.
Ranjana and I decided to continue our swimming tuition and went to beach. But after arriving on beach we decided to drop the plan of swimming and instead decided to do bike riding on the beach. The Nagao beach is very long and has a huge space suitable for bike riding. But it is not that easy to ride bike there as the bike was shaking a bit in wet sand. We decided to go to Alibag by bike but when we reached the extreme end of Nagao beach we realized that there is a creek which divides Alibag and Nagao beach. We came back to the center of Nagao beach which is around 4 Kms from the creek. While getting our bike out of the beach, a police unnecessarily threatened us of snatching my license. In fact if bike riding is not allowed on beach then there should be a huge notice board stating that. Anyway….
When we came back to the bungalow, it was 1:30 pm and we were supposed to leave by 2 pm to reach home early. Nobody wanted to leave the place but still we wrapped up everything. Finally when we left it was 3:00 pm. But we didn’t miss to click final group photo. We had lunch at Alibag. After a veg meal on Saturday, I enjoyed having Promfet, Crab masala, Mussel masala (Kalwa).
Now it was time to say bye to Pune people as they would travel by different road from here. With a heavy heart we left for Revas jetty to catch a 5 pm ferry. I just realized then that the first SA and India ODI was in progress. India was batting and was 210 for 4 in 37 overs. We reached Revas jetty little late and missed the ferry. We had to wait for an hour to get next ferry. Before getting into the ferry I checked the score again. India had lost 8 wickets and 4 overs were still remaining. The score was around 275. After one and half hour sea journey we reached back to Bhaucha Dhakka. While getting out of the ferry, a drunken passenger fell down and had almost drowned. The ferry people were very quick to pull him up when his head showed out of the water.
We struggled a bit to find our way back via Wadala. After Dropping Ranjana at Powai, I reached home at 9:30 pm. The match was still on and SA needed 41 runs from 18 balls with 2 wickets in hand. But the match went into a breath taking mode where SA needed 3 runs on last ball. They managed to take only a single and got their last man run out while attempting second run.
The 2 days went like a flash. We haven’t decided yet about our next picnic.