Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Bird watching @ Kumbhargaon and Diksal, Bhigwan 2017

I visit Bhigwan at least once a year for bird watching and this year was not an exception for my activity. I and Renuka decided to visit this place January 2017. To avoid crowd we decided to visit on weekdays. Every year, I visit Diksal village from Bhigwan. I heard a lot about Kumbhargaon village which is developed as a bird sanctuary and professional people to handle all type of tourists.
We decided to visit Kumbhargaon in the morning and sunset time at Diksal village. From last 9 years, Bharat Nagare from Diksal helping me for a boat ride. We developed good friendship bond hence Diksal visit was mandatory.

About Bhigwan Bird sanctuary:
Bhigwan, a catchment area of Ujani Dam, is about 105 km from Pune on the Pune-Solapur highway (NH 9). An area of about 18000 hectares has been proposed as a sanctuary for migratory birds. It is an amazing place to see wetland migratory birds like Bar-Headed Goose, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, many spices of ducks and many more birds.

To reach Diksal village (near Bhigwan), the easy way is Pune – Hadapsar – Join Solapur highway – Drive your vehicle 100km from Pune on Highway – Do not use Bhigwan flyover – Take a left at Bhigwan square on highway – Drive 3 to 3.5km – Take right for sanctuary. How to identify correct right turn is; you can spot water tank tower (yellow colored) on that T junction on the left-hand side of the road.

GPS Location for Kumbhargaon: 18.263426, 74.803876
GPS Location for Diksal: 18.295129, 74.806933

Greater Flamingo at Diksal
Greater Flamingo at Diksal

Jan 2017: Bhigwan Bird sanctuary:
               As we had to cover around 105-110km so we decided to leave Pune before 5 AM and we managed to leave on time. Soon we touched Solapur highway. Road condition of the highway was excellent. Due to the wide and smooth road, we were able to reach Bhigwan in less than 2 hours. We reached at Kumbhargaon first. We have informed Datta Nagare for a boat ride. Soon we took a boat ride. Electric pole-wire was occupied by Whiskered Tern.

Grey Heron after sunrise at Bhigwan
Grey Heron after sunrise at Bhigwan

Whiskered Terns

We traveled towards Diksal village as all Flamingos and other birds were landed there. While going there, I got few flight photos. Soon we approached towards Flamingo. Every year I visit Diksal and my expectation was to see birding activity near Kumbhargaon. Got to know that most of the time, boats from Kumbhargaon visit Diksal for Flamingos.

Northen Shoveler Duck

              We spend around 1.5 hours watching their activity without disturbing them. By any chance, if they noticed us, they were just moving their position. A couple of times they flew away but again settled down close to our boat.
              Greater flamingo is the largest species of flamingo. It is found in Africa, on the Indian subcontinent, in the Middle East and southern Europe. Average Life of Flamingo is 60 years. Greater Flamingos are pinkish white but Dark pink feathers with black feathers are covered under wings. You can see beautiful Display of pink color during their Flight. Using its feet, the bird stirs up the mud, then sucks water through its bill and filters out small shrimp, seeds and blue-green algae. Greater Flamingo can be seen in Bhigwan but Lesser Flamingo observed rarely here.

Greater Flamingo

Glossy ibis

Greater Flamingo in flight

Take off flight by Greater Flamingo

             We left that place to spot other birds. We went on another side of catchment area by boat. We saw a huge group of Painted stork. We spend around an hour and watched their morning activity, sun basking etc. Besides Flamingo, we spotted Woolly Necked Stork, Coot, ibis, bar-headed goose's, Ruddy Shelduck (aka Brahmini Duck), Northern Shoveler, Garganey Duck, northern pintail and much more.

Northern pintail duck at Bhigwan
Northern pintail duck at Bhigwan

It's a Wake-up Time

Northern shoveler Duck

Open billed stork at Bhigwan
Open-billed stork at Bhigwan

ibis gang - Glossy ibis and orientail ibis

We returned to Kumbhargaon after spending more than 2-3 hours. When we reach close to the village, we saw a small group of Comb Duck. We spend an hour to observe their activity.

Comb Duck
Comb Duck

Comb Duck

Photo finish race...Greater Flamingo
Photo finish race...Greater Flamingo

               We had a small break and then left the place. We drove the car towards Baramati for few km and took an afternoon break at newly open Food mall. We had lunch and then required power nap in a car. By 3 PM, we begin our journey towards Diksal village for evening bird sighting
               Our Friend, Bharat Nagare was waiting for us, Soon we board the boat and went for birding. My intention to capture Flamingo during sunset. I'm completely aware that capturing such a moments required luck. We decided to go for other birds until sunset time.

Oriental ibis

Open Billed stork

Northern shoveler Duck
Northern shoveler Duck

               We saw around 5-10 Bar Headed Goose along with few Brahmin Duck busy with their breakfast and some of them were resting. We kept a safe distance and I clicked a lot of Photos. We enjoyed for an hour observing their activity. An astonishing fact about these birds is that they are one of the world's highest flying birds; they migrate over Himalayas (flying higher than 21000 ft.) to spend the winter in parts of India.

Bar headed goose yoga
Bar-headed goose yoga

Bar-headed Goose

Let's Fly high...Bar-headed goose

               We spot a group of Flamingo and went close to them keeping a safe distance between us. Idea is to wait till sunset and capture sunset movements. Slowly large number of Flamingo groups started gathering in front of me. I was happy as everything was going into my favor. I clicked few photographs. Just before half an hour, all of sudden all decided to take a flight and went away. I missed an opportunity to capture the beautiful sunset. In wildlife photography, experience matters a lot than the opportunity.

Greater Flamingo at Diksal
Greater Flamingo at Diksal

Greater Flamingo at Diksal
Greater Flamingo at Diksal

Greater Flamingo with Sunset at Diksal
Greater Flamingo with Sunset at Diksal

               We left the Beautiful place after sunset and had dinner at my favorite restaurant hotel Kachan. we reached Pune by 8 PM safely.

Bye, Bye Diksal...Greater Flamingos

Expenses:
  • Car Petrol: INR 1000/- (Avg INR 68/Lit, Total distance cover by car was 230km)
  • Toll on NH-09: INR 30/- (Return toll)
  • Toll 2 on NH-09: INR 50/- (Return Toll)
  • Boat ride at Kumbhargaon: INR 1000/- for boat for 2-2.30 Hrs
  • Breakfast at Kumbhargaon: INR 50/- for 2 Poha
  • Coffee at Kumbhargaon: INR 30/- for 1 Glass
  • Lunch: INR 200-400/- for couple based on your order
  • Evening boat ride at Diksal: INR 800/- for boat
  • Dinner at hotel Kanchan: INR 440/- for couple
Contact number:

  • Bharat (Boatman from Diksal): 9766292989. 
  • Datta Nagare (Boatman from Kumbhargaon ): 8087767691.

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Bird Watching @ Veer Dam

Veer Dam is few km's away from Shirwal (on Pune-Bangalore national highway) and the best place to spot migratory birds such as Bar Headed Goose, Brahmin Duck, and Demoiselle Crane. Being a bird watcher and nature lover, it was not possible for me to skip this place in winter. I and Renuka decided to start New Year 2016 with a visit to Veer Dam.

About veer Dam:
               Veer Dam is constructed on Nira River. It is situated on the south of Pune around 15 km from Shirwal city. Backwater area is popular for bird sighting in the winter season. I am not aware of Dam but surrounding area is an excellent spot for migratory birds.

            To reach Veer Dam, Join National highway 4 – Drive towards Kolhapur/Bangalore side – Cross Nira River Bridge – Cross Shirwal city – After Crossing Shirwal, Drive for around 2-3 km – Take a Left Turn (a.k.a. Pandharpur phata OR Turn opposite to Sripatrad Kadam college) – You will be on Khandala-Loni Rd. – cross one village and look for second village name Tondal – Take left for the village and drive till you reach close to the water body. Due to dry land from backwater area, you can reach quite close to back water. But make sure that driving land is not muddy.
             Also, there are other places where you can go to spot birds. Once you are on Khandala-Loni Rd. – bypass Tondal village from the main road – Drive for around 1 / 2 km and look for a small dirt road – take left there and park your vehicle in a safe position.

Please do not drive your vehicle close to birds. The best way to explore this area is on your own foot along the water body without disturbing them.

Bar headed goose at veer Dam
Bar-headed goose

7 January 2017: Pune to Veer Dam backwater:
              We woke up in the early morning and left home around 5.30 AM. After a smooth Drive, we reached Khandala-Loni Rd. The road is in excellent condition except for few small patches. There was hardly any traffic which gave us a nice driving experience. Soon we reached Tondal Village. When dam backwater level decreases then many farmers use that land for farming. You can drive easily on that land.

Bar-Headed goose
Bar-Headed goose

             When we reached that area, our bird spotting activity started. We saw around 50-100 Bar Headed Goose along with few Brahmin Duck busy with their breakfast and some of them were resting. We kept a safe distance and I clicked a lot of Photos. We enjoyed for an hour observing their activity. An astonishing fact about these birds is that they are one of the world's highest flying birds; they migrate over Himalayas (flying higher than 21000 ft.) to spend the winter in parts of India. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any Demoiselle Crane. On asking villagers, we got to know that it was not spotted this year as well.

Bar-headed goose
Bar-headed goose

Bar-headed goose
Bar-headed goose

               I wanted to check some others birds hence we drove till Veer dam’s wall. Due to water channel and nearby farms, you can see some raptors, Kingfishers, Red Avadavat, Wagtails etc. There were many birds (Not wetland birds) and I tried some clicks there as well. By 11:30 AM, We left this beautiful area.

Ruddy Shelduck at Veer Dam
Ruddy Shelduck at Veer Dam

Ruddy Shelduck at Veer Dam
Ruddy Shelduck at Veer Dam

Ruddy Shelduck at Veer Dam
Ruddy Shelduck at Veer Dam

List of birds which you can see in Veer Dam 
Bar-Headed Goose 
Brahminy Myna 
Laughing Dove 
Ruddy Shelduck 
Jungle Babbler 
Purple Sunbird 
White-Breasted Kingfisher 
Large Grey Babbler 
Indian Robin 
Rose-Ringed Parakeet 
Little Cormorant 
Pied Bushchat 
Blossom-Headed Parakeet 
Little Egret 
River Tern 
Lesser Whistling Duck 
Common Tailorbird 
Pied Kingfisher 
Spot-Billed Duck 
Black Ibis 
Common Hoopoe 
Common Pochard 
Oriental Ibis
Indian Roller 
Tufted Duck 
Spoonbill 
Ashy Prinia 
Eurasian Collared Dove 
Spotted Munia 
Plains Prinia 
Yellow-Crowned Woodpecker 
Black Drongo 
Red Turtle Dove 
Little Ringed Plover 
Red Avadavat 
Barn Swallow 
Common Sandpiper 
Green Bee-eater 
Grey Wagtail 
Marsh Sandpiper 
House Crow 
Citrine Wagtail 
Wood Sandpiper 
Jungle Crow 
White Wagtail 
Red-Wattled Lapwing 
Little Grebe 
Yellow-Wattled Lapwing 
House Sparrow 
Red-Rumped Swallow 
Rock Dove 
Common Pochard 
Grey Heron 
Common Myna 
Jungle Babbler 

Below are snaps were taken during my visits to Veer Dam:-

Spot billed Duck
Spot-billed Duck

Open Billed Stork

Red Avadavat

Red Avadavat

Ruddy Shelduck

Bar-Headed Goose

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Hidden Gem: Vengurla and surrounding beaches along with Scuba in Malvan

We were unable to plan any trip during Diwali vacation due to office work. After Diwali, we got an opportunity and we decided to explore Vengurla. This area was on our radar from a long time. Vengurla and nearby beaches are less popular as tourist fame Goa is its neighbor to the south and popular Konkan destination Malvan is in North.

Travelers for this trip were I and Renuka. Friends Himanshu-Ketki and Vishal-Arya join us on last day and then they followed our Vengurla plan.

Pritesh Renuka Travelers
Travelers...

About Vengurla and nearby beaches:
               Vengurla is town from south Konkan of Maharashtra. Vengurla was captured by Dutch traders and afterward by British rulers. Malvani is native language and Marathi is widely spoken by locals. Vengurla area is surrounded by hills with evergreen foliage, tree plantation of Cashew, Mango, coconut and berry trees.
               Vengurla region consists of many beaches such as Bhogve, Nivati, Khavne, Vengurla, Shiroda, and Redi. Vengurla and nearby beaches are less popular because tourist fame Goa is its neighbor to the south

Route to reach Vengurla from Pune/Mumbai is
1. Mumbai – Expressway – Pune – Kolhapur – Gaganbavada Ghat – Mumbai-Goa national Highway – Kankavali – Kudal – Vengurla.

2. Mumbai – Expressway – Pune – Kolhapur – Radhanagari Ghat – Mumbai-Goa national Highway – Kankavali – Kudal – Vengurla. (Better to avoid Radhanagari Ghat after sunset as it is very lonely and pass through Forest whereas Gaganbavada Ghat is busy route so safe for night journey)

3. Other options are to Taking Amboli Ghat after crossing Kolhapur and join Sawantwadi – Vengurla OR Mumbai - Mandgaon (From Pune, take Tahmini ghat and join Mandgaon) – Mumbai-Goa National highway – Kudal - Vengurla

Day 1: 1 November 2016: Pune to Vengurla
              We wanted to leave Pune early morning but as it was a festival day (Bhau-bhij) so we left by 12 in noon after visiting sister’s place. We decided to go by Gaganbavada Ghat. We had our quick lunch break in Shirur at Shivsagar. We reached at Kolhapur by 4 PM. We decided to visit Mahalaxmi Temple from Kolhapur which is our family deity.
           We left Kolhapur by 6 PM. Our booking at Vengurla was in Dhuri Homestay located 9 km before Vengurla. We did advance booking from 2nd November hence we have to search for a place. Gaganbavada ghat Route was in pathetic condition and condition was continued till Kankavali. we were in Kudal by 9.30 PM hence we decided to take a halt and processed to Vengurla tomorrow. We booked std room in RSN executive hotel. The hotel was basic and very cheap in rate.
              For Dinner, we visited restaurant Gajali which is a famous place for seafood. I had seafood which was tasty. Hectic driving day come to an end by lovely seafood.

GPS Locations:
Mahalaxmi Temple, Kolhapur:- 16.694846, 74.222876
Gajali Restaurant:- 16.003154, 73.690668

Expenses:
  • Car Petrol: INR 3100/- (43.66 Lit at INR 71/-)
  • MH Toll 1: INR 80/- (One way)
  • Lunch at Shivsagar Misal center: INR 195/- for 2 (2 Misal, 1 Vada Pav, and cold drinks)
  • MH Toll 2: INR 55/- (One way)
  • MH Toll 3: INR 70/- (One way)
  • MH Toll 4: INR 70/- (One way)
  • Car Parking at Mahalaxmi temple: INR 30/- (Per hour rate is INR 30/-)
  • Stay in RSN hotel at Kudal: INR 490/- for Std NonAC room for night
  • Dinner at Gajali, Kudal: INR 525/- (Kingfish Thali, veg Chinese dish, Cold drinks and Ice cream)

Day 2: 2 November 2016: Vengurla – Mochemad – Shiroda – Redi and Keri-Arambul (Goa):
               We woke up by 6 AM and left the hotel by 7 AM. We went at Dhuri homestay to keep our bags in the room before we start a day trip to the south of Vengurla. Dhuri Homestay is owned by the family of Prashant Dhuri. It is location bit away from the main road and surrounded by forest. He is one of the most humble and down to earth person I have ever seen during my traveling across India. Dhuri Homestay consists of the cottage with two rooms.

Dhuri Homestay, Vengurla
Dhuri Homestay


Dhuri Homestay, Vengurla
Dhuri Homestay

               Rooms are decorated fabulously and it gives you feel of rich heritage ambiance. Each room is equipped with a king-size bed with side tables, a small changing area with a dressing table and an attached toilet. We were in love with the interiors of the rooms. All required amenities are available in room and comfortable bed with beautiful curtains. They have a small dining area and well-maintained garden. Mr. Dhuri has planted varieties of plants surrounding the cottage. When we reached, Room was ready. He served Hot coffee and breakfast.

Beautiful Room from Dhuri Homestay, Vengurla
Beautiful Room from Dhuri Homestay, Vengurla

              Veg and Non-veg meal with authentic Konkani style is available and it was very tasty. They served Modak in sweet as part Veg Thali. No need to carry water as well water is pure and tastier than any mineral water. If you are interested in a peaceful stay in Konkan, away from the crowded and noisy surroundings, just pack your bags and go to Dhuri Homestay
               We left Dhuri stay for a day trip at around 8 AM. Our first destination was Mochemad Beach. Mochemad is the very small beach. Mountain is located on the one end and river creek on another end. The village is the home of Fisherman’s and you will find the only 1-2 fisherman on the beach. We visited in the early morning and fishermen were busy with their fishing activity. Route mentioned by Google was wrong. You have to take Right at Bus stop for Mochemad village which is around 1 km before Mochemad river bridge.

Mochemad Beach
Mochemad Beach

               If you are traveling by car, then park the car in the village and take km walk as the road is too narrow. We visited the beach in the early morning hence we were able to take car close to the beach. Beach is not clean (you will find leftover fish or unwanted dead fish) but safe for swimming. You may face fish smell as unused fish thrown on the beach. We saw few jellyfish, crabs and other large dead fish on the beach. We did a small hike on the hill to enjoy the beach view. There is no Shop and restaurant on the beach. This serene beach allows you to relax away from the crowd.

Mochemad beach view
Mochemad beach view

              After spending an hour on Mochemad, we left for our next destination was famous Shiroda beach. Beach have plenty of parking space. This beach is very beautiful lined with a shady grove of Casuarina trees (Known as Suru Ban in Marathi). There are many small food stalls where you can get snacks such as Vada pav, Omelet, Burji, maggi, tea-coffee etc. A lot of accommodations are available near the beach or few shacks (towards the south side of the beach) on the beach.

Shiroda Beach
Shiroda Beach

               This beach offers you water sports at less cost as compared to Goa. We were not interested in water sports so we went for stroll on the beach. The Golden sand curved beach ends at Tiroda creek. You can see Redi beach on another side of the creek. Beach is beautiful with Golden sand but not suitable for swimming as waves are choppy. Non-Indian Tourist prefers Shiroda and Redi beach as a day trip from North Goa. View of Redi beach and Shiroda from Creek point is beautiful.

Shiroda Beach view from south point
Shiroda Beach view from south point

               After Shiroda, we moved to our next destination i.e. Redi. Redi is mainly famous for Redi Ganesh Temple. Ganesh Idol was found in a mine in the year 1976. Local person, Sadashiv kambali saw a dream in which Lord Ganesh ask him to dig out the Idol from mine. Ganesh Idol was made by Pandava during their rules. After more investigation and digging process, mouse idol (vahana) was found.
              Ganesh idol was made up of solid rock. Now the entire original rock idol is covered with man-made beautiful Ganesh idol by adding paint layer. Idol is very attractive and tourist is allowed to take a photograph of it. Temple construction is in progress and limited parking space is available.

Redi Ganapati Temple
Redi Ganapati Temple

               After visiting the temple, we went to Redi Beach. Redi beach is very small curved shape beach. You can view the Shirdoa beach on another side. In the creek, there is small beach island where you can go to a low tide time.Sea bed is flat which makes this beach much safer for swimming. It is the best beach to enjoy the sunset. It is not a crowdy place due to its location and very narrow roads leading to it. There is only one restaurant name Janu Resturant. They offer you good food and sea facing basic small cottages.

Redi Beach Panoramic shot
Redi Beach Panoramic photo

Redi Beach
Redi Beach

Redi Beach
Redi Beach

               Redi Fort or Yashavant Fort is located close to Redi Beach. It is the last fort on Maharashtra coastal line. Fort was built to protect land and to keep a close watch on sea business routes. Fort was built in year 610 by chalukya but no strong evidence is available. Fort was captured by Adil Shahi in modern history. Later it was won by Sawant empire (Local empire) and then by Shivaji Maharaj.
              Yashwantgad fort is unnoticed hidden gems from Redi village. It is quite a lonely place to avoid after or during sunset time. Fort has 4-5 entrance gate and old building ruined structural. Entire area is covered across 9 Accor land. It is must visit place for history lovers.

Yashwantgad fort
Yashwantgad fort

               We were too hungry and decided to have lunch. We visited Fort tercol Heritage as it was converted into Heritage Hotel. There was no table available hence we saw small fort and left the place.This fort is located on the northern tip of Goa State. The fort was originally built by Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhonsle, the King of Sawantwadi, in the 17th century.  Fort is on top of the Hill near Sea which was used to keep watch on naval activity. In 1746, Fort was won by Portuguese after the war. we had lunch at Hillrock which offers you good seafood and a beautiful view of Keri Beach

Church from Tercol Fort
Church from Tercol Fort

View of Keri Beach
View of Keri Beach

               By evening time, we went to Keri beach by Jetty. Jetty chargers for the car is very nominal whereas no chargers for people. Keri beach is also known as Querim beach. It is the first beach in North Goa after crossing Maharashtra-Goa border. It is a very beautiful beach with clean sand and water. At the end of the south side, rocks give you a beautiful view of sea and beach. The absence of hotels, many people, and commercial tourist activities makes this beach to one of the best one in Goa. This is one of the best picturesque beach I have ever been from North Goa. the seabed is deep so better to avoid deep swimming.

Keri Beach
Keri Beach

Keri Beach
Keri Beach

               We spend around 2 hours on the beach and enjoyed the end to end walk on the beach. Clean sand tempts you to stay longer time on this beach. we decided to travel ahead for Arambol beach for sunset. Now, this was the only beach left from our North Goa beach list. It was our mistake to leave such beautiful beach for sunset and preferred the busy beach.

Keri Beach
Keri Beach

               Arambol Beach is around 25 min drive from Keri beach. It is famous and attracts international tourist. It was used to fisherman's village. Sadly, it has become very crowded and commercial. It is safe to say that Arambol is the new Calangute. I prefer nature beauty, less crowd, and peace but this disappointed me. I heard a lot about this beach. There are too many beach restaurants where you can enjoy the crowded beach with seafood and drinks.

Arambol Beach
Arambol Beach

              It was not an ideal plan to visit Keri beach again for Sunset. We decided to witness the sunset from Arambol. When I was trying to capture panoramic time lapse, solo German tourist approached us to learn the technic. We become friends quickly and he shared his experience from Goa when we visited 30 years back. He loved Indian culture and invited us to visit Germany before leaving. We randomly selected one place to spend more than an hour with seafood and cold drinks.



After sunset, we left Goa and went at Dhuri for Dinner. We ordered a veg meal and fish for barbecue. We were carrying our own barbecue set. Dinner was fabulous in taste. It was a perfect end of our Day 2.

GPS Locations
Dhuri Homestay: 15.896139, 73.679139
Mochemad Beach: 15.800466, 73.650906 (Drive till GPS 15.805241, 73.655242 and then take right for beach. Good Map route is not accurate for Mochemad beach)
Shiroda Beach: 15.769325, 73.662672
Redi Beach: 15.752927, 73.664167 (You can search for Janu Resturant, Redi in Google as it is located on Beach)
Yashwant Fort: 15.752628, 73.664105 (Take a left from GPS point to start fort trail)
Querim Beach / Keri Beach: 15.717383, 73.690986
Arambol Beach / Harmal beach: 15.687082, 73.703607

Expenses:
  • Breakfast at Shiroda: INR 100/- for 2 (Maggi at INR 30/-, Single omelet pav at INR 25/- and coffee at INR 25/-)
  • Lunch at Hillrock: INR 400/- for 2 (Veg starter, Masala papad, Panjabi dish, Rotis, Half rice and cold drinks)
  • Goa Ferry fee for car: INR 20/- (One way)
  • Arambol Car parking: INR 50/-
  • Unlimited Dinner at Dhuri Homestay: INR 410/- (Veg Thali at INR 160/-, Pomfret Thali at INR 250/-)
  • Dhuri Homestay Room charges: INR 2800/- for 2 nights couple stay with tea-coffee and kokam Sharbat

Day 2: 3 November 2016: Vengurla – Kondura - Khavane - Kelus - Nivati: 
               We woke up by 7 and left Dhuri stay at 8 AM after breakfast. Our morning beach destination was Vayangani beach. It is typically fisherman's beach. It is long sandy beach and nice location for a morning walk. The road towards the beach is narrow and covered with dense trees. When we visited, No one was on the beach when we reach. This is not a tourist friendly place but if you are looking for loneliness and peace near Vengurla then this place is for you.

Vayangani Beach
Vayangani Beach

Vayangani Beach
Vayangani Beach

               Our Next destination was Kondura Beach. This place is even more beautiful than Vayangani beach. We just fall in love and decided to visit again for sunset. This place is around 19-20km from Vengurla. There are no milestones indicating beach route. Google map shows the correct location of the beach.

Kondura Beach
Kondura Beach

               Beach is totally untouched and hardly visited by tourist. It is nestled in the lap of two mountains. Small sea Water Lake is the highlight of it. This is one of the best beaches I have ever visited from this area. We were only tourists on the beach in morning and during sunset.
Due to Mountains and coconut plantation, the beach remains in shade till afternoon. Not recommended for swimming in the sea due to rocky patches. But you can enjoy swimming in small sea water lake. Food options are not available hence better to carry your own food. We did some photography on this beach. Beach is so small that it requires 3-4 min to take a complete stroll on the beach.

Kondura Beach view from Hill
Kondura Beach view from Hill

Kondura Beach
Kondura Beach

Kondura Beach
Kondura Beach

               We left this lovely untouched location. Our next beach was Kelus. Actually, this beach was not in our plan but when we saw milestone of the beach, we decided to take a look. it is small beach and fishing port on the northern tip of the beach. Creek on both the end of the beach makes it different than other beaches. Golden soft sand and pretty safe for swimming. we just spend few minute and left the beach area.

Kelus Beach
Kelus Beach

               Khavane beach is one of the untouched beautiful beaches from Vengurla area. Actually, There are 2 Khavane beaches known as Motha Khavane (Bigger size beach) and Chota Khavane (smaller sized beach). A Small beach is hardly visited by people and mainly small local fishing boats used to park their small boats. An approaching road is very small and there is no parking space available. Beach is photogenic and good to visit for the morning.

Motha Khavane Beach
Motha Khavane Beach

Chota Khavane Beach
Chota Khavane Beach
               After Chota Khavane, we visited Motha Khavane beach. It is bigger than other Khavane beach. There is one resort name Club Khavana. Beach is mainly fisherman's beach and safe for swimming. we were too hungry hence just took a small walk and left. Overall I like the place so marked in my list. We had Thali in lunch at Mhapan village.

Khavane Beach

Small Khavane Beach
Small Khavane Beach

Nivati Beach

               We heard in a village about Strike in the village. Got to know that Gas station will remain open till the stock. My car's fuel indicator was low so we decided to skip Bhogve beach for the evening and decided to go back to Vengurla. We came back in Vengurla in 45 min and refuel the car. Now it was not worth to travel towards Bhogve so we went on Vengurla port and Lighthouse.

Fish on Port

               Vengurla jetty is popular jetty from south Konkan. You can buy fresh fish freshly caught from the sea. View of Vengurla beach from the jetty is beautiful. There is a lighthouse to visit at Jetty. Vengurla lighthouse offers you breathtaking view of the sea. It is located on the edge of the mountain. You can visit this place from 9 am till 1 hr. before sunset. Government engineer explains the functionality of lighthouse. View from the lighthouse is best. There are two ways to reach at Lighthouse. You can take steps from Jetty to reach the lighthouse. There are around 800-850 steps to climb. Another way is by small road but better to ask locally for the appropriate road. We use steps after parking car at Jetty. It was good experience



              It was 4.30 in clock and we decided to visit Kondura beach for sunset. while leaving from Vengurla, we visited Dutch Factory. It is located around 1 km from the jetty. Now entry inside the property is now allowed. It was declared as dangers site and not safe. It used to storage of Dutch and then Government offices during Dutch era. Hardly any tourist visits this place.

Dutch Factory, Vengurla
Dutch Factory, Vengurla

              We reached Kondura beach by 5.15 PM. We set up a tent on the beach and enjoyed the sunset with some snacks. It was one of the best evenings from this trip. Locals were busy in fishing with a fishing rod. Watching the sunset and capturing it in camera is my favorite activity. Here are some photographs were taken from Kondura beach.

Sunset at Kondura
Fishing at Kondura Beach

Sunset at Kondura
Sunset at Kondura

              we had our tasty dinner at Dhuri Homestay. They served us tasty Modak in sweets. Fish meal made in Malavani style was simply mouthwatering. After dinner, we had long chat with Prashant Dhuri. Tomorrow will leave for Malvan and our friends will join us for the day before we leave for Pune.

GPS Locations
Kondura Beach: 15.889512, 73.600781 (Last GPS point for car drive 15.889032, 73.603474)
Wayangani Beach: 15.878805, 73.605547
Motha Khavne Beach: 15.920228, 73.566473
Chota Khavne Beach: 15.922389, 73.561267 (Rough and small road, We managed by i20)
Nivati Beach: 15.936953, 73.540500
Nivati Fort: 15.938709, 73.512439 (Not motorable road, Need powerful vehicle to drive till Fort entrance)
Kille Nivati Beach: 15.939733, 73.516916 (Don't confuse with Nivati Beach. Very small and untouched beach)

Expenses:

  • Unlimited Breakfast at Dhuri: INR 120/- for 2 person
  • Lunch at Mhapan village: INR 150/- (2 Egg Burji Thali and cold drinks)
  • Car Petrol: INR 2700/- (approx 38 Lit at INR 71/-)
  • Vengurla Lighthouse entry: INR 20/- for 2 person
  • Unlimited Dinner at Dhuri: INR 410/- (King Fish Thali and veg Thali served with Modak as Sweet)



Day 3: 4 November 2016: Vengurla – Bhogave - Malvan - Devbag:
               We woke up by 6.30 AM and left Vengurla by 8 AM. This was our quick exploration trip to Vengurla and now we will visit these place next year. In morning section, we decided to take a pit stop at Nivati Fort and Bhogave beach before heading Malvan. Nivati fort is located close to Bhogave beach and it was built to protect the sea trade route. Fort was built by Shivaji Maharaj after the construction of Sindhudurga fort.

Time to say bye bye to Vengurla

              Bhogave beach is on the northern tip of Vengurla. There are Karli River creek and Devbag beach on another side of Creek. The beach has a rocky side and a sandy side. The rocky side is great for photographs and watching water splash up behind you! Be careful, the rocks are very sharp, do not go without a footwear. The sandy side is very clean and shallow to an extent.

Bhogave Beach
Bhogave Beach

               We just took a small stroll on the beach and left for Malwan. Our Friends were about to reach Malvan so we left the Beautiful region of Vengurla. Friend Himanshu and Ketaki joined us at Sindhudurg fort jetty which was our decided meeting point. Another couple Vishal and Aarya joined us in the evening. We decided scuba Dive and our Friend from Malvan Anway Prabhu took us on the boat.
               The weather was perfect for dive and a cool breeze was playing on sea water. Maximum depth for Dive in Malvan is around 25 – 28ft. Underwater visibility is in excellent condition from Nov to Feb end. This was our 3 Visit to Malvan for Dive experience. Before Malvan, I and Renu completed dives in Andaman and Goa. We geared up with suits and did some warm up in the water as the temperature was very low.
              As we swam into the deep waters, I felt I was in a different world altogether. There are plenty of Corals, Rock patches, and fishes around us. We were surrounded by beautiful and colorful small fishes, they aren’t harmful and watching them is a treat to the eyes. It is really hard to describe just how awe-inspiring SCUBA diving is … the underwater world is just so unique. It's True that quality of Scuba dive and marine life is better in Andaman/Goa but we are always more interested in underwater experience. You can feel your presence and listen heart beat which says to you, you are alive so live life.

During Dive

               Shoals of fish swim past you whilst some fish poke their heads out of small cracks in the rock. The more you look around, the more you see – Flat coral, Finger corals, Catfish, sea cucumber, urchins, Blue Line Grouper, Parrot fish, damsel fish, Curious batfish and even red snapper fish (my mouth was watering seeing them). After 25-30 min our instructor left us alone and we were exploring underwater life independently. Our confidence was boosted due to our solo scuba act in the water. After some photo session, we came back on our boat after 45+ min scuba dive.
               Himanshu, Ketaki, and Renu were done with Scuba dive but I was not satisfied. I took my own snorkeling gear and went alone in water for snorkeling. After spending more than 30-40 min, I came back on the boat. Everybody was hungry so we went to the restaurant for seafood lunch. My favorite restaurant "Athiti Bamboo" was full with a long waiting list so we went to Saiba restaurant.
             After Lunch, we did check-in in booked hotel Annapurna Nivas. we freshen up and went to Devbagh beach. Vishal-Aarya joined us on the beach. We witness beautiful Sunset on Devbagh and then decided to visit Tsunami Island. This island has emerged in 2004 after Tsunami waves hit the coast. A local fisherman told us that prior to 2004, this place used to be under water at least by 3-4 feet even during the low tide. After the tsunami wave hit the coast, it has turned into an island during low tide but gets submerged by 2-3 feet during high tide. This island is very small and you can see it during low tide. Water sports are arranged on this island and even during high tide, you can go there.

Sunset from Devbagh Beach
Sunset from Devbagh Beach

               We had dinner in the hotel and a lot talks on different topics. Tomorrow I and Renu will start our return journey to Pune whereas friends will follow our footsteps to explore Vengurla area.

GPS Locations
Bhogave Beach: 15.956238, 73.503549
Devbagh Beach: 15.969524, 73.501575
Malvan Scuba Dive / Snorkeling point: 16.042065, 73.461599 (GPS location is in Sea hence you need to take Boat to reach this point)

Expenses:

  • Car parking at Malvan Jetty: INR 50/- (Right side of Jetty is paid to park whereas left side parking is Free)
  • Scuba Diving: INR 1600/- for 2 people (Approx time per dive is between 15 min to 30 Min. As we are trained divers hence we stayed under water for 45+ Min)
  • Snorkeling: INR 200-500/- per person (Not sure about rate as we have our own gear so Free for us)
  • Lunch at Saiba: INR 1880/- for 4 people (2 Pomfret Thali at INR 340/-, Prawns Thali at INR 290/-, Masala papad, Pomfret - prawns fry, Veg meal, and cold drinks)
  • Car parking at Devbag beach: INR 50/-
  • Sunami Island boat ride: INR 700/- for Boat with return journey (Capacity 10 people)
  • Water sports: INR 250 to 600/- as per sports
  • Dinner: INR 100/- per person for Veg meal


Day 4: 5 November 2016: Malvan - Pune:
               We woke up by 8 AM and left the hotel by 9 AM. We took ferry tickets to visit Sindhudurg fort. It takes hardly 10 min boat ride to reach there. We all visited fort before hence we didn't hire a guide. Sindhudurg (Sindhu = sea, durg = fort) was built by the great Maratha warrior King Shivaji in 1664. Fort was built over a period of three years spread over 48 acres area. The main entrance is concealed in such a way that no one can pinpoint it from outside. This fort has the only temple of great Maratha warrior King Shivaji. The fort also has a Bhavani temple and the impressions of hands and feet of Shivaji Maharaja. Construction of fort is very solid.

Sindhudurga Fort wall

Sindhudurg Fort

               We had our breakfast at Jetty and left Malvan by 10 AM. We came back by Gaganbavda Ghat and took Lunch-Dinner break on national Highway. we came to Pune by 10:00 PM safely.

Expenses:

  • Jerry ride to Sindhudurg Fort: INR 70/- per person
  • Breakfast at local shop: INR 60-70/- per person
  • Dinner on highway: INR 380/- for 2 person
  • MH Toll 1: INR 70/- (One Way)
  • MH Toll 2: INR 70/- (One Way)
  • MH Toll 3: INR 55/- (One Way)
  • MH Toll 4: INR 80/- (One Way)


Contact numbers for your reference:

  • Dhuri Homestay:- +91-9420740901; +91-9604165641. http://www.dhurihomestay.com/
  • RSN executive Kudal: 02362-222804, 02362-222805.
  • Gajali Restaurant:- 02362-223805 (Kudal), 02366-262615 (Vengurla port).
  • Janu Restaurant, Redi Beach:- 9420262239, 9823955981, 8805741685.
  • Ashok Bhagat from Shiroda:- 08805252136. Snacks and stay arrangement at Shiroda beach
  • Ganesh Gosavi for Anapurna Niwas: 09096904316, 08390730876.
  • Anway Prabu for Scuba Dive and water sports:- 09823857576.

Happy Traveling

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.
Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune