Sunday, 24 February 2013

Night trek to Rajgad

               I was doing lots of trips from last few years. This time I got a chance to go for trek because of my friends. I was a good trekker a few years back and I had been to most the forts during my college days. Somehow I forgot this activity after entering into the work culture. My friend Anannya and Aditya planned night trek to Rajgad and me along with wife Renuka decided to join them.
Trekkers for Rajgad were me, Renuka, Anannya, Aditya and Aditya’s wife Neha.

Bale-Killa from Padmavati Machee
Bale-Killa from Padmavati Machee

About Rajgad trek:
            Rajgad (meaning Royal Fort or King of all Forts), one of the forts of Maharashtra state situated in the Pune district, the fort is 1318 meters above sea level. Formerly known as Murumdev, it was capital of the Maratha Empire (Hindavi Swarajya) ruled by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj for almost 26 years, after which he moved to Raigad fort and made that his capital.
This fort has great historical relevance, as it was Shivaji's favourite fort. The fort can be divided into four different parts based on geographical terrain and fortification. These are the three sub-plateau (Machee) namely Padmavati Machee, Suvela Machee and Sanjevani Machee, and at the centre Ballekilla (meaning "small fort")
           This fort has witnessed lots of historic events, including the birth of Rajaram Chatrapati, the death of Shivaji's Queen Saibai, the return of Shivaji from Agra, the antyayatra of Tanaji Malusre to his Konkan village, the burial of Afzal Khan's head in the Mahadarwaja walls of Ballekilla, the strict words of Sonopant Dabir to Shivaji, and the Khandoji Khopade episode.
            Rajgad is south-west 60 km from Pune. To reach Rajgad fort base village, the easy way is Pune – NH4 National Highway – take left at Nasrapur–Pali village – Wajeghar.
            There are 3 ways to start trek to Rajgad, one is from Gunjavane village which leads to the Padmavati machee. This trek route is mainly known as Chor Darwaza (Secret Doorway).
The second route is also from Gunjavane village but it leads to Suvela Machee. It is better to climb from this way under expert guidance and with professional mountain climbing equipment. I haven’t climbed yet from this route. The third route is via Pali base village which leads to Pali Darwaza. This route is simple but takes longer to climb from here as compared to another route. We decided to go via Pali village.

23rd & 24th Feb 2013: Night trek to Rajgad (Total distance travel by car: 120km + 3hr climb):
             On a very short notice, five of us decided and planned to have the overnight trek over the King of Forts. Two members of our group were having an office so we decided to leave Pune after 8 pm on Saturday. By the time we left Pune, it was 9 on the clock. On the highway, we took a small break for fuel and coffee. After having coffee at McD, we left for the base village. I had a fever on Friday so I was a little bit nervous about my stamina. I didn’t want to spoil others mood only due to my health issues. I had taken energy drink (Glucon-D) with me.
             We reached base village Wajeghar. From here we went to a small village named Bhosalewadi. This was the starting point for our trek. We parked our car and we actually started our trek by 12:15 am. It was almost full moon night and bright moonlight was helping us to show the route. After walking for few minutes on mildly steep walk-way, about 7-8 feet wide, pretty plain, we reached a small plateau. We can see Entire Rajgad in bright moonlight. From here the actual trek began and so the slightly tough part starts. Now we have to climb massive fort. The moonlight was enough to keep our torches off most of the time. The journey was quite easy and ok as we were walking in the night time. We had to make stops at regular intervals to rejuvenate ourselves. My friends were taking my care during entire trek. After more than hour hike, we reached the point from where the stone steps are laid till the top - they call it as Rajgad Rajmarg (Route which was used by king)

            Climbing on stone steps was quite an easy task. After sometime finally, we reached Pali Darwaza. Slowly we moved towards Padmavati machee. We reach on top by 2.30 am. We were sure that will not get any shelter for to sleep so we decided to move ahead for Bale-Killa (Small fort constructed above fort). To climb Bale-Killa at night was a really difficult job. Bale-Killa is the highest part of the fort which has remains of palaces, water cisterns and caves. Generally, Bale-Killa is built to protect your surrounding fort and constructed in such a way that it is difficult to climb and conquer in war. It has a beautiful entrance door called Mahadarwaja. One can view the whole fort and the vast surrounding expanse.

Rajgad Rajmarg
Rajgad Rajmarg (Photo taken during descend)

Stone steps on Rajmarg

            Within 30-40 min we climbed the Bale-Killa. It was a very difficult climb. However, there is a railing on your way up to make the climb possible. It was around 3:15 am on the clock when we reach the top of Rajgad. We found Janani Temple empty so we decided to sleep there. We all were hungry and had our packed dinner. Having your dinner under bright moonlight with the cool breeze was a lovely experience. We did some arrangement in the temple and went inside our sleeping bags for much-needed sleep. Until this point, I was not able to click a single photo and that’s why I was eagerly waiting for morning to capture sunrise photos from Rajgad.
             We were up by 6.00 am after hardly 2 hours of sleep. Until this point, we were not able to see surrounding mountain ranges. There was plenty of sunlight but I was waiting for Sunrise. The bird’s eye view from Bale-Killa was something that really cannot be described in words. We were able to see Padmavati machee on our right and Suvela machee on left. Padmavati Machee is the site of Padmavati Temple, Padmavati Lake, Chor Darwaja, Pali Darwaja, Gunjavane Darwaja, DaruKothar (storage of arms and ammunition), Diwankhana, Rajwada (ruins), Ghod Tale (Horse Lake), Sadar (office) and Dhalkathi (flag hoisting place).

Our stay at Janani Temple (Anannya, My wife Renuka and Aditya in Red Sleeping Bag)
Padmavati Machee
Padmavati Machee from Bale-Killa

            Suvela Machee is another grand machee facing east with lots of secret routes and doorways. This one is a double-stepped fortified machee with the steps separated by a beautiful bastioned doorway. At the end of the first step, a hole cuts across the rock; one can sit on this Hole (nedhe). The final (lowest) step like Sanjeevani Machee has a double curtain wall. To the south side of this machee, one can find a beautiful triangular bastion called Kaleswariburuz having an escape door near it. The home of the renowned military leader Tanaji Malusarewas in this machee.

Suvela Machee
Suvela Machee 

            We witnessed beautiful sunrise from Bale-Killa. I was busy in capturing this lovely nature. For few minutes, Sun was spreading orange-red colour light all over the horizon. You have to be there and experience it. You can spot Fort Torna, Sinhagad, Raireshwar, Raigad, Lingana and Purandar. We packed our bags after spending some time a nearby temple and processed to watch remaining Bale-Killa. After climbing few steps you can have a look of beautiful glimpses of Late and temple. On top of Bale-Killa, we saw ruin old time building such as Rajwada, storage of arms and ammunition etc. It was too windy on top of the fort. We forgot all pains which we had from yesterday on the trek when we were on the top of Rajgad. We took some breathtaking snaps before we started climbing down from Balle Killa.

Sunrise from Bale-Killa
Sunrise from Bale-Killa

Sunrise from Rajgad
Sunrise from Bale-Killa

Steps which takes you to the top most point on Bale-Killa

Lake on Bale-Killa

            We could not explore Sanjevani Machee and Suvela Machee as we were running short of time. Sanjevani Machee is huge, beautiful and royally constructed Machee faces west and has a three-stepped (layered) fortified structure. The lowest level is beautifully fortified by double curtain walls (chilkhathi) separated by a deep trench, on average 12 feet across. We decided to visit only Padmavati Machee. After we came down from Bale-Killa, we took a small break and had our packed food for breakfast. Being girls in a group gives you an advantage on food department. Renuka and Neha had bought enough food for breakfast.

Main entrance for Bale-Killa

Wat to Sanjivani Machee
Wat to Sanjivani Machee

Way to Bale-Killa and our breakfast point

            After heavy breakfast, we proceeded towards Padmavati machee. We saw all historical building there. Many trekkers prefer this machee for stay and to cook food for lunch/dinner. Maybe bcos of this reason this area is not at clean. I really feel bad for it. After sightseeing, we started descending at 11.30 am. We set off for descend to the Bhosalewadivillage through PaliDarwaza. We were ahead of time as we had to reach Pune before 3.30 pm. Descending was not a difficult job but after some time pressure on knee becomes a headache. After descending half, we took a break for 30 min. No reason as such but there was a large tree and we tempted for a power nap. After power nap in the lap of nature, we covered remaining distance with lightning speed. After we reached our parked car at base village, we left this historical place.

Sadar place

Padmavati Temple
Padmavati Temple 

Padmavati Lake
Padmavati Lake

Saibai's samadhi (tomb)
Saibai's samadhi (tomb)

Pali Darwaza (Fort Entrance a.k.s Pali Entrance)

             Rajgad is truly a place to visit and remember the greatest Maratha King. One must visit the fort and enjoy the nature and the beauty of the great fort. During our return journey, we took a lunch break at Dhaba. After tasty lunch and tempting strawberry Cream with Ice cream, we headed back to our homes. It was the perfect end to an adventurous weekend.

Fort Rajgad from Base (Taken at 1 pm so photo quality is not up to the mark)

Things to carry for Night trek to Rajgad:
  1. A water bottle to carry at least 2 litres of water.
  2. Sleeping Bag/Mat, shawl or bed sheet
  3. One pair of cloth in case you are on monsoon trek.
  4. Windcheater / Warm jacket as it will get cold overnight.
  5. Do carry instant energizers like Glucon-D or Tang.
  6. A towel or napkin and 2-3 old newspapers
  7. Commander torch or any touch which can guide you at night
  8. Better avoid wearing Gold and other ornaments. No need to carry heavy cash.
Our Expenses:
  • Car petrol: INR 650 - 700/- (approx. 8 lit at INR 76/lit)
  • Toll on NH-4: INR 105/- (Return toll)
  • We spend some basic amount of bread, butter, homemade rise Pulav and other food.
  • Buttermilk on fort: INR 10/- per glass.
  • Lunch at kailashDhaba on NH-4: INR 130/- per head for a vegetarian meal.
  • strawberry Cream with Ice cream: INR 80/-

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy travelling.

Pritesh Kulkarni

Friday, 15 February 2013

Road Trip to North Goa...!!!

For a long time, I was waiting for my next scuba dive (first dive in Goa). Our wedding anniversary gives us an opportunity to go to Goa which was our next destination and dive site. We were actually planning Goa trip for 9 days but due to office workload, we had to manage our trip in 5 days only. Rather than covering entire Goa (As per our old plan) we decided to visit only North part of Goa by our own Car.

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church
About North Goa:
           North Goa covers the northern half of the state of Goa state. It is also considered as “Tourist Paradise". Goa is famous for magnificent scenic beauty, churches, temples, Old houses, Beautiful golden sand beaches and vibrant culture. It has it all, from the heady party scene of the buzzing North Goa to the absolute calm of the deserted south Goa beaches.
          The Indian epic Mahabharata refers to the area now known as Goa, as Goparashtra or Govarashtra which means a nation of cowherds.With the rule of Portuguese for over 450 years and the consequential influence of the Latin culture, Goa presents a somewhat different picture to the foreign visitor than any other part of the country. History of Goa has undergone a continual transformation, leaving an indelible impression of its cultural and socio-economic development.

Dona Paula
Dona Paula

           North Goa is colourful and festive all throughout the year. In fact, this is the side of Goa that draws in the tourists year after year. Best way to reach North Goa from Pune is, Pune – NH 4 – Kolhapur – Nipani (Karnataka state) – Sankeshwar (Karnataka state) – Gadhinglaj (Maharashtra state) – Amboli ghat – Sawantwadi -  Banda (Maharashtra-Goa border) – Take right turn at Mapusa – road goes towards Calangute, Baga and to other North Goa destinations.
           You can also have shortcut after taking a right turn after Nipani on NH 4 (from hotel Kaveri) but road condition (Nipani – Aajara –Amboli) is very rough & poor. Sankeshwar – Gadhinglaj road is 10-14 km long cut but the road is wide and smooth (as of year Feb 2013).
           From Mumbai, you can catch North Goa by NH 17 (Mumbai – Goa national highway).  There are number of bus/train/flight services from Pune/Mumbai to reach in the State of Goa
Travelers for this trip were me and my wife Renuka.

Day 0: 8th Feb, 13 Pune - Kolhapur: (Total Distance travelled: 235 km):
            As we didn’t want to spoil whole Saturday only in the journey, we decided to have split journey. Our halt was in Kolhapur at Renuka’s relatives. We left Pune at around 7:30 pm after finishing our office work. We took our dinner at National Dhaba (Just after Khambatki Ghat). You must try Egg Burji & omelette on Dhaba (cook name: Mohammad Ali Kadri).
            Traffic on the highway was negligible so we easily able to cover distance within 3.5 hours. Tomorrow we decided to leave Kolhapur by 5.15-5.30 am.

  • Car petrol: INR 3000/- (Approx. 42 Liter at INR 74.18/lit)
  • Toll on NH-4 (Khed-Shivapur): INR 70/- one-way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Anewadi): INR 60/- one-way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Taswade + Kini): INR 124/- one way (You can pay for both toll at Taswade)
  • Dinner: INR 140/- for both (Egg Burji + Omelet + coffee)

Day 1: 9th Feb, 13 Kolhapur - Baga: (Total Distance travelled: 215 km):
           We left Kolhapur at around 6 am after breakfast at a relative's place. Now my car’s control was in Renuka’s hand. I was aware that Nipani-Aajara road is in bad condition so we took a different route which was 10-14km extra than Aajara road. But Sankeshwar – Gadhinglaj road was wide and smooth enough to save our journey time. As we left early morning, we able to cover maximum distance without facing any traffic issues.  We took a pit stop at the top of Amboli ghat and then moved ahead for Goa.
           After driving for around 5 hours (Including small halts), we reached Baga by 11 am. We made our booking at Arpora in AC luxury studio apartment but that booking was from the next day.  So, we had to look around for room tonight. We were searching for good/decent hotel for around an hour and most of the hotels were sold out. Finally, we got 1 decent room at casa Nelar guest house near Tito’s club. After getting fresh, we went out for Lunch.
           We had our tasty lunch at De Baga Deck restaurant. As we both are non-alcoholic and vegetarian (but I am seafood lover), we ordered Kabab’s, Chinese and cold drinks. We were in Goa during peak season plus Carnival 2013 so North Goa was flooded with all types of tourists. It was my 3rd visit to Goa but Renuka’s 1st visit. She was feeling like we were not in India by looking at massive tourist count.
            It was a harsh afternoon so we decided to have rest in the hotel.  After a nice power nap, we went out to our first destination i.e. Chapora Fort. After asking for fort address to many people, finally, we reached the base. Fort is built on the small hill having steep slopes on all side. The fort played an important role in history to defend attacks on Portuguese from Marathas. After the small hike, we reached the top of the fort. There is no fortification left as such but it offers you a wonderful aerial view of Vagator beach. Fort came in limelight due to the shooting of famous Bollywood movie “Dilchahatahai”. But we were not able to spot the exact location where Actor Amir Khan tells great philosophy about friendship.

Vagator Beach from Chapora Fort
Vagator Beach from Chapora Fort

Chapora fort Gate
Chapora fort Gate

            After fort visit, we went to Vagator beach. From the top Vagator looks amazing with the cliffs on one side and the shore on the other. The beach is split into 2 commonly called the Big Vagator and the Little Vagator by the rocky cliff. It is a small and beautiful beach, less crowded than other beaches. We spent quality time on the beach and saw the lovely sunset over the sea. We gave a call to Ajay Patil (owner of Dive Goa) and booked our seats for 12-Feb for our next dive. We wanted to celebrate our first anniversary with scuba dive. There were a few beach shacks available but we didn’t have food so cannot recommend any.

Vagator Beach
Vagator Beach

            By 7 in the clock, we headed towards Arpora Saturday night Bazar. We heard a lot about this and we don’t want to miss. This market is held from Nov to Feb on every Saturday. It starts at 7 pm and ends at around 3 in midnight. We got space for car parking opposite to Chauranginath temple. It is very difficult to find car parking space after 8 pm. When we entered the market, we feel like entering into the different world. Too many shopping stalls, food stalls, drinks, live music show and many more.  We easily spent more than 2 hours just by walking here and there in the market. We were hardly able to spot any Indian tourist among the crowd. We were surprised how come Indian tourists missed this place. This place was truly amazing. Shopping wise definitely this place is too costly so your bargaining skill plays a very vital role here.

Arpora Saturday night Bazar
vibrant Saturday night Bazar

Saturday night Bazar

Live music at S'day Bazar
BBQ Red Snapper

           After spending 3 hours in the market, we went for walk-in Tito’s lane. Entry fee including liquor in pubs was around INR 1500/- for a couple but as we are non-alcoholic, we skipped our club/pub plan. We had our dinner at Souza Lobo on Calangute beach. I had tasty Red snapper fish and it was worth the price. We came to our hotel by 2 in mid-night.

Ready to eat!

  • Toll on NH-4 (Kognoli): INR 30/-one way entry
  • Parking at Baga: INR 40/- for Car
  • Lunch at Baga: INR 370/- (Kababs, Chinese etc.)
  • Parking at Vagator: INR 50/- for Car
  • Hotel room: INR 1200/- for 1 night
  • BBQ Red Snapper for Dinner: INR 800/-

Day 2: 10th Feb, 13 Baga – Arpora & Anjuna:
            We were tired due to yesterday’s driving and hectic day. We woke up by 10:30 am and then we checked-out from the hotel by noon. We drove towards Arpora to check-in in our studio apartment. Owner of the apartment is Capt. Deshpande. We loved this AC studio apartment; it had fully working kitchen, washing machine, microwave, and freezer, sit out area and lovely swimming pool. There were around 20-22 bungalows and apartments in the Rivera property.

Studio apartment

Swimming Pool

           To avoid harsh sun, we cooked pasta and had tasty homemade food for lunch. It was difficult for us to resist by entering into swimming pool. We spend most the noon time in the pool. For the evening we decided to visit Anjuna Beach for sunset. It was hardly 5-10 min drive from our room. We enjoyed our time at Anjuna beach. It’s a lovely small beach. Lots of shacks welcome you with a smile. If you get bored of sea and food shacks then there are lots of shopping stalls to shop clothes with vibrant colour and style. Personally, I like Vagator and Anjuna beach over Baga and Calangute beach. You can catch the sunset over the sea with drinks (as per your choice) in hand. We found sea quite rough in north Goa so better to take care while swimming in the sea. After enjoying swimming in the sea, we headed back to our room.

Cooking time!

Sunset at Anjuna

Anjuna Beach

            We took some rest and then went to Baga beach for our Dinner. We heard about Britto's and St. Anthony shacks. Somehow my wife was not happy by looking at Britto’s menu card for vegetarian options and we had dinner at St. Anthony. Food was good. North Goa became alive in the night and you can feel the vibrant atmosphere.

  • Parking at Anjuna: INR 50/- for Car
  • Parking at Baga: INR 40/- for Car
  • BBQ King Fish: INR 600/- (full king fish a.k.s. Surmai Fish in India)
  • Dinner at St. Anthony shack: INR 320/- (Panjabi, Roti etc)

Day 3: 11th Feb, 13 Panji & Old Goa:
            Today we decided to visit Panji city & churches, a temple from Old Goa. We left the room by 8:30 after homemade breakfast cooked by me. Driving to Panji or in any part of North Goa is relatively easy as you have direction markers everywhere on the road. We reached Panaji after 40-45 min drive. Bridge over Mandovi river acts as entrance gate for Panji city. Portuguese style buildings in Panji give you different feel while driving in the city.
           We decided to visit old Goa first and then to visit Panji city in the evening. The road from Panji to old Goa is very beautiful as you drive along the Mandovi River to your left. After the 10-12km drive, we reached in old Goa at Basilica of Bom Jesus church. This church was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. This church looks beautiful from inside and gives you a peaceful atmosphere. If you are truly interested in church history then better to hire a guide which is easily available in church premise. There is a small art gallery showcasing master painting pieces which tells you different stories.

Basilica of Bom Jesus church
Basilica of Bom Jesus church

Basilica of Bom Jesus church

          We also visited Se Cathedral, Church of St Catherine which is just opposite to Basilica of Bom Jesus church. It’s a massive solid white coloured Church of St Catherine. This place is well maintained compared to other churches from old Goa. To have a look at both churches, you need around 3 hour’s timespan.  We also saw Church of Saint Cajetao& then moved ahead to visit temples. Do not visit old Goa on Sunday as all churches are closed.

Church of St Catherine
Church of St Catherine

              After 14km drive, we reach Mangueshi Temple. The temple is dedicated to Bhagavan Mangueshi, an incarnation of Shiva.  He is a kuldevta of many Hindus in Goa, especially of Saraswat Brahmins.Temple is beautifully constructed and most frequently visited temples in Goa. A Temple premise is clean and maintained by the staff. Woman’s wearing shorts and any other cloths above knees are not allowed to enter in the temple. There are lots of fruit dish stalls offers you fresh fruits at very nominal prices. Definitely, do not to miss healthy food.

Mangueshi Temple

             Within 1 km there is another temple name “Mahalsa Narayani”. It is a grand temple and very peaceful surrounding. Unfortunately, the temple has recently banned entry of foreigners into the temple. We had Mahaprasad in the temple and then left for next destination. On few km drives, there is another temple named “Shanta Durga Temple”. This avatar of Shree Jagdamba Devi which had come to make peace (Shanti) between Shree Vishnu and Shree Shiva came to be known as Shree Shanta Durga Devi. We were a little bit tired due to hot weather and now it’s time to move back to Panaji city.
             We were around 32km away from the city and after 45 min drive, we reached in Panaji city. We had coffee at CCD near Miramar beach and meet with our scuba dive instructors/owner of Dive Goa, Ajay Patil. He briefs us about tomorrow’s dive plan and we told him our dive history. We decided to skip the pool training secession as we were aware of all dive tetchiness. Our dive instructor for tomorrow will be Nigel Adamms (He is from the UK).
               After discussion on dive, we went to Miramar beach. This is a local beach for Panji. Local do visit this beach in evening for a walk and to play beach games. As beach was too sandy, this made us difficult to walk on it with shoes. Evening barefoot stroll on the beach during sunset was a wonderful experience. Cold seawater touching our feet’s makes you feel fresh. As sun dives into the sea, we went for heritage walk and to see Panji city church (A.K.S. Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception).

Miramar Beach

            As we covered most of the tourist places, we went back to our rooms after 8 and had dinner in the room. Again I was the chef for dinner and menu was different egg dishes and Chinese soup. Once we were finished with the dinner, we went to Baga beach to celebrate our first wedding anniversary with a small cake. This was a surprise to Renuka and we cut the cake at 12 midnight.

Day 4: 12th Feb, 13 Scuba Dive & Dinner at Thalassa:
              As we had to reach to Dona Paula before 8:30 am, we went to Dive centre and met our dive masters Ajay & Nigel. We were total 6 dives for today’s dive trip. A couple from Delhi for their first dive, two members from the UK on their 10th Dive (they are certified dives) and we at our 4th Dive.
             For the first time, here we learned how to do all set up like how to fix oxygen cylinder to harness, how to connect regulator and remaining set up. We took our gears and kept them in the boat. We did 4 dives but never got a chance to learn how to set up all equipment to how to clean after dive. Even this was not a part of our dive but as we showed interest to learn these things, they trained us.

Dive instructors from L to R: Nigel Adamms & Ajay Patil

            We left jetty by 9 am and after 1-hour journey, we reached to Grand Island. During the journey, we discussed a lot about dive, dive site & certification etc. Our dive was to be on Goa’s most popular dive site, the wreck of the SS Rita. This 130m long steamship sunk in the 1950s after striking rocks off Grande Island. She broke in two, with the stern section remaining near the rocks, whiles the bow and mid-section of the ship drifted quite a distance before sinking in a cove off Grande Island.

Grand Island

Dive site: Grand Island

             We were last members to dive. When we were going down in water, my mask was making me uncomfortable. After 2 failed attempts, I changed my mask and then we went down slowly. Renuka was confident whereas I was a bit nervous initially due to 2 failure attempts because of masks. This time we didn't wear a wetsuit as water was quite warned. After few min, my confidence level boosted up and we reached the base. Slowly we swam towards SS Rita ship. Oh my god!!! This was our best moment when we saw sunken ship infant of us. The marine life on the wreck was quite impressive. We saw Red Tailed Butterflyfish, school of Striped Grunt on the ship deck, Blue Ringed Angelfish, Schooling Bannerfish, A school of Hatchet Fish, Spotted Scat, snapper, Blue Lined Grouper, Parrotfish and spotted Grouper. We spent some time on the ship deck and observed fish activity for a longer time. One Grouper approached towards us many times which was bit scary & interesting. He wanted to convey us like this is my territory. I think, Dive instructor Nigel Adamms became confident on our dive skills that’s why we were roaming around SS Rita for a longer time (Obliviously with him). We spend around 40 to 50 Min inside water and overall experience was simply amazing.

It's me...

Renu's scuba dive

Going down slowly with the help of rope

Watching school of fishes at SS Rita ship

Fish around SS Rita ship. from top left: Striped Grunt, plate corals. From bottom left  Grouper & Red tailed  butterfly fish

SS Rita ship

With our Dive instructor Nigel Adamms

             After Dives, our return journey begins for Jetty. The ride was quite shaky due to waves. To our surprises when we reached the centre, Ashwini (Ajay’s wife) brought a cake for us and we all celebrated our anniversary by cutting the yummy chocolate cake. Scuba dive and then celebration – it was a really wonderful time in Goa. Others left after some time but we (Me, Renuka, Ajay – Ashwini & Nigel) spent some time in centre. Nigel Adamms suggested us a restaurant for dinner. We promised to join them soon for our next dive, probably at Netrani Island. Thanks Dive Goa for a wonderful time.

Our Anniversary celebration. Thanks to Dive Goa

             We were hungry so ate some chaat near Miramar beach and then went to our apartment. We took must needed rest and got ready for dinner. Our destination for dinner was restaurant Thalassa, a Greek restaurant at Vagator. The atmosphere was romantic and the location was simply great. When I ordered a cake, they asked me the reason and when I told the occasion they offered us a nice mild cocktail. We celebrated our dive & Anniversary with seafood and cocktail. It was perfect Day for us.

  • Scuba Dive: INR 4000/- per person.
  • Car Petrol: INR 2300/- (42 Lit at INR 55.20 per lit)
  • Dinner at Thalassa: INR 1000/- for both

Day 5: 13th Feb, 13 shopping at Baga, Anjuna and return journey:
            We spent the entire morning in the apartment and enjoyed time in swimming pool. After packing we left the apartment by 11:30 am. We enjoyed our stay in this studio apartment. We did some shopping at Baga and then headed towards Anjuna Flea market. In flea market, you will find all kinds of stalls. We spent some time here but didn't purchase any items. Nothing special as such about this market as all items from different shops is easily available throughout the north Goa and that too at same prices. All items are too costly and you need to bargain a lot. There are shacks near beach side which plays live music. We had Lunch at Anjuna and then we left Goa by 5 in the evening.

With our apartment friend...Mr Black cat!

Anjuna Flea market

Flea market

              It was too late for us to leave Goa. We decided to take a halt at Kolhapur. When we reach Amboli ghat, it was dark. Ghat section and the further road was too lonely. Somehow I drove a car too fast to cover maximum distance. My advice is - avoid ghat section after sunset if you are travelling alone/couple or in a small group. We reached Kolhapur by 10 pm.

  • Studio apartment Rent: INR 4000/- for 4 days.(We got at discounted price bcos Capt Deshpande is our close family friend)
  • Parking at W'day Flea market, Anjuna: INR 20/- for Car.
  • Snacks at Amboli Ghat: INR 60/- for Vada pav & coffee
  • Toll on NH-4 (Kognoli): INR 30/-one way entry

Day 6: 14th Feb, 13 Kolhapur to Pune: (Total Distance travelled in the trip: approx. 1300km):
             We left Kolhapur by 5 am and reached home safely by via NH-4 route by 9 am.It was truly a stress-relieving trip.
  • Toll on NH-4 (Khed-Shivapur): INR 70/- one-way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Anewadi): INR 60/- one-way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Taswade + Kini): INR 124/- one way (You can pay for both toll at Taswade)
Places which we miss in North Goa due to lack of Time:
  1. Ashwem Beach
  2. Candolim Beach
  3. Arambol Beach
  4. Calangute beach for water sports
  5. Aguada Fort
Contact numbers for your reference:
  1. Scuba Diving: Dive Goa (Ashwini: 09325030110; Ajay: 093250300109) Website:
  2. Vineet Deshpande for a studio apartment: 07875816100.
I heard a lot about South Goa which is full of natural beauty and that part is now on my travel radar. I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.
 Pritesh Kulkarni