Sunday, 28 December 2014

Quick trip to Kelshi beach in Konkan

We wanted to visit Konkan costal before we say goodbye to the year 2014. We along with few friends, decided to visit Kelshi beach. As our friend came with his 1.5 year old son, we restricted our location to Kelshi only. This time we went by 14 seater bus as there were 10 travelers for this trip.

We on Kelshi Beach
About Kelshi:-
              Kelshi is a small sea-side village, Famous for its Mahalaxmi Temple (350 years old temple), Sand hillocks and Yakub baba's dargah (7th Guru of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaja), built during the Peshwa era. Also Beach is very clean and hardly any tourists visit this place. You can feel typically Konkani lifestyle in Kelshi.

Our Route:-
Best way to reach Kelshi is Pune - Tahmini - Mangaon - Goregaon - Mandangad - Kelshi. Road condition after Goregaon is in horrible state.
While returning, we chose different route. It was from Kelshi - Anjarle - Harne - Dapoli - Ambet - Mandangad - Mangaon - Tahmini - Pune. Sign boards are available to guide you.

Road in Tahmini is newly constructed and in excellent condition.

Day 1: 27nd Dec 2014, Pune – Kelshi (Total Distance traveled: 192 km):
            We started our journey at 7 AM in morning. We wanted to reach at Kelshi as soon as possible. We had our breakfast at “Quick bite” in Tahmini. Road condition in Tamhini ghat was surprisingly in excellent condition. Manasi-Abhijit joined us in Mangaon town. We chose shortest path via Goregaon.
            We reached Kelshi by 1 PM and everybody was hungry. Our stay was at Bivalkar’s house who is also poojari of Laxmi temple. Kelshi is typically kokani village and takes you to old time Konkan village. After putting bags in room, we had tasty vegetarian meal along with modak as sweet dish. We took some rest in the afternoon and got ready for beach activity by evening time. We reached the beach around 4 PM. There were hardly 9-10 tourists excluding us. Beach is not a sandy but is a bit dark brown in color. Flow of tourists is mainly in Karde, Murud or in Anjarle beach so Kelshi beach is quite lonely. You can see Yakub baba's dargah on hill from beach. We spend some time on beach playing cricket rather than entering in water for swimming. After our cricket game where our wives enjoyed more than us, we went in water. After watching beautiful sunset, we came back at Bivalkar’s house.

Kelshi Beach
Kelshi Beach


Sunset from Kelshi

Watching beautiful Sunset

             As Me, Himanshu and Ketaki wanted to have sea food for dinner; we went at Pawar’s home. I came here for dinner after 2 years so was aware of quality of meal. We had tasty Surmai fry and prawns curry. We wanted to have Pomfret hence we decided to visit Harne port in morning to buy Pomfret. My wife and other friends had there veg meal with Modak at Bivalkar’s house. After Dinner we went for rest in room. Our day ends with tasty sea food.

Surmai (King) fish meal

  • Breakfast at Quick bite: INR 800/- for 8 people
  • Stay cost at Kelshi: INR 2400/- for 2 rooms (5 people in 1 room)
  • Veg Lunch (Unlimited): INR 150/- per person + Modak at INR 10/- per pic
  • Tea: INR 10/- per glass
  • Surmai (king fish) meal: INR 200/- per person
  • Veg Dinner (Unlimited): INR 150/- per person
Day 2: 28nd Dec 2014, Kelshi – harne – Kelshi - Pune (Total Distance traveled: 192 km):
             We woke up early morning around 7 AM. After breakfast, I, Renuka, Himanshu and Ketaki went to Harne for some fish shopping whereas other went to beach for swimming. Harne port is famous for fish market which is assumed to be one of the largest suppliers of fish to Maharashtra and also Export. Fish auction carried on daily basis on the beach is must visit place. We reached at Harne by 8.30 AM. I was very excited to watch the fish auction and market. We decided to purchase fish for lunch as well as to take home. There are many shops where you have to just give them a purchased fish and then will pack in ice box. It is great place for fish lovers and after some bargaining, we purchased Prawns, king fish and Pomplet fish. You can have huge verity of fishes which are fresh and brought directly from sea. After my favorite fish shopping, we came back home at Kelshi.

Harne Beach

Harne Fish Market

Paradise for Fish lover

              After quick tea/coffee break, we all went on beach for swimming. Kelshi has a long, scenic, unexplored beach. Only we were on the beach with only the sea waves for company and it was like we were on our private beach. We spent around two hours and then returned to our rooms. We had tasty sea food at Pawar’s place. As we had visited temple and Darga in Kelshi, we took rest in the noon. 
             Mahalaxmi Temple was built during the Peshwa regime. It also houses the idols of Lord Ganpati and Lord Shiva. The temple lies beneath two huge domes. The famous Yakub Baba dargah is located at a distance of about one kilometer from the Mahalaxmi temple. Yakub baba's dargah is a great example of Hindu Muslim unity in India. He had given advice to Shivaji Maharaja during attack on Dabhol. Later on Shivaji Maharaja – The King of Hindu Empire expressed his wish to build a Dargah & awarded land measuring 653 acres. The work on the Dargah of Yakub baba was started by Shivaji Maharaja and later continued by SambhajiRaje but somehow it was never completed. Later Bajirao-I tried to take the work to its fruition. Every year people celebrate Urus on 6th December. The tradition to begin this Urus by Hindu people is practiced even today. From this place, you can see scenic Kelshi beach view and large number of coconut trees.

Mahalaxmi Temple

Yakub baba Darga
Yakub baba Darga

Kelshi beach view from Darga

             By 4 pm, we started with our return journey to Pune via Dapoli. In Anjarle there is Kadyavaracha Ganapati (कड्यावरचा गणपती) temple. As I had sea food lunch, I skipped temple visit but others went inside. I have been to this temple earlier. It’s Very clean and beautiful Ganesh temple. Load Ganapati idol from this temple is very old. There is small manmade lake in front of temple and you can see large number of turtles in the lake. Overall atmosphere in the temple was very pleasant. We saw thousands of Sea gulls on Anjarle beach. When I was busy in clicking these beautiful migratory birds, all of sudden small girl came on beach and ran towards birds so they flew away. Her parents were enjoying this act and I was highly disappointed by it. 
            We took small break between Anjarle and Harne for Sunset. There is a point from where you can see entire village name Pajpandhari which is located very close to sea. Typically Konkani village located very close to sea, Suvarnadurg fort and Anjarle beach on right side – it gives you breathtaking view. This is our favorite point on this route. We choose Tahmini ghat for return journey and we cross Tamhini by 10 PM as there was enough traffic in ghat section. We reached home by 1 AM mid-night safely.

Mobile Photography Trick w/o using software tool... Me at Kelshi Beach
  • Breakfast: INR 20/- per person
  • Tea: INR 10/- per person
  • Bus entry fee at Harne port: INR 50/-
  • Fish as per size and season availability
  • Pomplet fish meal making chargers: INR 100/- per plate
  • Veg unlimited lunch: INR 150/- + Modak at INR 10/- per pic
  • Vada pav at Mangaon: INR 15/-
  • Bus Rent for 2 days-600km: INR 8400/- (As it was my office bus with same driver, he didn’t charge me for night halt else halt chargers are between INR 200 to 400/- per night)
Contact numbers for your reference:
  • Home stay Hotel Surabhi, Kelshi (Naresh Vartak): 02358-287240 / 9623113162 / 9820441985.
  • Kokan Bhojanalay at Kelshi (V Pavar): 02358-287379 / 9604104380 / 9850398893.
I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Trip to Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary and Revdanda

After a trip to Blackbuck national park Velavadar, I wanted to visit one more wildlife sanctuary. Due to lack of leaves, I decided to visit Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary on weekend with office colleagues. As Revdanda and Korlia Fort were on my wishlist, we decided to visit that location as well.

Travelers for this trip me, Harsha, Rohan and Darshan

Indian Valture
Indian Vulture

About Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary and Revdanda:
            Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary is a bird sanctuary in Raigad district, Maharashtra. It is spread across an area of 52 Sq. km. Although it is mainly a bird sanctuary; a few spices of mammals like a giant squirrel, Indian fox, Bonnet macaque, Indian Civet, Langur, Sambar, wildcat, deer and leopard can also be spotted. However, it is very difficult to do so. This Sanctuary was formed in the year 1986.

Revdanda is a small village towards the south of Alibag. This place is famous for untouched beautiful beach along with a Portuguese fort known as Revdanda beach Fort.

To reach Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary, the route is Pune – Join mulshi road from Chandani Chowk – Tamhini ghat – Kolad (Do not take left turn of Nijampur MIDC area) – At kolad, join highway and take left for Roha – After Roha, drive till Talekhar village – At Talekhar village, look for signboard of Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary on your left.
Another route is Pune – Join Bangalore-Mumbai National highway – Drive towards Mumbai via expressway – Cross khandala – Take khopoli exit – Pen – Alibag (No need to enter in the city) – Take left turn for Naogaon/Revdanda – Cross bridge on creek after Revdanda – Take left after bridge- Drive for around 7-8km and look for signboard of Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary on your right.

Day 1: 20th Dec 2014: Trip to Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary:
          We woke up by 5.30 AM and left home at 6:30 AM. We chose the route via Tahmini – Kolad. A freezing cold weather welcomed us in Tamhini Ghat. We took a pit stop for breakfast at Hotel Quick Bite. It was a pleasant journey till Talekhar village. It was 10.30 am on the clock and we were ahead of our plan. We decided to visit Korlia Fort in the town of Korlia. This fort was built in 1521 by the Portuguese with the permission of Burhan Nizam.

Korlia Fort

Steps for fort behind Lighthouse

            Korlia was initially known as the “Rock of Chaul”. In 1594, there was a chaotic situation after Burhan Nizam died. The Portuguese tried to take advantage of this by building a fortification. But Hussein Nizam perceived the danger and decided to fortify this mountain himself. The Portuguese opposed this and they signed a treaty. It was decided that inseam would not build a fort and the Portuguese would not pose him any threat on the seas. Second Burhan Nizam succeeded in building a fort there. Sardar Fattekhan cannoned the walls of Revdanda fort soon. The Portuguese were short of soldiers and ordered more army. They then attacked the fort by invading the base village. They won the fight and captured Korlai fort. In 1684, Sambhaji Maharaj made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the fort. In 1739, Chimaji Appa (From Maratha emperor) made a strong attack on the fort and captured it.

Entrance of Korlia Fort

              You can visit this place to see Lighthouse and Fort. By paying a nominal fee, lighthouse engineer explains the functionality of lighthouse, Radar system and how the entire system communicates with the ships and the control room which is in Mumbai. After a quick visit to the lighthouse, we went on the fort. Proper stone steps are laid till the top. It takes hardly 15-20 mins to reach the top. The fort is mainly divided into 6 parts. Topmost point is known as Balle killa and there is an old church. If you entered in from the steps on the lighthouse side, then you are in the 5th section. On your left i.e. towards Westside, you can see the storehouse of ammunition and place to park ships at that time. Start your trail till Church and then come back to visit the last section which is on the western side.

storehouse of ammunition and place to park ships

Shiv Temple

               Entrance door to a different section of the fort is quite interesting whereas there are 5 bastions on the fort. You can see old cannons placed in bastion facing Revdanda fort. There is the small temple of Lord Mahadev on fort and church. View of the sea from the fort is breathtaking and this is the best place to witness the sun on horizon spreading orange-red colour all over the sky.

korlia Beach 

Light House

              After a quick visit to the fort, we came down from the western side of the fort and left this beautiful, untouched fort. Our journey began and soon we reached to Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary. We had already booked a tent for 4 people. This location is within sanctuary with 4 tents and 1 dormitory. Group of ladies from nearby village serve tasty veg and non-veg meals. Tents have a capacity of 12 people. It was 2 PM on the clock and we had our tasty meal. We took a walk inside the forest for around 1 km and then came back for rest. We didn’t see any bird activity as such.

Phansad Forest Map
Phansad Forest Map

Tent at Phansad Forest
Tent at Phansad Forest

            We decided to explore the forest area next day morning. To save time, we booked a bullock cart to drop us at Chikhan Gaan area. There are few points where water is available in ponds through water springs. In a local language, such place is known as Gaan (गाण). Different points in the forest are Dharna chi Gaan, Sabas Gaan, Phansad Gaan and Chikhal Gaan. Among these Chikhan Gaan is a famous point to spot forest birds. This forest consists of more than 160 spices of birds and 17 spices of mammals.

Information board
By 4 PM, We left the Sanctuary and went to our next destination, Kashid beach. Our intention to visit this place was to see the sunset. Due to the weekend, the beach was crowded and people from Pune and Mumbai were enjoying watersports. We had a walk towards the south of the beach where there was hardly any tourist. Kashid Beach was very clean, white sandy curvy beach. We spent some time on the beach and then witnessed the beautiful sunset. Watching the sun sinking into the sea at the horizon spreading a red tint all over the sky…. my favourite activity on the beach. After sunset we had some snacks on the beach. There were too many food stalls to offer lots of tasty snacks items.

Crowded Kashid beach on weekends

Beach Games

Sunset at Kashid beach

Time to sail back...Sunset at Kashid 

               We left Kashid beach by 7 PM. We had a small halt in Nandgaon village to buy water and fish for a meal. There are no shops available near Phansad Sanctuary. We ordered a veg meal and kingfish meal for the night. It was a very good experience to stay in a tent and close to the forest area.

Menu card at Phansad Forest
Menu card at Phansad Forest

  • Car Petrol: INR 2500/- (approx. 35 Lit at average INR 69/lit)
  • Breakfast: INR 310/- for 4 people at Quick Bite
  • Car parking at Lighthouse: INR 20/-
  • Entry fee at lighthouse: INR 10/- per person
  • Camera fee at lighthouse: INR 20/- per camera
  • Coconut water at Fort: INR 30/- per coconut
  • Phansad forest entry fee: INR 30/- per person and INR 15/- for child
  • Phansad forest Camera fee: INR 100/- per camera
  • Car Parking chargers: INR 100/-
  • Snacks at Kashid beach: INR 110/- (Maggi-INR20/-, Burji: INR 30/-, Tea-INR 10/-)
  • Small size Kingfish: INR 80/-
  • Seafood preparation: INR 80/-
  • Veg meal: INR 100/- per person
  • Extra Bed for tent: INR 30/- per person

Day 2: 21st Dec 2014: Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary – Revdanda - Pune:
             We woke by 5.15 AM and were ready for morning trail. The bullock cart came to pick us at 6 AM sharp and we went in the forest. It was pitch dark outside and the ride was a thrilling experience. We decided to visit Chikhal Gaan area to spot birds. This place is also a home of a giant squirrel. It is 6km from the tent location. After 45 min of the bullock cart ride, we reached the spot. We spent around 2 hours in forest exploring birds. Unfortunately, we were unable to capture birds in camera but saw birds like Minivet, oriole, Asian paradise, ashy drongo, Rufous Woodpecker, Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker and many more other birds. We were hearing only the chirping but the overall experience was amazing.

Way to Chikhan Gaan
Way to Chikhan Gaan

Forest routes

Mnivet Bird at Phansad forest
Minivet Bird at Phansad forest

Goldenback Woodpecker
Goldenback Woodpecker

             When we left Chikhal Gaan, we saw some activity on a tree and when we saw carefully, it saw a pair of a giant squirrel. Due to dense forest, we were unable to click pictures. We preferred walking 6 km during our return journey. After walk for a km, we arrive at Vulture restore point/ Vulture restaurant point. This is a small plateau where you can spot Indian Vulture. Generally, forest department collects dead cattle (After examination from a veterinary doctor) from a nearby village and keep here as food for Indian Vulture. We saw 5-6 Indian Vultures on a tree. Spending some time at Vulture restore point we began with our return trail.

Indian Vulture
Indian Vulture

Watchtower at Phansad
Watchtower at Phansad
              We came to our tent by 1 PM and packed our luggage. We decided to have lunch on the way to Pune along with Revdanda fort. Our Next destination was Revdanda. After crossing the bridge on river kundlika, we entered in Revdanda village. It is a small village famous for Beach and Revdanda beach fort. We placed an order for seafood and veg meal at Mr Kadam’s house which is close to Revdanda fort.

Revdanda Fort was built in the year 1528 by Portuguese whereas prior to that, they built a factory in the year 1516. Later they built a wall for the factory and the construction of the fort. In July 1683, the Marathas attempted an attack on Revdanda. The Marathas besieged the fort but had to withdraw when the Portuguese attacked Fonda. In 1806, the British took over the charge of Revdanda. Angres family conquered the fort in 1817 but the British got the fort back in 1818.
              This beautiful beach fort consists of strong fortification walls holding sea waves, Bastions, Cannon and 7 floored watch tower (Mainly known as Saatkhani i.e. 7 story tower). The circumference of the fort is around 5 km. The fortification wall surrounds the entire village. Most of the land inside the fort is the private property of villagers hence it became difficult to explore the entire fort. Near the watch tower, you can see 4-5 cannons. On the right side of the tower, you can see the grave of Portuguese queen. It has a symbol of Portuguese emperor which can be seen easily. After exploring fort area, we went to the beach.

Revdanda Beach fort
Revdanda Beach fort

Saathkhani watch tower
Saathkhani watchtower

Revdanda beach
Revdanda beach

Birds on Revdanda beach
Birds on Revdanda beach

Greater Flamingo at Revdanda
Greater Flamingo at Revdanda

            We spent more than an hour on the beach. This beach is also famous for migratory birds like Seagulls and Greater Flamingos. After beach visit, we had tasty lunch at Kadam’s house. It was 4 PM in clock and we began our return journey. For the return journey, we preferred Khopoli – Expressway road and reached Pune safely by 9.30 PM.

Seagulls at beach
Seagulls at beach

  • Bullock cart ride for 12km (6km till Chikhal Gaan and 6km return): INR 500/-
  • Breakfast: INR 25/- per person and coffee: INR 15/-
  • Tent chargers: INR 500/- for tent per night
  • Lunch at Revdanda: INR 200/- for Kingfish meal and INR 120/- for veg meal
  • Toll at Alibag MIDC: INR 20/- Oneway
  • Toll at Expressway: INR 146/- Oneway

Contact details:
  • Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary Mumbai office: 022-25402522.
  • Nilam – Forest officer at Phansad: 9221996284. (It may happen that posting of Nilam will change after few years so contact Mumbai office)
  • Mahila Bachat Gat for the meal: 9225566024.
  • Madhukar Naik, Bullock cart owner: 9273682692.
  • Kadam family at Revdanda for meal arrangement: 9209218382.

Other Travel blog on Konkan:

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy travelling.

Pritesh Kulkarni