Monday, December 11, 2006

Day 3: Shrivardhan-Harihareshwar-Bagmandla-Bhankot-Velas-Kelshi-Anjarle





Early part of the day was spent, exploring the town; still undecided on the route ahead. It was while picking up films from a stationary shop; the plan crystallised, thanks to encouraging words from the owner. More than the information, it was the manner in which he said them, that convinced me to continue along the coastal route; thereby removing any self doubt that had lingered the night before.

After having the cycle serviced, readjusting the load & a round of Kanda Poha; it was time to hit the road (by 10.30am); but with a clear & vibrant head. Delaying my departure by a few hours, had done wonders to my state of mind. (Something which I should have done on reaching Ratnagiri, but didn’t)

The 20km pedal to Harihareshwar was made pleasant, thanks to a more balanced bicycle & the huge amount of padding that was added onto the saddle; bringing about a smile on my bum. The route has its share of ups & downs, but nothing insurmountable. A good workout; passing through some thick vegetation. Reached Harihareshwar in about 2 hr, in time for lunch. Spoke to a few ppl inside the temple, picked up some literature, visited the shrines of Shiva & his colleagues & finally did the most interesting prdakshina; along the a circular route, passing through sea side cliffs (reminded me of another interesting & unusual pradakshina through a cave @ Yana). This place is apparently referred to as the Kashi of South India & there is an interesting tale from mythology. The rustic lunch was followed by another round of discussions about the route.

A very interesting journey; indeed:

Left Harihareshwar for the jetty of Bagmandla on route to Anjarle. This was, first of the 2 ferry crossings that I would get to do for the day. Bagmadla is 4km down hill from Harihareshwar, passing through pristine vegetation. A truly relaxing ride; especially after some heavy duty lunch. Reached the jetty just in time for the crossing. What u see is a new ferry that has started in the past 2 months, capable of transporting cars & buses across (from Bagmandla to Bhankot).

With this route in place, 4 wheelers can avoid the trip to Mandangad for reaching Shrivardhan.

The ferry crossing is the border between Raigarh district & Ratnagiri district

Once on the other side, it is a memorable ride along the curvy coastline to the village of Velas. As mentioned earlier, there is a wide chasm between Velas village & Velas jetty. Moving ahead of Velas village; began the steepest uphill for the day.

During the first 2 days of my cycling stint; I looked @ every uphill as a challenge (sort of Me against the Road types..!!) & had managed to pedal up all that came my way; of course @ a cost: exhaustion. Soon realisation struck; such misconceived Bravado was only going to bury me rather than take me places. On a long distance cycling trip, it is extremely important to pace u’rself & conserve energy; wherever possible. Taking on challenges are feasible, when doing a days outing with no load; but with around 10 kg of additional load on the cycle; it is definitely not a prudent strategy to follow.

The objectives were realigned; when tackling the road. Up hills that were steep & long were to be handled by pushing, with proper breaks in between.

After 45 min of intense pushing, finally managed to reach atop the hill. This route is secluded except for some dumpers & trucks that ply occasionally. The down hill stretch is though muddy & under prepared road. The route is steep & do keep an eye on the break wires & bag straps from getting entangled in the tyres.
Caution:

When in the countryside, ferry crossing are dependant on the situation of the tide. If the tide is low, then the water & the jetty stop over recedes a good 100 meters into the marshy soil. This was the shocking sight I got to witness on reaching the jetty. Water was no where in sight & the ferry was stranded @ a distance.

Finally managed to lug the cycle along the sandy & soggy shore to the place where the ferry drops anchor. This apparently was the smallest boat that I would get to travel in. Loading & unloading into a 15 ft by 4 ft sail boat; is truly a memorable experience. The locals were a cheerful lot; considering they had to endure my prehistoric Marathi dialect. Had to wade through knee deep water, carrying the cycle on my shoulder, before it could be loaded onto the boat. Without help from the locals, this would never have been possible.

The entertaining boat ride lasted fr about 20 min. On crossing over to Kelshi, it was time to find a route to the beach village if Anjarle. While having tea in the village of Velas, met a few blokes who were familiar with Goregaon & the lane where I stayed. After another round of route identification, headed for Anjarle.

Left Kelshi around 4.30 for the last leg of the day’s- pedal upto Anjarle. The beautiful country side, accompanied by the ocean & the colours of dawn made this 1 hr journey a heady experience; wouldn’t have minded if the route were to stretch for another 2-3 hrs.

Drove into Anjarle, by about 6.30 pm , only to realise there is a power cut.

Note: All villages endure a 2 hr load shedding between 6m & 8pm.

Finding accommodation was not an issue. Met an interesting bloke ( ex BARC) ; who guided me to the right location. Spent the night with a wonderful & animated family. In the night, was treated to a drama (Hansla Phassli by Dilip Prabhavalkar; 3 hr play)practice by the locals lead by a doctor. All this was happening in the adjacent room. Since this was a small hamlet, all the locals would troop in to see how the practice was happening. The bicycle always grabbed the attention & soon followed a conversation about cycling. Met up with an LIC agent who routinely cycles 35km everyday & also managed the honour of cycling non-stop for 12 hours. (haha & someone thought, it was only the city junkies like us who were weirdoes….!! )

After an appetising dinner, it was time to draw curtains on a memorable day – ride – people & stay.

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