I was on a tour of the Konkan region in Maharashtra. Konkan Darshan is a road journey along the wonderful Konkan coast. One can witness the splendour of mighty sea forts, Nawab’s Palaces, unexplored beaches, fresh seafood prepared from age-old recipes, Cashew drying factories, the Vashisti and Savitri rivers meandering through the ghats, and an ancient place of pilgrimage.
The thin and narrow strip of the Konkan coast is sandwiched between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. The coastal highway, National Highway 17 connects Mumbai to Goa and Mangalore. A train trip on the Konkan railway is exciting, but not half as much fun as a road journey.
I drove into Tarkarli in the early evening, excited much about the natural beauty. After unpacking and freshening up as I stumbled into the courtyard of the Konkani Hut of the MTDC resort, a long stretch of silvery sands and blue waters filled the frame. In the backdrops of the frame loomed the massive silhouette of the famous Sindhudurg fort. The weather gods have been kind enough and though there was a smudge of clouds in the sky, it was a reasonably clear day.
An excursion to the virgin haven revealed its incredibly romantic facets too. The desire to wander into rolling waves clothed in varying shades of silvery froth, and their contours gently heaving up and down was simply irresistible, and I just went and myself soaked before the sun could start its return journey.
Sunset at Tarkarli is a fascinating sight in itself and is a beautiful experience. To watch its colours changing every moment just before the darkness set in, was simply breathtaking. The colour of the clouds hovering near the horizon at that time changed so fast that no artist can sketch it. And, I was so mesmerised, that I even forgot to click my camera and take some unforgettable pictures. When the rays of light reflected on the waves through those clouds, the whole sea presented such a picturesque view that it could not have been described truthfully even by a poet.
Since there was no TV in the huts, I thought of crashing early into bed, but during dinner at the Restaurant was advised to enjoy the night sky at the sea, and as I looked up in the sky, it, really was an amazing sight – enough to turn me into an astronomer – with bright stars, the glow and shimmer of different constellations, of the faint light of other stars. There were also the very slow shooting stars, all of it a mad miasma of dotted lights and unimaginable distances.
Tarkarli, situated on the confluence of river Karli and Arabian sea, six kilometres from Malvan in Sindhudurg district is a perfect hideaway for a ‘me and myself’ kind of holiday. Virtually, a virgin beach with silver soft sands and pristine clear waters, Tarkarli is a heaven for sun worshippers and has acquired international fame.
Scattered China stone hamlets with sloping roofs confined within small individual ‘wadis’ of tropical fruit trees including the renowned Alphonso mango, jackfruit, kokum, cashew nut, coconut, areca nut and palm groves also contribute in making Tarkarli a paradise for nature lovers.
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) had tented accommodation previously, but recently, MTDC has developed this ‘virgin’ beach into a full-fledged resort. The resort has very comfortable and luxurious duplex cottages that occupy the northern end of the beach and south of the cottages is a line of casuarinas that act as a natural fence, making this beach virtually inaccessible and therefore secluded. The resort also has a restaurant that offers local seafood delicacies cooked in the authentic Malvani style.
Talking of rain, they did not miss the appointment. It is a ritual – where ever I go, they follow me. One evening at around 4, clouds suddenly came from nowhere and covered the entire sky, and the rains came and fell through the night. The revolving beam of light from the lighthouse at Vengurla, like a firefly, broke the evening darkness. But thanks god, the next morning the skies were decked in an all-blue school uniform while the tall casuarinas coughed with the overnight cold and exhaled their wetness. The clouds were gone and I rested on the hammock that was tied up to the casuarina trees, ideally placed for such an activity.
Well, rest and relaxation were not all I was looking for, so I took the opportunity to explore the surrounding areas including the coastal forts of Vijaydurg and Devgarh and the island fortress of Sindhudurg. Sindhudurg Fort, off Malvan, is undoubtedly the most formidable of Shivaji’s sea coast constructions.
Very close to Tarkarli, the old settlement of Malvan is virtually hidden by palm trees. It is believed that Malvan was once an inner island but today it is part of the mainland. Malvan was once a trading post, but today it is known for its saltpans, Chinese clay pottery and most especially for its spicy and pungent Malvani cuisine, which is quite distinct from Konkan cuisine. Little known to most visitors is that the waters off Malvan are also a marine wildlife sanctuary, the only marine sanctuary in the state of Maharashtra. Malvan also boasts of a long, lovely beach from which one can see the great sea-fort of Sindhudurgh.
The most interesting activity at Malvan is the auction of the day’s catch when all the trawlers come home in the evening. Resembling the trading floor of any stock exchange, with various types of fish being sold to the highest bidder, is an exercise in organised chaos that an outsider will be at an utter loss to understand. It is all over within an hour or so with the catch having exchanged hands, loaded onto trucks, and dispatched to the markets in the larger cities inland.
Wait guys, I am gonna explore the area more for you – just wait for my next post to come in with a feature on SindhuDurg Fort. Till then – have a wonderful sunny outing…