Look beyond the Sindhudurg brochure
Forget the fort. Forget the pristine coast. Tough? You'd be forgiven for planning a trip to Sindhudurg and including these two entrants in the itinerary. But this southernmost jewel along the Konkan coast, which falls between the Arabian Sea and the Sahyadri mountain range, offers much more to the wanderlust, as Ruchika Kher was to discover
Like many, my knowledge of Sindhudurg was limited. I thought that that the almost-5,084-sq-km district in Maharashtra’s southernmost tip was all about the majestic sea fort at Sindhudurg built by Maratha warrior king Shivaji. Earlier this month, I was fortunate to explore uncharted territory, to experience the ‘other Sindhudurg’.
My journey for this two-day adventure began on a bumpy 10-hour bus ride from Mumbai, which brought me to my destination, Kankavli, a town in Sindhudurg district. It is an important town due to its central location. After having checked into a hotel, we headed to Sawantwadi, which is famous for its wooden toys. Located 55 kms from Kankavli, its main tourist attractions are the Moti Lake and the Sawantwadi Palace, opposite the lake. The palace is built in Portuguese style, and Satwasheela Devi Bhosle, the queen of the last king of Sawantwadi, Khem Sawant Bhosle, is in residence. She promotes the art of making traditional Ganjifa cards.
Beyond the obvious
After we soaked in the sights of the palace, we headed to Kavalesaad, a spot that the locals had suggested as ideal to experience nature. Kavalesaad is nearly 800 feet above sea level and is a point from where you can marvel at the entire Sahyadari range. The scenic view gets more enchanting in the monsoon, when waterfalls from three sides merge into one. Also called the Echo Point, Kavalesaad made its place in my list of must-see places for its splendour.
While heading downhill from Kavalesaad, we stopped for chai in the quaint Amboli village, which abounds in a variety of unique flora and fauna. With drops of rain adding a slight nip in temperatures, the stopover made for a welcome break.
Off beat roads
Next up was Mahadevgarh, the perfect place to chill at dusk. Now called Sunset Point, this spot was used earlier by the ruling king’s men, to watch out for intruders. The point, which is at a great height, provides a unrestricted view of the hills and is an inviting place to sit with family and friends, to savour the sunset.
The only thing left now was to tuck into the celebrated local cuisine. At a small eatery where we stopped for dinner, I opted for Saguti Chicken and rice. This cuisine uses generous amounts of coconut, so it wasn’t a surprise that the chicken dish had an overpowering coconut base. I also tried Vada (a delicacy of the region, where the vada is a bread made of wheat); it’s a perfect for fish lovers. And if you’re worried about digesting this food, fret not, Sol Kadi, a digestive drink will douse all worries.
Day two was filled with several options. Today, I was ready to test the waters, literally. We headed to Tsunami Island. During the 2005 Tsunami, a small piece of land was cut off from the mainland, near the confluence of the Karli River and the Arabian Sea, and settled in the backwaters, not too far from the confluence.
This island is a great place for water sports but only in the non-monsoon months. All water sports activities are terminated in the monsoon. We were lucky to attempt the bumper ride: oodles of fun on the splashy, azure waters. The small island, which gets submerged during high tide also has sections where locals offer refreshments.
We plumbed for Kokum (an appetising coolant made using kokum and delicately flavoured with coriander) and Karvanda, (a drink prepared with the black berries found in Malvan). If these don’t excite you then a Modak (a sweet with coconut stuffing) is also on offer.
Exhausted, we headed for a quiet escape on Kondura beach, which is 55 kms from Kankavli. This beach, with high rising waves and white sand, was paradise. The rocky beach bordered by hills and rocks paints a picturesque sight. The sun hiding behind the clouds and its crimson rays falling on the assertive water made for a fitting farewell. I stayed on till I witnessed the sun sink into the waters, as I signed off a memorable getaway of my quest beyond the obvious.
How to get there
>> You can take an overnight bus to Kankavli, which takes around 10 hours to reach.
>> You can also take the train till Kankavli station, which is a six hour journey
>> You can drive out in your own conveyance
>> If you not very sure of the place, you can hire guides from The Sindhudurg Guide team that trains locals and gives thememployment as guides.
Email: sindhudurgguide @gmail.com
What to carry
>> Sunglasses, sunscreen and light comfortable cotton clothes are a must in non-monsoon months
>> Walking shoes
>> If you have plans to visit the Tsunami Island, shorts or a swimming costume would be needed.
>> During the monsoon, a raincoat or an umbrella are a must
Sindhudurg's other attractions
>> A puppet show by the tribals of the Thaker community at the Thakar Adivasi Kala Angan
>> Tarkali beach in the Malvan region
>> The Ghumayi Temple