Table of contents for South Goa Road Trip
- Pune to South Goa Road Trip
For some of us ‘the journey is the destination’, and if we can enjoy the efforts made to travel to our favourite getaway then the holiday becomes even more worthwhile.
We decided to take a vacation to Goa in June 2012, to welcome the monsoons. We were travelling from Pune to South Goa by road, in our trusty Maruti Zen. Accompanying me were my wife, Geeta, who helped me with the navigation, and my daughter, Komal, who took most of the photos with her newly acquired digicam. She started by taking a snap of the odometer at the start of our trip.
The distance is approximately 500 kms, and can be done in one day, including a couple of stops for lunch and refreshments. However it can be quite tiring if you are the only driver, so I thought that it would be better to have an overnight halt at Amboli. Amboli is a small hill station in the Sahyadari range of Maharashtra, and it becomes a heavenly paradise in the rainy season.
I decided to take the following route from Pune: Satara – Kolhapur – Nipani – Sankeshwar – Gadhinglaj – Ajra – Amboli – Sawantwadi – Panjim – Madgaon – Colva – Varca. I wanted to avoid going through Kolhapur city itself, as you lose time in going through the city traffic.
Upto Sankeshwar (Karnataka) you are on National Highway No. 4, then you have to turn right and get onto a state highway to reach Sawantwadi. At Sawantwadi you join National Highway No. 17 to reach Panjim and Madgaon.
We left home at 7 am, and at 8 am we stopped at the BP coco petrol pump at Khed Shivapur and tanked up, at the rate of Rs.74.61 to a litre. A full tank should be enough to get us past the Goa border, where petrol prices are the lowest in India!
After an hour of driving we stopped under a shady tree and had some sandwiches for breakfast. Wifey had packed them very nicely in aluminium foil. Tea was had from the thermos, but had become luke warm.
At 10 am we had passed Satara, and at 12 noon we were speeding past Kolhapur on NH4. We had to halt at two toll plazas before Kolhapur, and lost about 15 minutes at each, due to the heavy traffic.
At 12.30 pm we crossed over into Karnataka, and paid another toll. Immediately we could sense that we were in a different state. The traffic was much less in Karnataka as compared to the heavy traffic right upto Kolhapur in Maharashtra. The scenery was better, with undulating hills in the distance. There were flowering bushes in the road divider which made the drive more pleasant, and lay-byes with public utilities at regular intervals along the highway.
After passing Nipani we had to climb up the Tavandi ghat. After a further 12 km from the top of the ghat, and just before reaching Sankeshwar we had to turn off from NH4 and find the under-pass which goes towards Gadhinglaj and back into Maharashtra. From Gadhinglaj we had to go along the state highway through the town of Ajra, till we reached Amboli.
As we approached Amboli there was a perceptible change in the climate. The air became cooler, and we were being showered by refreshing rains more frequently along the way.
We reached Amboli at 2.30 pm. We had covered a distance of 373 km from Pune to Amboli.
Amboli is a small hill station perched on the edge of the Western Ghats, and overlooking the coastal belt of the Konkan. During the monsoons you can see the fluffy clouds rising from the plains and struggling to climb up the hillside, and the scene in indeed mesmerising. There are some view points, and many paths for trekking into the forests.
We stopped for lunch at the Green Valley Resort, and first quenched our thirst with a glass of refreshing sol kadi. Sol Kadi is a tangy drink peculiar to the Konkan region, and made from kokum skins, coconut milk, garlic, chillies and coriander.
We were lucky to get the last room available at the Green Valley Resort, since I had not done the booking in advance.
In the evening we went walking to the nearby points. We first explored the Forest Garden, and then walked down to Sunset Point to watch the sun go down, after playing hide-n-seek with the clouds.
Next morning we got up early and went for a walk in the fresh morning air. It was cloudy and drizzling. There was hardly anyone up and about the town, only the local rooster doing “cock-a-doodle-doo” trying to rouse everyone to life.
We ordered an early breakfast of idli and poha, which was served by 8 am, and we were ready to leave by 9.30 am.
We went down the Amboli ghat at a very leisurely speed, enjoying the scenery, with Komal taking snaps of the scenery and the monkeys on the way.
We reached Sawantwadi by 11.30 am. Sawantwadi town is the administrative headquarters of the Sindhudurg district and very close to the Goa border. It is slowly becoming a tourist destination in its own right and one can visit some of the beach hot-spots of the Konkan, like Vengurla, Devgad, Malwan and Tarkarli, from here.
We stopped for a few minutes to take some pictures of the pretty Sawantwadi lake and town.
After Sawantwadi there was some more ghat road till we reached the border at Banda and Patradevi. After crossing into Goa and upto Mapusa there was some traffic which increased as we approached Panjim. From Panjim circle and upto Vasco junction there was heavy traffic.
I finally filled 22 litres petrol at HP pump just before reaching Madgaon. The rate per litre was Rs.59.37, almost Rs.20 cheaper than in Pune!
We decided to have lunch at a shack on Colva beach, and entered “Kentuckee” restaurant at 2.15 pm.
It was quite crowded and we had to be satisfied with one of the inside tables, since the sea-facing tables were all taken. Our first meal in Goa was all seafood! We had Tuna salad, Surmai (Kingfish) masala, and prawn curry rice and enjoyed the tasty preparations.
We reached our final destination, Club Mahindra Varca Beach Resort, at 3.15 pm.
The odometer reading was: 62358. Distance covered from Pune to Varca: 506 km.
The Club Mahindra Resort at Varca is spread out over a vast area and we had to be taken from the reception area to our room in a golf cart.
We soon settled down into our air-conditioned room and crashed into the cosy beds for a well earned afternoon nap!
We shall continue with our wanderings in South Goa after our nap!