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.

Odometer reading – start of the trip.

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.

National Highway No.4 (NH4), near Pune.

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!

heavy traffic on the Khambatki ghat.

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.

Traffic jam on the ghats.

Speeding towards Kolhapur.

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.

Windmills on the way, near Satara.

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.

Change of scene. NH4 in Karnataka.

Much less traffic in Karnataka!

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.

Green Valley Resort at 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.

Green Valley Resort, Amboli.

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.

Saying “Cheers” with Sol Kadi.

We were lucky to get the last room available at the Green Valley Resort, since I had not done the booking in advance.

Trekking in Amboli.

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.

Forest Garden, Amboli

Forest Garden, Amboli

At Forest Garden, Amboli

Restaurant near Sunset Point, Amboli

View from Sunset Point.

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.

Idli for breakfast

Poha for breakfast.

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.

So far to Goa!

Down the Amboli Ghat.

Just a hop, step and jump…. into the Konkan!

family of monkeys sunbathing at Amboli ghat.

End of Amboli ghat.

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.

Scenery along the way, near Sawantwadi.

We stopped for a few minutes to take some pictures of the pretty Sawantwadi lake and town.

Sawantwadi town.

Sawantwadi Lake.

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.

National Highway No.17, near Panjim.

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.

Lunch at a Colva shack.

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.

Colva Beach.

We reached our final destination, Club Mahindra Varca Beach Resort, at 3.15 pm.

Our destination.

The odometer reading was: 62358. Distance covered from Pune to Varca: 506 km.

Welcome to Club Mahindra, Varca Beach!

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.


Golf cart to take us to our room.

Our room with a kitchenette

We soon settled down into our air-conditioned room and crashed into the cosy beds for a well earned afternoon nap!

Do not disturb!

We shall continue with our wanderings in South Goa after our nap!


  • JATDEVTA says:

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  • Wonderful Travelogue .

    Now waiting for Goa Trip after your nap.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Amboli , heard first time. Thanks for updating us with this less traveled place.

    looking forward for your next post on Goa.

  • A very well written travelogues, supported by very good photographs…Komal, seems to be a very good photographer in the making…

    Highway drive is my favourite…may be someday, I will also take that route to reach Goa via Mumbai.

    I think “Pune – Mumbai”expressway is also part of NH-4- correct me, if I am wrong – if yes, that is excellent highway – I was going to Mumbai from Aurangabad via Pune and it is really very very good…

    Looking forward to your next post…


  • Thanks Jatdevta, Vishal, Mahesh and Amitava for reading and appreciating.

    Yes Mahesh, Amboli is indeed a less known hill resort in Maharashtra, and hence there is no market or mall here. People come here to enjoy the nature and greenery, specially in the monsoons. It is also good for trekking.

    Amitava, Mumbai – Pune Expressway comes and joins NH4 in Pune, but both run seperately from Panvel (near Mumbai) to Dehu Road (near Pune).

  • Surinder Sharma says:

    Hi Vijay,

    Nice post, good photos. Thanks a lot for share your journey.

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  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Very well written post. The special thing about your post is, the pictures are very sharp and beautifully captured. Keep it up.


  • Thanks Surinder, Praveen and Mukesh for reading and liking the post.

  • ashok sharma says:

    very good post with beautiful photographs.Komal seems to be having an eye for beauty, the basic requirement of a good photographer.

  • venkatt says:

    Nice post and photos Vijay.

  • Thanks Ashok and Venkatt for liking the post.

    Komal was happy to receive the compliments for the photographs, and says thanks too.

  • Good post with equally good photographs of Mother Nature.

  • Thank you Deependra, for reading and liking the post and photos.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Pleasant surprise. Just last week, I drove the other way round, towards Mumbai. We were at Tarkarli and were simply blown away by ‘Amboli’. There were a lot of waterfalls and a couple of them were pretty large and tall. We had our late b’fast break there, at Kamat’s. Ok food but great location.

    Sol Kadi is a amazing drink. Sometimes I wonder that how come with such a rich collection of fast-food/drinks, we all fell prey to burgers and sodas.

    Look fwd to next part. Make it happen soon.

  • Hi Nandan,

    Good to know that you visited Tarkarli and enjoyed the Malwani food and Sol Kadi…must have been raining cats and dogs there last week. Did you stay in houseboat or MTDC or homestay?

    Still working on the next part, hope to put it up soon.

    • Nandan Jha says:

      Surprisingly it didn’t rain so bad. We did see few drizzles here and there but in general all 6 days were quite clear day.

      We stayed at MTDC. Amazing location, decent service, infra wise (rooms, loos, bedsheets etc) they can improve a lot, service is OK, restaurant is OK (right outside there is a small place called ‘Swami Samarth’ which dishes out fabulous Malavani food, Sol Kadi out of the world). 2K a night.

  • Suyog says:

    Vijay saw your post on Goa trip from Pune I am going to take similar rout to Goa via amboli. So let me know that we need to go thru nipani and then to snakeshwar and then to tawandi ghat. Correct. How to recognize…is ther any board sign? I Donot want to miss….this post. Otherwise I my go ahead…

  • kuldeep jangra says:

    Nice pics sir……..

  • very nicely written with good photos. have you posted your rest of the experiences about south goa tour? i want to read about it and your other travels. wishing you all,all the best in your future travels of the entire journey of life. incidentally we are planning a trip to goa from nasik via pune and your travelogue has helped us to chart the best way to reach goa and it has encouraged us and displaced much of the anxiety. thanx. dr.s.r.latkar

  • Hi Vijay,

    Thoroughly enjoyed your story and the ably-supporting pics by your daughter. In fact, it reminded me of my road travel from Mumbai to Goa (NH 17) and return via (NH4) way back in 1984 soon after marriage.

    However, I didn’t dare go there again because while we were returning, India got her PM Indira Gandhi assassinated. ( Howsoever I may despise them, I don’t want any more of our leaders be assassinated just because I love travelling.) :D

    Please keep writing and keep sharing. I look forward to know what happened after the nap!

  • Thanks, Dr.Latkar and Sushant, for reading and appreciating.

    You can read about my further experiences in South Goa (after the nap!) in my post ‘Wanderings in South Goa’. The link is provided under RELATED POSTS. There is an earlier post too, titled ‘A Goan Monsoon’ where I had written about Divar Island and Old Goa.

    @Dr.Latkar: Good to know that you are driving down to Goa via Pune. You will have more freedom to move around in Goa if you have your own vehicle. However, till mid June the climate is hot and humid and after that it will cool down when the rains arrive. But Goa always welcomes you. Enjoy the trip!

    @Sushant Singhal: I’m sure there is no connection between the assassination and your Goa trip, so do visit Goa again. It has changed a lot in the last 30 years!

    • many thanx for your prompt reply and a suggestion that this goa tour will be bit hot n hummid and it will be better to go in june. we also feel same but my 8 years old grand son didn’t have any tour in this year and desperately wants to go some where,we feel mahabaleshwar will be equally hot and sea shore at least will have some breeze.any suggestions where we can have reasonably less hot holiday?dr.s.r.latkar. p.s. i will read both of your posts.i am sure they will be equally good and helpful to travelers.

  • Rahul Sinha says:


    It was a complete and a nicely written travelogue with pics :) I was planning to use this route for my Goa trip. Do you have any recent update on the roads you covered? If there are any broken road strips and all as I am going by a bike and was intending to stay at Kohalpur, but thanks to your travelogue, now would definitely stay at Amboli :)

    • Hi Rahul,

      Thanks for reading and appreciating. The route through Sankeshwar-Gadhinglaj-Ajra-Amboli is a bit longer than Tavandi-Uttur-Ajra-Amboli but the road condition of the first route is better. There were huge craters and broken strips in the Uttur-Ajra stretch when I went last, about a year back.

      Have a safe ride and enjoy your trip to Goa. Do give me your feedback on the current road conditions.

  • Imran says:

    Pune > Kolhapur > Nipani > After 8 to 10km take right from the HOTEL GOA towards >UTTUR > AJRA> AMBOLI> Enjoy the waterfall > Get down the Ghat road & move towards SAWANTWADI. Do not bypass Sawantwadi city that road is very very bad. Do not ask the (1555’50.8″N 7354’48.1″E) lady on a small shop she always say to use the bypass > BUT Please continue to Sawantwadi city > after few km this road connects to Mumbai- Goa highway.
    While returning from goa please use the same route & do not use the bypass shown by google before Sawantwadi city.

  • GP Bhatnagar says:

    Hi Vijay,

    I was exploring to travel to Goa from Pune by Car. Cam across your post. Really very well written and explained and also the places we can come across during our Drive. Photographs are equally good and adds life to the travelogue.

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