Bombay to Goa via Ganapatipule on National Highway 17 ( NH17 )- the Bombay Goa old road or the National Highway 66 or Route 66
After taking my Royal Enfield Desert Storm for a pre-trip inspection, I fueled up and got her ready for the ride to Goa. Having lived in Bombay 30 years of my life and worked at JNPT area, I was well aware of the traffic condition and the roads so I decided to do a Ferry ride from Bombay to Alibag and then ride to Goa.
0600 hrs: I left home for Ferry Wharf also called Bhau Ch Dhakka in Marathi. A breeze to ride on the new flyovers in Lower Parel, I was in Ferry Wharf 20 minutes before departure of the first boat to Alibagh. There was an option to take Rewas as well.
The Royalindiabikes Royal Enfield 500 cc was hot and the loading gang asked me to cool her before they could load her on the upper deck. I poured 4 bottles of Aquafina chilled on the exhaust bend pipe to cool it. Results were a bit annoying for both the on-lookers and me as in Bombay its blasphemy to be wasting water like this, but I had no choice. Even after 4 bottles the pipe was still hot..fortunately, there was a drum of non potable water nearby which helped cool it
0700 hrs: It was loaded on upper deck and we cast off for Alibag, which was a one-hour sail. Sheer nostalgia to sail past the Bombay harbor, past the Indian Navy Battery which now used for saluting, the many berthed cargo vessels mostly registered in Panama !!
0815 hrs: We berthed along side the Alibag Jetty and I was the first one who moved out of the launch ( boat ) as they wanted to get rid of the bike for stability and safety reasons since the boat was rolling a bit. ( that’s what I think ) Taking the ferry to Alibagh saved me at least an hour or riding if not less and more important the container trucks on the Exit of Navi Mumbai and Panvel.
I wore my gear and off I was on the NH 17 or the Bombay Goa road on my Royal Enfield Desert Storm for Mahad which was 110 kms from here. Plan was to stop every 100 kms and take a 15 minute break !
A few bad patches, but by and large a super ride to Mahad…under construction road and some very new laid patches…covered the distance in a little over 2 hours…stopped for my first water break at Mahad.
Next stop…Chiplun ( 90 kms ) from Mahad. The traffic began to die out as I had crossed the industrial towns and the catchment areas of steel plants and power stations. Was able to maintain a good speed and enjoy the Western Ghats…and being parallel to the Koyna Wildlife Scantuary abundant with green cover along the villages of Malwan ; not to mention the smell of the fish curry and many restaurants that exhibited the pictures of the food. Could not resist them and stopped for lunch at Chiplun..
After Chiplun, the twists and turns of the hills got intense, an 85 kms ride to Kalambaste turned out to take much longer than expected, the good part being less traffic but amazing road conditions which made the ride enjoyable…stopped enroute to take pictures of the forest and the landscapes which reminded me of Coorg. The forest cover is very similar and so is the terrain.
Finally !! Kalambaste !! the point from where I am to turn RIGHT for Ganapatipule. To my dismay, the signboard spoke of 30 kms more !!! I was dead and decided to take a coke break and cool my nerves as the twisters had taken a toll on me and tested my riding skills.
The State Highway 106 ( SH 106 ) deserved the best award for the best road conditions. Seems they knew I was coming to the entire stretch was freshly metaled. Riding through some lesser twists and ups and downs, I began to experience the smell of the seas and the cool seabreeze that went through the opening of my Royal Enfield jacket.
Ganapatipule – the Sychelles of India as they call it. From the hill top could see the calm blue seas…and the last mile being the worst road of State Highway 4…which for some reason was neglected !!
As I came down the hills, task was to figure out a good accommodation… as it was 1630 hrs…a mild headache..and I needed a shower and tea !! when I left for Goa, had a budget of INR 20,000 for the 5 day trip…but then saw “ The Blue Ocean Spa & Resort “ and there went the budget out of the window.
http://blueoceanresort.in . I walked to the reception, collapsed and told them I am a walk-in customer, no booking and hungry…and I don’t have the time to look around for cheap hotels….so bent lower and told the lady at the reception in Marlyn Brando’s voice “ make me an offer I cannot refuse “ !! bang on I was given a USD 100 plus offer…and I said…one life..great ride…let me splurge !!
Never before have I seen a resort so close to the beach, so serene and so quiet…actually I was the only person on the beach !! did feel like a private one ? The Resort had an amazing pool again for my exclusive use…and a super luxury cottage with a very thai looking spa. For a minute I actually thought I was in Phuket !!
After gorging on the pakodas and masala tea, I took off for a walk along the beach….must say here, Konkan & Ratnagiri belt has some amazing beaches and some better than Goa, just that they have not been advertised well, lack supporting infrastructure and hence are not on the International Travelers list. Maharashtra Tourism needs to make a note of this.
After a quick shower, I enjoyed my beers on the beach…a nice whisky and crashed for the day.
Checked out, fueled up and off for Kankavali 150 + 30 kms….my aim was to reach Goa and have my first beer at YOU &ME Bar which is outside our house in Arpora.
Full ahead…again, super roads, mesmerizing terrain and thicker forests. I was riding but with a lot of caution as a week before the ride a Harley Davidson rider died on the way to the Rider Mania 2016…
Took me approx. 3 hours to reach Kankavali and after a quick coke as the sun was out in the open, I took off for Sawantwadi ( 55 kms ) and here is when the Goa feel began to sink in….
Set a target to reach Arpora by 1330 hrs..it was 1200 and I needed to cover 55 kms more…
35 kms left…and whoa the road opened up into a median divided highway that resembled an expressway…I pushed the Royal Enfield to its limits…120 kmph and signboards of Mapsua were in sight…not to mention a Happy Da Dhabha with a smiling and ever healthy Sardarji life size cutout !! India my Great as there is Punjab in every corner. The last 40 minutes took their toll…the Goa heat was on…I was soaked in sweat and was dying to get the heavy riding gear off
1340 hrs: I was stripping at YOU & ME Bar, Arpora, Goa ! Devender Rawat the owner had laid out the wet carpet for me….beer was on the house…and so was the food. Good to be home !! Sussegad !!! Viva Goa – Viva King Momo !!
One more memorable road journey on the iconic Royalindiabikes Royal Enfield in my life.