Our journey across the Konkan region continued, we were back on the road towards our next destination, Dandeli but before we reached there, there were some beautiful locales to see and some not so amusing experiences.
A “Pav”erful breakfast !
As we left Malvan, we knew we were in for a drive through the Nature’s favourite colour – Green. The highway was bordered on either side with trees typical of the coastal regions, you see these trees, you know you are near the coast.
We left Malvan without breakfast and so food pangs set in soon. The nearest town where we could hope to get some decent breakfast was Kudal, 29 kms away.
Kudal gave a delicious surprise. To begin with, the place was very picturesque, it had the small hill station town feel, fresh morning breeze and lovely sights. We stopped for breakfast at Rani Hotel on the main road. It looked like the most happening market area in Kudal with shops, hotels and people busy on a Friday morning. While we waited for breakfast, we took a quick walk around the place hoping to mend a torn shoe, we found a cobbler who did a great job with the shoe (the stitches are still intact). We were impressed with Kudal.
We almost ransacked the food at Rani Veg Hotel, with 10 hungry foodies, you couldn’t expect anything less ! Plates upon plates of Misal and Usal Pavs were served and disappeared in minutes, followed by Vada Pavs and Dosas. Taste for good food, we tell you, is God’s greatest gift to mankind !
The owner of Rani hotel must have had the greatest day of his business life as he pulled out a bill of Rs.1000/-, the bill was almost a foot long !! If you ever go to Kudal and ask him about a group from Hyderabad, he might even tell you stories about our eating adventures !
Caught snapping !
Breakfast accomplished, we resumed our drive to Dandeli, enroute we were interested in checking out Amboli, a popular hill station on the way.
The roads were in great condition throughout, for a brief while between Kudal and Sawantwadi, you will even hit the NH17 with its sleek 4 lane roads and awesome roadside views. We hardly knew when we left the plains of the coast and reached the hill ranges again, the dark green canopy of the thick forest area told us there was a change in the altitude.
The deep shade of green towering upto the sky was a treat to eyes.
We seemed to be cruising along until we reached the Amboli Ghat road, where we were stopped by some policemen. You know the reason, our cars had an AP registration which meant we were strangers in the area. They found all our papers in order but still, one car was asked to pay up because they had a tint on the glasses, despite the glasses having 100% visibility, we even tried telling them that even the Supreme Court didn’t mind if a car had a tint with 100% visibility. They said, a tint was a crime, whether the inside of the car was visible or not ! The other car was fined because the car belonged to the driver’s brother and he wasn’t accompanying him in the car ! Well, if the policemen had decided to fine us either way, who were we, mere mortals to stop them? So we gave in. Interestingly, there were several MH and Goa registration cars, with totally black tints, that zoomed past them and they didn’t bother to even glance, they stopped just one car when we asked them how they alone were allowed to go !
In the meantime, our photographer thought it would make for some amusing blog material if we clicked some pictures of our boys getting fined. What the photographer didn’t know was that when pictures of the boys were clicked, the policemen would also be a part of the picture and the senior, burly looking cop caught us in our act.
He was by our car window in seconds demanding to know why we were clicking pictures, asking us if we were playing the fool around there and who we were thinking of complaining to by clicking the pictures, he said he could even seize our camera ! Boy, if you wanted to know how it feels to be intimidated by a policeman, you should have been there ! Did the policemen think they could get into trouble if we published their photos?
We meekly told him we were just trying to click pictures of our people, he asked go ahead and click pictures of them with the beautiful hills in the background and not when they were being punished (punished for what is still beyond us !). He demanded that we showed him what we clicked and then began to mock our photography skills, he told us our pictures were pathetic and that he could click far better pictures because he had a certification in photography ! Wow, some talented cop that ! Not wanting to let go of our most prized possession or ending up behind the bars in a strange place, we apologised and deleted the few pictures we took there. The cops decided they had enough of us and let us go after giving us a receipt acknowledging our crimes !
Amboli – A flood of green even in summer !
The incident with the cops didn’t stay in our minds for long, in fact all our thoughts were erased the moment we saw this beautiful green landscape of the Sahyadri mountains as we neared Amboli !
It was peak summer but it didn’t seem to matter to these hills, the various shades of green seemed to be posing a challenge to the red hot summer !
When we planned this trip, Amboli was the first place we thought of because we wanted to visit a hill station. The trip plan then slowly expanded later on to other places and so we decided we would atleast drive through Amboli on the way to Dandeli. And so, there we were, sitting inside this cosy looking shelter on the roadside and gazing at the hills.
They even have benches here to sit by and watch the sunset, this viewpoint is the best part of Amboli.
The best season to visit Amboli is after the monsoons when the place is full of waterfalls and clouds descending on you. We had seen pictures of waterfalls flowing down beside the ghat road. Being summer, there were no traces of waterfalls anywhere but imagine, driving through the lush greenery, white clouds and waterfalls throughout this stretch of the mountain range !
It was burning hot outside and very sultry but the lovely hill breeze was refreshing as we spent some relaxing time near the viewpoint.
The Western Ghats stretched as far as the eye could see, what magic could have created these mountains !
By the time we left Amboli, it was past lunch time, we drove through the town hoping to find a place to have lunch. There were only a few roadside stalls, nothing that interested us. The town was full of resorts though, post monsoon, this place would transform itself into a green, fairy tale world. Some other time, we thought and drove out of Amboli.
We’ll be back, Maharashtra !
Hills and forests continued to keep us company, good roads, good cars and nature at its greenest best, what more can a traveller ask for?
It was time to say bye to Maharashtra but we aren’t done yet, this is only the beginning, we haven’t even scratched the surface yet !
Karnataka, here we come !
– The 80 odd kms from Malvan to Amboli takes about 2 hours. Kudal and Sawantwadi are main towns in this area if you wish to stop by for a break.
– Amboli is best visited after the monsoons. We only stopped at Amboli in passing, so we couldn’t visit any places of interest.
– We didn’t find too many hotels in this stretch till Amboli, it would be handy if you carried something to munch till you find a good place to eat.
– Make sure your car and tyres are in good condition, the drive is through ghats and forests, with very few villages/towns enroute. Fill your car with enough fuel.
– Always carry all your car papers with you, never argue with cops, especially if you are in a different state and you don’t know anybody else. Don’t click pictures of cops !!!
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