I was pondering about my first visit to a small town of Ratnagiri – Karde, in Dapoli. The district stretched longitudinally along the coast of Arabian Sea is a land of gems. Nature has bestowed its countless riches on this coastal hill district. Hills, sea shores, creeks, rivers, hot water spring, forests, waterfalls – all natural resources are present in abundance. The soil is rich with plants and trees loaded with fruits.
The summer time, the mango time – I guess many of you think alike… So I travelled with an ultimate desire of plucking, buying, gorging and slurping on mangoes. Ratnagiri being the birthplace of the famous Alphonso mangoes in India. As heard from friends and neighbours, mango groves lines up the roadside and these are not anybody’s property. And everyone goes there makes sure to pluck some from those trees. (Read the Mango episode.)
With these preconceived notions, my wicked mind prepared to fill an empty bag especially carried for the purpose. The journey through the serpentine roads of Western Ghats awed me as always. The almost dry reservoir of Mulshi Dam again took me to a state of concern over the drought situation prevailing in Maharashtra. Thousands of farmers, under the financial burden, has committed suicide. A tragic reality – the hands that supply us with food, themselves starve to death.
Our heavy heart was cheered up by nature around. As we winded around the ghats, I could spot my target laden with the juicy delight. I kept the best part for the last. The shades of the trees provided us with the much needed cool breeze even in this sizzling afternoon. Ratnagiri is still a green haven in this otherwise dry – brown Maharashtra.
We were travelling in a large group of around 30 heads, in a mini bus. Our bus took the narrow roads after Dapoli to reach Sagar Hill Resort, our stay at Karde beach. The hotel was on higher level gradually descending to the beach separated by a narrow road. An idyllic destination for a beach holiday.
Enjoying beach games, floating and jumping on the arriving waves, evening barbeque on the hotel terrace facing the open sea, night walk on the dark shore with the roaring sounds of the waves and the twinkling stars on a dark sky… a relaxing holiday indeed. But the best part of the stay here was the early morning dolphin ride. Few like-minded from the group gathered in the morning to visit the dolphins.
A small motorised boat with a carrying capacity of ten heads took us through the approaching waves, into the sea. The shiny little black guy did not make us wait for a long. He gave a short glance and then disappeared. Then a bigger, grey one appeared. Then again another one. All flashing from the waters in different locations.
Our kind boatman followed their trial, switching off the motor, so as to prevent any disturbance. We did spot few dolphins in an hour or so. As the sun was rising high, probably they were moving deeper and we were left with no option but to return, without a proper capture in our cameras. When suddenly a big grey guy jumped straight up, took a swirl and then plunged back into its refuge. Still no luck with photography.
After a sumptuous breakfast, we had to start for a return trip. Our companion and our acting guide, who has travelled through the length and breadth of Maharashtra, suddenly came up with an idea. He wanted to make our short trip even more memorable.
He rerouted our return trip through the Harnai harbour and the Anjarlee beach (read my journey to Anjarle). In the quest of seeing new places, we would also get to taste the traditional “gharghuti jewan” (homemade food) and see more of Ratnagiri’s treasure. We had already tasted the delicious steamed Modaks (a Maharashtrian sweet, mostly prepared during the Ganpati festival) in this hotel. So we were off to explore more of Ratnagiri – in sight, in flavour, in taste.