A Trip to Raigad Beaches with Ramblers India

How it all happened?

This was going to be another long weekend spent sitting at home because I was on period. Well, the period left me in peace in the evening. Maddy, the organiser of Ramblers India sent a text saying there was a spot for the next day’s trip. Of course, I was taking him up on it! However, it was a very last moment decision and I needed to finish my work before I went. So, I thought I’ll stay up the night, finish off and sleep in the bus. So, I wound up at 4 am and decided to watch a movie for an hour and then get dressed and leave! Well, I fell asleep and was woken up by incessant phone calls as the bus was about to leave. Damn!

Of course, I’d have to give it up but I ain’t no quitter. I discussed the options of catching the bus from a different spot with Maddy but everything was out of my reach. I went to take a shower coz that’s what you do when you’re beat! That is also where you get the best of thoughts! The bus was going to first reach Kashid Beach and I could get there from Mandwa. I got out of the bathroom in a jiffy and called Maddy again. He’s excited and so am I!

Lo and Behold! The Race Begins! Lol

Mandwa

On the way to Kashid Beach

P.S – If you’re wondering where I work, eh, I’ve my own firm!

Day 1

Murud Zanzira –

It is an awesome fort with some history to it. Honestly, I was mesmerized by the sailing and the view from the fort and the fish pond in the midst of it. I really don’t remember the history. The ride to the fort and then back to main land was awesome because of the sail boats. And if you ask me, I’d keep going just for the sail in those weird old-styled boats! If you haven’t already made out, I’m not into forts!

Inside View of the Fort

Inside View of the Fort

P.S – You can definitely find the history on Google!

Divegar Beach

We had a wonderful lunch and then were taken to Divegar Beach wherein we’re all sitting around a bonfire. The dudes along with Maddy did something with the wood and magnesium to light up an awesome fire. We sit around it and have a warm, fuzzy time. New friends were made, antakshari was played and of course, discreet flirts a shade. The party, as always, was spoilt by the police officers on patrol. The idiot fella yelled at us and asked us to leave on the grounds that “We could get murdered!” Meh! Isn’t it his job to see to it that we don’t!

The Bonfire

The Bonfire

Day 2

The day started with an early morning Holi session at Divegar Beach. We let lanterns into the sky, played football, indulged into water sports, flew kites and took a dip into the sea. Of course, we didn’t forget to drink our favourite ‘chai.’

 

Later in the day, we visited a very large number of beaches, played a lot of football and got a real taste of the local households. However, I don’t remember all the details, I’ll share the memories that have stayed!

Football at Sri-Vardhan and Aaravi Beaches! 

Yep, that was literally all I chose to do at these two beaches! Kick some ball! I’d a good time! However, there’s other stuff you can do here such as building a sand castle, playing cricket etc.

Football at the beach!

Football at the beach!

The Cliffs of Harihareshwar

The first stop was Harihareshwar. We descended through a staircase at the back-end of the temple. At the bottom, there was a pathway towards the right where one had to cross and go to get to the main beach. By this time, I’d met someone as crazy as myself and we didn’t take the right, we took the left! The cliffs were awesome! Shit couldn’t get any better! We’d both love to go up to the end of the cliff-line but the group was now looking for us. So, we got back and took a right with them. All of us got a glimpse of some dolphins.

The waves hitting the lonely cliffs

The cliffs on the other side!

Trek at Bankot Fort – A visit to the English Queen’s Tomb

Well, I’m glad I met the other crazy or I’d never know about this queen’s tomb! So, we climbed the fort on a normal trek but there wasn’t much to see. Just a few cannons, doors and windows. The friend led the way to the tomb after we’d climbed the top. We went down a certain door/window and climbed a little more down the hill to find a gated tomb. We went in and wow!, it was spectacular with the light shining upon it. Apparently, here lies an English Queen whose husband  died whilst sailing in the mighty seas (The whole story isn’t all that clear). The tomb dates back to the 1800s.

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Velas Beach

After the trek, we boarded the bus to Velas. While we were here to see the turtle hatchings, that unfortunately didn’t happen. However, I was glad to have sat and watched the sunset in the wet, black sand. Of course, I wet my feet on the shore! It isn’t everyday that you come across such an empty, serene and quiet beach. 

In Velas at serenity

On the shore of Velas Beach

Also, the dormitory where we stayed was extremely pretty, served really good food and was comfortable and nice. Transport was by private bus.

If I remember correctly, I was charged 2200 for this amazing trip!

 

8000 Rupees and 4 Days in Goa!

This was an ultimate budget trip. It was at the time that my then boyfriend had invited me over to Australia for a short term stay with him as a trial for a long term relationship. (Long distance relationship, longer story meant for another day). However, this indecisiveness and a sudden inflow of free time led me to take a solo trip to Goa! Sorta my first! It didn’t even look like it was going to happen as my bank account was new and yet to be operative and active. However, there was this really strong gut feeling that I should go! And my best friend was sweet enough to help me out with the bookings!!

Day 1 of the Journey!

So, there I was, boarding a bus on a very fine Thursday evening. Was I nervous? Yes! Was I unperturbed? Yes! But then I fucking had to go! The first morning I woke up on the bus! I woke up to the sight of hills and a dysfunctional AC. For someone who has motion sickness on long journeys, this was terrible. I went into the driver’s cabin in order to ask him to look into it. However, the cool breeze that hit me, I asked him if I could sit there. So, there I was, sitting in the driver’s cabin with three other men! It was fun, safe and they were more than welcoming and made space for me as I sat there.

This was an experience of a lifetime. The speed at which that bus moved would put Fast and the Furious to shame. I was kinda sitting near the gearbox where it wasn’t really an actual seat and there were definitely no seat belts. Every single moment, I thought the bus would now kill someone or meet with an accident. However, I soon realized the driver was an expert and probably did this daily. By now, I was relaxed and enjoying the show! I was soon dropped off at the hotel.

For this trip, I stayed at three different hotels; special thanks to the bestie! This made planning super easy! The first stop was New Image Inn near Calangute Beach. Since I reached at noon, and yes, there were free beers in the mini-fridge if I remember correctly! Of course, I drank some and then headed to Calangute beach.

P.S – I’ve zero interest in shopping.

So, all I did was take a stroll from one end of the beach to another, wet my feet and of course, click a few pictures! (ask kind strangers to click your picture!).

Upon returning, I dined on a restaurant, a really good one but I unfortunately don’t recall the name. Chicken Masala was on my plate in no time. I also tried my hands on the local King’s beer this time. On returning to my room, I dipped my tongue (or maybe more than tongue) into some Local Coconut Feni and boy, it was good! The idea was to get too drunk to freak out, feel unsafe or afraid of ghosts even, lol! It worked except I woke up at 4 am in Goa! Lol, again.

Calangute and Me

Taking in the view at Calangute

 

Day 2

This day was spent at three locations –

  1. A re-visit to Calangute and some shopping
  2. A visit to Chapora fort and Vagator Beach
  3. Curlies at Anjuna Beach

The Calangute Repeat

Now, since I was up early, I dressed and went to Calangute Beach. Shops were only starting to be set so this is when I shopped. I brought a really awesome bag, a goan dress and shoes and of course, beach shorts and lingerie! I tried having breakfast at the beach but the restaurant with the deck was extremely rude and no one would guide me properly and serve me either. I left not wanting to ruin my capital mood. On the way back to my hotel, I booked a cab to Backpacker Panda – Hotel or rather hostel number two!

My ultra conservative bestie was worried that this hostel with mixed beds was going to be unsafe or stuff but this was actually the best, safest and most helpful of all three places I stayed at

P.S – There’s a really cute dude at the reception

So, this is where I met some dude; Ankit, I think, and he suggested I see Chapora Fort. Even another friend Manali Desai; suggested it. This is the place where Aamir sat with Akshay Khanna and Saif in Dil Chahta hai.

Am I a Dil Chahta Hai fan? Yes!

Do I love Aamir, Saif and Khanna? Holy, yes, I’m the friggin 90’s! The decision was made! And I went!

Chapora Fort

At first, the normal shit was absolutely boring. You climb this mountain and there are broken fort walls here and there. Yes, you get an awesome view of Vagator Beach from atop but damn, that’s it! I mean you don’t climb a mountain top for this view…like…c’mon. I was leaving but I saw a hole in the wall and few dudes crossing over the other side of the mountain through the hole. Like I was not going to do it!

Not only did I cross the hole in the wall, I also climbed down the other side of the mountain. I do not recommend this if you’re not a seasoned trekker though!

Funny Experience I had here –

Whilst I was climbing down the lonely mountain road, a dude kinda felt the need to follow me because he wanted to “Protect me.”

As per this dude –  Chennaiites are proud of their culture and hence “Women” of Chennai should dress conservatively whilst he can wear a shorts and a banyan and roam around with a strange girl on a lonely mountain road! Wah!

Also this dude telling me three times – “I am going!” “I am going!” very aggressively at 10 minute intervals. Each time I simply waved a good bye and got a dumfounded face staring back at me. At first I was like bwahahaha but later, I just wanted him to leave so I could continue my downward trek in peace.

What I found downstairs or rather down-the-mountain took my breath away! There wasn’t really a soul in sight. The mountain ended on the beach (very literally) and the sea waves came crashing and…..Boy, it was beautiful!

Vagator Beach at the Base of Chapora Fort

Vagator Beach at the Base of Chapora Fort (This is what you find upon climbing down the hole in the wall; like damn, it is indeed crazy) 

It is hard to express this in words! It was a feeling of eternal bliss. I was ha-ha-ing internally. I felt like making a hut and living there but good sense prevailed and I trekked back up the mountain and then downward the other side. By this time I was beyond myself!

I was walking back to the main road and I had no vehicle so I simply asked the directions from the man who took care of the scooties parked there. I knew it was far but I wanted to simply roam before I found a vehicle and was well on my way back. However, this dude found the need to protect me (again!) and told everyone to ask me if I need help or if I am Okay! So, first, two women on a scooty stopped by asking if I needed anything and I said I was okay!

Then, my camaraderie with an extremely old bungalow, even older payphone (that hanging one) and a strange fruit was broken by another dude send by the idiot parking man! He asked me if I needed help and now I was rattled and asked if he could see me to the main road. However, I asked him to stop at a restaurant midway and turned out he and his fam were going there too!

Funny Experience I had -2:

So, as per this dude – “Honey Singh is the fucking best” and “Delhi peeps are fake”

Also, insists on dropping me, when I insist on taking a taxi, he’s like – “Ladkiya kitna drama karti hai” (Translation – Women are so much drama!)

Uh! Like whatever! He drops me, gets a phone call from his sister who asks him to come soon. Respond – “It’s not like I’m very happy doing this” (Major major cringe and if you’re reading this, you’re a complete fucker of a dude!)  

Also according to him, I shouldn’t be afraid of getting raped when alone in a hotel because “I am no Madhuri Dixit!”

Yeah, damn right buddy, damn right!

Anyway, back to the hostel. I’ve already met some cool people here and we’ve decided to go to Curlies for dancing.

The lazy lump that I am, I was going to go in the same clumsy dress I’d been wearing but seeing everyone changed; I caved and changed into my lingerie-like one piece. (Don’t think I should have done that)

Curlies at Anjuna Beach

The night at curlies was a lot of fun. I suspect it was like any other normal night in Goa. A lot of boring rave music, some interesting hip-hop. I ain’t no good dancer but I danced my heart out on this night!

Having a good time with this german lady I met at the hostel. I don't recall her name :(

Having a good time with this German lady I met at the hostel. I don’t recall her name 🙁

Day 3 –

Candolim Beach

Since, the hostel was near Candolim Beach, I walked over the beach for a visit with zero expectations but again, I was in for a damn surprise. The beach was empty, clean and amazing. I sat there and read a book. I then took a long walk at the shore with music on. A fish had washed ashore, some local shacks lined the beach alongside the many hotels. Cute dudes tryna get a tan. This beach was even more enthralling and blissful than the ones I’d seen so far. Only Vagator upped Candolim and that’s because I took a secret pathway. I’m sure the normal route of Vagator doesn’t come anywhere close to the serene of Candolim. Like, look at the fucking picture down there! 

Candolim Beach

Candolim Beach

However, it was unfortunately time to check out of Backpackers Panda and move to Hotel Viva Baga near Baga Beach. This one is so not recommended unless you’re hard-pressed for options. They don’t have any food on the inside and there’s a ‘no guests’ policy.

Funny Experience I had – 3

I have a bottle of beer in my hand and the tiniest of beach shorts (I could win miss long legs if I tried; I’m 5’8). I bang the bottle on the counter (not intentional) and tell him I have a room reserved for me. I then go in and realise I have no wi-fi password. I close the door behind me, leaving the keys inside and ask him for the password. Well, only on returning I realise my folly. I call him again, he opens my door and I am back in my room. No, I wasn’t drunk but surely, the hotel staff assumed I was and lol, they should! Who does that!

This is also the day I just downloaded tinder to see what it looks like. No, I wasn’t going to go on a date or anything, just sneak-peak into the app and move on. However, a dude says he wants to go to LPK and would want me to tag alone so he can save on the stag. (It is 4000 for dudes and very unfair)

I tell him I’ll let him know. I’ve a bf after all and he doesn’t know I’ve randomly decided to see how ‘tinder’ works. However, he himself gave into his curiosity so I don’t see why I shouldn’t. Back to the tinder dude.

Baga

That Standard Baga Beach Pic

That Standard Baga Beach Pic

He’s put on hold, whilst I walk over to Baga Beach. After all the cool spots I’ve been to, this is the most boring and most pathetic beach ever! Juhu Beach looked and sounded better than Baga at that point in time. I thought I’ll dine and head back but once again, I wasn’t served. I was walking back to my hotel disappointed when I run into another dude who first asks me for directions and then suddenly and randomly on a date. (yup! Yup! Beach shorts are still on!)

Well, he seems fine but unfortunately resembles a dude I’ve seen on a buzzfeed listicle about creepy tinder profiles. So, I also put this dude on hold and walk back to my hotel.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the tinder dude won the battle and the other random dude was given a pass. I only knew months later that the profile on buzzfeed listicle didn’t belong to this one.

Well, turns out we’re headed to LPK

LPK

Good music, good atmosphere, strip club like. DJs are awesome, and it was an independence day party so it was one heck of a night. Women wearing bikinis and appearing in cages from up in the air. These very talented women performed amazing hoop dances, pole dances and more and they were really, really good.

However, the place is far too crowded, door staff is extremely rude and the quality of drinks is terrible like terrible. To top it all, there’s a fine for vomiting on the floor. People seem to be getting cheap-ass drunk here.

While I had an awesome time dancing until the wee hours of the morning, mostly thanks to the tinder dude, I really wouldn’t go this one again, even if I went to Goa.

Day 4 –

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep for one whole night! The taxi man whose contact I kindly got owing to Backpackers Panda was to pick me up in an hour. I showered and dressed. Now was going to be the truly remote leg of my trip. The last day I visited –

  1. Chorao Island
  2. Diwar Island
  3. Godinho Restaurant (Awesome local cuisine)

Chorao

So, in order to get to Chorao Island, one needs to take a ferry from Ribandar. The island is also connected to Mapusa by road. This ferry though, is completely free! This is where I happened to meet professional travel guide and enthusiast, Euzebio D’silva who also luckily turned into my guide and showed me around his home island. I originally planned to cycle around the place but it was independence day and the place was more or less shut.

So, Euzebio very kindly, took me around in his jeep (he has a very cool one!). He showed me the local market, church, Miam Lake and the Mangrove Forest. We spent a lot of time by Miam Lake and it was awesome. Again, I moved into the bushes (I went to pee) and happened to find some really cool spots and the whole of a private mangrove forest which isn’t really visible from mainland.

The island also has a Chorao Bird Sanctuary. Those interested can look it. (I’m bird phobic, I didnt).

I was also taken to a local restaurant near the ferry point where I had very local food. (Don’t recall, what). I do recall having a lot of Urak (Another local drink and boy, it was good!) Urak in a shady bar in Chorao should be on your damn bucket list!

 

Miam Lake and Mangroves

Miam Lake and Mangroves

Divar

I ferry back to Ribandar and then go to the Divar ferry point and ferry to the other island. A rave party is on in a corner, the locals have scooted off and the whole place is empty. There isn’t a friggin chick in the rave party! Fortunately, they’re too high to notice me. I wait for a little over an hour at the bus stop with a low battery phone, no soul or bus in sight and my balls in my mouth.

As soon as I am about to make my way back, a local lady offers to drop me off on her scooty. I take her up and find myself at the main market which is empty. There’s a Zilla Parishad office which is also closed because it is independence day! From what I make out, most locals of the island work in hotels in the main city as guest relation officers, managers etc. or own hotels on the other side.

A really cool bakery that sells local sweets and yummy bibinca was recommended to me but it was shut because well.. Independence Day!

On the upside, the island is quaint and pretty with rows and rows of portugal houses and churches. There’s a football ground and a football club. There’s even a school. There are numerous stories floating about the name but since, there’s no backing for any of them, I’ll drop those.

Another random road at Divar Island

Another random road at Divar Island

Gudhinos

This is at Panji and I tried Sorpotel, Chorizos and got some local Bibinca packed. I liked the food but the quantity was far too much for a single person who’s drunk on lots of Kings, Urak and Feni.

I was tanned, exhausted and drunk and I had a good time.

P.S – The Tinder dude who sounded nice, this is what he said after the trip was over –

“How come your boyfriend let you go alone? He’s not concerned for you kya?”

Meh!! 😛

 

Transport from Mumbai to Goa –

By Bus in around 3000 rupees (return fare)

Stay –

I heavily recommend Backpacker Panda at 500 Rupees per night per bed. I did my laundry here, cooked my own food and actually had a bed that was cleaner than those in the hotels.

Getting Around –

Scooties are available for dirt cheap per day rates. 600 per day to 900 for 2 days.

Local Buses are also dirt cheap.

You can take a taxi but that will stretch your budget slightly.

P.S – The taxi union is real strong and so you get no Ola or Uber.

Food and Drinks –

At most places, the food and drinks are really cheap. Beer, Feni and Urak were all for less than 100 bucks! The most expensive food I had was probably at Gudhinos but I could’ve passed it if I didn’t want local cuisine!

 

Cost Break Down for me for this trip – 

Return Bus fare – 3200 (This is also a little too much because, last moment decision)

Stay – 2600 (All three hotels combined)

Backpackers Panda – 500 per night

Image Inn – 1100 per night

Viva la Baga – 1000 per night

Taxi Fare (something I could have avoided if I had a two wheeler license but my taxi guy was nice!) – 2400

I was chauffered from Candolim to Vagator (no return) and then the next day from Baga to the Ferry Point at Ribandar and then back to Mapusa Market for my bus to Mumbai. (I made initial contact with this one at Backpackers Panda)

 

The Queen’s Tomb at Bankot Fort

The awesome Konkani lunch was followed by a trek at Bankot Fort where only a part of the group went. Me and a friend (yup, same ulti khopri) not only trekked the whole length of Bankot fort but also went to see the tomb of a queen down in the ruins. It was beautiful!

The Queen's Tomb at Bankhot Fort

The Queen’s Tomb at Bankhot Fort

Harihareshwar

If you haven’t already guessed, let me tell you loud and clear, I’m not into normal shit. No, you’ll know, that I don’t just do the abnormal, I do the unthinkable. Like, who the fuck wants to use the front door entrance to the beach? We use the rear end of the temple. If that’s not enough, you guessed it right, it was me and the ulti khopri (ulti khopri is a Hindi slang, can be translated into nut case) who, wait for it! Took the left instead of the right at Harihareshwar Beach right after accessing it from the wrong end!

Stairway to Harihareshwar Beach

Stairway to Harihareshwar Beach

What did we find? Like most travellers do, solace! Yeah, other than the sea waves hitting the cliffs, we found the profanity of the universe.

What did we not find? Noise, tourists and the other dirt that the universe has to offer…..

Clear view of the Cliffs

Clear view of the Cliffs

The bonfire

Murud JanJira was an event in itself! We moved towards the dormitory where we were put up. Out here, we were served the traditional fish of the village which was scrumptious. After dinner, we lit a bonfire at the beach and had a jolly good time playing antakshri among other things. We had to leave the spot because cops (always the spoil sport) asked us to move away. All in all, it was a fun campfire.

The Bonfire

The Bonfire

Murud Janjira Fort

We were off to Murud Zanzira Fort, a fort I’d been wanting to see since a very long time. Yes, this time, I was in the bus! The fort is only accessible via sail boats and one can only get there through the mighty waters of the sea!

Hopping off the ferry near Murud Janjira Fort

Hopping off the sail boat near Murud Janjira Fort

 

The Pathway to Murud Janjira

The Pathway to Murud Janjira

It was built so, from the point of view of protection.

Murud Janjira Fort

Murud Janjira Fort

Back in the day, the fort was indeed a town in itself!

Inside View of the Fort

Inside View of the Fort

Accidentally Adventurous Commute to Mandwa Jetty!

Adventure has a soul of its own. Mine put me onto a jetty to Alibaug. So, long story short, I was supposed to travel with a group called ‘Ramblers India’ but I overslept and missed their bus! Yep, I’d missed the damn bus! ‘Shower thoughts’ were my father saviour! Meaning, I remembered the Jetty from Gateway of India to Alibaug whilst showering (by this time I’d forgone the thought of making it and was only whining!)  I only missed a very small part of the trip! I caught up with the rest of them at Kashid Beach (Lunch time already!)

Mandwa

On the way to Mandwa Jetty

 

P.S – Any time you want to travel to Alibaug, I’d recommend the ferry over any other means of transport.