Since 3rd standard I may have sucked at ‘initiative’, but travel is not part of that set. Friends too have started expecting me to explore Google Maps and come up with a plan. I could not have let them down. A zillion tabs with Maharashtra all over them, multiple options, feasibility studies, lots of phone calls, and I had a plan for three days. Then began the process of people backing out. People who? Closest friends. So the custom of me getting pissed also happened. But nothing comes between me and travelling. My planning had reached the point where I would have set out alone too. But it did not get that bad. The now-travel buddies, Swetha and Priyam were there. With them, Ruhi and Debanjana were the other two single girls. Kausik Dadu Misra was always keen on joining us. With him was his pretty girlfriend, Shagun. The problem was that he was the only guy with all of us girls. So he found Ranjan walking into his classroom and asked him to come along. With Ranjan came his hot girlfriend Vinaya. Ridhima and Bhavya contemplated till five hours before leaving Pune, but finally did join us.
We were 11 of us. Initially a Tavera/Innova was planned. Now two cars would have raised costs way too much. Right then Ridhima came up with the brilliant idea of hiring a Tempo Traveller. That led to a round of calls and more calls all over Pune and finally reaching a decent Rs 12/- per km. After an insane amount of browsing, the Internet also helped me find an affordable lodge for our first night. We could have set out without any bookings for stay had it not been the year-end. But it would have been risky, especially with 11 people. Therefore, god bless a degree of organised information on the Web!
The plan? A couple of beaches, a dam, a ferry ride, a fort, music, dance, alcohol, and a birthday celebration in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.
On 30th morning, we left campus at 5:45 a.m. First we went to Koregaon Park to pick Ridhima and Bhavya. Then drove back out to NH4 towards Karad. As always, driving out of Pune was fun. The roads are great, and the scenery beautiful. Around 9:30 a.m., before getting off the highway, we stopped for some idli sambhar and chai at a dhaba. From Karad we turned right on SH 78 towards Chiplun. About 50 kms from there was our first stop – the Koyna Dam. When we reached there, instead of going to a certain garden to view the dam, we went for a boat ride instead. The brief given to us there was that the dam was the second largest after Bhakra Nangal. Before that, my idiotic fear of losing balance while climbing on to the boat led to complete concentration on the feet and me ramming my head real hard in the iron rod on top. Broken sunglasses that were resting on my head and a massive bump, and I was ready to sail!
We decided to have lunch at Koyna itself, instead of stopping again at Chiplun before getting to Guhagar, our destination for the day. We paid an entry fee for the complex, but the food was worth it. Authentic local taste, and very filling. I, of course, stuck to a light dosa. Had no intentions of making my travel painful even one bit. Morning also saw me having my idlis with sugar instead of sambhar.
From Koyna, we drove straight to Guhagar. That stretch got tiring for everyone – driving in the ghats right after a meal is never fun. And anyway we had been on the road for over 6 hours. We reached Guhagar around 4:15 p.m. The distance was not as much, but being on a bus killed our speed quite a bit. So much so that trance playing in the bus was sounding funny as our speed did not match that of the music.
The rooms at Manas Lodge were decent. And at that point, we only needed them to change. Within 30 minutes, nine out of 11 of us were on the beach. Two people went missing. They insist they were on the other end of the beach. The rest of us have a slightly different take on what that couple was up to. 😛
Sand, water, madness, a beautiful sunset, and a terrible cramp later, I was out of the water. Following that was some delicious bhel puri and yumm tea on the beach itself. A long bath, a long call to the U.S., a long wait at a popular restaurant for dinner, and I sat for one of the crappiest meals of my life at Hotel Annapurna. So much for being nice to people who want to eat fish and prawns, and all of that! I ate rice with pickle. 😐
At the restaurant also happened something that kinda ticked me off. Some people wanted to skip the Jaigad Fort next morning and hit the beach straight. And they managed ‘majority vote’. But you know me. Even though I did mention at that point itself that I don’t like the idea, the next morning I was willing to do my own little detour if everybody wanted to go straight. The S.T. bus stand was right opposite our hotel, and I went there to check what was the best way to get there. But that morning my luck was not with me. First my 18-55 lens kinda conked off, and then I got to know that I would have had to change three buses to get to the fort. So I was forced to give up the idea, and sat on our bus with a straight face.
We were going to Ganpatipule, where one of Ridhima’s distant uncles had a resort. The resort was actually in Malgund, the beach adjacent to Ganpatipule. It was such a beautiful place with such pretty cottages that I felt I could live there forever. The good thing that happened that time though was that six other people were keen on the fort again. So we dropped our friends at the beach, and drove out to the Jaigad Fort.
En route, Balaji chips came to our rescue. We had not had breakfast or lunch, and were all starving in the crazy heat!! It was just a half hour drive from the beach. The fort was more of a fun point of the trip than a visual treat, but absolutely no regrets for being stubborn about going there. Those two hours were the funniest of the day – what with all of us laughing our guts out!
The fort is located at the end point of a peninsula in Ratnagiri, and the view from all sides was terrific! It may have belonged to Shivaji, but for Ruhi and me it was Vikram Jaisingh Rathore’s. He’s an imaginary, hot man from history.
We also saw the Jindals’ new power plant coming up there, and the unfortunate crap that was being offloaded into the sea as well.
Good lunch at the resort and a quiet nap later, I was in water again. I spent the first half hour alone. Played with little birdies, made friends with water, sang mad songs, and felt like the most beautiful thing on earth when the sun’s rays were sparkling on the water and on me alike. How I wished there was somebody who appreciated the moment with his camera at that point!
Joined the rest of the guys later to see yet another mesmerising sunset. It was a full moon night, so the moment the sun set in, a beautiful moon rose from the other side. Priyam, Swetha and I realised that the three of us saw the last sunrise and the last sunset of the year together. There, all of us decided that we’ll get together for 2010’s last sunset as well. Let’s see how many of us manage to keep the pact.
1st of Jan was Ranjan’s birthday. So the night was a double party. We somehow managed to get something that came close to a cake, but none of us even tasted it. We did the best that could have been done with that thing – smashed it on his face!
The night was long and lots of fun. Everyone got high, and talked trash endlessly. Complete entertainment – by everyone, for everyone. We had our own bonfire and a table full of food. We had our own music too, but our neighbours’ speakers were too huge and loud. So we danced to their music instead. They were ‘neech kameenas‘, and most of us were drunk girls, so the boys with us were a little worried most of the time. But thankfully, it turned out to be an uneventful, rather dramatic, fun night!
We decided to sleep around 3:00 a.m. Slept peacefully and woke up to the sound and view of the sea – could not have been any better.
We left Malgund around noon. Our driver acted idiotic right when we thought that the trip was perfect. He took NH 17 instead of NH 4. 11 hours of winding roads in the ghats left us all cranky and irritable. Ridhima puked 11×17 times. Or maybe more. So she went straight to the hospital. The rest of us ate at McDonald’s and reached campus around 11:30 p.m.
Highlights of the trip:
# 95% of the roads were so so smooth that we were all happily surprised.
# At every single fork in the road in the remotest areas, we found somebody to give us directions.
# Potty was the most talked-about thing thanks to Priyam and Kausik.
# I broke my sunglasses, and my 18-55 seems to have forgotten how to focus in the auto-focus mode. 😐
# Songs of the trip – Tera hone laga hoon and bahon mein dale bahein bahein from Ajab Prem ki Gazab Kahani. All of us hated the songs beyond belief, but played and sang them so many times that it actually became funny by the end!
# The area is famous for its alphonso magoes. But since this was not the right season, we managed mango pulp which I believe was truly the second best thing after real mangoes!
# The state highways had caution messages written in Marathi at regular intervals. The best of the lot: ‘jaagte raho, kal ho na ho‘, and ‘zompla to sompla‘. The second one meaning that you’ll die if you sleep off.
*The title of the post got derived from here. Actually, this is what the trip has been christened thanks to the copy guy, Ranjan. We were at the Rai-Bhatgaon Bridge over the Jaigad Creek when he suddenly came up with ‘jump-la toh sumpla’. 11 people anyway means mad, endless laughter. So three days later, we’re still laughing about it. Therefore, aptly naming all emails/photo albums/ blog posts about this trip Jumpla toh Sumpla.
Priyam aka Pottin thanks to all her potty talks with detailed descriptions.
Ruhi aka Bhootana because she found all things at the Fort bhootana (ghostly). Even the men giving us directions on the roads.
Vinaya aka Setbaaj because that is what a casanova is called in the Jamshedpur lingo (Ranjana and Kausik hail from there). She got drunk and flirted with most other girls on the trip.
Kausik aka Johnny Walker. He kept going on ‘walks’ with his new girlfriend.
Ranjan aka Sampla. You know the story.
Bhavya aka Dil Saaf – he got high and all he talked about then was having a saaf dil.
Shagun aka Bhaala – We were laughing and rolling over some joke that Ranjan cracked about weapons at the fort. In the end, she innocently asked, ‘what is a bhaala?’. Ufff!!!!
Aarbee aka Bumpy – You know the boat story. There were other instances of me hitting my head here and there. Therefore.
Ridhima aka Pukey – Poor thing has a weak liver. She puked way too much on the way back.
Debanjana aka Chhoto Manoos – just what happens to the smallest person in a group!
Swetha aka Ma Ch*** – She learnt the cuss words from Bhavya. He taught her how to use them at the end of every sentence.
She was also the Cabaret Queen for ALL the mad solo dances she did around the bonfire after getting drunk.
Pune-Karad on NH 4.
Karad – Koyna – Chiplun – Guhagar on SH 78.
Ganpatipule – Chiplun – Pune … better would be NH 4. NH 17 is not recommended for people who have motion sickness. Also, it is not recommended for a night drive – ghats and jungles without lights.
Stay at Guhagar: Manas Lodge for Rs 520 a night, and Rs 50 for an extra bed. There are fancy luxury resorts too.
The snacks available at the beach should not be missed.
Non-veg food available only at Hotel Annapoorna and one other hotel. Good fish and prawns, not so good chicken stuff apparently. But please think about your veggie friends too.
Stay at Ganpatipule: There are LOTS of hotels – luxury and affordable. We paid Rs 1500 for our sea-facing cottages, and Rs 1000 for the ones that were about 100 metres away (Dariya Sarang Hotel). But these are peak season rates. I am sure it would be cheaper at other times.
The tempo traveller cost us Rs 12/- per km for a minimum of 300 kms a day. Do your research with a few travel companies. You can easily get Rs 11 or even 10 during off season.
Why I am the queen? When planning, I estimated the per head cost to be somewhere around Rs 2450. And I was bang on! 😀 😀