Kokan emerald abode

Two years is too long to miss out visiting Kokan, one of our favourite destinations for recharging ourselves. So, before the year 2016 could end, we were heading westwards on a chilly dawn when it was still very dark outside. Our first destination was Dajipur, the place known for Bison sanctuary.

They were yet to change the menu to lunch when we reached Kolhapur!
We went via Kagal on the road which goes to Radhanagari winding through sugarcane fields and some lovely landscapes.

It was late afternoon when we finally reached the small village named Dajipur, where the forest rest house is situated a little away from the main road and overlooking the back waters of Radhanagari dam. A simple building on top of a hillock with two self contained rooms and a veranda is all what the rest house has. There was no food facility in the campus, so we went out searching for the restaurant recommended by the caretaker of the rest house. It turned out to be a roadside dhaba located at the pinnacle of phonda ghat, mainly vpisited by truck drivers as a refreshment point after climbing the steep and winding road coming from Kokan. The place was as basic as it could be, but the owners were friendly and the food was very tasty and had a home made touch to it. We had the rest of the day for relaxing, so we decided to spend the time at the water body in front of the rest house.

Dajipur is located at the pinnacle of phonda ghat in the Sahyadri mountain range. On the west side is the phonda ghat road winding down into Kokan region and on the east are the gradually sloping hills of evergreen forests in Radhanagari, eventually merging into the cultivated planes of sugarcane in Kolhapur region. A narrow mountain pass merely 50 meters long separates these two different landscapes.

Radhanagari Backwaters

It was wonderfully calm near the water and we spent the evening listening to occasional bird calls and sounds coming from distant villages. The calm water body reflecting the blue sky and the tilted golden sun made the evening memorable. By now we had made up our mind to shorten our stay in Dajipur and reach Kokan a day early, as the rest house was not very impressive. We had to spend some time at the Kokan side of the mountain pass to make hotel booking on phone, as it was the only spot with network coverage!

Veranda view

Dajipur sanctuary can be visited in your own vehicle (Only if SUV, as the road is kachha) or in a rented vehicle like a sumo or trax (not open jeep) from sunrise till sunset. As, we did not have the former and did not prefer the later, we decided to explore the surrounding area without actually entering the sanctuary. Morning found us refreshed, as the golden rays of sun trickled through the leaves. It was very windy and the steaming tea offered by the care taker, made that morning really wonderful. Our neighbours were a group from Kolhapur and they had an SUV to visit the sanctuary. Wishing them good luck, we started on our own exploration.

We explored the surrounding area for the rest of the morning and here are few glimpses...

As we drove on the road, it lead us to the twin temples which we had noticed from the edge of the water body the previous evening. The temples were located some distance apart, both being brightly coloured and very well maintained

We parked near the gate located on a turning and entered the large campus. At the entrance itself was a small cluster of huge trees which looked like a scared grove.

Scared grove
Some unique findings in the grove

The whole setting was simply awesome...!

After all, one rarely gets to experience a temple campus which is abutting forest clad hills on one side and overlooking large grassland terraces terminating into a massive water body on the other, with crisp cold air, finest sunlight and not even the slightest of man made sounds...!!!

Some unique objects of worship
Every frame was photogenic!

Spending some good time in the temple area, we decided to explore further in the direction of a small check dam where Indian Gaur (Bison) can be spotted drinking water, if you are lucky enough!

The place where Bisons drink !

We travelled on a little rough road and soon came at the spot where the backwaters of the check dam touched the edge of the forested hills. Though it was late morning, I could almost visualise the scene in the evening light.... a herd of bisons coming out from the forest, gathering at the edge of the water quenching their thirst before vanishing back into the shelter ...

With that imaginary frame in mind, we turned back to out next destination...Kokan! After having freshly made Batata Wadas and a rounds of kadak chai for breakfast, we started our descend through the winding phonda ghat into the pristine land. The journey was very pleasant but uneventful and we reached Kudal for an early lunch. The fried fish menu had begun!

Bhogwe beach

We stayed in an eco resort atop a hill overlooking the Tarkarli and Devbag regions of Malwan. It is a wonderful location offering you an uncut view,from the newly constructed airport to the north east to the Davbag sangam of Karli river to the west. After a short nap in the hanging chair in the veranda, we visited Bhogwe beach, one of the pristine beaches of south Kokan...or so we thought...!

Bhogwe beach is divided into two parts by a rocky patch of land projecting into the sea for a few meters. The entry to the beach also is in the same location. When we reached on the north part, it was low tide and the water line was way too inside and the sandy beach appeared much broader that we had seen a couple of years back. We were thoroughly disappointed to say the least...the entire stretch of the sand was strewn with garbage...chappals, bottles, plastic containers and anything and everything in plastic...

We played in the sand for some time observing a pair of White bellied sea eagles busy collecting nesting material and building their huge nest visible from the beach, twig by twig...! Then sitting on the rocks, we watched the sun set. While having a cup of tea at the small shop near the entrance, I opened up a conversation with the shop keeper about the changed scenario of the beach. I learnt half part of it while sipping tea and the other half I learnt from our resort owner while having dinner that night. What the tea shop owner and a local elderly person told me is as follows...the shape and proportions of the seashore or beach is constantly changing. What one sees at one point of time will not be the same again in a few years time. Sometimes the change is slow and unnoticeable and at others it is very drastic and sudden. So the receding water line exposing a wider area of sand was a natural phenomenon but the spread garbage was something yet unclear...

The rock patch which divides the beach into two parts
Sunset at Bhogwe beach

Back in our resort we learnt about the other half...the resort owner expressed his deep concern about the state of the beach. According to his version, the source of all the garbage was Kudal municiplal authorities who are dumping it into the Karli river which joins the sea just north of the Bhogwe beach with a southward inclined flow. All the lightweight garbage is returned to land by the waves and because of the southward flow of water at the estuary it gets spread onto the beaches. Even if the entire local population and the tourists visiting south of the Karli estuary generate garbage to their fullest capacity, it can not even be fraction of what gets spread on the beaches! We did not have even slightest of doubt about what he was saying after seeing the gruesome condition of the beach that evening....

After yet another 'fishy' meal, watching the star studded sky, we fell asleep...yes, without fan and with blankets...!!!

Night sky

Early next morning we visited the Nivti fort which we had missed out during our previous trip. It is a very small fort on top of a hill bordering the sea. One can see the mega fort Sindhudurg from top of this hill. As we walked up the gradual slope, we overtook a herdsman guiding his cattle to the grassy hill slopes. His dog for some reason took interest in us and started following us leaving the herdsman, though he kept calling the dog for a while. As we moved on top of the hill, we noticed that there were hardly any remains of the fort and much of the ground which would have been otherwise deep ravines was filled up by earth and levelled ! As we reached the edge of the hill and a vast panoramic view opened itself in front...

Traces of Nivti fort
The view from the edge of the hill

We stood at the edge for some time breathing the fresh air and trying to feel the vastness that lay in front of us. Small boats were entering the sea from either side of the rocky patch which formed the projection of land into the waters. All the boats were moving very slowly but it looked like they were moving almost towards a same location in the waters. As we kept watching the water, a dark object suddenly surfaced....Dolphins! All the boats at once rushed towards the spot. The creatures surfaced for a couple of more times and then vanished below the water before the boats could get any closer. As I scanned the rocks through binoculars, I noticed a bird on top of the tallest of the rocks....a Peregrine falcon! The morning was throwing some great scenes for us... We descended down the slope a little further to get a better look at the rocks and voila...a tiny beach with clean sand and azure waters revealed itself ! It took us no time to decide whether or not to go down to this beautiful place...as we went down, the dog actually lead us along the narrow footpath which was very slippery at places

Our private beach for next couple of hours...

Slowly and steadily with the over excited dog running too and fro, we managed to climb down the last rocky patch just before touching the sand. And after that the next couple of hours were simply blissful...

The peregrine was still there on the tallest rock when we reached the sandy beach
The tall rock reminded me of the lion king movie...in this case the King was the peregrine falcon!
We returned to the resort feeling magical and soon it was time to shift our location...

Our next location was THE FIND by shilpa and we were really excited about the experience. After a good breakfast and a hearty chat with the resort's owner, we headed out to the famous farm stay...Maachli to spend the last day of 2016 surrounded by nature...

Parking our car in the owner's home, and lead by the owner himself, we entered on foot the magically transformed surroundings....We were suddenly engulfed in lush green and stayed like that for as long as we did not cross back the wooden bridge on the rivulet to reach the main road!

A finely made cottage named "Chitra" literally embedded in the green surroundings awaited us. We photographed it, the moment we stepped inside before we could mess it up with our luggage!

Our Cottage : Chitra

The cottage was one of the finest ones we had seen so far. Every detail worked out so well. I will not even attempt to describe the setting of the cottage, because I know that it will be very far from the real experience...the same applies to the photographs, but will share them anyway....only mentioning that these are all taken from not more than 20 feet away from the cottage door!

The bridge one has to cross to enter the farm stay

That is how one gets engulfed in green

The rivulet : Kingfishers' abode

Stork billed kingfisher
White throated kingfisher
Blue eared kingfisher

Other denizens of this place living peacefully with people

A snake...
White breasted water hen
Little egret
Orange headed thrush

This last one is taken sitting in the veranda itself -)

We indulged ourselves in finely cooked Malwani lunch washed down by endless glasses of Solkadhi and then sitting on the rock in the middle of the water for fish pedicure...a unique experience! The later part of the afternoon was spent walking up the hill behind the cottage only to be surrounded by many more birds while lying in the hammocks...

We took a long walk in the evening in order to feel hungry again for dinner. We were very happy souls when we called it a day. The night was extremely chilly and we were awakened by first the rain lilke sound of the falling dew and then by multiple bird songs until the sun rays could actually penetrate through the foliage. After a hearty breakfast, we went out to explore the nearby areas.

We came across a beautiful lake almost completely carpeted by lotus leaves with a beautiful temple behind named Kaleshwar Devasthan. The lake was full of birds, so we spent some time there before visiting the temple.

The beautiful lake in front of the Kaleshwar temple

Lesser whistling ducks
Little cormorant
Pond heron
A water snake!

Bronze winged jacana with chic

Bronze winged jacana male

Kaleshwar temple

We were back in the emerald abode for lunch and to spend some time simply soaking in the freshness, watching the inhabitants around us

Stork billed kingfisher in habitat
Orange headed thrush in habitat

This was the last evening of 2016 and also our trip. We visited the mangroves of Karli river at a place named Korjai. It was amazing to witness a very unique landscape walking along the huge river in the mild golden light.

Mangroves
Last sunset of the year 2016

We ended the year on a happy note and were fortunate to be able to welcome the new year with the sounds of dew drops and bird songs, basking in the first rays of sun breathing fresh air... and so, on the first day of the year 2017, we started our journey back home fully rejuvenated...

First rays of 2017
Created By
Ar. Alok Marathe
Appreciate

Credits:

Ar. Alok Marathe

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.