• City: Kanpur

    Day 4: Velneshwar to Harihareshwar Beach

    Lots of greenery was the order of the day…

    The fourth day of the ride began at a leisurely pace, with a walk along the Velneshwar Beach. The soothing sound of crashing waves, the feel of damp sand against the bare skin, the scenes of fishermen returning on their boats with their nights catch together provided a stellar experience.

    But and there is always a but! At one end of the beach there were a bunch of folks from Pune. Playing loud Bollywood music, yelling even louder and jumping into the sea fully clothed… Even the waves recoiled with horror at the culture shock. Seawater not being habituated to seeing people wearing every stitch of clothing they owned. Beachwear the same as what is worn to office, places of worship and other formal social gatherings!

    Pushing the boat back to the parking lot!

    A quick breakfast later I was back on the road, climbing from the beach to the highway. Sucking on a Pulse candy. I find this particular brand of toffees very helpful to climb hills. It has helped me climb Khardung La and these smaller Konkan lalas as well.

    You can write a book the on the different types of heat experienced along this route. It is always hot, just in different ways. On this particular occasion of climbing, it was the heat of the ghats as you move away from the coast. Just a couple of kilometres from the sea and the temperature soars, while the spirits dip.

    The day was filled with ferry rides and empty stomachs.

    The first ferry for the day was from Dhopave to Dabhol. There was no food on the Dhopave side and I had to cross the river on an empty stomach. On the Dabhol side, things didn’t get much better. There was just one eatery near the ferry and everyone flocked there.

    Since, I avoid crowds like the plague (now COVID), I skipped it and rode ahead. Bad decision! There was nothing to eat after Dabhol other than humble pie. And to top off the hunger, it was a constant climb through thick vegetation. I could eat leaves or grass along the way, but not much else.

    So much traffic and crowds on this route!

    Till Dapoli, the story of the hungry climber continued. Dapoli is a big town and a major transit point from somewhere to somewhere. I think!

    Dapoli had the benefit of a lot of human movement and thus peppered with eateries. I stopped at something which resembled a restaurant more than it did a dhaba. Maharashtrian economics continued to confound. Food prices at this restaurant was cheaper than what I got at dhabas along the way.

    And the Misal Pao was splendid. The best I have eaten till date. This after having lived in Bombay for 3 years and having eaten a lot of it!

    Delicious food later, it was descending all the way from Dapoli to the coast again at a decently fast clip. Till I hit the roads of Anjarle. Which was a few kilometres long stretch of cobblestones. The teeth chattered and the stomach lurched as I hobbled along the cobble.

    Boats all docked because of Holi

    Near Kelshi I caught the sunset. This is a debate I have had with many a traveller. Some like to wind up the day before dark and see the sunset from a pre-decided scenic spot. I prefer enjoying it on the road, preferably in the middle of nowhere. And if you’ve never heard of Kelshi before, it is because it is in the middle of nowhere!

    After Kelshi, I moved inland along the river, as darkness descended. The land was bathed in inky blackness, with my headlight cutting through like a scythe. Oh yes, this time I was prepared for riding at night and kept the headlight at hand.

    The moon rose and gleamed of the river by my side. Sounds emanating from the dark beyond, both spooky and enchanting in equal measure. It was magical to pedal through that lush thick vegetation.

    That’s the moon and the night sky!

    I was hard charging to Vesvi to catch the last ferry. But in the dark, it is easier to discharge than charge! And I reached the ferry point 10 minutes after it left. I watched the stern of the ferry disappear into the river, with the twinkling lights of the embankment visible far across.

    There was not a soul in sight. I thought it was going to be a night sleeping under the stars at the ticket counter. With no mobile phone network, I felt truly alone…and at peace!

    As I made myself comfortable, a guy rode up on his scooter bearing gifts. He was the ticket seller. He gave me the wonderful news that there was another ferry for the night. The LAST. But it was an hour later. To while away the time, he gave me a huge chunk of watermelon to gobble. I sat there spitting out watermelon seeds, contemplating life, the universe and everything!

    The returning ferry to take me across, with gleaming nights on the opposite shore…

    At 10 PM I caught the last ferry, crossed the river and rode in silence towards Harihareshwar Beach.

    About a kilometre before, I stopped at a guesthouse. A room was available, but no food. Dinner ended up being a packet of chocolate biscuits and chips. Thanking the watermelon, I drifted off…

    The route profile!

    See the full route on Strava

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