When I first viewed the huge Bhogve beach with pristine clear sand and not a soul around, I asked the auto rickshaw driver Murugappa – “How come the beaches are so clean and desolate here? It is near Christmas now – where are the tourists? It is not that these beaches are unseen.” With a faint smile Murugappa replied – “Why should people come here sire? There are no sources of entertainment here. You do not get foreign liquor, no luxury hotels here. Many do not like Malvan cuisine. People prefer Goa to these beaches sire… you get all kind of entertainment there from pub to discos.”
Thankfully the masses do not visit here regularly. Otherwise this enormous stretch of sand with green dolphin shaped hillock on the background would not have been a treat to eyes. I hoped silently that they do not build any huge resort with all facility. I enjoyed my stay in the Konkan in a fisherman’s cottage at the Nivati beach. The owner Sridhar – a fisherman and a diploma holder in mechanical engineering too is an excellent cook. The rooms were made of porous country bricks, which kept the indoors cool. We tasted all kind of excellent sea fishes. Imagine eating fried rock fish which resides in the pores of sedimentary rocks in the beach ! There are such home stay options at all the beaches.
One can start visiting the Konkan beaches from the port town of Vengurla, where there are decent hotels. Some opt for MTDC cottages at Sagareswar beach near Vengurla. The beach is pretty well known but nowhere in scenic beauty as compared to Bhogve or Nivati. There are regular trains from Mumbai to Sawantbari Road, from where Vengurla is a one hour drive. Although Vengurla does not exactly get crowded with tourists even in December, we decided to stay at the fishing village at Nevati beach near Kudal. There are Volvos available from Pune to Kudal. From Kudal an auto Rickshaw ride takes you to the village. Most of the beach in this vicinity is of horse shoe shaped and Nevati beach is no exception. There are backwaters in almost every beach and the colourful fishing boats made a pretty scene. In the morning when the fishing boats come back with their prized catch, they are being auctioned near the beach.
The Konkan beaches are located in a line by the sea coast; but unlike Goa you cannot go straight as there are hillocks in between. For example the Nivati and Bhogve beach fall almost side by side, but the auto rickshaw ride will take a curved road to reach it. As we entered Bhogve beach and looked to the right it seems never ending. On our left there were some rocks and palm trees, and the hillock seemed to have ended there. To my delight and surprise when we reached there, we were amazed to find another huge never ending stretch of sand. Murugappa explained that is the continuation of the beach. As an exception Bhogve is a straight beach. A huge number of seagulls flew past us. As we walked on the beach and came to end of hillock, it was sundown. On My left above the hill, we could see the ruins of “Killa Nivati” or “Fort Nivati”. Sitting on the clean sand watching a fascinating sunset I said “Ah, this is perfect definition of leisure.”
Keeping Nivati as our base beach for travel (Sridhar’s culinary skill was somewhat responsible for this) we had another auto rickshaw ride to another serene beach named Khavna. This is again a horse shoe shaped beach and you have to descent quite a bit to reach the beach. Except some fishing boats and sea gulls the beach is deserted. It is not huge like Bhogve, but the red coloured rocks with palm trees in the background give you a perfect picture postcard scenario.
There are giant sized crabs busying them on the beach especially near the rocks. As the waves break on the rocks and simultaneously the water pulls back, the crabs tends to get washed out with the waves. To protect themselves they tend to clasp on anything they get in their vicinity, be it a rock or be it your leg. We almost had giant crabs entangled in our legs, but some way managed to break free. In the evening we sat on the beach watching kids of the fisherman’s village playing cricket, which reminded me of the Caribbean.
Kalvi Bandar is another fishermen’s village in the vicinity dotted with palm trees and colourful fishing boats with a backdrop of yet another green hillock. There is a twin rock half submerged in the sea near this hillock which gives an added attraction. This village is more prosperous than Nevati. There are nice rooms for home stay like Nevati, but at Kalvi they provide you with a refrigerator in your room to keep your beers chilled. Ganpat, a local resident of the village said that mostly foreigners come for home stay at their village. Promising him that in the next beach holiday our stay will be at Kalvi Bandar, we strolled around a bit on the beach and then returned back to Nivati by lunch time. It was to be our last night to enjoy Sridhar’s hospitality.