We started our drive at 7 in the morning; luggage was loaded the previous day itself. Three minutes into the drive, we got a call from home that one bag was left back! Despite all the checklists we somehow manage to goof up. The roads of Goa, though narrow are smoother than most Indian roads and at 7 in the morning they are ruled by the cattle.
It was a lovely drive on NH 17, all the way until Sawantwadi. Once we reached this sleepy town, we halted for breakfast at a restaurant called ‘Mango 2’. I remembered that this restaurant was once called Vithal Kamath, even as early as five months ago. On asking the waiter, he said that the management was changed three months ago. The food was good, but the restrooms were dirty as ever. Vithal Kamath’s maintain clean restrooms, a service provided by very few Indian restaurant’s.
From Sawantwadi until Nipani, is all state highway. The roads all the way until Nipani were good, a few potholes here and there do exist, but nothing that Zeita could not handle. The high point of this section is a small ghat at Sindhurg. We stopped there for about 45 minutes, ate a hot roasted corn cob. Though it was not the freshest, like anything hot that tastes awesome on a cold day, this corn too tasted top notch!
The place has a lot of monkeys, and it was fun watching and learning a few monkey tricks and teaching the monkey’s a few of our own. There is a waterfall here, with steps leading up in it and if you are the one who loves to take risks and don’t mind breaking a few bones, then a walk up the stairs is not a bad idea. The water will not only drench you, but can even throw you off your feet.
This monkey had a few tricks up his simian sleeve- eating bread and relieving himself was one among them.
A part of this state highway is in Karnataka, while the majority section lies within Maharashtra. The last time we were here, in March of this year, the Karnataka section was cobble stones and rubble; it was as bad as it could get. Now however the road is as smooth as a road should be, better than most of the highways in fact. It was a pleasure to glide along the road, with lush green enveloping you from all sides.
Aari keeping a close watch on me- lest that I wander and get lost!
After Nipani, it is NH 4, also called the Pune-Bangalore highway. The road until Kolhapur is in great shape, and on a weekday sparsely populated by traffic. We reached Kolhapur by 0130 PM, and my GPS navigator, showed the way right up to the hotel. But I could not find it, and went about randomly driving in the crowded Kolhapur market, to be led right back to the same location after about 1 hour of hectic manoeuvring. This time I was wise enough to make enquiries with the locals, who kindly directed me there.
A few reluctant goats, who felt they had the same right of way as Zeita!
NH4 - Until Kolhapur is somewhat like this- despite the monsoons.
Road signage, taken over by moss.
Some of the many waterfalls that dotted the route
Hmmm...looks like me !
The hotel reception greeted me warmly, and I managed to prove my Indian citizenship (see yesterday’s post for the full story) beyond doubt, now they wanted to prove that Aari and I were married!! Amazingly, Aari carries a copy of our marriage certificate and producing it palliated any doubts, that I had randomly picked Aari from somewhere off the road. We went to our rooms, freshened up and headed to the restaurant for lunch. The lady at the reception questioned if we were heading for breakfast. I looked at her and wondered if people of Kolhapur eat their breakfast at 3PM. I politely replied that we were heading for lunch. We had a lovely lunch, and spent the rest of the day in our room, planning our future endeavours.