The Rag doll

First shared on #ArtoonsInn

Atmaram Nana was alone at home. Having lost his wife, Supriya, two years back, he stayed with his son’s family at their house in the town of Kankavli, in the Kokan area of Maharashtra.

Atmaram was very proud that he had been able to buy this house from the original owners, the Nene’s when he was quite young. His son Raghuram, Raghuram’s wife, Revati and their 6-year-old son, Rahul had gone to Mumbai to attend the wedding of one of their relatives from Revati’s side.

Atmaram Nana was quite sprightly even at the age of 72. He had kept himself in good health by gardening every day, in their small little garden, his darling cat, Mani, following him everywhere.

Today, Atmaram was feeling quite lonely. On top of that, he had not been able to sleep properly. The creaking sounds from the attic had been quite loud during the night and Atmaram blamed it on the withering timber.

He decided to investigate. Anything to pass the time. As he made his way up, he put on a cloth mask on his nose, to protect himself from the dust and cobwebs.

On reaching the top, he crinkled his eyes to see better in the darkness. Then he reached for the light switch and put on the light.

Like most of the households in the town, the attic was used as a storage place for drums of rice and wheat. And where there is food, rats are bound to follow. This is where Mani made herself useful.

Crouching to avoid hitting his head against the low ceiling, Atmaram made his way across the attic, his footsteps causing swirls of dust to rise and then settle back on the attic floor. Most of the floor was occupied by various household items like a broken chair, Rahul’s childhood schoolbag, his broken toys, old utensils and the like, which ideally should have been disposed of to some scrap dealer.

Suddenly Mani screamed, “Meowww…” and something swung down from the ceiling, hit Atmaram in the face, making him lose his balance and fall. Fortunately, not much harm was done except for soiling of his clothes.

Looking up to see what had hit him in his face, he saw a rag doll, it’s head held to its body by a few threads, hanging upside down from the ceiling. Perhaps belonging to Rahul he thought; though he could not remember anyone gifting or buying a doll for Rahul. Cursing Raghuram for placing the doll on the ceiling, he espied a tin trunk in the corner where he had fallen.

Like his cat, Atmaram was overcome with curiosity. What would this trunk carry? What memories will it hold? And he had time to kill.

He saw a lock on the trunk. His memory scanned through the recesses of his mind, but couldn’t remember whether he had the key for it or not. So he took the next available option, reached for the spade lying in another corner of the attic and hammered on the lock. In a few strokes, it gave way.

All this while, Mani was doing a big din with her meowing, Atmaram couldn’t fathom why.

As he prised open the trunk, Mani fell silent. In fact, she jumped inside the trunk and started her sniffing routine. Atmaram gently picked her up and put her down outside.

Inside was his old camera! And some photo albums. For the next few minutes, he got lost in his past, for the photo albums held many memories, especially of his wife, Supriya and their child, Raghuram.

Raghuram and his family were back from Mumbai the next day, a Sunday morning. Once they had settled down Atmaram placed the camera on the table. Rahul was sitting on his lap.“Wow! Nana, that’s your favourite camera. Where was it all these days?” exclaimed Raghuram with surprise.

Like a person who has been gifted a new smartphone when he least expected it, Atmaram’s eyes were twinkling.

“You know, it still has a film in it, I think it must be half used. Oh, how I loved this camera. It is a Rolleiflex! It had been gifted to me by my uncle, Sakharam kaka. I understand he bought it in Mumbai….no, Bombay, in those olden days” the words rolled off Atmaram’s tongue in his excitement.

Raghuram was happy to see his father so happy. He had not seen him so enthusiastic and talkative for a long time.

“But why did you suddenly stop using this camera? I faintly remember you using it when I was but a child”

“I don’t know. Actually, I don’t remember it. Why did I stop using?”Atmaram tried to recall but in vain. All the while his fingers were busy in re-familiarising themselves with the various buttons and knobs of the camera.

As he pressed a knob, the lens side slid open. With shivering fingers, Atmaram prised open the side and the lens protruded out, sliding on the bed so formed. This was the zoom-in zoom-out feature of the camera.

With child-like excitement, he took the camera near his face to look into the viewfinder. He pointed the camera at Raghuram, who was busy giving a false smile. The viewfinder was a little yellowed now but he saw something hanging from the ceiling in the background, where Raghuram was standing.

All this while, Mani was making a cacophony, looking at Nana.

But when he put aside the camera to see what it was behind Raghuram…there was nothing. Again he tried to click his son’s photo but the button would not budge. And the apparition remained in the frame, though he could not pinpoint what it was. Perhaps a spec of dust?

“I think that’s why I stopped using the camera. It’s not working. And who will repair it in a small town like Kankavli?”

“No worries Nana. So what if it’s not working now. We are the proud owners of an antique camera like Rolleiflex. And let’s develop the film inside. At least we will be able to re-live some old memories”, so saying Raghuram took the camera from his father to retrieve the film.

However, he was not able to do so. “Call that photographer, Aniket. He should be able to retrieve” advised Atmaram.

“I will do one thing. I will take the camera tomorrow while going to the office and drop it off with Aniket. In evening, I will get it home with the developed film”.

The next day Raghuram came home in the evening with the camera and the developed prints.As soon a Raghuram entered, Mani became agitated. The hair on its body stood on end; she arched her back and bounded off, out of the house.

But Raghuram hardly registered it, he was eager to show the photos to his father. In his haste to come home, he had not yet seen the prints and wanted to observe his father’s reactions to the old photos, which had not yet been seen by anyone.

There were total of 10 photos. Nana was so happy to see his young wife, Supriya smiling into the camera. In some, she was alone, while in some she was carrying the child, Raghuram.Those were the days! Reminisced Nana fondly. Raghuram was watching the varied emotions fleeting across Nana’s face.

The last few photos were from this very house. It seemed to be someone’s birthday.Then Nana remembered. It was Raghuram’s 5th or 6th birthday. It was the first birthday to be celebrated in this house.

Nana remembered; he had bought the house from the Nene’s. He had been lucky. The Nene’s had sold it off to him in haste and at less than the market rate of that time, and Nana had been so happy about this unexpected windfall. Before shifting to Kankavli, Nana had been staying in the interiors of Malvan and had made enough money from his fisheries business.

After selling it off to him, the Nene’s had left Kankavli for good.The eighth, ninth and the last photo caught Nana’s attention. For standing behind a posing Raghuram, was a girl who appeared to be slightly older than the child Raghuram.Nana did not recall any such girl visiting their house. But it could be the failing memory of an old man. She must have been someone from their neighbourhood.

However, Raghuram who had been silently watching the photos and his father’s reactions to them did a double take on seeing the girl.

He plucked out the photos from his old man’s hands and stared intently.“I remember this girl Nana. She used to come to my room very often to play with me. And I remember, she had this same rag doll, with its head hanging by some threads” smiled Raghuram, as he pointed out the rag doll in the photograph.

Suddenly Nana’s throat felt parched. “Revati, bring me some water”, he felt goosebumps on his hands, as he suddenly remembered the rag doll which had swung from the ceiling in the attic and hit him on his face.

With shivering hands, he reached for the box of medicines lying nearby and took out his hypertension medication. He gulped the tablet with the water offered by Revati.

“But Raghuram. I never saw any such girl entering our house, at least not when I was at home” exclaimed a puzzled Nana.

“Yes, Aai also said the same thing to me. In fact, she used to say that I talk to myself like a madman. She felt that I was play acting. But here is that girl!”

For some moments both, father and son stared at each other, transfixed by what Raghuram had just said.

Then Nana grabbed Raghuram’s hand, “Take me to the attic. I want to show you something”.

Raghuram supported his father, as both of them went towards the attic.“Revati, please prepare for dinner. We are coming back in a few minutes”

Reaching the top, Raghuram put on the lights. Both of them entered inside.

“That day, I entered the attic and was trying to see what all is kept here since I had come up after many months. And, while walking in this very corner, see there…”, and pointed upwards towards the ceiling.

It was empty!

Raghuram looked at his father with a puzzled look.“But…but, it was here only. Where is it gone?” Nana got very agitated.“What, Nana? What did you see?” Raghuram was now losing his patience with his old man.

“Raghuram I saw the same rag doll! The same one with its head hanging by a few threads. But where is it now? I did not remove it. Has it fallen somewhere”, so saying Nana started searching on the dust-laden floor? But it was nowhere to be seen.

“Leave it, Nana. Why search for a useless doll. I am hungry. Let’s go for dinner”

“Ok, let’s go. But it’s surprising, isn’t it? Perhaps Mani….Mani carried it away?” Nana was still puzzled by the mysterious disappearance.

After putting off the attic light and locking it, both of them descended below.

As they passed a room, they heard Rahul talking to someone. “I have no one to play. Will you come often? Shall we play hide and seek?”

Eager to see whom Rahul was talking to, Raghuram entered the room, followed by his father.

“Won’t you introduce us to your new friend, Rahul. Who are you playing with?” asked Raghuram.

“Later Baba. She is hiding now”.

Smiling at Rahul, amused with his play-acting, both turned to leave; there in the corner where Rahul was staring, was the same rag doll…with its head attached to its body by a few threads!

Both father and son stood dumbstruck as they saw Mani in the window, hissing in the same direction, where the doll lay!Oh! What entity had the camera let loose?

The Nene’s; or rather the wife, now stay in far-off Kolhapur. The mother still feels extreme remorse at sacrificing her daughter in her mad quest for a son, which remained unfulfilled.

Her husband, Shripatrao Nene had a horrific accident during their journey from Kankavli to Kolhapur when the bus in which they were travelling passed very near to some trees, and one of the branches got caught in the window in front of him, causing a whiplash action decapitating his head, but held from falling off, by a few muscles. Like a rag doll!

A trip to Adivare

It was supposed to be an extended family visit but due to various genuine reasons, the other family members couldn’t make it but we decided to proceed.We had booked by Tejas Express from Thane to Ratnagiri, which is an early morning train and due to my mistake, we reached Thane station still earlier. The train reaches Thane station at 6.25 am. but I had misread it as 5.25 am. and had to face angry, sleepy stares from my wife and daughter. But since there was no other option, we waited it out for the train to arrive. Thankfully the train was on time so the wait did not extend for long.Tejas Express is one of the best trains in india and we were impressed with the spacious and clean interiors as well as the catering service. I must mention the excellent masala tea which was served. Very invigorating indeed.We reached Ratnagiri station on time. I have seen Ratnagiri station so many times but it still fascinates me, the way it has been constructed, gouged out of a small mound and retains an old world charm.After having a simple but tasty veg lunch at my company guest house and after freshening ourselves up, we moved to Ratnagiri ST Bus stop where we spent an eternity awaiting our bus for Adivare, to arrive. Every bus which came into the bus stand seemed like ‘our bus’ only to disappoint us with the town nameplate displayed at the front. Finally ‘our bus’ did arrive after almost 1.5 hours (@40 km.) and we were on the way. The short journey of approximately 1 hour was spent in catching up on our sleep.Why Adivare? Someone might ask as it is not on every tourist’s tourism goal. Well it happens to be the town which hosts the Kuldevi of the Tawde family, Maha Kali. In fact, in addition to Maha Kali Devi, it also hosts Maha Saraswati Devi and Maha Laxmi Devi. In addition to this, the Tawde extended family (all Tawde’s located anywhere in the world, irrespective of their native villages) have contributed to build a very elegant and imposing Tawde Wada (Tawde Atithi Bhavan), which is located off the Ratnagiri-Adivare road at a distance of @2 km. from Adivare towards Ratnagiri. This Tawde Wada was supposed to be our abode for the next 2 days.Though we had seen photos of Tawde Wada many times before, nothing had prepared us for the imposing red structure which greeted us, as we entered through the gates. The huge swords and shield which adorn the imposing, front facade give a fort-like feel to the already formidable construction. The central portion is occupied by a huge hall which also serves as a temple for Shree Saptakoteshwar (a form of the Lord Shiva), the Kuldaivat of the Tawde family. As the small reception desk is also in this hall, you have to remove your footwear outside and enter.We were warmly welcomed by the ever smiling caretaker, Mr. Sawant who registered us and then guided us to our room. After freshening up and resting for a while, we were outside to admire and explore the exquisite building.The lawns in front are very well maintained and so is the driveway. Though a huge structure, there are only 8 rooms which flank the huge hall in the centre, four on the lower level and four on the top. The construction itself reminds you of Rajasthani havelis, though there are no intricate carvings or designs. The building itself is made using laterite stone. It is apparent that the focus of the Architect was to give an exclusive feeling to discerning connoisseurs rather than maximising profits, which would be the main aim of any ordinary hotel.The homely atmosphere is further strengthened by very down to earth staff who are helpful and ever smiling. We had sumptuous veg meals on both days which reminded us of homemade food.On the second day, we proceeded to the Maha Kali temple in Adivare by an autorickshaw in the morning. The peaceful surroundings and no crowd allowed us to proceed with our prayers at a gentle pace. The highlight of the temple is the brightly painted, intricate carvings on wooden ceiling of the temple.In the same complex there is a Shiva temple which is said to be very ancient. A huge anthill from the floor, right upto the ceiling, occupies one corner of this temple which is said to be the abode of a cobra. A sighting of this cobra is said to be very auspicious.There is also a Ram temple in this complex where we prayed for the wellbeing of all.From Adivare, we proceeded to another temple nearby, the Sri Dev Kanakaditya temple which is dedicated to the Sun God and located in Kasheli village. It is one of the few remaining Sun temples in India. The murti is tejasvi (lustrous) and the entire temple complex is recently renovated. Beautiful and highly polished wooden carvings and pillars grant this temple a serene atmosphere.The story associated with this temple is very intersting. It is said that the main murti has been brought here from Prabhaspatan in Gujarat and here is the story -Many centuries back, a businessman from Prabhaspatan was proceeding on some business trip by a ship and he was carrying with him a murti of Sun God on the ship which was handed over to him for safe keeping by a priest of the Sun temple in Prabhaspatan. Once the ship reached the sea near the Kasheli village, it refused to budge! It did not go further so he instructed the seaman to reverse it but to no avail. One night, the Sun God appeared in his dreams and instructed him to take him to the shore. Early next morning, the businessman proceeded to take the murti onto the shore and established the idol in a small cave. Once this was done, the businessman was able to proceed further on the trip on his ship.Now it was the turn of the Kanaka, an ardent devotee of the Sun God, and a resident of Kasheli, to get a dream. The Sun God appeared in her dream and told her about his arrival on the shore and asked her to search for the cave which she dutifully did, alongwith the other villagers. With great pomp and gaiety, Sri Dev Kanakaditya was brought to his current location in the village and installed. The temple is said to have been constructed by the Shilahaar dynasty and there is an ancient tamrapat (copper plate) in the temple which establishes the ancient origins.The rest of the trip was rest and relaxation and then we were on the way back to Mumbai.Yatindra Tawde

Konkan, the Jewel of India

Konkan… When you utter this word, it conjures up images of long stretches of clean and sandy beaches, huge varieties of fish and fish delicacies, small beautiful villages, quaint cottages, narrow winding roads lined with stretches of rice fields, simple yet clever people…et al.
Best way to go to the konkan from Mumbai is to go by the Mumbai Goa highway. Of course, Konkan can be reached by going by the Pune route too, those who like to drive on wide expanses of excellent motorable roads will prefer this route but those who prefer driving through scenic surroundings, will always prefer going by the narrower Mumbai Goa national Highway .
This national highway is anything but a highway. There are no dividers between the two traffic directions, and test the skills of the most experienced drivers. Especially the night driving is a pain and calls for high levels of concentration and alertness. Of course, the authorities have now woken up to widen the roads and the road widening process is in full swing. The unfortunate result of the widening process is the cutting down of ancient trees lining the roads, but this is an inevitable sacrifice of progress and safety on the roads.
Another excellent means of reaching Konkan is by the various trains running on the Konkan Railways. Best time to travel is morning time. As soon as you cross Diva station, the fun starts as you see wide expanses of rice fields on both sides of the tracks. But don’t sit inside the compartment, especially of the air conditioned bogies…stand near the door to really enjoy the morning air and the scenic beauty which changes from green fields to winding rivers and rivulets…of course, stand well inside from the door, don’t do anything risky although I have seen many boys sitting at the door and staring into the horizon. For foodies, these trains are a blessing with good quality of assorted foods ranging from idlis, wadas, chicken lollipops, soups of all types, sheera, poha…you name it…they have it. I sense many mouths are watering by just reading this. And the stations which line this route are out of this world and have an old worldly charm about them…just see the Khed, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Sawantwadi and many other stations. After all seeing is believing.
But I will take you on Konkan Darshan through a road journey on the Mumbai Goa highway. Till you cross Panvel it’s the same old city. But once you cross the Panvel city you are on the highway and the fun starts. Within no time you are passing through the karnala bird sanctuary, and the first thing you notice are the monkeys sitting on both sides of the road, either waiting to be served by their car driving cousins or frolicking within themselves, the little ones clinging to their mothers tummies. This is the monkeys drive-in restaurant, where the cars bring the goodies. Recently the forest authorities have banned this due to accidental deaths of the monkeys, who sometimes come too near to the cars, the ban is not actually followed by the homo sapiens as well as simians.
Anyway, the Karnala bird sanctuary is the first attraction on this highway, with the eye-catching Karnala fort in the background, showing its thumbs up, to the people embarking on this highway. The road is lined with small and large eateries as well as a few resorts.
As you drive further, you will come across a few nurseries and one should visit these nurseries, if not to buy , then to just experience the assortment of trees, shrubs and showpiece flowering plants available.
As you then move ahead, you cross the creek and are on your way, tackling the traffic at Pen town, you reach the first landmark which is Wadkhal Naka. This can be your stopping point to freshen up and fill up at one of the eateries, gorging on Wada pav, misal pav and a steaming cup of tea. Here you are at a junction, with one road proceeding straight ahead to Alibag beach while the second on the left proceeding to Goa.
So all beach enthusiasts, will of course be very enticed to reach Alibag, the road to the playground of the Who’s Who of Mumbai, being lined with potholes of various sizes. Those who just want to enjoy the comforts , they are spoiled for choice with many small and five star hotels in the vicinity. But those who want to experience the village life, should branch off to Nagaon and stay with the local people.
To continue on the onward journey to Goa, you take a left turn from Wadkhal Naka. Then for a long stretch you have the railway line on one side and lush green fields on the other. In a few hours you reach the next landmark which is the village of Pali which is famous for the Ganpati temple. For this you have to take a detour to the left, and the Ganpati temple welcomes you with open arms. Once you have the blessings of the lord, no one can stop you and you continue on your onward journey to Goa.
As you proceed, you cross the first real ghat section, immediately after Pali and on the other side of the ghat you then travel through the towns of Roha, Indapur, Mangaon. After crossing Mangaon, on reaching another town, Goregaon, if you take right turn, you are on the way to the beach of Harihareshwar, a very idyllic beach.
This route will also take you to the Mahabaleshwar of Konkan, Dapoli. Near to Dapoli are the beaches of Murud, Anjarle , Burundi and Karde. Murud is having many stay options, Anjarle is famous for its Ganpati mandir on a cliff, Burundi is famous for its Brahmins whereas Karde beach is for those who love the water sports. It has a wide variety of water sports. If you reach here in the morning, you will only leave well past lunch time. And the way to Anjarle Ganpati mandir, known locally as “kadyavarcha Ganpati” is the most mesmerizing experience since you are driving on a cliff, with the wide expanse of the Arabian sea stretching to the horizon. The mandir itself is so silent and peaceful, you feel like not stepping out.
From Dapoli another road goes to a sea side town, Dabhol. Near Dabhol, there is a Mahalaxmi Devi Mandir, which is one of its kind, since it is underground. As you go down, first you cannot see anything, but as your eyes get used to the darkness, you really appreciate the Devi Murti. You will really feel blessed with this experience.
Now coming back to the Mumbai Goa highway…once you cross Goregaon and Veer, you near the town of Mahad, which has 2 main attractions…one is the Kolad river rafting which is nearby and another is the access to the Riagad fort , by means of a ropeway.
Raigad fort, the pride and capital of Hindavi Swaraj , established by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj…
As you drive further from Mahad, you reach Poladpur. If you take a left from Poladpur, you are on the way to the actual Mahabaleshwar…oh, what a road! So many turns on this Ambenali ghat section , such lush green scenery….its as if you are driving through the heavens.
Next major town on the highway is Khed but for reaching Khed you have to travel through the long and winding Kashedi ghat. 10-15 years back this ghat section was the most treacherous since it was narrower with steep cliffs on one side and took the lives of many travellers. But now it is much wider and can be crossed safely. But it remains awe inspiring due to its great height.
Once you reach Khed the next town on the route is Chiplun and there are many small and large industries on the way. If you love non-veg food, please stop in Chiplun and have your fill, there are some very good restaurants (though not of 5-star variety but very tasty food). Lest I forget, before entering Chiplun, you pass through the Parshuram ghat and the Parshuram mandir here is a must visit. Said to have been renovated by the Peshwas, the stone architecture is awesome. As you must be knowing, Parshuram is the great Brahmin who is said to have shot an arrow and reclaimed the land called konkan from the sea. Another attraction in Chiplun are the Chiplun backwaters. Yes! There are backwaters in Maharashtra too. You can do boating here through the crocodile infested waters…yes, crocodiles too…
The Chiplun to Ratnagiri stretch is very beautiful…nature at its best and the best time to travel is just after the rainy season. For a long stretch, a river meanders along the road side at a lower elevation and there is greenery everywhere. There are 2 hot water springs situated between Chiplun and Ratnagiri. The water is so hot, you can boil eggs and rice, just by lowering them in the water.
If you want to visit Ratnagiri, then you have to leave the highway at Hathkhamba and take a right turn and then drive for almost 4-5 kms.
The main attractions in and around Ratnagiri are many…Ratnagiri is famous as the birthplace of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the great freedom fighter and we can see his house here. Nearby, about 45-50 kms from Ratnagiri,is the wonderful beach of Ganpatipule with the Peshwa built temple of Lord Ganpati. Here again you should taste the locally made fish dishes…yummy. On another side of Ratnagiri are the Pawas mandir of the great saint, Swami Swaroopanand. Still further is the Mahalaxmi temple situated in Adiwre. Ratnagiri is also famous for the wooden palace of the Burmese king, who was incarcerated by the British in Ratnagiri. Another well known landmark is the Ratnagiri fort.
Coming back to the Mumbai Goa highway, the next towns after Ratnagiri, are Lanja and Rajapur. Rajapur is famous for Rajapurchi Ganga. This is a spring which waters in every 3 years. This area is at an elevation of 25 metres above the city level and the ponds are bone dry. But when the time arrives, suddenly water starts flowing and lasts for almost 3 months. This event is marked with a great festival to celebrate the occasion.
As you drive down further, for almost 1.5 hours, you reach the town of Kankavli. After crossing Kankavli, you have the option of going to Malvan and Sindhudurg, which are towns situated near to the sea. Sindhudurg town is famous for its Sindhudurg fort, built in the middle of the sea by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The main attraction in the fort is the sweet water well when the whole fort is surrounded by the salty sea. If you want to enjoy the village life while driving, leave the highway and drive along the inside roads which meander through the quiet villages , which have small cottages lining the road.
The next major and final town before entering Goa, is Sawantwadi. This town is very beautiful with a centrally located artificial lake and the Sawantwadi palace. Sawantwadi is famous for its wooden toys even today. Buy some as a keepsake.
Then you cross the final ghat section between Maharashtra and Goa and then…finally you have reached Goa.
Hope you all enjoyed the journey. Please do visit this jewel of a place since I have missed out on many other goodies like the Tarkarli beach and Amboli hill station and many more.
Yatindra Tawde

Dapoli – The jewel of Konkan

My first visit to Dapoli was about 6 years after my marriage. It so happens that my wife’s native place is near Dapoli, due to which our visits started.

Dapoli is in Ratnagiri district which lies in Kokan area of Maharashtra. As most of you are aware, the Kokan is one of the most picturesque places in Maharashtra, blessed as it is, with miles of beaches, greenery of the top order, and an undulating landscape.

Dapoli is known as the Mahabaleshwar of the Kokan, since it is blessed with a mild climate and situated at a height. It was very popular with the British, who had their army camp here.

Let’s go on a tour of Dapoli and the surrounding towns and places of interest. Join me!

Let’s go in the same order as I visited them. The first town is the beach facing, Murud. Please note that this Murud is different from Murud-Janjira. We had stayed in one of the beach facing resorts where the waves almost lap at your legs. If you want to spend your holidays lazing at the beach, hanging on a hammock tied between two coconut trees, this is the place you want to be in. If this is not heaven, I don’t know what is.

For the adventurous, the nearby beach of Karde village is the answer. There is a huge choice of the best water sports ranging from the common, speed boat pulled parachutes (parasailing), where you will be flying and feeling the sea wind against your face, to the sea-sofa. This is an unique experience, where, literally a air-filled sofa is attached to a speedboat, and you are supposed to catch hold of a few straps attached to the sofa and hold on, as the speedboat drags the sofa, with you hanging on for dear life. Believe me, it’s a thrilling and adrenaline pumping experience. And safe too, since you don’t enter the sea waters without a life jacket. And all the other water sports are available too.

For those, not inclined to enter the water themselves, but would rather enjoy other species doing it, you can always go dolphin watching, early in the morning. This will certainly act as great stress buster.

For the foodie minded, are sure to enjoy the wide variety of fish platters on offer. And these fish dishes can be had, fried or with curry, sitting on the beach, enjoying the hot afternoon sun.

For those with devotional mindset, Murud has a beautiful medieval temple dedicated to Durga Devi. Nearby, is a memorial to the great social reformer, Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve.

Murud is also known as Murud-Harnai. Harnai, a neighbouring village known for the fish auction taking place at Harnai bunder and also for the sea fort, Suvarnadurg, situated a mile away from the mainland. Nearby, is the village of Anjarle and the Anjarle beach.

But Anjarle is more famous for the Ganpati mandir, situated on a hilltop overlooking the beach, hence also known as ‘kadyavarcha Ganpati’. The Mandir is, of course beautiful and peaceful, and when you drive from Dapoli to the Mandir, you pass through winding roads, and climb small hills overlooking magnificent vistas of the Arabian Sea. The panoramic view of the beaches and sea, seen from the vantage point of the hill, will stay with you forever.

Asud is one village, which should not be missed, when you are anywhere near Dapoli, and with good reason too. Situated at a distance of just 8 km. from Dapoli, on the road to Murud, it is famous for the ancient temples of Keshavraj and Shree Vyagreshwar. Once you park your car on the road side, and enter the village, you are transported to a different world, where work related or any other stress, just evaporates, as you start walking down the hill, on a winding path, covered by a canopy of coconut, betel and jackfruit trees, planted so densely together, that the rays of the Sun, cannot penetrate, even during the main summer months.

The coolness of the place is enhanced by softly running streams of water, which have been channeled through rocks, an ingenious piece of aquatic engineering. Once you reach the bottom of the hill, you cross the main stream and then again start climbing the ancient steps, ushering you to the temple built on top of another hill. Once you reach the top, the ancient temple embraces you into its structure and provides you with cool water trickling down the Gomukh, for your parched throat. The silence of the serene surroundings is broken only by the chirping of the birds. Shree Vyaghreshwar mandir is situated on the riverbank and houses the Swayambhu Shivling. Asud village is certainly a must-visit.

Jump on a vehicle on the way to Dabhol, and reach the Chandikadevi Mandir, just before you enter the town of Dabhol. This temple, dedicated to goddess Chandika, is underground inside a natural cave. You are not supposed to carry any light inside, and the only an oil lamp allows you to take darshan.

It’s a real experience when you enter the temple for the very first time. Once you enter, the darkness envelopes you, as you feel your way inside. You proceed like this for sometime , and then the dim oil lamp near the main idol guides you, suddenly you are in her presence. This temple is known to be very ancient.

Finally Dapoli!

Dapoli has one of the biggest Krishi Vidyapeeth or Agricultural University in India. There are many nurseries too, Amrute Nursery and Koparkar nursery, to name a few. Blessed with a good climate and fertile land, the nurseries of Dapoli offer a wide variety of flowering and decorative plants. The Amrute nursery also has staying arrangements, though not on a large scale. Don’t miss having lunch or dinner at Amrute nursery, whether veg or non-veg. I had the tastiest foods here and you should too, though advance intimation needs to be given.

The ST stand is just on the exit road going out of Dapoli and is flanked by a huge ground. The roads are tree lined and offer shaded roads. There is a lots on offer in Dapoli and the surrounding villages. So friends, Chalo Dapoli!

Yatindra Tawde