Wednesday, March 25, 2009
After a day’s rest, I looked all set for a long ride. The highway from Karwar goes alongside the beach and crosses the Kali river where I caught a glimpse of a beautiful sunrise. On the western side of the bridge, one could see the river merging with the sea. The bridge over the river attracts plenty of morning walkers and to add to the scenic beauty, the northern side of the bridge leads to a narrow pass between two hills.
It was a romantic spot to watch sunrise as well as sunset. The state of Karnataka ends a few kilometers after this point. It was time to proclaim that I have completed cycling the coast of two states in India – and yet many more to go! While I could see a couple of boards bidding farewell to the visitors of Karnataka, I couldn’t see any board inviting people to Goa!
The first village was called Mashen where I stopped for some breakfast. It was in the Goan style of Pav and Bhaji washed down with a cup of tea. The diversity that one could see in travelling across India is definitely unique – food, language, weather, topography and what not! Though I may not be an expert to comment on various issues, I could make a statement here on the breakfast in the three different states. From the Puttu-Kadla in kerala to the Buns in Karnataka to the Paav and Bhajji in Goa (which aren’t similar to the ones in Maharastra though), you indeed see a rich diversity. After consultation with the locals, I chalked out my route away from the highway. From Mashim, I learnt that there is a boat which will take me to Galgibag.
I was quite excited about another boat ride. This time, it was a small catamaran (word sourced from Tamil!!!) which was powered manually. The capacity of the boat was so less that I have to wait for one set of the passengers to go and then take the next ride.
The village on the other end was Galgibag. Galgibag’s beach is also a nestling site for Olive Ridley turtles. Riding further north, I reached the Polem beach. As I approached the beach, touts swarmed with offers for rooms, cottages etc., It is menace in most tourist sites in India. I wasn’t going to spend much time on the beach as it was already crowded and preferred to go ahead. I could see a road which was leading me back to the highway.
I stopped at a shop to enquire about an alternative route along the coast, if any was available. One of the locals suggested that it could be very difficult for me to use that as it is isolated as well as it has steep gradients which will make my task difficult. However, a different perspective emerged when a foreigner came out of the shop and inspected my bike. Marc, as his name happened to be, told me that the best thing for me would be to take the alternative route. He also advised me to fill my bottle with sufficient water and take the alternative route which leads all the way to Margao. He asked me to first come down to his resort in Agonda and offered to guide me from there. He was driving down to his place and he would wait there for me.
I reached Agonda through a tree covered road and met him in the resort. The resort was called Somethingelse @ Tito’s, a joint venture between him and a local who has rented the land to him. It had some artistically constructed huts and a small restaurant. He introduced me to his guests who were impressed to learn about my bike ride! He also treated me with a mango juice and some fruits for my ride apart from filling my water bottle.
The route suggested by him was free from any heavy vehicles. It was frequented only by the motorbike taxis. It was really arduous and I have to give my best to scale the heights. One of the climbs involved a continuous stretch of over 5 kms which challenged me physically and mentally. After all the difficulty, the magnificent view of south Goa that I had from the top of the hill compensated for my effort. It was a view that cannot be captured by cameras or words. I resolved to cycle this route sometime in the future.
The road then slides down towards Kola where I had an option to deviate towards the fort at Cape De Rama. I have to opt against it requires some additional effort which proving to be at scarce then. The road eventually took me to Velim where an ancient church of St. Francis Xavier was present (pictured on the top of the page). This is different from the one on North Goa which houses his mortal remains. The ride throughout the afternoon was devoid of any proper meal and finally found a restaurant serving some Indian delicacies at a reasonable cost. I then proceeded north towards Assolna where a Jhankar was available to travel to Kavelesi. The attraction of riding through the villages was the sight of the old Portuguese houses. The aesthetics and grandeur was simply superb.
After crossing Orlim, I reached Margao at around 6 PM and decided to plan my return journey from there. I went to Margao station to look out for trains from Margao to ‘any place’ from where I can reach Chennai. Luckily, I found that the weekly Vasco-Chennai express leaves the next day at 2 PM from Margao. I chose to do a small ride from Margao to Vasco on the last day and board the train from Vasco.
Karwar – Mashim – Galgibag – Palolem Beach – Agonda – Kola – Molorem – Velim – Assolna – Kavlesi – Orlim – Varka – Cana – Margao
Don’t miss out some more beautiful pictures from Goa here