We have our eyes glued to the palm-fringed paddy fields as the driver drives the bus rashly on a narrow, single track road. My lungs are filled with the fresh air and head trying to hang out of the bus window to face the swooshing winds.
We are on our way to Vengurla from Kudal- the nearest railway station. The local people on the bus are helping us to know about the nearby places and hotels. They seem to be innocent, true and loving in nature and are happy to see us visit their local area. Time passes quickly and we reach our destination. We are walking towards the beach when we find the (only) beer shop on our way. The shop owner is jovial in nature and asks us to relax and have a beer first before enquiring about anything else. We all hi-fi each other and grab a bottle of beer listening to uncle’s witty jokes and laughing incessantly. The sunny weather too seems to smile with us. The road is laden with coconut trees and other green foliage I am not able to recognize. We are here to spend our new year and the mood just seems right!
Vengurla- lies in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra to the north of Goa and is 30kms from the famous Arambol Beach in Goa. It is a horseshoe-shaped beach surrounded by hills from three sides.
We find a guest house named Waman mess situated on the main road with the view of the beach. The rooms are comfortable with all the basic amenities and costs Rs700/night for 5 people. There is a hotel and a bar just a few yards away from our stay which happens to be the only ones in Vengurla. The hotel remains deserted for most of the day. It serves the local Malvan cuisine. The food is so fresh that upon ordering, they start chopping the vegetables and grinding spices right in front of us. So, patience is the key to relish the food here as cooking takes some time.
The afternoon is quiet and the only sound dominating the area is the waves splashing right across the room.
In evening, we take a stroll to Vengurla Bunder (port). It used to be an important port for trade, set up by the Dutch. Even today, the port comes alive with the activities of fisher folks in the evening. The boats anchored to the piers, fisherman folding nets and the woman selling fresh fishes with the sun setting in the background becomes a pleasant sight of chaos in the otherwise sleepy town.
We spend the New Year night at Sagareshwar Beach which is 3kms from Vengurla. The beach is lit up by the locals with dim lights and laser rays with the hope of few tourists arriving. Chairs and tables have been arranged and the locals are dancing on Marathi music. The drinks have been smuggled from Goa (at dearth cheap rate) and sold here 4 times the actual price. They have fried chicken to serve with the drinks that taste satisfactory. But we don’t mind spending a little extra on the New Year’s Eve and have a good time with locals.
The night is cold and the beach is now quieter with few people. We are sitting by the bonfire, watching the moon mournfully sliding into the sea. The dawn is about to break! It is time to return to our hotel room.
New year-Just the way I would like it!
Where is it?
Vengurla lies in Maharashtra and is 30 km from the Arambol Beach (North Goa).
How to reach?
Kudal is the nearest railway station. For people coming from Mumbai/Pune can board the Goa bound train and get down at Kudal. There are local buses at regular intervals that ply from Kudal to Vengurla. One can also hire a vehicle while being in (North) Goa, visit the place and return on the same day.
Where to stay?
There are few homestays that have come up in this region. Though, I am not aware of the details. I stayed in Vaman Mess which is an MTDC approved guest house and is pretty decent for the price. They charged Rs.700/night for 5 people. (Note that the room is meant for two people or at the most three. We adjusted ourselves in a room by taking extra bedrolls.)
What to eat?
Malvan food. Sea fish is a must try for non-vegans. There are not too many options apart from Malvan cuisine. I vaguely remember that the hotel also served Chinese dishes.