We pay our bill on the roadside stall; pour water on our heads to cool of our minds in the sweltering heat of May. It is the last stretch of our journey to Harihareshwar as we wear our helmets and prepare to reach the destination.
We had set out for Harihareshwar beach in the wee hours of the morning. Until now, the trip was a mix of scenic driveways, good food, lots of laughter and dodging several potholes on the road. After 10 o’ clock the sun showed no mercy on us and drained our energy. So we had a brief halt at Kolhad before continuing onwards and sat down by the river Kundalika to wash away the tiredness.
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“30 km to go! The road is going to become steep and narrower as we ride through the ghats.” I warned my friend on realizing that we were on the last but the most challenging stretch of all. This was my second visit to Harihareshwar and I was as excited as my first visit. The bike raced through the hill and the wide road began to narrow down to a single-lane, serpentine road. Each bend unfolded a fresh view and took us closer to the destination which made us forget about the harsh condition. All of a sudden, the hot air that once felt like a fire melting our faces, now felt like a soothing breeze. The perspiration caused by the agitating humidity began to cool down. The road ahead that looked distorted due to the heat was soon going to lead us to our oasis. I was already imagining the fun that lay ahead. But adventures, as they say, are not something that you can always expect. In my case, it was more of a misadventure this time!
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Almost 10 km before the destination, as we took a sharp right turn, a bus from the opposite direction tried to race past us without compromising on the speed. Since there was not enough space for both the vehicles to cross the narrow road, my friend had to take the bike off road and in the process, we lost our balance. By the time I gained consciousness, the blood was oozing from my right knee and few locals had come to our rescue. Thankfully, my friend was safe and the people around quickly helped him to pick up the bike. Looking at my injury, they asked me to apply a bandage to stop the bleeding but we did not have the first aid kit. The locals then suggested taking a detour to a nearby hospital and we quickly rushed there. The doctor confirmed that it was not a fracture and the swelling would be healed by a week or so. Although I was relieved at first, the symptoms of swelling and the stiffness felt familiar. Only six months back, I was operated for a ligament tear of my left knee from which I was still recovering. I silently prayed that this shouldn’t be the case again. However, few stitches and the first aid later, the doctor gave me the green card and we finally reached Harihareshwar.
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We kept brooding on how we could have saved ourselves from the danger and stressed on the importance of carrying the first-aid kit and also wearing the knee and elbow pads as a precautionary measure. The unbearable afternoon sun had also done the trick and in the anticipation to reach the destination faster; my friend raced the throttle a little more than he should; for which he was guilty. I thought of confronting about my injury to mom which was more difficult than sustaining the injury. I know the fear that she hides each time I embark on a new journey and the worries behind her constant reminder of being careful. This time, her fears proved to be true. As time passed, I learned to pretend normal. I didn’t want the topic to ruin the rest of the day. After all, it didn’t make sense to delve on the past.
What made sense was to look forward to the long holiday and be grateful for the beauty and tranquility around. We spent the rest of the evening on the beach. It was a full moon day and the beach glittered with silver sands and splashing waves. The atmosphere felt divine, as the wind carried the symphony of the bells ringing from the temple nearby. The whole beach was left for us. I sought solace lying on the beach, observing the constellations above. And so did my friends. We were lost in our own reverie, hardly conversing amongst each other. Was it because of the misadventure or a long bike ride on an awful summer day? I couldn’t say. It was dark and the moon’s light was only enough to create silhouettes of each other not allowing me to figure out what they were up to. Whatever it was, I liked it this way, as I myself kept fighting with dominating thoughts and emotions.
“Is it just an idiocracy to have come this far without proper planning or is this the price I have to pay for seeking freedom and happiness?”, I wondered. My thoughts then fickled with the glimpses of my struggle in the closed cabin. The pain of monotony soon outweighed the physical pain. I was instantly grateful for that moment on the beach that helped me live in my own imaginative world. But, deep within I knew even this was momentary. For how long will nature entice me with its charm? I kept looking above as if trying to find a clue. If I’m really afraid of monotony, what if the sky became monotonous one day? Or was it the sheer pain in my knee that made me think so much! When one is restless from within, it is difficult to find happiness from anywhere else. Perhaps, the answer laid in experiencing what is ahead and being curious rather than rationalizing the thoughts. And so I heaved a sigh and decided to let the time take its own course. For now, I’d like to bask in moon’s light and try to connect the dots (in the sky!). 😉
- Never lose focus from the road and try to hasten even if you have almost arrived at the destination. Always remember that the road trip is like a marathon and not a 100m race. Do not hurry!
- Always wear helmets, and knee and elbow pads. (this goes for pillion riders as well.)
- Always keep the first-aid kit handy.
How to reach?
By road: Harihaeshwar is 200 km from Mumbai and generally takes 5-6 hrs by road.
By train: Mangaon is the nearest railway station. One can board a local bus from here or hire a cab. Harihareshwar is approx. 65 km from Mangaon.
By bus: Not sure if there are direct buses to Harihareshwar but a lot of buses ply to Mangaon and from there one can take a bus to Harihareshwar.
Where to stay?
There is no hotel or lodging at Harihareshwar apart from the Harihareshwar Beach Resort. Hence, one needs to book in advance. There is also a Harihareshwar MTDC Resort which needs prior booking. But, there are plenty of homestays around that provides a glimpse of local life here. The place we stayed at was well maintained and charged Rs. 1200/ night for 4 people.
What to eat?
The dhaba opposite to the Harihareshwar beach resort serves freshly cooked, delectable food ( both veg and non-veg). Although I loved the veg thali more, the fish thali is definitely to look out for. Veg thali costs around Rs. 100 while non-veg thali costs Rs. 150.
Binge on the sweets bought from one of the shops outside the temple. Also, try the locally made fruit flavored chocolates.
Places to visit?
Parikrama around the hill is considered sacred and is also a lot of fun. Climb the hill and face the crazy winds as you descend through the steps cut out of the rocks that leads you to the shore. Look out for the natural carvings and patterns on the rocks. Note that it is not advisable to do parikrama during monsoon as the sea is rough.
One can also visit Shrivardhan and Diveagar Beach which is 19 and 37 km from Harihareshwar respectively. Anjarle-Dapoli is another circuit which can be included along with Harihareshwar.