Travel Time: 9 hours (Approximately)
Welcome to the land of no schedules!
Sandy beaches. Soaring tides. Country music. Shacks. Gourmet cuisine. And a perpetual air of anticipation. Thatâ€™s the magic of Goa. Itâ€™s the perfect retreat when you want to escape the maddening city life. Little wonder then that Goa has become the favourite weekend destination for people from the financial capital of India â€“ Mumbai, a quintessential megalopolis.
What makes Goa an even more sought-after destination is the drive.
Making a turn from Panvel, the most picturesque route you can take is the NH-17. While the birds do an aerial ballet to welcome you and the trees sway, in perfect synchronization, an entirely new aspect of nature!
The little towns on the way, Kolad, Indapur and Mangaon, make the drive a lot more convenient, with facilities such as ATMs and stores to stock up on everything you may need.
Once past these towns, itâ€™s back to the road. A number of little food joints dot the road and most of them have surprisingly good food! Once here, you can sit down, stretch your legs and basically, take a break. Because very soon you’ll be in the land of strawberries, Mahabaleshwar. Bright red and delicious. Thatâ€™s the kind of strawberries you find here.
After youâ€™ve devoured your fill of strawberries and packed up enough, get set for Kashedi Ghat, arguably the most scenic ghat on the entire journey. Stop over for a bit and take in a whiff of the fresh air and a long gaze at the visual delight. But donâ€™t get too lost because itâ€™s getting dark and you need to find a place to stay.
The de facto place for travelers is Chiplun. Cozy and comfortable. But if you want to spend the night in the arms of nature, head to Sangameshwar. Get a good nightâ€™s rest and start early the next day for a journey thatâ€™s a delight behind the wheel. Winding roads with stupendous views with raging torrents and gentle streams rushing alongside.
Staying on course you’ll reach a little town called Kudal. Once here, take a detour to Tarkali beach. From here, through the inner roads, Goa is about 100 kms. This last leg of your journey will take you on fairly deserted roads that run next to the coast. Before you know it, you’ll be in Goa!
Glorious cathedrals and stories attached to them will make your jaws drop. And if you’re a foodie, welcome to paradise! The variety is mind boggling! From pure non-vegetarians to absolute vegetarians, there something to make everyoneâ€™s mouth water. But if youâ€™re the kind that neither has an interest in history norÂ love for food, Goa still offers a choice of an eternally buzzing party circuit and lazy days on beach beds.
In fact, such is the popularity of the destination that there have been three films named after it. The first was a 1972 production called Bombay to Goa, starring the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, Mehmood and Aruna Irani. The second, a namesake of the first was released in 2007 and featured Sunil Pal, Vijay Raaz and Asrani. And the third, recently released Go Goa Gone.
So if you haven’t been to Goa yet, you really should. And if you already have, then you know itâ€™s a place that demands another visit. Either way, the weekend is approaching. So pack up and get going! Happy driving!