Arup ditches his many connected devices and rides along the Konkan coastline on a Royal Enfield Himalayan – where, lo and behold, he even discovers some virgin, untouched beaches.
I recently came across the term ‘extremely online,’ which means ‘addicted to social media.’ I’m sure that this is something that most of us can identify with. As I was considering the idea of taking a break from perpetually staring and scrolling down my phone’s screen, Royal Enfield came to my rescue by sending us an invitation to ride roughly 1,300-kilometres along the Arabian sea from Maharashtra to Kerala. In the blink of an eye, I sent a mail to the editor asking if I could cover this ride – and the rest, as they say, is history. While I was still on my flight to Mumbai – I was to start the journey from Navi Mumbai – nostalgia kicked in. I recalled the last time I went for a Royal Enfield ride almost 8 years ago. Back then, I did back-to-back rides – the Himalayan Odyssey, Tour of Rajasthan and Rann of Kutch. Anyway, coming to the present day, I was eagerly looking forward to the next week with my steed – the fuel injection avatar of the Himalayan.
Leaving the madness behind
On day one, naturally the excitement levels were high. But they came crashing down to reality as we spent most of the day negotiating traffic in our desperate attempt to leave the concrete jungle of Belapur behind. Our convoy of 24 riders didn’t stay together very long. The 200-kilometre ride to Harihareshwar, thanks to the chaotic traffic at Panvel, would be a long one.
Thankfully, once we left it all behind, it was a pretty smooth sailing more-or-less alongside the Arabian Sea. Alibaug was the first major beach town we came across, where we decided to regroup and replenish our electrolytes – depleted because of the humid weather. The original plan was to halt at the white sandy beaches of Kashid for lunch, but with our stomachs growling, we decided to make a pit stop a couple of kilometres before the planned stop. For all the non-vegetarians, the fish curry and shrimp fry that the place has to offer is a must try. I must caution you, though, that the shrimp dish is fiery as hell. As for vegetarians, or pseudo vegetarians like me, the simple vegetable curry and dal, or lentil soup, were all that we could have. Well, because it’s the Konkan coast, it’s all about fresh seafood.
After a good meal and a couple of bottles of orange juice, we were back on the road. The narrow, winding stretch took us to the coastal village of Murud, which overlooks the massive island fort of Janjira. The only way to enter the marine fort is by taking a boat from the Rajapuri jetty. But, as the sun was determined to disappear behind the horizon, and our destination, Harihareshwar, was still beyond our immediate reach, we had no other option but to admire the fort from a distance as we rode by. Once we reached our humble abode, we were welcomed by a Marathi beverage called Sol Kadi – which did wonders in recharging our batteries. During lunch, I was whining like an old man, but the dinner satisfied my desire for good food – the typical Marathi home cooked meal was absolutely delicious. While my fellow riders were chowing down on fried fish, I stuck to my vegetarian pallet and enjoyed the finger-licking meal to great satisfaction. That was the end of day one – a perfect way, I’d say, to sign off the first day.
Au revoir to my vegetarian diet
Day two promised to be a lot more adventurous, as we had to complete three ferry crossings. So, even though it was an early morning start, no one complained. We began the day with Arjay Pramanik from Royal Enfield issuing a war cry, ‘guys, gear up,’ before he led the pack. The first ferry crossing went off smoothly, during which we met a middle-aged couple riding down the coastline from Gujarat. Even with a world of responsibilities, this adventurous couple made time to ride into the sunset – in this case the sunrise – and explore nature together. The second ferry crossing was a bit tricky, as I lost my way in the city of Dapoli. But thanks to an overly enthusiastic elderly gentleman, I was not only able to locate the Dabhol jetty but also the fuel station. Before I knew it, I was back with the group, and we continued to our third ferry crossing at Tavsal. We called it a day at Ganpatipule.
Day three was our last day in Maharashtra, as we headed to Kunkeshwar. This was undoubtedly the best stretch of the ride, for we did a bit of off-roading. The Himalayan, in all its glory, exhibited its versatile character by not letting the terrains dictate terms. It was pure joy to stand up on the foot legs and glide through dusty tracks and rocky terrain. As we went past Devgad, smooth tarmac greeted us. Before entering Kunkeshwar, the Royal Enfield team surprised us with lunch along the beach, with the windmills in the background. Not only was the food an absolute treat, but so was the location. We thought that was the end of the surprise, but we were wrong. It was just the beginning – they’d arranged a barbeque on the beach in the evening before dinner, where the temptation to say au revoir to my vegetarian pallet got the better of me, and I dug into some juicy barbequed chicken.
The next day, we were headed to Agonda beach in Goa – but before that we made a pit stop at Royal Enfield’s Garage Café at Baga and enjoyed a lavish meal. The café is divided into three zones – an eating joint, museum (where Royal Enfield’s rich history of over 100 years is showcased), and the showroom. It’s a must visit for all bike lovers. We finally decided to head to Agonda. As the fifth day was all about letting our hair down and relax in sunny Goa, some of us decided to swap horsepower for human power and do some kayaking instead.
The next two days, from Agonda to Gokarna, and then to Mangalore, went like a breeze. We did check out the famous Om beach at Gokarna, and were lucky to the catch a sunset there. On the 7th day, while on our way to Mangalore, we made a quick stop at the Murdeshwar beach, where we rode on the sand and in the water. It was a candid moment – as all of us posed with our motorcycles.
Back to chaos!
On the last day, we not only had the longest ride of the journey but also the most chaotic traffic. If you haven’t been to Kerala, then the traffic will be a rude awakening for you. It’s like everyone’s in free-for-all mode, and that too on one of the narrowest national highways I’ve ever come across. As our convoy broke into groups of threes and fours, it’s uncanny how we ended up the trip the same way we started. In the end, we managed to reach our hotel and thanked our lucky stars that no serious accidents took place during the ride. It was a great fun to be a part of Royal Enfield’s inaugural Coastal Trail, during which we discovered beautiful virgin beaches on the Konkan coast and also developed a solid bond of brotherhood amongst us – the riders. The break from social media was really worth it, but now it’s back to surfing the virtual world.