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Delve into the peace and serenity of Sindhudurg

Delve into the peace and serenity of Sindhudurg

A lazy trip to the district, located within a sleepy fishing village, may be just what



By Romain Maitra

Published: Fri 20 Sep 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 29 Sep 2019, 1:12 PM

It is from Goa, India, that I start my journey by road. My final destination is tucked between a stretch of deserted Konkan coastline and the bio-diverse forests of the Western Ghats - Sindhudurg is located in Bhogwe, a sleepy fishing village by the sea.

My home within this quaint and serene district is Coco Shambhala Sindhudurg, one of the first luxury retreats in the region. What's striking about this property is its carbon-conscious ethos that extends to its building material (the resort is constructed mainly with sustainable coconut wood with furnishings designed from reclaimed materials).

To get a better understanding of the local area, I decided to start the trip with a leisurely afternoon stroll through the courtyards and houses of the village, bypassing an age-old school, and a local grocery store run by an elderly woman, to reach the spectacular long stretch that is Bhogwe Beach. It's a pretty, secluded hidden gem. But what is really special about this beach is that is has a Blue Flag certification, a very rare endorsement in India which is based on stringent levels of cleanliness, water quality and safety measures. This has been made possible due to the effort and campaigns of the local schools and village residents - apart from the cooperation of the local administration and state government.

The beach is stark and desolate, with rocky mounds from place to place. The water changes colour according to time of day, and in the approaching crepuscular hue, it takes on a rather golden shine as the sun gradually sinks over the horizon. As I walk further down, close to the adjacent Nivati Beach, a pleasant surprise looms large: a totally deserted cove which could serve as an enclosed private beach - with only the bouncing frothy waves for company.

Up on the hill from the Nivati Beach is the Nivati Fort of red laterite stone built by (Indian King) Shivaji. Although it has a rich history, today, it lies in ruins, covered in weeds and bushes. There is also the occasional visitor - either history buffs searching for a glimpse of Maratha past or tourists enjoying the high-angled, sweeping views of the sea. The forest areas up above are also known for their rich biodiversity. On my way to Sindhudurg itself, I spotted a variety of birds including the Indian blackbird, orange-headed thrush and a few egrets and reed warblers.

The following day, I leave early morning for a spot of dolphin-watching. As I take to the sea, and the boat is carried along the foamy waves, stunning vistas of rocky landscapes and coconut trees fill the horizon. The dolphins, like nature itself, have vagaries and choose not to show up that morning. But I don't feel too distraught about their absence: the long boat ride in itself - "on the top of the dishevelled tide", to recall Yeats, is experience enough.

No trip to Sindhudurg is complete without a visit to a distant lighthouse located at the Vengurla Rocks archipelago. But, in the morning, I was informed that I could not sail from Bhogwe Beach due to the rising tide and would have to go via road to Malvan Beach, some 20 km away, and sail from there. Compared to the desolate Bhogwe Beach, Malvan Beach is relatively alive and buzzing with activities and locals. Fishermen have anchored boats of varying sizes and shapes here, and near the beach is a popular school where training lessons are giving for scuba diving, snorkelling and other water sports.

From the cacophony of colour and noise, it takes almost two hours by sea to reach the lighthouse that is built on a 180-200 feet-high rock island. One has to climb up the side stairs of the rock to reach the lighthouse. This is the tallest rock among this archipelago that consists of about 20 largish rocks - with the smaller ones stretching up towards the coast to Malvan. There is another large rock formation, known as the Burnt Rock, that houses an abandoned construction of an old lighthouse, and one particular high rock on the way is ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling. All the rocks are quite bare and mostly devoid of any vegetation that made the Portuguese name these rocks Ilheos Queimados, or Burnt Islands.

On my last day, I reach Walawal village by road to view the beauty of Karli River that eventually meets the Arabian Sea. The small boat ride with an amiable boatman along this winding water body turns out to be one of the many highlights of the trip. There are long rows of coconut trees on both sides, some of them prancing downward to the waterbed from the river's edge. And it is so wonderful to behold the mangroves along the river, extending above and below the water line, that discreetly provide habitat, nurseries, and feeding grounds for a vast array of fish and other organisms. Their complex root systems, submerged under the water, are like discreet nerve centres where nature's hidden agenda - be it removing excess salt from the water or filtering out heavy metals from the mud - is activated.

To be in this river induces such a different feeling from being out in the open sea - the difference being like the feeling you get when you hum the tune of a folk ditty after the experience of listening to a flamboyant symphony.
wknd@khaleejtimes.com


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