Cycling from Mumbai to Harihareshwar

Success is never ending, failure is never final. – Dr Robert Schuller (22-25 Feb 2003)

“Are you crazy” this was the question most of the people asked us when we planned our cycle trip to Ganpatipule. For us this was an initiative as we had heard of people doing thousands of kilometers on cycle. We had planned just hundreds. Ketan (KT), Gaurang (Mowgli), Chaitanaya, Anurag, Anand (Kaa), Aranab (Tommy) including me were the group members. With midsem over by Friday, and ready to bunk lectures for two days, (KT had test on Tuesday, and Kaa got exams postponed with his dummy sisters marriage) all were ready for action.

On Saturday 22, we started early in the morning from IIT. We had accompanied with us spare dress, sleeping bags, cycle pump, spanner, pliar, puncture kit, glucose (petrol for us!) , medicines, photography stuff and ofcourse lots of enthusiasm. Early morning drive on Eastern Express highway, we reached patch of 22 kms. to Gateway of India, in one hour. Stimulating with hot tea, we boarded the ferry to Alibag which was waiting for us.

Our start was really great, all what we needed : natures beauty. Sitting on the hull of the ferry the titanic way enjoyed the sunrise; view of Mumbai city over the calm sea, sea gulls, and spotting of a small shark was really great. First time I saw the greatness of the sea. At one time we could none other but the sea, extending upto horizon in every direction. Within one and half hours our ferry landed up at Mandwa beach, some 19 kms from Alibag. Without wasting our time, we left for Alibag. At this time we had not tied our rucksacks to the cycle, but were carrying them on our back, which added to the pain of cycling. Hence by the time we reached Alibag, we were dehyradrated, especially me. I was so dehydrated that I had made all mind to ditch the trip. But some glucose, electrol powder and some will power pushed me for the trip. By the time we took our breakfast and tied the bags to the cycle.

Our next destination was Murud some 50-60 kms from Alibag. We could feel the beauty of Konkan region all the way. Tall coconut trees, Creeks in between, peculiar red soil, cool breeze blowing from seaside, small roads between villages, peculiar tiled roofed houses. Refreshed ourselves with Coconut water at a place called Rohadanda. There is a fort here, used as protection to Roha region. After Rohadanda we had sea constantly to our right hand side. In the way we had to cross small ghat to reach Kashed beach. It’s a small patch of beach, found many picnickers here due to weekend. Constant supply of glucose and water kept us going. From here cycling constantly for 2-3 hours we reached Murud. All group members didn’t have same speed. KT, Tommy and Chaitanya who had racing cycle used to reach first. So we had to wait a long till everybody reached. But we kept synchronizing as we proceeded. At Murud we reached by 5 pm, did our lunch then. Didn’t have much time to spend at Murud beach or go to the fort, as we had to catch ferry which takes us to the other side of creek. We just missed the ferry from Murud and so we had to leave for Alakdanda some 10 kms away to catch the ferry which leaves later. We all reached there just in time, loaded our cycle and sailed in the sea. It was time of high tide then, our boat yawed a lot due to the high tides, was a really nice experience. When we got down at other shore, place called Dighi, it was dark then. All of us were exhausted, and few had cramps in legs, also there was ghat ahead, so could proceed no further. Decided to stay in the village. Talked to the panch of village, showed icard to the Dakshata pach of village, finally got permissions to sleep in the temple compound. We were very much hungry by the time, hunger made me eat omlet for the first time in life, which was the only thing available in the whole village. At the end of the day we had covered 101 kilometers. We had planned to reach Shrivardhan that day, we had failed to keep up with our plans. Also we realized that we cycled whole day, but found very less time to stay and enjoy the nature, sole aim we were traveling for. So we accepted our failure and decided to cut our trip to Shrivardhan and return early. We were so tired that we slept very early (iitians are notorious for that), infact as soon as we laid down.

We slept such well that not even the aaratis in the temple which were played on loud speakers could wake us. We were reluctant to get out of the bed, but had to as we had to go further. The villagers, specially children enjoyed seeing us, as we packed our sleeping bags, mat, and rucksacks. We were Desi Fhirangi for them.

Shrivardhan is some 29 kilometers from here. The road is mainly ghat, one have to climb up for nearly 4 kms, then cycle the downhill. We made halt at village Borli in between. Everyone had coldrinks, I preferred a dose of caffine (only thing I am addicted to ). Borli to Shrivardhan was similar route, but sea shore was not seen even when we reached Shrivardhan. It was curtain raiser as we moved between the coconut trees and were suddenly able to see the sea shore. Shrivardhan beach was unoccupied as we reached there. First thing we all did was parked our cycles, removed our clothes and ran the fastest towards the sea and had a jump at the tide. Playing with tides, frisbie play, sand carving didn’t realized how our time went by. Found very difficult to leave the beach. Had lunch, best of the lunch we could have in our trip, homemade food, hot rotis, the owner found difficult serving seven hungry devils. We overate that day, and were very lethargic to start, so had some nap under a banyan tree. Enthu Anurag did some fight to search for gulab jam . Did some photography and finally left for Harihareshar another beach some 19 kilometers away. We were very lethargic during this run, but managed to reach the place by dark. Couldn’t see the sea, but could hear it. Went to the Hareshwar temple, did dinner and got a small room to stay. One thing which I always like in remote areas, and we fail to see in the city is the night sky. In childhood we were told about the adjective countless for stars, which would not be appropriate for people from the city. It is in such places one realize what do countless stars mean.

We changed our plan again, we had initially planned to return Mumbai by bus from here. We decided to cover the Borghat section by bus, reach Mangaon , where the Mumbai Goa national highway meets, and cycle all the way to Mumbai, which meant cycling 140 kms on the highway.
Got up early to catch the bus. Loading the cycles on the bus and tieing them was a painful job. The conductor was helpful, but not the bus. The gear box of the bus failed at Shrivardhan, which wasted our 2 hours, also more painful was that we had to unload the cycles, and reload them on a bus which had smaller roof space. Had a nasty quarrel with the hamaal there. But finally got through, reached Mangaon by noon. Repaired our cycles which suffered due to loading on bus, did lunch and started for Mumbai.

It was really very painful; cycling in the heat, after lunch and on highway. Every half an hour we had sprinkle of water to keep us cool, and drank water to avoid from dehydration. But we still managed a speed of 18-20 kms an hour. It was only after place called Nagethane, wind started to play role. Mumbai was some 100 kms from here, nearest destination was Pen 30 kms away. But there was such a wind blowing in opposite direction that our speed reduced. We required some 3 hours to reach Pen.

Time we reached Pen, it was dark. Traffic had increased and headlights of vehicles were on. I was to dehydrated, had nasty thigh and back cramps. Also had pain of glare of the headlights and felt it too risky to drive on highway at night. Hence decided to ditch the trip, with some 60 kms still left. Kaa and Gaurang had already ditched the trip at Hari hareshwar. Other four proceeded towards Panvel, and then Mumbai.

At Pen, I alone could not load the cycle on bus so bus option was closed, next train to Mumbai was at six in the morning. Tried getting lift from truck drivers for about an hour, but couldn’t get any. That left me waiting for train at Pen railway station (which means another essay “one night on a railway station” :-)).

Finally sleepless night in sleeping bag at empty Pen railway station, early morning train to Diva, alighting at Nilaje and cycling to Dombivli makes it sad end to the cycle trip.,/

Nevertheless, lots of things the trip taught me. Will power does play a large role in your success. I would have already ditched at Alibag with just 19 kms of cycling, if I would not have managed to gather some courage and will power, which forced me to drive 230-240 kms. As said by somebody expecting failure is nine-tenth part of a failure. Learnt to behave in a team. As individuals we wont be able to cover the distance. We complimented, synchronized each other.

Even in the end, I failed; the purpose of the trip was served. Was able to see Konkan area which I was very willing to see, encounter with nature was really very great: sea, the atmosphere, the greenery. Also was able to meet my country men in the region. So, in the end a happy weekend.


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