It was that time of year when my Facebook newsfeed was loaded with travel stories from Ladakh and Northern regions. When the whole population of Delhi, Punjab, and adjoining areas seem to crowd the Northern hills, and trust me any beautiful landscape becomes ugly when flocked with human beings, I thought about going somewhere offbeat. A place where not many people tend to pay a visit in this season. Someplace that is peaceful and away from the hustle bustle of the city. Then my brain struck with lightening, and I got the idea of the ultimate Mumbai to Goa road trip.
Because the Manali to Ladakh road trip had got too mainstream, I, along with a bunch of my friends decided to go for something extraordinary. Going for this adventure was on my bucket list since I had seen Dil Chahta Hai. And this adventure was seriously worth it.
The first leg of the journey was to reach Mumbai. We had a week in our hand, and thus we booked our tickets on Golden Temple Mail from Nizamuddin Station to Mumbai Central Station. Luckily our tickets got confirmed just a day before our journey
Mumbai to Goa
Our plan was to hire a self-drive car from Mumbai and drive it to Goa. So, after a thorough Google search of self-drive rentals, we decided to avail the services of MyChioze cars, they were offering the best price and unlimited kilometers for driving. We booked an Innova, which was efficient and economical.
There are two routes to reach Goa from Mumbai
1. Bombay Goa Highway via NH66 (Panvel-Khed-Chiplun-Sawantwadi-Goa)
Distance: 577 kilometers
Time: 12-15 hours nonstop
Pros: Amazing scenic beauty along the way, from the beginning till the end. The road is full of the lush greenery of coconut trees, paddy fields, and areca nut plantation, along with beautiful hills that savor your soul. This route has very few tolls and an eyeful of sights.
Cons: Extremely winding through the Western Ghats. And the roads become very dangerous during the monsoon season; this one is my personal experience.
My Tip: This route is perfect for those who want to have an adrenaline rush on the way. The driver must be excellent in driving through hills because this route is not a piece of cake. Sometimes the road became so narrow that two vehicles were unable to pass simultaneously. And on top of that, we were met with continuous downpour along the way.
2. Mumbai to Goa via NH4 (Mumbai-Pune-Satara-Kohlapur-Belgaum-Goa)
Distance: 590 kilometers
Time: 11 hours nonstop
Pros: The journey starts on Mumbai-Pune expressway which is in a great condition and allows you to drive smoothly for a few hundred kilometers. In all this route is superb and not so dangerous, with traffic plying at all times.
Cons: There are a lot of tolls on this road. It is longer than the first route.
My Tip: Opt for this route if you have motion sickness. The smooth and straight highway is best for those who love to drive without any difficulties. The best part of this course comes at the end if you start from Mumbai.
My Glorious Journey
We reached Mumbai early in the morning and were welcomed by unavailability of rooms for a few hours to change and freshen up. But since we are a bunch of creative minded people, we hopped into McDonalds where we changed, freshened up and had a tummy full of breakfast. By afternoon, we were done with all formalities and ready to hit the roads.
We bid goodbye to the Mumbai skyline behind us and looked forward to the emerging hills that looked quiet and calm from a distance. Because we wanted to experience both the roads, we started our journey by first route. Our first pitstop was near Imagica to have the ever popular “Vada Pao”. The spicy and tangy taste, along with soft texture of the bread made our taste buds have a roller coaster ride.
After this delicious snacks, we headed forward again. Our target was to reach Goa by 9 or 10 at night. However, the frequency at which we stopped at every possible place in order to click photographs, it seemed hard to reach our destination even by midnight. But the stops were worth it. The surroundings and roads are so beautiful that you would want to capture it from every angle but the effort would go in vain because such immaculate beauty cannot be captured in a camera.
Th route is breathtaking, and there is no doubt on that. The hills were adorned with various shades of green and the roadsides were lined with paddy fields and coconut trees. As we moved further the Western Ghats were waiting for us.
There was a moment when we were driving under the sunny sky and as we moved higher the sky soon became blanketed with dark grey clouds and it took no time to shower us with heavy rain. That rainfall was so much that it got too difficult to drive.
Well, this situation continued with us for the rest of our journey. Sometime, it was clear and no rain and then within a few moments the downpour would drench us all. But in every circumstance we loved the weather; you do not see so much rain in Delhi anymore.
The oncoming Western Ghats were marked by a signboard that said “Ghat Prarambh” and then we entered the magical path which was going to take us on a rollercoaster ride through the magnificent views and winding roads.
The rain dropped down to drizzle and I rolled down my window. The cool wind swept my hair away and filled the car. There was no need for AC. I peeked out of the window and let the little rain drops touch my face. The happiness of that moment is indefinable. I thought that nothing could be better than this place and this very moment. This is what I need in my life: purity, simplicity and inner joy.
The road twisted and turned through the Ghats and one of my friends got motion sickness. However, every such turn left me awestruck with he beauty that the nature beheld. I did not want to go away from that place. Small puffs of clouds were drifting around us and all I wanted was my life to stop then and there.
The difficulty level of this route is high, and it fails those of Himachal Pradesh but its beauty will compensate for it. You would not even want to blink an eye so not to miss any sight.
We had lunch at late afternoon after we exited the Ghats. The dhabas in the state actually close down after lunch time. All you would get during 4 or 5 in the evening is pakodas and some snacks with tea. Luckily we found a restaurant that had actual food to offer. In there we had the true taste of South Indian food. The dishes were lip smacking and delicious. The owner offered me to try a typical drink of their state called “Sulghiri” which is a blend of coconut milk, tamarind and a few more ingredients. The drink is tangy to taste and I loved the sour and sweet flavor.
The evening again called up lots of rain and we had to drive cautiously. By midnight we reached the toll to enter goa and sighed a breath of relief. The road seemed neverending but the adventure was worth our time and efforts.
I would advise every travel lover to take this road trip at least once in their life. You must travel these roads if you want to have a taste of nature at its best. This experience is etched in my memory forever, and it is not something you can have again and again.