Anyway, off we went by the Friday night train, pulling in almost two hours behind schedule at this station. Yes, it’s that rural still.
ACCOMMODATION: Tarkarli is an hour by auto or car from Kudal. The MTDC resort we stayed at was no-alcohol-served, but they’re fine with bring-your-own. Note to future travellers: there are several home-stays and hotels around, but the MTDC is the only place in Tarkarli that’s actually ON the beach. If you want a sea-view from your window, book the Konkani huts. It can be done in advance at the MTDC website here. The huts look like this:
We were in the very first hut, and this was the view from those cane chairs in front of the room:
And this was the view from the cane chairs if your turned around.
FOOD: Food can only be sourced from the resort restaurant (although there’s a tiny shop right outside selling biscuits, chips/crisps and fizzy drinks, plus things like hair oil and shampoo). Breakfast is complimentary: a rotating south Indian menu plus a standard local poha (we had uttapam on Sunday and masala dosa on Monday). Quite acceptable, especially given the rubbish dosas I eat in Bombay. The Indian-Chinese is pretty decent too, although lacking the extra delicious oiliness of their Calcutta counterpart. The Hakka noodles, especially, travel very well. We took them on the train back, and even stone cold, they tasted better than the train fare.
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT TRAIN FARE: Konkan Kanya is a convenient train if you’re travelling from Mumbai or Thane, because you can climb aboard at 11 and wake up already in the heart of Malvan. However, food on this train is rubbish. The Mandovi express runs at more inconvenient times, but its snacks are infinitely better (and actually warm when they reach you). Their kitchen is apparently managed by a private company called Ahuja Catering, and this is their menu:
The rest of the resort menu follows standard MTDC norms – local flavours, a few Indian-Chinese dishes, and homogenised north Indian things like daal tadka, alu paratha and paneer butter masala. Everything’s good, I’m sure, but the tangy, coconutty Malvani cooking – which we stuck to – was brilliant. The catch is fresh and the sauces are yum! Prices are a bit steep for a little tucked-away beach resort, but then it’s been my experience that the “remote, therefore cheap” logic of Bengal tourism doesn’t apply in Goa/Maharashtra.
The grounds have four stray dogs, btw. They’re all female and unspayed, in case you were thinking of visiting with your non-neutered male dog during mating season. They’re starved for affection, and if you give them the slightest encouragement, they will follow you everywhere, even down to the beach.
WATER: And finally, the sea. So, so magnificent. Forceful, green, and just the right amount of choppy. Breakers crash on the beach even during low tide, and the water is so clear you can see your submerged limbs if you’re close to the shore.
Most people, however, seemed to heed the “DANGER” sign on the beach and stayed out of the water. Public Service Announcement: the beach isn’t dangerous. The shore is flat but a bit wavy, so you might put your foot down a trough and think for a second that you’re falling. But you’re not. The security guard insisted it dips sharply beyond a certain point, but I went shoulder-deep in the water (that’s waist-deep for regular sized people) and still didn’t find that point. So I’d say it’s probably safe for a bit of a waddle.
Incidentally, this madame followed us into the water for a bit, but scampered off when a big wave broke a foot away from her. She’s a water-hating Indian dog, so that was downright touching. Please show her some love if you visit.
FUN STUFF: There are islands close by that you can scuba dive from. People say you can meet dolphins if you’re lucky. You can also take a fishing boat out for a ride, but be warned that it will lurch up and down quite a bit, and if you suffer from motion-sickness the shore is your best bet.
The temperature of the water changes perceptibly throughout the day, and mid-morning to afternoon is the time to get your splashing done if you like your water warm. Once we exhausted ourselves floating with the waves, we took our e-readers and just chilled at the beach. Then when it got dark, we sat on the porch and watched films we had carried with us. Very old school, but internet is a bit sketchy around this place, so we had to fall back on old entertainments.
And then, limbs aching from the physical activity, we came back home.