Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sasawane : An ideal weekend getaway...

As summer reaches its unbearable zenith and the gaze slowly turns towards the heavens in search of those black clouds, there is always the urge to get away from it all: the energy-sapping humidity, the maddening crowds of the city and the other distractions of day-day life: work, TV etc etc. To get away from it all and be in some place where time passes by slowly and where you have nothing to do but just sit around and watch the world go by (or maybe just read a book in the midst of nature). And last week, I managed to do just that (though for a mere day and a half) and simply had the most amazing experience !!

Zoom view of Stock Exchange from
Sasawane beach
The place that I chose to go was a small village called Sasawane near Alibaug (see the bottom center in the map). For me, the best part about this place is its very close proximity to Mumbai. From the moment I left my doorstep in the distant suburb of Goregaon, I landed at the resort in Sasawane in 2 1/2 hours flat !! (1 hr to go the Gateway of India, another 1 hr to get to Mandwa via the catamaran and then a final 30 minutes to reach Sasawane). And this close proximity to Mumbai is pretty evident from the fact that the towering skyline of South Mumbai is distinctly visible from the Saswaane beach (see attached pictures - including a zoom view of the Stock Exchange building !!). But yet, even though South Mumbai might hardly be just 25-30 kms away (straight-line basis), Sasawane is, quite simply, a world apart, and therein is the next best part of the place. I could see Mumbai and yet feel so far away from it !. And Saswane has a good old-fashioned charm about it. The small beach there is empty, no fast-food restaurents around and only a couple of resorts/holiday homes. Its not like Alibaug, which has almost been transformed into a mini-Mumbai (atleast over the weekends). Talking about the Saswane beach, it is the first beach south of Mumbai along the long Konkan coast-line and hence enjoys a unique distinction. 

Map showing Sasawne right at bottom
The place we chose to stay was a wonderful home-stay called Sagar Darshan. Situated just besides the beach, it is maintained by the Apte family for last 20 years or so. And they are quite courteous and hospitable. The rooms are neat and decent (do not expect five-star standards), the food was home-made and wonderful and there was plenty of space just to laze around and do nothing. There is no TV in the rooms and while that meant I did not see the IPL final (not that I missed it), it also meant that I got so much more time to do everything else. Its quite amazing how the absence of TV and the Internet suddenly gives you so much time in life !!. But being a home-stay there are certain ground rules one must follow: its open only for families, lunch and dinner is the standard rice-dal-sabji-roti fare one gets at home (but highly tasty though :) and it needs to be ordered well in advance (there are no eating options outside, in a place which almost goes to sleep after sunset !!). So be careful of these if you plan to go out there and if its OK with you, I can assure you will have the most wonderful time. Alibaug is about an hour's drive away by regular ST buses, which too, I travelled after many years and I really salute these ST services that connect every nook and corner of the state together and are virtually the lifeline of thousands of far-flung villages. Just besides the home-stay is a museum housing the works of the renowned sculptor Late Shri Nanasaheb Karmarkar, which is definitely worth a visit.
Quite and secluded Saswane beach

So whether you have a long weekend coming up or just need a place to relax with your family, Saswaane (and there are many such places along the rich Konkan Coast - check out the website Hotels in Konkan) is definitely recommended. So go ahead and enjoy that break !!
View of the Sagar Darshan
home stay

Unfortunately, this might be the wrong time to post this since once the monsoon arrives, the Gateway-Mandwa catamaran service closes down and these places becomg quite inaccessible (not to mention the heavy rains lashing the coast). But October and thereafter is a great time to visit.


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