Tarkarli Experience: The Place: Tarkarli is nothing more than a small village with the beach as its main attraction. If you run down a search for accommodation in Tarkarli you might get bombarded with an array of resorts giving it the feel of a developed location. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The only place worthy of being called a resort here is the MTDC. The other “resorts” are nothing more than one or two room accommodations converted into tourist homes by their owners in an attempt to cash in on the growing tourist influx into this erstwhile sleepy hamlet. You could go for these “resorts” though if the rates at MTDC are beyond your reach or if you simply want to have the feel of a local homestay with homecooked meals. A room can be had for as low as 500rs., with some air-conditioned rooms going for 1500rs during peak season. The only other proper hotel in this area would be “Saagar Sangam” not situated on the beach but on the riverfront with decent rooms going for 2500rs. The people of this village (and of those in the entire konkan belt) are very helpful and polite. You need not know Marathi to survive (though it helps sometimes)
Food, sight-seeing and shopping: The Beach: The beach is one of the cleanest and the most beautiful on the konkan coast.
Don’t go by the reviews of most of the over imaginative people who describe all konkan beaches as having “silvery” sands and “turquoise” and “emerald” blue clear waters. I had even read that you could see upto twenty feet below the surface. Well the sand here is soft and white but as far as the water is concerned you wouldn’t see your feet if you were wading in knee-deep water. The fact is that this kind of clear water is nowhere to be seen on any beach on the Indian mainland. One would have to go to Lakshadweep or Andaman islands to experience this or to other island locations like Maldives. Beach-buffs who have not seen such beaches immediately get transported to heaven whenever they visit any clean beach and start writing poetry to describe them. The beach has not been commercialized at all so you wouldn’t be bothered by vendors. Fishermen taking out their nets on the beach in the evening are very interesting to watch. I did see a jeep with parasailing but didn’t try it. Except weekends and vacations there are hardly any people on the beach and that too towards the evenings.
Activities & things to do: Other Activities and Sightseeing: Motor bikes are available on daily hire basis at reasonable rates from the resort for moving around. A visit to the Sangam point where the Karli river meets the sea is a must-do. This would take about 20 minutes drive from the MTDC resort and you would see the sea on one side and the river on the other for a good part of the road. At this point you would see the Bhogave beach on the other side of the river and a small island forms between the two during low tide.
Dolphin watching is another activity which is advisable during early morning hours by a boat ride into the sea. Speed boat and water scooter rides are also arranged by MTDC on the Karli river not very far from the resort itself.
Another popular activity you could indulge in here is snorkeling for which you are taken to the Sindhudurg fort by boats from the Malvan jetty (this takes about 8-10 minutes). Actually you would see a lot of hoardings for all these activities all over Tarkarli and you could arrange this by talking to these people directly. But we found “Damania” to be the best of the lot. Their boat had a seating capacity for 20 along with a small changing room onboard which we did not find in any other boat (with others you have to avail the local toilet at the Malvan jetty for changing before and after snorkeling). All of them charge the same amount (250rs) for a 20 minute guided snorkeling. Before getting into the water the instructor will show you how to breathe through your mouth-piece and no previous experience or training is required. Life-buoys are provided so you need not know how to swim to enjoy this and your guide tags you along with him- so all you have to do is just keep watching and enjoying. The water here too is not exactly crystal clear but has a greenish tinge to it. Visibility may vary from 5-10 feet depending upon the time of the day. The guides use bread crumbs to attract fish close to you but what I found completely disgusting was that these people are willing to pluck corals just to amuse you. What they don’t understand is that they are destroying the fragile environment here and I had to ask my guide twice to stop doing it just to show me.
A visit to the Sindhudurg fort itself is an option for history buffs.
Travel tips, How to reach, travel warnings etc: Getting There: Tarkarli is about 550 km from Mumbai, so be prepared for a 12-14 hours on the road if you decide to drive down to this place or take a bus to Malvan, the nearest town. To reach there you have to continue on the Mumbai-Goa highway till Kasal from where you have to take a detour for Malvan. Tarkarli village is about 6 km further from here.
However you would reach much faster if you continue on the Mumbai-Bangalore Highway NH4 upto Kolhapur and then take a detour for Malvan. Expect to pay toll fare upto 350rs if you decide to take this route.
Alternatively, you could take a train to Kudal (about 9-10 hrs) from where a bus or auto will take you to Malvan bus depot and then you can take an auto further to your destination.
A Few Tips: 1)Do not pay any advance for booking any accommodation if you not going during peak season or on weekends. MTDC’s availability can be checked online and you could check-out a few others options close-by before you decide where to stay. 2) The restaurant Chaitanya close to the Malvan Jetty has the best food in the vicinity and the only restaurant with an AC section.3) SBI ATM is close to Chaitanya.
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