Visiting Purnagad Fort; Our Last Day in Konkan

By Rutuja Bhagwat - May 26, 2018


After a terrible stomach and 14 hours of power cut, I woke up next morning as though some disaster had happened earlier night. But I felt better; no nausea, no stomachache...

On the evening I had reached Goankhadi, I had shared my wish of helping in the kitchen. I had even asked the grannies how I could help them, on reaching. However, they had replied saying I could help them later. The later hadn’t arrived until this morning when I felt extremely remorseful for not working for one entire day.

So that morning, when the grannies were discussing breakfast with all of us, and when it was concluded that we have rotis rolled up with garlic chutney or grounded sugar with ghee as stuffing, I started rehearsing in my mind about how to approach the grannies and disclose to them my plan of making rotis.

We were visiting Purnagad fort that day, which was near to the house. However, since neither of us was ready, I finally gathered the courage to tell Pratik's grannies that I wanted to make rotis. I approached when one of them was making rotis and thankfully, she handed over the stove and the rolling pin to me. In addition, I also jokingly said how I would love to check if I could really make rotis outside of my house.

I made about 10 rotis. Out of those, one was screwed up and the remaining nine were decent and I thought maybe the flour was not up to the mark since it was bought from outside. Nonetheless, by one means or another,  I was not satisfied. I knew I could do better, I knew I have done better, but somehow, my skills didn’t work out there. The rotis were round, but they were not as soft as they usually are; they were, in fact, a little rigid too. I was disappointed because I didn’t want them to judge my cooking based on these rotis. 

So this is how the day started...

After breakfast, we changed into a fresh set of clothes and started for the Purnagad fort. When we were nearing it, we came across Purnagad beach, which looked shabby. At one point, I was not even sure if that was the Purnagad beach or just one of the appalling extensions of the Gaonkhadi beach. We continued and reached a point that looked like a dead-end to go any further. We were dubious as to whether to park our car here, but asked a local to confirm.

Akshay captures us on the rocky steps before starting the stroll for the fort

Akshay took out the camera from his backpack and attached a portrait lens to it. He asked the three of us to sit on the steps so that he could shoot. This was the first time Akshay had been friendly so even I started loosening up my modest temperament. We posed, we laughed, we traded the subjects. It was finally relieving to have a good time together.

We started walking for the fort and both the photographers had a camera in their grasp. Adjacent to the house, there was a small private land that was covered with a lot of trees. Apparently, the men with the cameras found a bird species on one of the branches, so they stopped for capturing it. Pratik and I stood watching them while making sense of which bird they had spotted this time.

When this was on, a woman approached. At first, I overlooked her reasoning she was only a bystander, but later I noticed her again. She belonged from a well-to-do family and was perhaps on a trip from either of the top cities like Mumbai, Pune or Nasik. She was dressed in a pair of jeans and a pink top with a mangalsutra around her neck. We exchanged a light smile and kept taking a gander at the men who were busy with the feathered creatures.

After few minutes, the lady proposed to us saying, “You can go inside the gate if you want”. We then understood she was the owner of the house and the private land with a lot of trees belonged to her. The men were so eager to shoot the birds, that within no time they entered the gate; they were so engrossed, they did not even thank the lady. But to compensate, Pratik and I thanked her with a warm smile.

Before long, as the photography continued, couple of more individuals drew nearer. We understood that the lady was in actuality the daughter-in-law and the house belonged to an eldery couple. The old and the young couple together were visiting their house from Mumbai. On talking further, we learnt that the lady's maiden house was in Thane, rather, it was two minutes away from my house in Thane, and that she was married to a man that lived in Mumbai. What a small world, I thought! Meeting someone from the same city and the same locality 469 kilometres away. How intriguing!
The family of four were warm and well-disposed. They invited us inside their house and offered water; however, we told them we had carried water along. They revealed an offbeat road that was completely outlined by the sea. However, we could not go on it because of time constraints.

Mesmerized by the beautiful view from Purnagad fort

Finally, the men were contented with their captures and returned back to the human world and exchanged a few words with the family. We bid them goodbye and continued our stroll towards the main entrance of the fort. We noticed the fort was not well-kept. There were cottages all along the rocky steps, which were chaotic and not maintained properly. There were mango peels tossed in piles on the way, the inhabitants were noisy and arguing amongst themselves and twigs were scattered all around. I didn’t fancy this sight at all. This was not Konkan for me.

A few minutes before entering the gate, we came across a few workers. We sensed that some work was going on inside the fort, I later learned it was the restoration work. We entered the gate and the view in front opened up to another view which was an infinite perspective of the sea. We walked through the second door and landed on a piece to witness a delightful panorama ahead. We then explored the fort, which was so minuscule, that we could see the entire structure in one viewpoint. However, though a minisculur, the views from this fort had bowled us over. 

There’s not much information available about Purnagad fort, and few believe it was built by Shivaji Maharaj. However some also say it was built by Kanhoji Angre, an 18th Century Maratha Navy Admiral. No matter who built it, the fort gives you an awesome open door for good pictures, and maybe accumulate you for a quarter of your day.

When it was about 2 o’clock, we started for home. This is the reason why we could not take the offbeat road the family from Mumbai had recommended. We sat in the car and drove towards home.

I was baffled, firstly because of the unsatisfactory rotis and secondly, because it was our last day in Konkan. We were leaving next morning. Pratik and I spoke about how a dog was missing from this house and a canine's presence would have pleased our stay manifold. After lunch, while we were having tea in the veranda, Pratik hurrahed seeing a dog. I thought, just like the last time, the dog was on the road. But on checking myself, I saw him draw close to us. It was the same big dog, that resembled to a German Shepherd.

He came on the veranda and everyone was glad. On taking a closer look, we realized it was indeed a blend of a German Shepherd and an Indian one as his dark face, thick pine-like tail hinted towards a German breed, and the mustard fur clearly stated he was an Indian. The dog had a nametag around his neck that read "Sheru". I pondered, how many more dogs named Sheru am I gonna meet in my life?

Clicking selfie of us four on Purnagad fort while I'm being shot!


Read: The dog that touched my life

We played with him and everyone was marvelled. There was a mango vendor with us who was a villager and shared about Sheru's whereabouts. The dog belonged to a certain Naik from the same area, who are renowned for having a lot of dogs. They even have three female dogs that are a mix of Siberian Husky and a Pomerian. I remember, before leaving back for Mumbai, we had to collect raw mango pickle from an old woman and had to pass the Naik bungalow. We had seen a couple of more Indian dogs in their veranda while cruising by. Pratik and I were indeed impressed by the Naiks.

After a suprising afternoon, we got dressed for the Gaonkhadi beach again. That evening we had chosen to really drift in the waters and not simply dip our ankles and return. I packed my action camera and a towel. Off we started for the beach. My excitement was lesser as compared to last evening's. We reached the beach and observed that there were more people than the previous evening. Rather, there was nobody on the beach because it was raining heavily. It was low tide, which refrained us from going far inside. We just went till our knees touched the water and then sat on the seabed. The waves lashed our faces.

The remaining two were standing on the shore and were looking after our bags. I was more afraid for my iPhone since it was in my jute backpack on the shore. I can't really trust men when it comes to safeguarding things, as contrary to my trust with women.
Just like I was afraid of, they left my bag unattended and advanced towards us for clicking our pictures.

Out of the number of things on the planet, my phone, my laptop, and my identity cards are the material possessions I'm most afraid of losing. After about a bunch of photographs, I requested Pratik's uncle to look after my phone because I was apprehensive of someone running away with my bag.

We clicked some beautiful slow-motion videos and candid shots with water droplets around. Soon, the sun started sliding down and the ambience light was fading out. It was transforming into dark. At 7 o’clock, we started for home. While we were about to reach the car, we came across another car and a bunch of boys listening to loud music. I recall the song was High Heels by Honey Singh. (This was simply to give you an understanding of how these beautiful beaches too are visited by loafers.)

Shot amidst tall suru trees (Australian Pine trees) outside Gaonkhadi beach

I wrapped the towel around my waist and sat in the car. My hair were drenching, my clothes were wet, and my outfit was embellished with sand. We reached home and I was somewhat awkward to turn up like a numbskull drenching wet. After Pratik's shower, I went in the bathroom. While I was having shower, the electricity was cut off. Thankfully I was finished with about 97% of the bath, but I required some more water to totally rinse me off and to guarantee I had no slippery substance on my body. I came out of the bath and within no time the power was back.

That night, we dined on sanjha (teekhat mithacha sheera as Pratik’s grandmother called it). We spent most of our night on the veranda. While I was working on my blog, others were capturing frogs, spiders, and chasing down owls in the neighbouring woods. The last night in Konkan, I thought...

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