One of the reasons we called ourselves ‘The Untourists’ is we get to visit interesting locations due to the nature of our work : film-making. Many of these locations aren’t the ones we would have visited otherwise. One such shoot took us unexpectedly to Mandarmani.
At nearly 13km long, Mandarmani is the longest beach stretch in India. The geography is such that the sea is generally calm here, but the tide rises a fair bit. We were soon to find that out.
Back in February 2021, when the Coronavirus Pandemic seemed to be under control and things were opening up, we had to fly to Kolkata for a film which had to be shot on a beach. We were hoping to shoot it in Goa so we could drive down, but some circumstances insisted we shoot near Kolkata, herself a charming city full of heritage, so we locked on Mandarmani. Well, I am glad for the experience.
Having delivered a couple of films, and a hectic round of pitching etc, we decided in November last year, to drive down to Diveagar and Harihareshwar. The drive itself was extremely scenic, and we booked ourselves at the MTDC ‘Exotica’ in Diveagar. We were very apprehensive about the quality of stay and food, (we always look for a clean, dry room with a non-smelly dry toilet, but it seems its too much to ask for in most places) but were pleasantly surprised. More so with the food. Not having much time on hand, we stayed only for a night at Diveagar, and left the next morning for Harihareshwar. We really wished we had spent another day at lovely Diveagar though. Its a tiny but beautiful sleepy little beach town, and we had one of the most amazing meals at a home stay kind of place called ‘Patil’s’.
The drive through coastal Maharashtra is divine, and I hope it never becomes too touristy.
We had the most amazing experience on the way back, via Pali (since we don’t like driving on NH17, we are always looking for alternate routes). The sun had set and the remaining light was fading fast. While driving, we saw a shadow fly past us and overtake our Skoda Yeti. We slowed the car to realise it was a Barn Owl, which had sighted a rodent on the road ahead. I stopped the car so as not to disturb the hunt, and also to get a better view. The Owl swept down and landed in a pool of light from my Yeti’s headlamps for its kill. A few seconds of chase, and the Owl flew away with its dinner. We were too mesmerised to even think of taking photos. Moments like these make such road trips unforgettable.
Update: I had first visited Murud Janjira about 10 years ago. I had experienced a beautiful drive by the sea, which is now gone, and sadly the sea side has been bought over and converted into private properties. I am updating this articles with some new photos.
Alibag is located some 100 ams south of Mumbai. The drive is beautiful. Its become heavily commercialised now with all the real estate going through the roof. These images are from 2006, and I haven’t visited the place since. This trip was right after the monsoons. The landscape would look very different in the summers … Read more
A beautiful beach, now commercialised, it is a roughly 3-4 hour drive from Mumbai. The beach has white sand, and we loved it in the monsoons. Its always nice to explore the villages and areas around, and we discovered some beautiful plantations, streams and villages. Alibag and Murud-Janjira are nearby beaches. From Wikipedia: Kashid is … Read more
Tarapur is a sleepy little town/village some 45km north of Virar, near Mumbai. These images are from my FTII Diploma Film recce in the summer of 2005. A lot must have changed since then. The town was a narrow road with houses on both sides. Tarapur used to have a prominent Parsi population, which has dwindled since. The town has some very interesting and beautiful old houses. The major occupation at the time was making gold jewellery dies by hand. I had one of the best Parsi meals of my life at the Parsi Dharamshala in Tarapur. During the recce we had literally stayed in a garage kind of place called ‘Master Lodge’, where the bathroom had a water mug with baby scorpions under it. Another place I want to revisit.