52. AGARDANDA,KUDE,MHASLA, SRIVARDHAN

On leaving Rajapuri or the more commonly known nearby place Murud-Janjira, if you want to travel towards south on the Maharashtra coast the best option probably is to cross the Rajapuri creek at Agardanda and land at Dighi port on the opposite side of the creek. From there it is an easy ride to Srivardhan.

We go to this place. What do you see there?

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It’s a Launch to take you across the Rajpuri Creek. This creek was the place where the RDX for the 1993 Mumbai Blasts was landed.

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We decide not to take this easy option. I don’t remember the exact reason. There is nothing in the Charter of TheBlueDrive against taking a ferry when it takes your car. One possible reason is that the creek is quite wide and taking the short cut would have robbed us of beautiful sights around a part of the wide creek. And then there are those Buddhist caves near Kude to see. To reach Kude you need to cross this bridge across the Rajapuri Creek.

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But a few kilometers before that we pass through beautiful countryside and wetlands.

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We could see some uncommon birds like this Snipe.

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And this Ashy Drongo.

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It is time to harvest the rice paddies.

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The villages around are pretty.

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After crossing and driving a bit we reach the place where we need to stop for the caves. There is no signpost, no indication whatsoever that one can walk and see some of the most beautiful Buddhist caves. The indifference of the ASI, apathy of Maharashtra Tourism and the ignorance of the rest of the government machinery have conspired to keep this place away from the public gaze. From the main tarmac road, one has to walk a Kilometre or so to reach this unprotected place.

The caves are in fairly good condition compared to many others.

Even the inscriptions are legible.

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The caves have some nice frogs.

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We leave the caves behind and proced towards Srivardhan. On the way to our let we can see this little fort called Tala Fort. No, we dont want to climb it. Just say hello toit from the roadside.

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We reach Mhasla around lunchtime and decide to stop at Srivardhan for the lunch and for the night. We visit the beautiful beach in the evening to see a cricket match in progress.

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The sunset is beautiful.

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This plant is growing wild near the beach.

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& this citrus fruit

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On the beach it is difficult to know which girl is the most beautiful as manyof them are in burkha.

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Text by Suryakiran Naik

Pictures by Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik

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