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Old 7th March 2022, 12:57   #1
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Default Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior

Prologue


I was drained out.
More than the heat, the humidity was sapping my strength. The car A/c was battling the heat in vain. I had been stupid enough to park her in the sun during my lunch break, and despite leaving the doors open and driving with all windows rolled down for quite some time, the heat clung to the insides, like a leech firmly entrenched on it's host.
Would this day ever end? Would I find the fleeting pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Or would the warrior remain as elusive as ever, like some hard to recollect name on the tip of the tongue?

Mr. Mahurkar took a long look at me, and with a twinkle in his eye said
Let's go.
I slotted the car in 1st gear and we started the last leg of my journey (I hoped). The route took us meandering through the narrow lanes of Ratnagiri. Old houses with their clay tiled roofs were guarded by low fence walls built using Jambha stone, abundantly found in Konkan. They were covered with dried blackish moss, which stood testimony to the heavy rains on the coast.

See that old temple? It was built by Sardar Phadke, who served the Maratha empire during the Peshwa's time. He had his wada here, but it's in ruins nowadays. Yes, take this right turn.
Sardar Phadke was part of the Maratha Navy. In fact during those times, the high tide brought the sea right till this chowk. They floated in their ships for repairs. When done, they floated them out to the sea on the next high tide. Neat eh?


Whoa! Mr. Mahurkar was a living mine of very interesting information.
Note to self: Come back again with time to spare and just listen to him and learn.

I was still wondering how the old ships must have looked back then, when suddenly I heard the magic words.
We are here. Pull over.

---------------------------------------------

Over the history of mankind, numerous children have fared very poorly in school. Understandably, their parents have despaired and justifiably so.
However, once a while, such a child is so gifted that it rises above all academics and makes a name for himself, that resounds in history for centuries.

Recently I came to know of one such child.
Born in the fag end of the 19th century, the boy was more interested in extra curricular activities. His antics were the bane of his mother's anguish and his father's frustration. The father finally took the extreme measure of ejecting him out of his domicile, after he failed to pass the school exam. For the second time in a row.

Armed only with his wits and a supreme confidence, the boy started off from rural Ratnagiri and made it all the way to England, via Germany! When The Great War broke out, he quit his job and managed to don the uniform despite all odds. During the course of four years, when "normal" people served in only one branch of the armed forces, the boy, nay a man now, served in the Navy, Army as well as the Airforce. There are legends which state, that he even bombed the Kaiser's palace! His antics caught the attention of the English speaking world and earned him a pat on the back from King George V himself, as well as a medal and a sword of honour.
Or so the legend says.

But then I have heard of the legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood as well. Sadly, no such people existed in real life.

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The legend - Dattatray Laxman Patwardhan

This man's legend was absolutely fantastic. In fact it was so exciting, that I decided to attempt writing a book about him.
But should the book be fact or fiction? Naturally, I wondered how much of the legend was true? So I decided to find out for myself.
I spend the next few months pouring over old British war records as well as contemporary publications. Slowly, out of the mist, a concrete form started to emerge, backed by concrete evidence.

By now, I had almost all the facts with me. Only one thing was missing. Where it all started. His birth place. Ratnagiri, MH. Google maps indicated it lay 6 hours away. So I prepared by trusty steed, clicked my heels and started off on the yellow brick road.

Last edited by RedTerrano : 20th March 2022 at 10:09.
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Old 20th March 2022, 10:07   #2
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Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-pune-ratnagiri.jpg
Pune - Ratnagiri Route

After consulting TBHP on the latest road conditions, I chose the NH48 + SH166 route.
I had planned to start off early but it was almost 0630 by the time I left home. Thanks to my tardiness, instead of open roads, I now encountered the bunch of usual suspects. Morning walkers. Newspaper and milk delivery guys. Early office goers. And truck traffic. But it was still easy going till I neared the new Katraj tunnel.
Suddenly tail lamps started lighting up and before I knew it, there were vehicles all round me.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-katraj-traffic-jam.png
Traffic jam near Katraj tunnel

Sigh! So much for a relaxed morning drive.
We continued to crawl bumper to bumper for quite some time. Eventually I reached the bottle neck. The culprit was a long trailer, who seemed to have lost his transmission / gearbox on the incline. He had managed to stop without hitting anyone, but the road underneath his vehicle had a very visible oil puddle. Unfortunately he had stopped in such a way that 2 of the 3 lanes were totally blocked.
Everyone jostled to pass everyone else in true Indian fashion and we were off again!

Soon I went through the Katraj tunnel. For some strange reason the section inside the tunnel was serrated. Being early morning, visibility was low so I couldn't see the surface. But I surely felt the continuous brrrrrrrrrrrrrr vibrations in my two sensitive organs which are not my eyeballs. Perhaps they had scraped off the surface in preparation of a new surface coat. Perhaps it was a classic case of Not my maintenance job. Anything is possible in India.

Thanks to the Chinese virus, it was quite some years where I had set off on the road, and an unwanted change was immediately perceptible. Gone were the truck drivers of yore, who followed lane discipline and even helped you by signalling on blind turns or the twists and turns on ghat roads. Now it looked like a new breed of truckers had infested the roads, lane discipline be damned.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-unruly-truck-traffic.png
Unruly truck traffic

Though I told myself to take it easy multiple times, the frustration kept on mounting as these truckers caused chaotic counterintuitive overtaking and traffic patterns. That time, I thought perhaps it was the time of the day? The truckers who most probably had driven all night were exhausted. But I suffered the same on my return trip as well, when it was well past noon. Grudgingly I accepted that the world has indeed changed.

But not all changes are bad. As pointed out by @vivek95 here (The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway) the road condition had drastically improved.
Finally! Some positive change I thought to myself as I coasted over the excellent tarmac...till I hit the toll naka at Anewadi.
Irony in two pictures.


Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-cash-1.jpg
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-cash-2.jpg

Both the trucks in front of me, paid cash, which the operator happily accepted. As I noticed him happily perched in his seat, I got a distinct feeling this was a routine thing. Also he was extremely arrogant and wasted too much time. After a minute or two I threw patience to the wind and laid it heavily on the horn. Continuously.
The operator tried to find out if looks could kill and threw daggers at me. I blared my horn even more enthusiastically. Soon enough, the car behind me joined the orchestra and finally he ushered the trucks ahead.
As I pulled over, he was admiring my handsome countenance. Mentally I twirled my imaginary moustache. The system scanned my tag, deducted payment, the boom barrier went up I went through

Quote:
No cash payments from 1st January 2021. All toll payments via FasTag only
Notice how the (No) is conveniently cut off from the board.
Government proposes, toll booth operator disposes.
I look forward to the day the toll nakas become defunct when the Govt adopts the GPS based toll system. Morons like the operator need to be kept out of the citizens' way.

I crossed Karad. The navigation lady pointed out I needed to get on the service road, and I obliged. Dodging some digging work by the road side, I drove underneath the highway and crossed over.
I had now joined SH166.

Like NH48, the road condition here was pretty good. During my whole journey on both the highways I estimate 97% good road condition. There are some spotty patches, but in most places, construction crew were already on the scene.


Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-sh-166-smooth-road.jpg
Excellent roads on SH166

By now the sun had come up. I had remembered to keep myself hydrated on a regular basis. Now I felt the urge to fertilize the shrubs by the road side. Fortunately I noticed a nice shady spot, decided it was just perfect and pulled over.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-shade.jpg
Much welcome shade

I got down with a sigh of relief and finished my horticultural obligation. From the moment I had switched off my engine and got down, I had been aware of a very slight whoop whoop sound. It was very soft and rhythmic, definitely man made I concluded. It was so soft, that even the chirping birds sounded louder. Whatever it was, perhaps it was at quite some distance.
Meh. As long as it was not from my car, I didn't care much.
And then, I turned around to go back to my car, and I realised what it was.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-don-quixote.jpg
Don Quixote was here

I thoroughly enjoyed the drive, all the way till Ratnagiri. Excellent roads and sparse traffic meant I could comfortably drive in the 60-90 band even on mountain roads.

I had pre booked my stay at Hotel Sea Fans I would definitely recommend it. Clean A/c rooms. Prompt staff. The only glitch is the parking. There is none inside the premises. I ended up parking in the empty space next to the hotel, which the manager assured me was well covered by their CCTV system.
Though I didn't like it, I had no other option. Grudgingly I acquiesced. Turned out I need not have worried. My baby stayed safe and sound the next morning.
Not only that, she had even made a new friend.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-dog-pee.jpg
F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
🎵 I'll be there for you

Last edited by RedTerrano : 20th March 2022 at 11:39.
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Old 20th March 2022, 12:09   #3
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Default Re: Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior

Besides the parking, I did not find the hotel wanting in anything. Except one thing.
Though they do have an attached restaurant (with room service), shockingly there was no sea food on the menu! But this oversight was easily rectified on my end. Right next door lies the Masala Kitchen. As per google, this is one excellent source for authentic seafood in Ratnagiri.

I can personally confirm their Pomfret thali is absolutely lip smacking. The interiors are cool and nicely designed. The staff very helpful and polite. And the fish, soft like butter. The Solkadi, absolutely perfect.
If you are ever in Ratnagiri and feel like fresh sea food, do drop in at Masala Kitchen.
Note: They also had bottled fish pickles for sale, in case it interests you.

Besides this minor hiccup, the people at Hotel Sea Fans, seemed to have absolutely nailed it when they followed Conrad Hiltion's axiom of a good hotel.
Location, location, location.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-hotel-sea-fans.jpg
That building in the background, right next to the beach? Yup. That's Hotel Sea Fans

My evening was spent exploring the surroundings.

Welcome to Ratnagiri.
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-gateway-ratnagiri.jpg
Gateway of Ratnagiri

The promenade seemed to be a popular place
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-gor-1.jpg

The word beach invokes images of golden sands. Ratnagiri has...this.
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-gor-3.jpg
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-gor-4.jpg
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-gor-5.jpg

I spent quite some time watching this young man. There was something about the way he cast his rod with an elegant flick of his wrist, which made the simple action so enjoyable to watch. Feel the nibble, reel it in, collect and deposit it in the bag tied around his waist, repeat. The best ones always make it look so easy.
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-gor-fisherman.jpg

The promenade lit up. Reminded me so much of Puducherry.
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-gor-6.jpg

Last edited by RedTerrano : 20th March 2022 at 13:39.
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Old 20th March 2022, 13:07   #4
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Besides gorging myself on the sea food and exploring the sea shore, visiting Ratnadurg fort had also been on my ToDo list.

Being an amateur history buff, I always love visiting places from times past. In my lifetime I have visited quite a few forts, but this one had a special place in my heart. Ratnadurg was captured by Shivaji Maharaj in 1670, and it remained under Maratha control right till the time the British took over India.

Raja Rajendra Chola I (947 CE – 1014 CE) raised the greatest armada in Indian history and pushed the borders of his empire to encompass Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei all the way till Indonesia.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-chola-empire.svg.png
Chola Empire - Greatest Conquest

Sadly Indian naval presence after him took a nose dive. An oft repeated "wisdom" was sea faring would lead to corrupting the religion. This sad saga continued till Shivaji Maharaj established his fledgling kingdom. Ever the alert King, Maharaj soon realised the importance of a strong Navy, to counter the growing menace and naval dominance of the Europeans. Thanks to him, since the Cholas, Indian waters saw ships sail under an Indian flag, after a gap of five centuries.

During the rule of Chatrapati Shahu, Kanhoji Angre was made the Admiral of the Maratha Navy. Kanhoji knew coastal India like the back of his hand and as a part of his defence strategy, he strengthened the fortifications of Ratnadurga, and turned it into a major servicing and base port.
I just had to visit the fort.

I enthusiastically started off. Google maps took through narrow lanes, lined by quaint houses. Though the sun was up, the trees offered much welcome shade.
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-ratnadurg-narrow-road.jpg

I continued on merrily till some trucks blocked my path. The supervisor ruefully shook his head and informed me of the major road laying work which had just commenced. Sorry, nobody allowed to pass through.

Damn! After coming this far.
Insisting on making the most of my visit (relegating Ratnadurg again to my ToDo list), I pointed wheels towards the Bhagwati Break Water.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-bhagwati-break-water.png
Bhagwati Break Water.

That's how it looks on the map.
Here it is in all it's glory.


Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-breakwater-1.jpg

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-breakwater-2.jpg

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-breakwater-3.jpg

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-breakwater-4.jpg

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Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-breakwater-7.jpg

Tucked away near the base of the cliff I found this.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-cave1.jpg

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-cave-2.jpg

If cave exploration is your thing, apparently a group of local youth will happily take you inside (and bring out safely).

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-cave-3.png

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-cave-4.png

Check them out here: https://www.ratnadurgamountaineers.in/caving/

With a heavy heart I bid adieu to Ratnagiri and set off for home.
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-rest-stop.jpg

This little one insisted on seeing me off, and he wished me safe travels.
Do zoom in on him and prepared to be wowed by mother nature.
Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-insect.jpg
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Old 20th March 2022, 13:26   #5
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Epilogue


I was still wondering how the old ships must have looked back then, when suddenly I heard the magic words.
We are here. Pull over.

I snapped out of my reviere and pulled over.
We got out, and with a smile on his face Mr. Mahurkar pointed it out.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-birthplace.jpg

Could this be it? Was this the house?
Didn't look that old.
An old lady was sitting on the steps. Mr. Mahurkar stepped forward, chatter her up a but and beckoned me. Ushered in by the granny, we entered the house.
And the first thing which caught my eye was this.

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-patwardhan-photo.jpg

Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior-photo-closeup.jpg

This was it.
I had travelled back a hundred years and had arrived at my destination.
I had finally found what I had been seeking.
The birth place of Dattatray Laxman Patwardhan.



-----------------------------------------------

For me, Dattatray Laxman Patwardhan (or as I call him Dattu, since we have become friends) is an absolutely fascinating man. Right till the very end, he lived life on his own terms. Blessed with an audacious personality at birth, combined with a never give up attitude, he totally exploited every situation with the ability to his advantage, with the ability to quickly think on his feet and a daring nature.

Sadly, not many people are aware of this legend, nor about the role he played in kicking the British out of India. I intend to correct both these shortcomings in my second book.

Now enough of this travelogue. I have managed to write myself into a corner in the book's first draft and there is work to be done.
Till then, safe travels.

Fin.
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Old 21st March 2022, 08:47   #6
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Mod note: Thread moved to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 21st March 2022, 11:29   #7
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Default Re: Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
Attachment 2286298
F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
�� I'll be there for you
Wonderfully scripted and beautifully displayed. Reminds me of my solo ride between Bombay and Goa via the coastal state highway in 2013.
By the way how are your Turanza T001 performing, any comments on your tyres would be appreciable.

Regards

Last edited by Sushil Pingua : 21st March 2022 at 11:33. Reason: proofread
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Old 21st March 2022, 15:55   #8
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Default Re: Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior

I had to read your travelogue immediately after reading a few lines. Your writing style captured my interest. From your eyes and words, I look forward to knowing more of the Indian Legend Dattatray Laxman Patwardhan.
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Old 21st March 2022, 17:01   #9
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Originally Posted by ashpalio View Post
I had to read your travelogue immediately after reading a few lines. Your writing style captured my interest. From your eyes and words, I look forward to knowing more of the Indian Legend Dattatray Laxman Patwardhan.
Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sushil Pingua View Post
Wonderfully scripted and beautifully displayed. Reminds me of my solo ride between Bombay and Goa via the coastal state highway in 2013.


Regards
Thank you.

Quote:
By the way how are your Turanza T001 performing, any comments on your tyres would be appreciable.
I eventually went for the Bridgestones
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Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
Yes, finally I went for the Bridgestones. The new shoes has led to a noticeably smoother ride and low road noise. Also the grip has definitely improved and I had to mentally remap myself for the braking. Overall I am very satisfied.
They left me with no reason to complain. I got excellent grip on cement (NH) as well as tar (SH) roads. Nice bite so as to enhance braking and excellent cornering.
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Old 21st March 2022, 17:52   #10
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Default Re: Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior

Lusciously written, and love to see the red machine was able to take good care of you even in the bad roads and terrible heat. The cave trek seems interesting and have added to my go-to list whenever I'm passing by the place.
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Old 21st March 2022, 17:53   #11
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Default Re: Pune to Ratnagiri - Chasing the warrior

Glad that you found the origin of the great pilot, who did his flying in 1914- 22. Travels like these have their own charm and I can imagine the joy of finding it out. Many thanks for sharing the drive and will be now looking forward for the book.
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Old 22nd March 2022, 12:35   #12
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Originally Posted by sukhbirST View Post
Glad that you found the origin of the great pilot, who did his flying in 1914- 22. Travels like these have their own charm and I can imagine the joy of finding it out. Many thanks for sharing the drive and will be now looking forward for the book.
Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by black.beauty View Post
Lusciously written, and love to see the red machine was able to take good care of you even in the bad roads and terrible heat. The cave trek seems interesting and have added to my go-to list whenever I'm passing by the place.
Thank you.
It might be a good idea to check with that local group before you make plans. Going purely by pictorial evidence, the iron grille seems to be a more recent addition. Don't know if it's setup as a safety measure, or the authorities have banned it.
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