A GUHAGAR ROAD TRIP EXPERIENCE
This Holi, my group of road trippers (which makes four of us in total), drove down to Guhagar, Ratnagiri. This blog is about our experience of our Guhagar road trip and our eco-friendly resort find in Guhagar, namely Baug Guhagar.
So let me start this blog with a story. The story of why the festival of Holi is celebrated, since it was our Holi trip to Konkan.
The Story of the Asura King, Hiranyakashipu
There was once a king called Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu was an evil Asura king who meditated only to get a boon from Brahma so that he could become invincible and could not be punished by any gods for his ruthless acts.
He had passed an order which said that the citizens of his kingdom could not worship any deity except for him. He was to be worshipped as god and he would execute anyone who did not follow this command. The twist in this tale is that his own son, Prahalad denied accepting him as god and kept being a loyal bhakta to Lord Vishnu.
The ego of Hiranyakashipu was hurt to an extent where he made numerous attempts to kill his own son but failed miserably.
‘Jaako rakhe Saiya, maar sakhe na koi’.
This means that no one or nothing can harm you when god is the one who is taking care of you.
Story of Holi (Holika) Dahan
The conniving king, now in utter misery, remembered that his sister, Holika had a boon that she could not be burnt alive and so he asked Holika to sit in a firepit with Prahalad. The idea was that his sister would be unharmed whereas the son would be burnt to ashes but to his surprise, the opposite happened. Prahalad was unharmed and Holika was burnt alive!
The furious king meditated and called on the gods to get answers. The gods told him that the boon that Holika could not be burnt alive was only if she was alone but this time around, she was with Prahalad.
‘So why wasn’t Prahalad burnt with her?’ screamed the king. To this the gods replied that Prahalad was in deep meditation with Lord Vishnu himself and was hence protected by the almighty.
King understood that he had been outplayed by the gods and went on to devise more evil ways to kill his son.
This day when Lord Vishnu saved Prahalad and killed Holika is celebrated as Holi. The burning of the pyre is a symbolism of the evil being burnt and the good being saved by the gods.
Getting Back to The Travel Plan
That was the mythology, now about our travel plan. Holi came as a long weekend this year and no traveler would lose a long weekend to doing nothing, right?
Holi was on the 29th of March 2021 this year, which was a Monday. I was looking at a long weekend and I was certainly not going to sit at home and get bored. While browsing Instagram I came across a sponsored post of ‘Baug Guhagar’ and this place did look quite interesting.
Since I am located in Mumbai, I had to check it out on Google Maps. It was quite a realization to know that Baug Guhagar was a good 8-hour drive! It would thus be insane if I had to return on Monday and then resume work on Tuesday since the drive would be so exhausting.
I put this topic up for discussion with my travel buddies and we decided that we would all take a holiday on Friday and leave early in the morning. We would then return on Sunday and that would allow us to have our Monday as a rest day. Everything seemed to fall into its place thereafter. We made our booking and started a countdown to the D day, 26th of March 2021.
The Road Trip Begins
It was 5AM on Friday, the 26th of March 2021. All of us met on the highway near Mumbai’s domestic airport. I was meeting Christy Joseph for the first time, but I was happy to see another bald guy in the gang. I have been travelling with Mamta and Pooja since a while now, but this was my first trip with Christy.
We adjusted the luggage which was a challenge because my car does not have a boot. I drive a 2012 Maruti Suzuki Wagon R Green. Green is a model with factory fit CNG system which means the there is no usable space left in the car. My CNG system made it possible to drive to and from Guhagar at a fuel cost of less than INR2000. This cost was further divided into 4 parts and we only had to pay INR500 each towards fuel. I am sure that a train journey by Konkan Railway would have cost us more than that.
We took a quick snack break as soon as we crossed Kalamboli, Panvel. We all carry food and water during trips as it keeps us safe not only from COVID, but also from other food borne troubles; and saves a lot of money as well.
So, Google said that the journey was going to be about 7 hours, but we soon realized that it lied to us. We reached Baug Guhagar well after 3:30 in the afternoon and this means that we drove for a good 10 hours! What happened was that a bridge on the route that Google suggested was under repairs and that made us to take a ferry. This short journey took us around 30 mins which would have been 3 minutes if the bridge had been fine. And then it took another 10 minutes to get back to the main road once we were out of the ferry.
The road on this route was twisty and curvy and goes through. This further increases travel time, not to mention that the roads were pretty awful too.
Baug Guhagar: The Eco-Friendly Hotel
I came across a sponsored post of this place on Instagram and it looked quite tempting. I did not waste a minute in forwarding it in my WhatsApp group. I received an almost instant reply from Pooja and Mamta followed close. Mamta also invited a friend, Christy Joseph to join us and he agreed as well.
Baug Guhagar is one of those rare places that actually practices the concept of women empowerment. The women here are from the local village and it was a task for an NGO worker to convince their families that it was okay for the women of their families to work.
To top this initiative, the resort is eco-friendly too!
There is no air conditioning and there are a few rules and regulations to be followed. The rate per night, per person is around 800INR and it does not include any meals, so the total expense comes to about 1300INR per person, per night, with them. I feel that it is overpriced, yet I would say that it is an experience of its own kind.
Guhagar beach is a 5-minute drive, and a back-water lake is around 5-minute walking from here.
Guhagar: The Town
Words cannoyt clearly explain the beauty of this town, so I’ll use photos.
Guhagar is all about temples and beaches and lakes. Most of the residents are engaged in farming and fishing and they are doing quite okay. The literacy rate is over 86% which is amazing. The total population is 3024 people. I know it sounds like too few, but this is true.
Government has established a Municipal Corporation, but the panchayat head is still considered as the local leader by the villagers. My knowledge is that the panchayat is quite respected and consists of good people, unlike what we see in the movies. Everyone knows everyone here and the crime is next to zero.
Guhagar’s Infrastructure Broke my Heart
We have always seen such schools in the movies. While modern movies have stopped showing such schools, but the harsh reality is, that these exist in the villages. While our children in the cities have good educational facilities, children of the country are walking miles and attending schools like this one.
I could not capture much as exams were going on and I did not want to distract the staff nor the students!
It is impressive to note that despite the dilapidated state of infrastructure at such schools, the town has a literacy rate of over 86 percent!
Holi Celebrations in Guhagar
Legend says that an Asura by the name of Panchjanya kidnapped the son of Sandipani, locked him in a conch (shankh) and buried it deep in the sea. Sandipani was the guru of Lord Krishna. When the lord himself offered to pay guru dakshina, his guru asked for his kidnapped son to be returned.
Lord Krishna fought and tamed the Asura and freed the son of his guru. This shankh was now a possession of the Lord who named it Panchjanya from the demon and the demon was now known as Shankhasur from the Shankh.
It is said that Lord Krishna blew the Panchjanya to initiate the war of Mahabharat and that Shankhasur fought together with Arjuna and Bheema as well.The villagers dress up as the Asura and dance to collect some donations. These donations are then used for the betterment of the village and not a single penny is used by any single person for private gain.
Shankhasur of Guhagar collected INR 35000, quite a feat when the town’s total population itself is just 3023!
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