Amboli, a paradise regained

Last Updated 16 March 2013, 13:15 IST

Our idea of a relaxed family holiday destination has always been Goa. Nothing can beat the pleasure of lazing on the beach and getting a taste of authentic Goan cuisine.

But, on our recent holiday to Goa, we met a family from Maharashtra, who suggested a hill station named Amboli, which was just 90 km away from Goa. The short distance from Goa to Amboli made us extend our holiday, pack our bags and drive down to Amboli. And, we didn’t regret our decision.

Amboli, lying in the Sahyadri hills of western India, is situated at an altitude of 690 metres. It is the first hill station after the coastal highlands of Goa, and is relatively unexplored. The drive up to the hill station itself was quite picturesque — the scenic splendour it offered was simply out of this world. Being one of the world’s eco hot-spots, the place abounds in a variety of flora and fauna, adding to its beauty.

The historical facts about Amboli are very interesting. The Amboli village came into being as one of the staging posts along the road from Vengurla Port to the city of Belgaum, which was extensively used by the British to supply their garrisons in south and central India. Legend has it that there are 108 Shiva temples in and around Amboli, of which only a dozen have been uncovered, one as recently as in 2005.

Armed with these details about the place, we set out to explore it, and enjoyed every minute of it. Although there are not many ‘touristy’ things to do in Amboli, the calm and quiet environment, pristine nature, unpolluted air, and above all, good natured locals can make your trip worthwhile.

The ideal way to enjoy Amboli, if you ask me, is to drive around the place, find yourself a quiet spot, and engage in silent commune with nature.

Since the place is relatively well-protected from the usual tourist madness, finding hotel accommodations will not be much of a problem. They are quite wallet-friendly too. However, none of the hotels offer guided tours into the forest. If you are interested in exploring the forest, which is the prime attraction of this hill station, you will have to plan your own expedition, like we did.

If history interests you to no end, then with some careful planning, you can make the best use of your stay in Amboli by visiting Devgad, Sindhudurg and Vijaydurg in the northern part of the district.

We had always heard our Marathi friends rave about the juicy mangoes of Devgad, and fortunately for us, we happened to be there in the mango season. Our joy knew no bounds, as we feasted to our heart’s content on the king of fruits. Our next stops were Sindhudurg and Vijaydurg, both of which had magnificent forts that spoke of Shivaji’s might. Though time has taken its toll on the structure of both the forts, the sheer magnitude of their size left us spellbound.

We were told the district also boasts of pristine beaches like Tarkarli, Malwan, Shiroda, Vengurla, Aarawali, Redi and Bhogave, along its coastline. Since we had our fill of beaches in Goa, we decided to skip the beach circuit and enjoy our commune with nature in all its green magnificence.

Amboli definitely has a lot to offer. What’s more, it’s just 70 km from Belgaum. So, the next time you plan a trip to Goa or Belgaum, you should consider including Amboli in your agenda. Or, better still, plan a week-long trip to Amboli itself, and enjoy the many colours of the place.

(Published 16 March 2013, 13:15 IST)

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