The NH 66 is lined with Gulmohar trees and trucks sporting whacky graffiti pass us by. Soon, we’re driving with mango plantations flanking the slopes on both sides. It’s a slightly tricky, uphill drive and veers upward suddenly. But you are rewarded with a welcome sign announcing that you have reached the quaint village around the Koyna Dam (one of the largest civil engineering projects commissioned after India's Independence, and the largest hydro-electric project in India) and the Koyna river reservoir behind it.
10 am: Koynanagar is a six-hour drive from Mumbai via NH 66. Our plan was to reach by evening, so we started in the morning and drove leisurely via Pune and Kolhapur. By mid-afternoon, we reached the Konkani town of Chiplun. Famous for its rice crops, there are rice stores at every corner here. The shopkeepers gave us a tour of the rice refineries, located just behind the stores.
4 pm: We reached Koynanagar by early evening, and checked in at Gursale Farms. Located atop a mountain, it gave us a perfect view of the dam, the lake and the river. We had a traditional meal of Zunka Bhakar accompanied with white onion, dry garlic chutney, and Dangar, a yogurt onion salad.
5 pm: We headed to the Nehru Garden. Situated on a hill slope, the park boasts of exotic flower gardens. There is an auditorium where a documentary on the dam is screened every half an hour.
5 am: Waking up at the break of dawn may not be your idea of a weekend getaway, but the view from here makes it worth it (of course, provided you can actually see the sunrise during the monsoons). You can also watch night make way for cloudy daybreak at the reservoir. The Sahyadris stay lush green all through the day, but it is at its most scenic at daybreak. We ventured out for an impromptu morning trek off the main road outside the resort. Our greatest mistake was to not take a guide along. As a result, we missed out on sightings of native birds, including the Heart-spotted Woodpecker, which is quite common.
10 am: After breakfast, we drove out to the reservoir, which is half an hour away from the resort. Vehicles don’t go all the way, so we had to get off and walk for 20 minutes to board the boat, which would take us around the reservoir. The ride was 45 minutes long and cost Rs 300. The helpers on the boat talked about the lake and the efforts taken by the villagers to keep the water clean. It was tough to concentrate on their commentary, though, as we were surrounded by emerald blue waters.
12 am: We had a heavy lunch that included Masale Bhaat (rice cooked with ground spices) and Puran Poli at the resort before checking out. An hour later, we were back on the road to Mumbai, leaving behind the peaceful Sahyadris.
The best way to reach Koynanagar is by road. State transport buses will take you till Koynanagar village.
Opt for a stay at Gursale Farms which offers a scenic view of the entire area | Contact: 94220 39646