Jul 13, 2009
I had been wondering while travelling by ‘Matsyagandha’ from Mumbai to Udupi and back, especially during the summer months, how would the Northern Konkan, that is, the coastal region of Maharashtra would look like during the monsoon. The travellers could have a glimpse of the coastal belt till the train reaches Chiplun. That makes up only a third of the Northern Konkan stretch, that is, part of the Raigad district.
The ‘Matsyagandha’ traverses the coastal belt of the other two districts of Maharashtra-Ratnagiri and Sindhdurg, during the night time, depriving the inquisitive traveller an opportunity to see the beauty of nature.
On the 6 July 2009, i was travelling from Thane to Udupi when the monsoon that had been playing truant for quite some time sending panic not only among the farmers but also the urbanites, began its fury right across the Konkan region flooding rivers and streams and throwing life in the towns and cities out of gear.
As one travels by the Konkan railway, he cannot but wonder in disbelief the rapid and random urbanization that is taking place in Diva since last one or two years. Diva is the junction where the Konkan railway takes the right turn and takes the exclusive route that passes through Konkan, the coastal belt of four states-Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala.
The vast land between Diva and Panvel presents the traveller a sense of open space with rural ambience and a glimpse of hills and mountains at a distance. Beyond Taloja one can see the township of New Mumbai with tall and beautiful residential buildings with the mountain range in the background.
After the train leaves Panvel, one can really experience the beauty of
nature, especially during the monsoon. The paddy fields and vegetable gardens nestled between woods and valleys, the cluster of tiled houses making up villages and mountain ranges to the right side at a distance are the usual scenes in the Raigad district.
The landmark that attracts the attention of the traveller between Panvel and Pen stations is the sight of the Karnala Fort also known as the ‘Funnel Hill’. It is believed that the fort was built way back in the 13th century. The fort was under the Nizamshahi rule until it was captured by the Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shivaji during the mid-17th century. Later, the fort was under the possession of the Mughals, the Peshwas and the British. Karnala Fort is an ideal spot for trekking. At the base of the fort is the famous bird sanctuary rich in natural habitat for various kinds of birds.
One of the beautiful experiences on this stretch of the journey is the nearly semicircular turn that the train takes. Those travelling in the central portion of the train can see the engine and front portion as well as the rear portion of the train.
As the train approaches the Nagothane station one can see the smoke coming out of the petrochemical manufacturing plant belonging to the Reliance Industries.
I was amazed and mesmerized at the beauty of nature in the background of the monsoon. The paddy saplings in square format at the centre of the field or in patches of circles or squares ready to be transplanted looked like soft green carpets. In many places the road from Mumbai to Goa runs parallel to the track with vehicles of various kinds making their way in booth direction. The streams and small rivers with muddy water were full to the brim.
I could notice that agricultural activities were in progress as the farmers were out in the field. Along with many pictures, i could capture in my camera the sight of a herd of buffaloes grazing the lush green grass and few people fishing in the backwaters.
Unlike in the Southern Konkan, I could see very few coconut and areca nut trees on the route. Possibly, the soil of Northern Konkan, especially in the Raigad and Thane districts is not conducive to the growth of either coconut or areca nut trees.
The mountain ranges at a distance provide a superb view with floating snowy clouds and flowing water streams. Though i could take the pictures of the floating clouds in the foreground of the mountains, my attempt to capture the tiny water-falls did not succeed due to the distance, lack of proper light and speed of the train.
One more thing that i noticed through the journey was the appearance of the gigantic telecommunication towers at regular intervals providing the people of this region an easy access to communication.
Intermittent rains along with the sight of streams and rivers, the vast terrain as if painted by green and light yellow, the green mountains and hills with the patches of rainy clouds and the rattling sound of the train as it passed through tunnels made my travelling during monsoon through the Raigad district a memorable experience.
As the train halted at Diwankhavati station for crossing at around 7.15 PM, it was already dark outside. As the rain intensified, i closed the window of the train and shut my eyes visualizing the beautiful scenes that had passed behind. I felt a sense of satisfaction that i could capture at least a fraction of the nature in my camera and share it with the nature-loving readers of the daijiworld.com.
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