If the state PWD minister has his way, your next trip to Goa need not take an entire night or burn a hole in your pocket. Over the weekend, amidst battling the coronavirus epidemic and proposing to rename the Mumbai Central railway station, the Government of Maharashtra also proposed the idea of an expressway connecting Mumbai and Goa.
The proposal came from Eknath Shinde, the state’s Public Works Department (or PWD) Minister who tabled in the Upper House a proposal for a 500-km greenfield expressway between Mumbai and Goa. This expressway, would be along the lines of the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway. Once the expressway is complete, the travel time between Mumbai and Goa is expected to cut by half. At the moment it takes anywhere between 11 and 13 hours to cover the nearly-600 km distance. With the proposed expressway, that time is expected to come down to merely 5-6 hours.
To be clear, though the expressway won’t exactly start from Mumbai but rather from Chirle village in Navi Mumbai where the proposed Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link is supposed to end. The freeway will follow the coastline along Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg before ending at Patradevi, a village on the Maharashtra-Goa border. Patradevi is a well-known checkpoint on the boundary of the two states. Located in north Goa, Patradevi is about 30 km away or an hour’s drive from beaches at Arambol, Mandrem and Ashvem.
While it is bound to boost tourism in Goa, the expressway is also expected to make the beaches of Konkan more accessible to Mumbaikars. And, if Minister Shinde is to be believed, it will also generate jobs for locals and give producers of mango, cashew, and areca nuts easier access to newer markets.
Best beaches in North Goa
Patradevi is located in north Goa and is 30-odd km away or an hour’s drive from some of the best beaches in Goa. Among these are:
Keri Beach (also known as Querim Beach)
This is the largest beach in north Goa with a long stretch of sand dotted by rocks and rows of trees. Adding to the beauty of Keri Beach is the River Tiracol that ends here. Across the riverbank is the Tiracol Fort which can be accessed by a ferry service.
Just south of Keri is Arambol that tends to draw more foreign tourists than Indians. Over the years, it’s evolved as a destination for the study of yoga, meditation and alternative therapies. Expect colourful beach shacks serving Goan as well as international cuisines as well as budget accommodation.
The twin to Arambol, Ashwem is that beach which starts from the banks of Chapora river. Ashwem remains one of the cleanest beaches in Goa and is relatively less crowded, a rarity in the north. Lesser tourists also translates into fewer shacks, which means a lot more privacy.
White sands, clear water, cool cafes and hip yoga retreats – Mandrem is an upmarket beach located between the twin beaches of Arambol and Ashwem. Home to a tiny fishing community, it isn’t unusual to find fishing boats bobbing in the sea with the sun setting in the backdrop. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?