Bombay to Goa on a bike – Magical is the word.

By | February 5, 2014

If you know me, you’ve already seen the places I’ve been on my bike, albeit through my eyes. If you don’t know me, I’ve been to Ladakh, done Bombay to Bangalore in a single day, and traveled most of India on 2 wheels. The only exception is the North East, where I’m planning to set foot very soon.

bombay to goa route mapOne road in particular has been on my radar since quite a while, but I never got the opportunity to explore it. The Panvel Goa highway follows the sea-shore, going through 500 kms of mountains and jungles through our beautiful western ghats. The road is considered to be one of the most scenic in India, but also the most deadly. More number of people die on this road than anywhere else in our country.

So, obviously, I had to conquer this stretch and live to tell about it.

Finally I got the chance to do this ride, called upon by the India Bike Week, Goa, in Jan 2014. The biker fest itself was quite a disaster, but the ride was splendid, to put it mildly. Here’s the travelogue of my Bombay to Goa ride. 

Bombay to Goa: Day 1 – Navi Mumbai to Vagator via Lonavala, Kolhapur, Amboli.

I have been on the Mumbai-Pune-Satara highway so many times now, it’s too boring for me. In spite of that, I decided to follow this route while going to Goa. I wanted to reach quickly and not miss a whole lot of the India Bike Week.

Started just 10 minutes before sunrise, about 6.45 AM on 17th January 2014. The only luggage I was carrying was a Rynox Optimus M tankbag, which I had modified a bit by removing the magnets and securing it on the tail of the bike using bungee cords. The setup was amazingly successful, the whole thing didn’t move an inch through the whole 1000kms.

I had made up my mind to go slow, as slow as I could, to enjoy the trip and not rush through it. Sometimes when you are on a quick bike, the whole experience transforms to just pushing yourself and the machine to the limit. I am not saying that isn’t fun, but I have had a lot of that on the Bangalore ride, too much actually.

Lonavala arrived quick, I was breezing past thin Saturday early morning traffic, the wind a bit cold but pleasant. Just as I was about to reach Pune bypass, I felt a heavy sound approaching me from the right. I thought it was a reckless truck, but all I could see in the rearview was 2 weird looking headlights. A few moments later, a blue BMW S1000RR and a Red-white Ducati Streetfighter overtook me.

It was obvious that they were also going to the India Bike week. I tried to keep up with them, but as expected, I couldn’t. They must have been doing upwards of 190kmph on some stretches. The sound was like distant thunder.

Crossed Satara, and saw the BMW and Ducati parked at a dhaba. I couldn’t stop in time, so had breakfast at another joint. Here’s a tip for you long distance riders: Whenever you get the chance, the smallest opportunity, get off the bike and remove your helmet. This will allow blood circulation to your ass and your face, which will make your ride so much more comfortable, no matter how long.

It had become kind of a routine by now, the superbikes will overtake me, I will try to keep up and fail, then after a few hundred kilometers they will overtake me again. I guess they were taking more breaks than me, even though they were almost twice as fast.

Kolhapur arrived quick. There had been 1 fuel stop, 1 breakfast break and another snacks break during this time. Just a few kilometers after Kolhapur, there’s a place called Nipani. Once you get to Nipani, 5 kms further you need a take a right turn to get to Goa. The turn is nicely hidden, with no boards or directions. I had asked some people for its location, that’s why I was expecting it and made the right turn.

amboli ghatsSuddenly the 6 lane highway becomes a one lane village road, but it is strangely better in every way. There is barely any traffic, there are trees lining both sides, and school kids wave to you as you pass by. My average speed must have been around 60kmph, but it was extreme fun.

Took another piss break under the shade of some trees, just before Amboli ghats start. The road is splendid, the views are marvelous. Just the ghat section has a bit of repair work going on, rest the entire road is well laid. There are quite a few twists and turns, but boards giving directions will help you a lot. All you have to remember is to go towards Sawantwadi.

After the beautiful ghats, small villages and nice roads, you meet the Panvel Goa highway and start going south to Panaji. This road is also well laid, freshly repaired I guess. By this time it was noon, and the sun was bearing down like an angry God.

About 40kms off Vagator, I saw 2 guys on Bullets riding to the biker fest. I always wanted to understand what it felt like to ride at 65kmph for hours on end, so I started following them. I gotta admit it to you, it is boring as pigeon shit. How can anyone do that? Even when the road in front of them was good enough to do 200kmph, they were just ambling about at 69. I don’t think I will ever understand the mentality of Enfield lovers.

Mapusa arrived quick and now I knew that Vagator will take about 30 more minutes. The streets of Goa always confuse me, so it took me about an hour to get to the venue of India Bike Week. Took me a total of 9 hours to travel from Mumbai to Goa, not bad eh?

india bike weekSniffed in the dusty air of India Bike Week, saw some posers on their Harleys, got my tickets and got in. Shitty food, no water and 1 hour later, I ran out to find something to eat.

Got down at a Chinese restaurant and had a bowl of noodles. The guy was helpful and he asked me to go nearby a petrol pump to look for cheap accommodation. I found a house with “Rooms for rent” sign upfront. Asked the lady and she showed me a nice big room for 1500 bucks. A few nice words to the lady and her husband, and I had the room for a 1000. It might sound a bit steep, but the location was really nice, and so was the room.

I had a few extra tickets to India Bike Week, because of the failed promotion I ran. Gotta lean marketing! Anyway, I asked the landlord and he was happy to send the landlady and his son to the fest. We three went in and they were both utterly disappointed, just like me. They told me that last time it was much more fun, I agreed.

Tried to take a peaceful walk towards Vagator beach, but hordes of Harleys thumping around at full throttle on the narrow streets made it rather impossible. Had lovely dinner at a Punjabi restaurant and went to sleep.

Bombay to Goa: Day 2 – Making a friend and ride to Malvan

My day 1 experience at India Bike week had left with me with no choice but to get out of there as soon as I could. I had heard about Malvan and Tarkarli beaches a lot, just 100kms north of Goa, so I thought what the hell. But before that, I had to meet up with someone who got introduced to me through a mutual acquaintance on Facebook, the kind of stuff your mom warns you about!

The guys name is Peter Trinidad. I thought he must be some dopey foreigner living near some beach and puffing on some weed. Turns out he is a pakka Goan, a well groomed gentleman and photography aficionado. I met him at Mapusa, from where he took me to his home, and what a beautiful home it is. I have no idea how these guys get up in the morning and go to work with THAT view in their windows.

There are some people you meet who make you feel small, others make you feel happy, and some others make you feel comfortable. There I was sitting on a table, surrounded by Peter, his lovely wife and his gamer cool son, talking about my Ladakh ride and love for stupid stuff, and I felt at home. Peter’s father wasn’t keeping well, and as much as I would have liked to see him, I am so bad with words in such situations that I decided against it.

We talked a lot, about bikes, photography, guy stuff. I had never expected the meet to last more than an hour, and about 2 hours later I was ready for more. But then I had to get going for Malvan, so big goodbye to the Trinidad family and went on my way. Good memories, definitely the pick of the lot from this Bombay to Goa trip!

Panvel goa highwayI got lost on the way to Malvan, I am quite certain I wanted to get lost. I asked nobody for directions, just kept riding wherever I felt like. A few hours later I was on the Panvel Goa highway again, with Malvan showing up as 40kms away. Took a short stop for lunch, and then took the left turn towards the Arabian sea.

The road from the highway to Malvan is in pretty bad shape. It doesn’t look like it is going to get better anytime soon. Plus the lack of any direction markers made it a record setting day, the most number of times I lost my way in 12 hours.

Once I reached the Malvan city, all I could see was congested roads and shops upon shops. With no sign of beach anywhere, I simply headed for Tarkarli. The road to Tarkarli gets even more narrower, and even more difficult to stay on.

I had planned to stay at the Maharashtra Tourism hotel, because I thought it would be cheap. They said for a single guy they had nothing but a big cottage that would cost me 5000 for the night. I laughed in their face and got out before they could get angry.

tarkarli beachFound a room just next to the beach for 600 bucks. The room was quite run down, but I just had to spend the night. My spirits were a bit down because of the bad road, plus I was told that there is no scuba diving in Tarkarli, and I had to go back to Malvan for that. So I missed out on that adventure too.

Tarkarli and Malvan are over-hyped. There isn’t anything special about these places, except the lack of people. You can stand at the Tarkarli beach, shout the choicest expletives at the top of your voice, and there would be no one to listen to your for kilometers on all sides. I was feeling rather bored and lonely. Had home-made food for the night, oh I stuffed myself to the throat. Bad idea.

Bombay to Goa: Day 3 – Malvan to Mumbai via Panvel Goa highway

I wanted to start at about 7 am in the morning, but it was so damn cold! I woke up at 8.30, and got going by 10 am, with majority of the time spent on the shitter. Met a whole bunch of people going back to Mumbai after the biker fest, people on Harleys, Ducatis, Hondas and Bullets. I don’t know what was up with me, but every time I saw a bunch of bikers resting by the road, I stopped and chatted them up. I have never done that in my life.

Bombay to goaMet three guys who were riding to Ahmedabad. A guy in his 40’s was riding Bangalore-Kanyakumari-Goa-Mumbai-Bangalore on a Duke 390. A guy on a Thunderbird, who almost saw me crash as I tried to stop on a curve to talk to him. It was a weird ass day.

The Panvel Goa highway is just amazing, riding that piece of asphalt feels like playing a video game. The road is smooth, with little traffic, with such gorgeous curves. I thoroughly enjoyed the 300 odd kilometers, before the bad roads started about 150kms off Mumbai.

The three guys riding to Ahmedabad finally caught up with me, they were super quick on the twisties! Had an unbelievably awesome lunch with them about 250kms from Mumbai and then I started riding solo again. It was getting dark, and I hate riding at night. I wasn’t pushing the limit, but was a bit quicker than my usual self.

Bombay to goaAs hard as I tried, it was pitch black by the time I reached Panvel. My dark goggles made riding a very risky affair, so I put on the clear glasses and continued. Reached home after 9 hours of splendid ride.

For someone planning to do the Bombay to Goa trip, I would suggest taking the Panvel Goa highway rather than going through Kolhapur. No doubt the latter road is much faster and with lesser potholes, but the western ghats, their beauty and the twisties are just amazing. It a must ride road for any serious biker.

Here are some stats of the ride:

Total distance: ~1110kms

Total time: 21 hours

Average speed: 52kmph

Top speed: 153kmph

Total stops: 12

Total fuel: ~35 liters

  • John Thomas

    thank you for sharing your experience buddy…the only question arise is how many fuel stops are there on panvel goa highway…please let me know….mine is a pulsar RS 200…fuel economy 32…only need to know no. of fuel stations n fuel stops?

  • Adesh Kauthale

    Dude I rode to goa at 100-110 kmph on Enfield on highway and it’s sufficient for two wheels.
    And even i don’t know how people do such a long trips on a bike which is not made for cruising
    Take care of your waist

  • mac

    V nice … Thanks for sharing your experience — I am Goan and wonna ride to mumbai so this is much for me.. Thx..

  • Abhishek Chakraborty

    Hi Akhil, we (me and my wife) are planning to ride from Mumbai to Goa. we need few suggestion from you. Since we am from Kolkata, West Bengal, we will reach Mumbai with my bike (1 bike, pillion ride) through train(Gitanjali Exp, I hope). We will start riding the following morning and are planning to ride till Mavlan on day 1. Spend the next day (Day 2) exploring Mavlan. Start for Goa early on Day 3 and reach South Goa (Patnem or Palolem preferably). Then we want to explore in and around Goa for few days(depending on our leave availability) and return to Kolkata by Train from Vasco(Amravati Exp.).

    1) We are planning this trip during the Durga Puja season in October’16. With our little knowledge about the climate of the Western Ghats we think that it would be a good time for this ride. What is your suggestion?
    2) We have ridden extensively in the Eastern India (Sikkim from Kolkata, Kolkat – Bhutan, Kolkata – Puri, etc.) so riding for 10-12 hours a day would not be an issue for us. But we will be new to the Western Ghats and do not have clear idea about the route. Can you please suggest the best possible route with best views. Will it be possible to make it to Mavlan from Mumbai on a single day with the Sun?
    We need your inputs and anything that you think we should know to materialize this ride. Waiting for your advice.
    Regards

    • Akhil Kalsh

      October is a good time to go. Doing Mumbai-Malvan in a single day is not a problem either, as long as you do Mumbai – Pune – Satara – Kolhapur route, and not the Old Goa highway that follows the coast. The Old Goa highway is narrow, dangerous, and slow, if you do wish to do that, add an extra somewhere on the way.

      What bike?

      • Abhishek Chakraborty

        Thanks for your reply. We will be riding our Hero Honda CBZ Xtreme. Are the views of the Mumbai – Pune – Satara – Kolhapur route good? and will it be possible for you to share a route map for the route?

        • Akhil Kalsh

          The views till Pune are good, mainly Lonavala/Khandala, rest all is just highways, nothing much to see. Here’s the route map: https://goo.gl/r11kpE

          CBZ isn’t the best choice for such a long journey, you’ll certainly feel underpowered from Pune all the way till Kolhapur. Unfortunately there isn’t much to see on the way, so it makes no sense to do it with 2 stops. Start early, you don’t want to do the last section at night.

  • Yogesh Honavarkar

    I am planning for a mumbai goa trip on ktm rc 200 ….. pls lemme knw the pros cons nd tips as the max kilometers ive covered is 350 kms in one day nd it was indeed tiresome……tips please coz m still an amateur

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Start early in the morning. Be disciplined with your stops. Click plenty of pictures. Keep 1 liter of extra fuel handy. Drink lots of water. Take it slow.

      I’ve written some shit about solo/group riding tips, check that out, might be helpful. There are no tips or tricks, all you have to do is keep it fun.

  • Danish khan

    Hii Akhil
    I m planning to go goa on my CBR 250 but i have lost my original RC book.
    Can i Travel on NC copy of police for lost RC book.

    & Its registered on first owners name

    • Akhil Kalsh

      I won’t recommend it mate. I don’t think that’s illegal to do, but if you get stuck with some asshole cop, he could cause you major trouble.

      • Danish khan

        okk thanks
        will rethink about it or else would go by some other bike…

  • Tushar Mapare

    i am planning to go to goa on my yamaha fzs, do i have to carry any bike documents to travel from pune to goa??

    • Akhil Kalsh

      You have to carry documents all the time mate! License, RC, insurance and pollution certificate, that’s it.

      • Tushar

        Do i have to carry OG copy for RC Book ?

        • Akhil Kalsh

          Yes.

  • Shrey Bahuguna

    I’m planing to go to goa this weekend. Maybe a longer trip. Ive got a Duke 200 and I’m solo riding. There’s not much planned, just explore the western ghats and go to gokarna at least. My budget is around 15000. Which includes buying a new helmet and, well, puncture kits and all.
    Any other tips someone might give me?
    Plan to go wherever my soul takes me.
    But, staying and shit needs to be a little planned I guess?
    Let me know.

    • Well not really Shrey, finding a place at the last second has worked pretty well for me! Another idea is to camp out in the open, or use Couch Surfing, or stay at a friend’s place 🙂

      As far as helmet goes, I would suggest check out the MT range. Pretty good helmets for equally good price.

      I recently wrote an article about solo riding, check that out for some other little tips. Overall, just enjoy man, go wherever you want to, do whatever you like to!

      Do check if you can make it Dandeli, beautiful place.

      • Shrey Bahuguna

        Dandeli? Done.
        I’ve read all your posts dude. Makes me happy that there is someone who takes time to write posts while fuckers like us just think about writing,
        I leave tomorrow. Finally. :D,
        Dodging potholes, pedestrians, Bullet a.k.a BullTH and overtaking trucks.
        Sweet ass pain, sweet neck pain, sweet sore forearms.. Can’t wait.
        Sticky balls and blistered fingers.( Rynox Gloves ) 🙁 .
        Lets see if I find the way into my brain for peace and calm.
        Will carry some green too.
        Okay, enough said.
        ..
        .

        • Shrey Bahuguna

          OH, and I was thinking about going for the Bikeweek. But cancelled after reading your warnings. Hence tomorrow I leave. To avoid HOGS and Bullets and other “Hardcore Bikers”.

        • Have fun mate!

    • Tushar

      Hi Shrey ,
      Even i am in a similar situation have a new duke and after reading this blog it really driving me crazy as to why am i just wasting my life sitting in front of my laptop currently 😛 if i can experience this madness 🙂

      Jokes apart , how was your experiance with duke 200 on those roads , any tips for new rider , can you let me know the best route to follow ?

  • varsha sharma

    Pune to goa..and then tarkarli..

    • Go for it! Try both the routes, via Chorla and Amboli. It’ll be a ride to remember 🙂

      You have an Activa right?

  • varsha sharma

    Hi amazingly described…I was planning to go for a trip end of this year..I have a non gare bike though..any suggestions. .

    • Hey Varsha, from where and to where? Doesn’t really matter what bike you have, all you need is a little madness 🙂

  • Thanks for the insight. I myself am thinking of touring Goa on bike. Unlike you I’d be travelling from Pune.
    Once again thank you. I’m thinking of writing an article of similar fashion here

  • Vinay

    Hey…Nice writing.
    I have never been on bike trip before…
    I am interested in Pune-Goa bike ride.

    I would like to know….What documents I have to carry?
    Like Bike documents, PUC, Insurance [Original\photo copy], RTO based – NOC for crossing state ??

    Any other suggestion\tip, would be appreciated.
    Suggestion related to Stay, things to carry…etc etc

    • Thanks!

      Documents required are bike registration certificate, driving license, insurance and pollution certificate. No NOC required for short travels.

      Must have things to carry would be:

      1. Bike extra key
      2. Puncture kit
      3. Chain lube
      4. Full riding gear – helmet, riding jacket, riding pants, riding gloves, riding boots.

      Goa has plenty of places for stay, for all kinds of budget. Don’t worry about that too much. Just enjoy the ride!

  • Same story. Except that the horrible Kholapur road was taken by us at night. And riding through that village road at night which was dead & silent was damn scary. Specially when you saw god acceding down on you as “yellow light” as you go upwards the road – Those were the shit truck lights and the funniest part was you would realize that it was a truck or how close or how fast it was when it passes inches away from your vehicle. Near death experience
    And yes IBW was indeed hyped. It was just a “Harley-here Harley-there” fest

    Anyways nice blog (Y)

    • Going through those areas at night is not a good idea! Have first-hand experience of that 🙂

      Thanks! Glad you like what you see.

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  • Reeto

    Nice write-up Akhil. Was a pleasure reading the same. I agree with u completely on the RE Bullet aspect, have been a Bullet rider for 3 years and it was never a great feeling riding slower than everyone else on an open road. The Nipani road used to be in terrible shape couple of years ago, trust its better now.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Thanks Reeto! I think Bullet lovers are just made of some other material 🙂

      The Nipani road was good when I went in Jan, with little repair work in the ghats.