The last time I had visited the place in Dec 2004, I had absolutely got obsessed with the virgin sea coast, clean beach, and the clear water. The sudden tsunami along the sea coasts did not allow the tourists to enjoy the bliss then. Collecting few cherished memories, cashews, and macchi, I returned back to Mumbai with a promise that I will visit that place again.
“This place has gained prominence because of its long and narrow stretch of beach with pristine waters. On a fairly clear day, one can see the bed unto a depth of 20 ft. It presents a panoramic view with tall ‘Shuru’ trees in the background. The wide river, the beautiful sailboats and the tiny wonderful islands hamlets situated on the riverbank, add to the picturesque beauty of Tarkarli. Sighting dolphins is not a rare event here.” – sourced from Wikipedia.
Back then in 2004, Tarkarli was an absolute bliss, a beach that wasn’t explored and exploited. The inflight magazine of Air India had advertised Tarkarli beach as Hawaii, such is the wonder of Tarkarli beach situated in our own Maharashtra near Malvan in Sindhudurg district, 570 kms away from Mumbai. Tarkarli beach is fondly also called “Queen Beach”.
7 years later I fulfilled my promise of visiting Tarkarli. I was there in Nov-Dec 2011. Not much had changed except the tourist population, heat, and costs. Back in 2004, Malvani Fish Thali was available at throw away price, not any more. Residents of the area use to rent out a part of their home for the visiting tourists; it had a homely touch then. Now things have commercialized, though not that significantly. The hospitality of the residents, however, remains the same – warm and compassionate.
This time I stayed at the MTDC houseboat for few days and at the MTDC resort later. The beach is the same – clean & clear, the food is tasty as ever, and the people are cool. However, with the influx of tourist, which has risen exponentially over the years, has perhaps resulted in the mismanagement of the place. The people there, the locals, may be are not use to handle such volumes, they have increased their capacities and costs but learning management will require some time, hopefully.
Though my trip was wonderful like the earlier one, a feeling of sadness had slowly crept inside me. The surroundings near the houseboat were in a mess, perchance, because of the habits of the people there and the tourists as well to some extent. The habit of littering around. From a bus ticket to a wafer packet to a 1.5 liter cold drink bottle, we just fly it away once the purpose is served. The tourists (Indians) enjoyed the boat ride but threw away bottles, beer cans, biscuit packets, etc. into the water – really bad. The cook in our houseboat while cutting the fish and vegetable conveniently threw the remains into the water despite having a dustbin in the kitchen.
Output: the surrounding area where the boat was anchored was fully stagnated gathering moss and attracting insects, making the overall experience unhygienic and unpleasant – one reason why I shifted to the MTDC resort abandoning the houseboat.
I wonder how Kerala still manages to keep its backwaters and surroundings clean. May be because of foreign tourists for whom we must keep things clean, matter of first impression and repeats. Also because foreign tourists don’t have ill habits like us of strewing things around.
In all good hope that things will change for good, I still love the Tarkarli bliss and the food there. Cheers!