Yet Another Blog by Nitesh Mistry

Entries tagged "beach"

Weekend Trip to Ganpatipule
6th October 2010

This weekend, we (me, my parents and sister's family) decided to travel to Ganpatipule, one of the popular tourist destinations in Maharashtra.

The Journey

Ganpatipule is approximately 400 kms. drive south of Mumbai, off the Mumbai-Goa highway. It is in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra and around 30 kms. from Ratnagiri city. The route to Ganpatipule which we took is 8 hours long, so it would have been better if we started really very early in the morning to avoid the traffic around Panvel, and also carry some food and beverages to avoid the halt for breakfast because it was almost evening by the time we reached. If you want to travel faster, greener and cheaper at the expense of some privacy, Ratnagiri is also a railway station on Konkan Railway and almost all trains on the route stop here. Auto-rickshaws from there charge around 300 rupees for a 45 min. ride to Ganpatipule. The roadways had many ghats and the view from there is very picturesque.

If you are fond of Malwani food, there are some good places to have lunch on the highway around Chiplun, which comes about 120 kms. before Ganpatipule. I have marked a couple of restaurants on the route map.

The Destination

One of the main reasons for the popularity of Ganpatipule is that it caters to both type of Indian tourist - one looking for fun and the other looking for pilgrimage. Because this place is about a temple on a beach.

Here are some other pictures of Ganpatipule.

The Temple

As the name suggests, this place hosts a very beautiful temple of Lord Ganesha. Not only does it has beach on one side but also a small hill on the other which gives its visitors a very serene feeling. The structure of the temple is made of red stones which are intricately carved. The idol of Lord Ganesha itself was of red stone and the legend has it that the idol was discovered there and not man-made. Devotees can perform abhishek (a Hindu ritual) here in the morning. But for that, we had to intimate the temple authorities on the previous day, and they gave us a time-slot during which we can come to perform the ritual. When we reached the temple at the appointed time, we (the men) were made to wear Pitambar (kind of dhoti - I couldn't take our pictures in the dress) while the ladies were already asked to come wearing the sarees. To perform the abhishek we were allowed to enter the sanctum of the temple where all the arrangements were made by the temple priests. We offered flowers, and other goodies to the Lord Ganesha while the priests chanted sacred shlokas. At the end we left with Lord's blessing in the form of flowers and Prasaad (sweets and coconut).

There is one very unique thing about this temple. It is the Pradikshina path. Usually all Hindu temples have a small pathway encircling the inner sanctum within the structure which everyone walks clock-wise at the end of visit to the temple. However, at Ganpatipule, the Pradikshina path is a whole one kilometre trek around the hill behind the temple. It was very nicely laid footpath with trees on both the side. And since we visited just after monsoons, it was all lush with greenery. It was almost like a small nature trek. I suggest that anyone visiting Ganpatipule must take the trek. I have posted some of the picutues at the online album.

The Beach

The beach is another reason to visit Ganpatipule. It is only a small stretch of about a kilometre or so, but it is ultra-clean (even as compared to the beaches of Goa). Also the water is almost transparent to the extent that you can see your feet inside the water. However, it is not safe to tread deeper here as they say that there are patches of quicksand. The guards there were quick to call out the ones who tried to be adventurous and go into deep water. We could also see a couple of fishing boats on the horizon. Also, since it is a pilgrimage destination, there were no beach-side shacks serving alcohol and non-vegetarian food. However, there is a long row of small shops and cafes nearby. All in all, a perfect beach to visit with the family.

The Stay and the Food

There are quite a few options for staying in Ganpatipule, and most of them are economical. However, be sure to make reservations at least a week in advance, as most of the good hotels tend to be fully occupied during the extended weekends and festive days. We had planned for the trip just a few days before, and hence couldn't make reservations. So we had to scout for rooms after reaching there which took us almost couple of hours. There is one Shiv Sagar Palace (looks like a palace literally) almost a couple of kilometres before the main market area starts. All the rooms of this hotel are well appointed and have beautiful sea-view. However the staff wasn't so welcoming, and the receptionist didn't even answer our queries promptly. Opposite the palace on the other side of the road is an unnamed hotel which offered basic lodging facilities (read - no TV, no AC - just bed, fan and running water in bathroom) at almost one-third the rates of Shiv Sagar Palace. But the view from each room was more magnificent. It overlooked the entire hill and the beach below. Also there were quite a few hotels in the main market area near the temple which offered almost the same basic lodging. There is also a MTDC resort opposite the temple.

The foodies in us were however disappointed. There were hardly any proper restaurants. Most of them served home-style food and would close down even before 8 in the evening. The only restaurant that we could find was the one inside MTDC resort and we had to wait to find a table. Even the taste of food was just about okay and we ate only to fill ourselves. The Chinese dishes that we ordered tasted more like Punjabi cuisine. At least the breakfast was good, because we like Indian snacks. The beach-side cafes, that I mentioned before, served hot and spicy wadapav, misal, puri-bhaaji, etc. If you like burgers, fries, sandwiches, omelettes and cakes for breakfast, forget it.

The Shopping

The Ratnagiri belt is famous for its kokum and mango products. So we bought dried kokum (used in Indian dishes), kokum sherbet, mango pickles, aam-papad, etc. We also saw quite a few shops selling wooden toys and show-pieces. Some say they are the speciality of the area.

The Conclusion

We had a really good weekend. A must visit if you are interested in either the divine temple or the clean, beautiful beach.

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