Based on my personal visit in April 2012. Rajesh Deshpande © 2012.
Destination type – Beach and Pilgrimage. Trip type – Leisure.
Ganpatipule is a small coastal town in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra known for the swayambhu (self-appeared) Ganesh temple. It is an ideal destination for an idyllic getaway for peace seekers, beach buffs and pilgrims alike. The Ganesh idol is believed to be 400 years old. The temple is bang on beach.
Ganpatipule is 375 Kms from Mumbai. It is 28 Kms North West of Ratnagiri through the coastal highway. It has one of the most spectacular beaches with blue waters on the Maharashtra coastline. Being a tourist and pilgrimage destination, the beach is full of activity on weekends and during festivals, although not crowded. Ganpatipule is a vegetarian destination due to religious faith. A little bit away from the main town at the neighbouring Bhandarpule and Malgund villages, there are many good hotels serving seafood and non-vegetarian fare. There are many hotels and eateries in and around the town serving delicious Konkani cuisine.
How to reach?
By Rail – Ratnagiri is the nearest railhead on the Konkan railway. From Mumbai, it takes approx. 5 hrs. to reach Ratnagiri and further 30 mins. to reach Ganpatipule. The Mumbai Madgaon Jan Shatabdi express is the fastest train to Ratnagiri reaching in 5 hrs. Mandovi Express, Konkan Kanya Express, Mangalore Express and the Dadar Ratnagiri passenger and all Kerala bound trains halt at Ratnagiri.
By Road – It takes approximately 10 hrs. from Mumbai via NH-17 (Mumbai Goa road) to reach Ganapatipule. Take the Vashi, Panvel, Pen, Mangaon, Mahad, Poladpur, Khed, Chiplun route to reach Ratnagiri. From Ratnagiri, local buses, auto rickshaws and minidors are available for Ganpatipule. Regular State Transport buses and private buses are available for Ganpatipule from Mumbai and Pune.
By Air – Mumbai is the nearest Airport, approx. 340 Kms
Things to do
A visit to the Ganpati temple could be one of the main reasons for visiting Ganpatipule. Pilgrims do Pradakshinas (circumambulations) by walking on a well laid path over the hillock behind the Ganpati temple. Ganpatipule beach has a small chowpatty having stalls selling tender coconut, Bhelpuri and Chaat, Corn Candies, and Ice cream. The beach is an ideal place to laze, swim or play. Ganpatipule boasts of an open air museum called as ‘Prachin Konkan’ showcasing the history, culture and lifestyle of the people living on Konkan coast. The museum remains open between 8 AM to 5 PM daily. A nominal fee is charged from tourists. A little uphill towards Ratnagiri about a kilometre from Bhandarpule is the picturesque ‘Aare Vaare’ point from where one can enjoy stunning views of Ganpatipule and the entire coastline up to Ratnagiri. North of Ganpatipule is the small village of Malgund, which is the birth place of the famous Marathi poet ‘Kavi Keshavsut’. The house of Keshavsut, now turned in to a memorial is open for tourists.
Where to Stay?
There are plenty of hotels in and around Ganpatipule suitable for all sizes of pockets. Seafood lovers and Non-vegetarians can stay put at Hotel Abhishek, about two Kilometres down towards Bhandarpule situated on a small hillock near the beach. Hotel Durvankur is another good option on the main road leading to the temple. There are few pricy hotels like Hotel Landmark (about a kilometre away from the Ganesh temple), Krishnali beach resort at Bhandarpule and Blue Ocean Resort located at Malgund. MTDC resort Ganpatipule is best in terms of location, bang on beach amidst casuarina trees; the resort provides accommodation in AC and Non-AC Konkani Cottages with a clear view of the ocean from the cottages. The resort also has two in-house restaurants.
What to eat?
Ganpatipule is primarily a Vegetarian’s delight due to many eateries serving authentic Konkani Brahmin style cuisine. Bhau Joshi’s Khanawal serves good Thalipeeth, Bharli Wangi, Shrikhand and Solkadi whereas Hotel Durvankur’s Shivanandan restaurant serves good Kaju Usal, Modak and Aamras, Kharvas. Hotel Annapurna on the main road also serves good vegetarian fare. There are cold-drink and ice cream parlours on the main road. Kokam Sherbet is a must try at any of the stalls or hotels.
There’s nothing special to shop at Ganpatipule except for the typical Konkan mewa and products made out of it. The Kelkar Udyog Samuha runs a supermarket in the ground floor of their hotel Durvankur. Pickles, Kokam Agal, Kokam Sherbet, slabs made from sundried pulp of Mango and Jackfruit, Mango Barfi, and Mango Pulp is worth buying.
Excursions around Ganpatipule
Fort Jaigad – is 20 Kms north of Ganpatipule on the confluence of the Tavsal creek and the Arabian ocean. It was a surveillance fort built by the Maratha’s to keep monitor movement of ships in the Tavsal creek. The area around the fort is fast losing its rustic charm due to industrial development.
Ratnagiri – Ratnagiri is a city and district headquarters. There are many places to see in and around Ratnagiri. Some popular places typically a part of tour operator’s itinerary are
Patit Pavan Mandir – is a temple of Shri Laxminarayan and in its precincts also has a memorial of the great freedom fighter Veer Savarkar. Tourists visit to the memorial to pay homage to Veer Savarkar.
Lokmanya Tilak Memorial – Ratnagiri is the birth place of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who had played a phenomenal role in India’s freedom struggle. One must surely visit the memorial of Bal Gangadhar Tilak at Tilak Ali for paying homage to this gallant freedom fighter who proclaimed to the British that ‘Freedom is my birth right and I shall have it’.
Ratnadurg Fort – The majestic Ratnadurg Fort with Bhagwati Devi temple is also a place not to be missed. There’s a beautiful temple of goddess Bhagwati atop the fort. One can see spectacular views of Ratnagiri Jetty and the area around from the fort.
Aquarium – The aquarium of Ratnagiri has a huge skeleton of a shark and showcases variety of marine life like octopus and marine turtles. A visit to the aquarium imparts good knowledge of the marine ecosystem.
Thibaw Palace – is on the outskirts of Ratnagiri, the palace was built by the British as an exile for the dethroned King of Burma (now Myanmar). A small museum showcases the belongings of the King and few artefacts.
Bhate Beach – Down south of Ratnagiri, after crossing the creek called ‘Bhatyachi Khadi’ on the road to Pawas is a surreal beach with Golden sands which command a stopover.
Pawas – 20 Kms down south of Ratnagiri is a pilgrimage destination known for the ashram of the 20th century saint and reformer Swami Swaroopananda. The calm and blissful atmosphere in the precincts of the ashram situated amidst a dense forest is a divine experience. One can shop for Mangoes and Konkan mewa at the Desai Agro farm shop outside the ashram.
Marleshwar Shiva Temple – 40 Kms south east of Ratnagiri on the road to Kolhapur in the Sahyadris atop a hill is a cave which is the Shiva temple of Marleshwar. The cave is full of venomous snakes but never harm pilgrims visiting the cave temple. The waterfall near the Marleshwar cave is an enchanting experience.
Ratnagiri is blessed with the bounty of nature and is popular worldwide for its delicious Hapoos (Alphonso) Mangoes and Cashews. One can also opt to stay at Ratnagiri. Being a city, it has many hotels and resorts. Some swanky resorts in Ratnagiri are the Kohinoor Samudra Beach resort and Ratnasagar beach resort on the Bhate beach.
Rajesh Deshpande © 2012