Silver sands and emerald pastures
Ganapatipule is a place to go for peace
During my Konkan Darshan road journey, I went through the entire thin and narrow strip of the Konkan coast sandwiched between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. In the process, I experienced splendours of some mighty sea forts, nawab’s palaces, undiscovered beaches, fresh seafood prepared from age-old recipes, kaju (cashew) plantations and processing, backwaters and rivers meandering through the ghats, and ancient places of pilgrimage. A train journey on the Konkan railway is exciting, but I preferred a road journey as it is supposed to be double the fun.
The first stop on my list was Ganapatipule, one of the most important destinations in the Konkan area. Travelling to the place was a vacation in itself. The gorgeous beach of Ganapatipule is well connected with the other cities of India. Ratnagiri is the closest railhead and airport at a distance of 50 km. There are luxury buses that ply on the NH17 connecting Mumbai to Goa and Mangaluru. The journey is for a distance of 375 km and is covered in less than 10 hours.
The entire Konkan region is like a paradise. There is something new to discover in whichever direction you go. Narrow roads, red soil, roofed houses built with stone and straw, clean courtyards, innumerable fruit-bearing trees (including mango, betel nut, banana, jackfruit, cashewnut, jambul, kokum and so on) and casuarinas lining the coast are a common sight.
After thoroughly enjoying my road journey from Mumbai, I finally arrived at Ganapatipule in the evening. Quickly unpacking and freshening up, I stepped out to enjoy the amazing sights of the setting sun from the courtyard of the MTDC resort where I was putting up. Ganapatipule is an important pilgrimage centre because of the 400-year-old temple of Swayambhu Ganapati.
My first impression of the place was that I had come to one of the most beautiful beaches one can ever dream of visiting in one’s lifetime. Standing in front of the beach and watching the rising waves, I could only think of the famous lines about Kashmir — “If there is heaven on the earth, it is here, only here”.
And I bowed my head in respect to lord Ganapati for his favour. I was longing for a beach vacation for long, and Ganapatipule seemed to be just the right place. The place is a big draw for vacationers with its undisturbed, unspoiled 6 km long silvery coastline.
By the time I was through all the basic exploring of the area, the sun was about to set. The view was so magnificent that it was difficult to describe. As the sun started descending into the horizon, the sky displayed all shades of red and orange.
Tranquility was served in plenty at the cottages where I was staying. The first call next morning was that of the koels, followed by the caws of jet black crows. I set out for a walk on the beach with the waves curling round my feet. Time at the beach had a surplus value, allowing me to build sand castles and collect sea shells as souvenirs.
For next four days, I vacationed at Ganapatipule and explored the beach there. Much has been written about the beaches of Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu but this beach remains unsung. And that’s perhaps the beauty of Ganapatipule. Sparkling blue waters, endless stretches of golden and silver sand, sun beams dancing through the swaying palms, waves playing with the sand dunes, a cool breeze whispering sweet nothings in your ears — all this makes Ganapatipule a memorable destination.
During the four days spent at Ganapatipule, I dined on veg food, in the company of the amusing chefs there. One morning, one of them asked me why I was not ordering any fish. “Konkan mein machchi aur nariyal ke bina khana nahin banta hai (In Konkan, people cannot do without sea fish and coconut),” the chef said. I took the question with a bland, “Main shakahari hoon (I am a vegetarian),” but could not satisfy him. Anyway, I feasted on veggie food at eateries run by the locals. I loved the mango pickle and other Konkani food like Ghavan (rice chapati), Moong Amti and Kokum Kadhi (a pink-coloured liquid, either to be drunk after food or to be had with rice). The Kokum Kadhi is a highly digestive drink and neutralises the effects of spicy food. All of my meals used to end with modaks (a favourite dish of Lord Ganesh, made with rice flour and freshly grated coconut and jaggery).
So would I return to Ganapatipule? Oh yes. And more importantly, would I recommend it to the folks who regularly ask me to suggest a place to go? Again, a big yes.