Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ganpatipule Travelogue

I am back with my Travelogue on Ganpatipule.
Ganpatipule is a small temple town located in the Ratnagiri district on the konkan coast of Maharashtra.It is approximately 375 kms south from Mumbai and 325 kms from Pune.
It has got a lovely beach with golden sand,So it attracts pilgrims,peace seekers and beach lovers alike.
First I shall start with the route.
We chose Kumbharli Ghat Route from Pune.
Pune-Satara-Umbraj-right turn to Patan-Malharpeth-Kumbharli Ghat-Chiplun-Left turn at junction on National highway towards Goa-Sangameshwar-At Nivali Phata,Right turn towards Ganpatipule.
Scenic Pune-Satara stretch of NH4
Pune to Satara Stretch in the NH4 National Highway is scenic but was spine breaking with generous number ;-) :-) of potholes and irritating diversions.We stopped our Cars near a small temple(because that was the only place which had shady trees) to have our packed break fast.A mini halt was taken at an outlet maintained by Mapro Garden.They sell mocktails at astronomical price but  maintain superb toilets.Surprisingly both western and Indian style.Planning to write a post on necessity of Indian toilets in Public places.Just before Umbraj we took the service road and with no sign boards around we struggled to find the right turn for patan.There were three under bridges,so confusing.Take the third one for patan.Best way is to ask the locals before landing into a crowded market place of Umbraj :-)
Road from Patan to Kumbharli ghat is also in good shape.In fact,better than National Highway ;-) :-)
Patan to Kumbharli ghat is a pleasant drive with mammoth Banyan trees bordering the road.
Kumbharli Ghat
Kumbharli ghat Road is also in good condition except a few rough patches.Ghat section is full of Picturesque locales.It was an enjoyable drive.Bends were smooth. Green Cover is good.There are very few eatery points in this ghat.Better to pack some food for emergency.We had our packed lunch in one of the scenic spots.There are no rest areas in this route.
Kumbharli Ghat
We reached chiplun after crossing ghats and took a left turn towards Goa in National Highway(NH 17).This route is also beautiful with scenic vistas with a view through long narrow avenue of thick green trees and passages between rocky hills.Can see lots of mango trees adorning the highway in this route.After Sangameshwar,keep an eye on the sign boards which lead to Ganpatipule because a right turn has to be taken at Nivali Phata.Road from Nivali Phata to Ganpatipule is also in good condition.Reach Ganpatipule before sunset because there are almost no sign boards and even if you are able to locate them by luck,they are in miniscule size and placed in tricky places as if they have to be hidden and protected from public eyes ;-) :-)
Here I would like to mention one important issue.It is about the poor railway connectivity to Konkan area from Tourist circuits like Bangalore,Mysore,Hyderabad and metros like Chennai.In fact, there are no direct trains connecting Konkan to these places.My brother who visited Ganpatipule from Mysore had to hop from Bangalore to Goa and again Goa to Ratnagiri.From Ratnagiri,to reach Ganpatipule(dist 35 kms),Auto Rickshaws charge Rs.500/- and  Cabs charge around Rs.1500/-.State Transport buses are a rarity and  don't ply in time.MSRTC should at least start Mini Bus Service plying between nearest railway stations and tourist destinations in the Konkan belt. It will be of immense help to tourists who come by trains.Now Honourable Minister Suresh Prabhu has taken charge of Railways.He belongs to Konkan belt.Hope he does justice to this belt by introducing trains connecting Konkan and other southern states(except Kerala because many kerala trains pass through Konkan).Even from Pune,only one train passes via konkan.
We stayed in MTDC Ganpatipule.Location of MTDC is superb.All rooms have Sea View.Room Service is good.House keeping is very good.Staff are helpful and friendly.Premises is clean.Bathroom cum Toilet is spacious and clean.Booking has to be done well in advance because MTDC Ganpatipule is in great demand.Temple and Beach both are near to MTDC. Taps are fitted in front of the rooms.Green Cover is very good with lots of coconut trees ,casuarina and other typical konkan trees.
Individual cottages are also available.
MTDC as seen from the Beach,Ganpatipule

Sea View from Balcony is awesome.Can relax for hours in that tranquil setting.
Sea View from Balcony,MTDC Ganpatipule

Sunset viewed from Balcony.MTDC Ganpatipule.
Ganpatipule Temple which houses the Swayambhu Ganpati Idol is an awesome and divine place for spiritualists.There are no words to describe the peaceful atmosphere which engulfs the shrine.
Temple in the beach with the hillock as backdrop,Ganpatipule

Beach is a long stretch of white sand bordered by a quite rough sea.Under currents can be dangerous.
Take precautions before venturing into Sea by asking the locals about the condition of the sea at that time.

Ganpatipule Beach
There are many boat operators in the beach.They charge Rs.100/- per person for a mini boat ride into the Sea.Its Fun.
Boats in Ganpatipule Beach
View of temple from the Sea,Ganpatipule
Pradakshina (Circumambulation) of the Temple has to performed around the Hillock.It was a tranquil route with lots of greenery.Can hear chirping of birds,humming of insects while enjoying the aroma of the various jungle trees and flowers lingering in the air.It takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete one pradakshina.It was a wonderful experience.
Pradakshina Route,Ganpatipule
Sea view from Shundasthan,Ganpatipule

As the hillock itself  is considered as the manifestation of the elephant God,there is a small temple located in the pradakshina route marking the location of the trunk of the elephant God Ganpati.That is the Shundasthan of the Hillock. A very calm place where you can spend lots of time without getting disturbed by the worldly affairs.I can assure you that you will forget your hectic urban life at least for that moment.
Scenic view  Ratnagiri-Ganpatipule 
Scenic view Ratnagiri-Ganpatipule

A drive on the Ratnagiri - Ganpatipule route itself was an experience by itself.Take the drive before sunset.The stunning cliffs and intermediate beaches offer a spectacular sight to the nature lovers.Eateries were set on the edge of one such small cliff near Aare ware beach.Our group enjoyed Chat snacks like Bhel in those eateries.

As far as food is concerned,there is no problem in Ganpatipule.Both Vegetarians and Non Vegetarians can
have good, tasty food.We had food in 4 different places during our stay. Bhau Joshi Bhojanalay offers different cuisines like Punjabi and Maharashtrian.In Bapat  bhojanalay one maharashtrian thali costs Rs.80/- with rotis,2 vegetable curries,salad,rice,amthi,butter milk. In Kelkar Bhojanalay,one simple maharashtrian thali costs Rs.60/- (only one curry).You can enjoy simple,delicious and homely preparations in these places.You have to place your orders before 3 hours in Bapat and kelkar. Durvankur is a regular  restaurant.All four outlets mentioned above serve pure vegetarian food.Can try Dhanvatkar bhojanalay and shende bhojanalay also.There is an in house restaurant TARANG in MTDC .They serve both vegetarian and non vegetarian food.Veg.Breakfast was complimentary.Food is also good.
Ganpatipule is a great combo of spiritualism, lovely scenery,pristine beach and sparkling waters.Overall it scores a high percentage for this superb combo.Highly recommended. OK friends!Signing off this post with a bye and a Snapshot of the wonderful sunset captured from the beach.
Sunset in Ganpatipule Beach
 CU in my next post.