After a very long time, we could finally get away for a short break. We did not want to visit the same old beaches that we usually frequent ... like Murud/ Kashid , Harihareshwar , Goa or Karpe wadi ( never again ) ... so decided on Ganapatipule ... an extremely beautiful and serene beach on the Konkan coast. As we are fond of road trips ... especially to beaches, we went by car ... as usual.
The route or road and the whole drive from Pune to Ganapatipule is beautiful. The highway is very good .... making the first half of the trip real smooth. The Koyna river keeps you company for a long time in the second half, going parallel to the road. Tempts you to halt and take a break.
Enroute Ganapatipule ... the beautiful Koyna river.
With its pristine white sandy beaches and clear waters of a very blue sea, Ganapatipule has been almost untouched by tourists until even a couple of years back.
Sea shells galore.
However, lately there has been a burst of hotels and lodges coming up as there has been a deluge of tourists. With numerous options on a place of stay and food, the place is now teeming with visitors ... usually on weekends and holidays.
The options of staying are huge ... there are all kinds of places to stay at that suit all kinds of pockets.
There are some very good resorts as well a lot of medium budgeted lodges and hotels. There is also the option of staying with locals in their homes.
The sea is very blue here. And the vast stretches of clean beach soothes sore city eyes.
Crystal clear waters.
Finding good food here is no problem too. If you pick a good resort they'll have their own restaraunt. However they'll offer the run of the mill like Paneer butter masala, Veg Biryani, etc.
Ask for local cuisine and you draw a blank.
So we roamed around and found out that the locals offer you lunch or dinner .. cooked at home on 'chulhas'. You just had to inform them beforehand ... i.e. for dinner you have to let them know in the afternoon.
We had the most wonderful experince of sampling some wonderful local cuisine at one such homes. The family was very warm and would chat with us throughout the meal. On my asking, they got me some very good local and original Kokum ... grown in their neighbour's backyard. At the same time they gave us tips to avoid buying low quality Kokum sold in shops.
The food made by the lady of the house was outstanding .... a very rural, rustic meal cooked out in the open. When she came to know that we couldn't get Solkadi anywhere, she made it fresh for us the very next day.
(Anybody truly interested in simple local food can mail me for the name and number of this family).
Sunrise on the beach.
The Swayambhu Ganapati temple.
The Ganapati temple is one of the major attractions ... being one of the revered Ashtavinayakas. The diety here is embedded in a small hill ... and the temple is built in front of it ... facing the sea.
For the pradakshina, you have to circle the whole hill barefoot to complete your puja. It is very beautiful ... especially in the evening ... with the quiet of the hill & jungle on one side and when your pradakshina is complete, you emerge to the roaring sea on the other. Awesome!
How to reach Ganapatipule from Pune
The route :
From Pune - take the NH4 ( Mumbai - Bangalore highway ) - Shirwal - Satara - Umbraj - Karad - take the state highway to - Patan - Koyna (do not go on to the dam ... take a left at the fork ) - Kumbharli ghat - Chiplun - Sangameshwar - Nivali Phata - Ganapatipule
Time taken - With short breaks ... around 8 hours
A few pointers -
* If going by car, start as early as possible ... of course after a good night's rest. As it is driving towards West throughout the journey, the sun will make things difficult as the day progresses.
* And keep a few things to munch on thru the journey ... cuts the monotony. Also keep enough drinking water.
* You can take breaks at Satara & Karad. These places have good restaraunts and restrooms. Just before Satara there is the Milestone restaraunt ... keep a lookout on the left. It has good food and clean restrooms.
Do not skip it as you will find the next one after a long time ... only at Sangameshwar ( and the restrooms there are very dirty).
Of course you can go all the way to Karad ... there are good restaraunts & restrooms there ... but then you will have to make an U turn to get back to Chiplun highway.
* The road from Karad to Kumbharli ghat is average ... will have to slow down driving speed considerably due to single road and ongoing traffic .... so time your journey accordingly.
Also, you may not find any restrooms or restaraunts on this route ... you may try the petrol pumps though.
* The Kumbharli ghat is very beautiful, at the same time very steep with deep curves and turns ... so drive carefully. Do not let your attention wander. Drive slow and steady.
You will be tempted to stop and have a look around ... refrain. The road does not have enough space to park a vehicle ... and it is too dangerous with all the ongoing traffic.
* Whenever in doubt about the route or roads, always ask the locals. If you hesitate and move on uncertainly, chances are you may not come across people for long stretches.
Had a soothing weekend, soaked in the quiet, the sea, the sun, the balmy air. Slept under the stars in a hammock. Watched the empty beach and the sea change its colours as the day progressed. Made some new friends.
Tired souls refreshed. :-)