Being a Mumbaikar and having visited Juhu beach as a kid, I always thought beach waters were meant to be brown. My earliest exposure to blue ocean waters was probably the kiddo movie ‘Free Willy’.
But with a coastline of ~7000km, I grew up to realise that perhaps India can also have some beaches that it can boast of. One of such discoveries made in late 90s was the beach at Ganpatipule. It became a much talked about destination in most travel magazines and heck! even became a luxury cruiseliner stopover destination. Ganpatipule is now far from being undiscovered. It has been disovered by religious individuals, large families looking for some fun, teenagers who have discovered the joys of travelling with friends and of course husband-wife duos- looking for a break from monotony.
But do not let this turn you off from the place. What is amazing that this place absorbs the new found tourist adulation, providing each one a serene glimpse of its beauty. Which is why perhaps I am happy that Gaurav and I decided to visit this place.
Ganpatipule is 42-45 kms from the better known town of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra . There are not many routes to reach Ganpatipule from Mumbai. By road, its 7-8 hours from Mumbai, en route the Goa highway. By train, its an overnight journey from Mumbai to the nearest railway station- Ratnagiri, about 45 kms away from Ganpatipule. We chose to take the overnight train to Ratnagiri and it was a confortable journey. Once in Ratnagiri, one can easily take an auto or a cab to reach Ganpatipule. This stretch of road is truly vitalizing. Long smooth winding roads, with the lovely Arabian sea on one side and on the quaint villages to the other. The route to Ganpatipule from Ratnagiri is as enchanting!
I firmly believe that when at a beach destination, its best to stay at a resort located on the beach itself. And that is where Ganpatipule probably falls short as compared to the more popular beach destinations. Only MTDC offers accommodation with direct beach access. There are a few other good resorts such as Abhishek resort(has the best food in town and only one with hard liquor allowed and available!); but they lie across the road with no direct beach access. Some resorts are situated en route from Ratnagiri viz., Krishnali resort, which are situated on the beach at Malgund. I had a glimpse of this resort- Its set in a lovely locale, but its just too isolated and really the only place around, so if you get unlucky with your choice of food or room allocated, you really have no other option!
We chose to stay at the MTDC resort at Ganpatipule. MTDC at Ratnagiri has 2 properties; one in the main complex (opp. The temple) and another ½ km away called Konkani huts/cottages area, isolated from the hustle bustle around the temple and the main complex. It takes a rustic walk in the woods from the mail complex to the Konkani huts area. At this place one can also enjoy backwaters (more like a stream, honestly).
As with most MTDC properties, the facilities are basic yet clean (no room service), but the location-fabulous. I have heard some disappointing reviews of some MTDC properties. But I can safely vouch that this must be one of thier best. Do try and get hold of the rooms towards the beach.
They are much more comfortable and have a direct beach view. We got the cottages at the back, but well! The place provided perfect rejuvenation.
MTDC Konkani huts area is probably one of the best settings I have stayed in Maharashtra. Its bang on the beach, covered by the shady groves, with lazy hammocks inviting you with a book or for a snooze, and a restaurant on the beach offering you views of a secluded, clean and private beach. The food options are limited and hard liquor not allowed (Only beer is allowed and available). It was a little surprising and disappointing that for a coastal area, there were limited sea food options. But it seems to be a minor surrender, given the peace the place provides. This area is complete bliss.
The main complex too, has good, clean rooms with sea-views. MTDC main complex is more popular with tourists due to its proximity to the temple and the market area. The food options at the main complex are slightly better.
Ganpatipule is really a place for nothingness. Because there is nothing you can do except eat, splash in the sea, read, sleep and well….repeat the cycle the next day. It provides mental peace to minds cluttered with emails, sms’ and excel sheets! That there is a temple in the area also adds to the soothing process. The temple is best visited post sunset when the crowds are lesser, cool winds and a lovely spread of moonlight. Makes you feel close to God. During the day, there is a huge queue to get in. I am told that there are some watersports available on the beach during long holidays, but we didn’t see any in action. The beach is idyllic, vast and clean. The waves are high, though the slope-gentle. The shore is lined with trees. Totally picture perfect!
Two nights/Three day here is optimum. If you really have something to keep you self engaged for long, you can choose to stay for more. There are some other interesting beaches and a fort around, which we didnt visit. As with most Konkan beaches, Ganpatipule will bring you closer to nature and show you how one of the best lullabys of the world, the sea waves can be!