To get away from the crowds

To get away from the crowds

QUAINT RETREAT

 DESERTED The crystal clear waters of a beach in Ganpatipule. Photo by authorIn the heart of Konkan coast, well-known as a pilgrimage centre, it continues to attract the devout from neighbouring towns. Lord Ganpati, the comfortable, portly elephant god, reigns supreme here, along with his love for modaks. But there is more to this inconspicuous little rustic spot. As we drove down the winding roads along the coastline, the stunning view of the sea with its white beaches was incomparably beautiful. 

But as Ganpatipule attracts hordes of holidaymakers from Mumbai, the tourist traffic is quite overwhelming. The little narrow hill roads are bursting with ungainly SUVs and cars of all shapes and sizes, blaring their way around, demanding space. Here, tourism is indeed a great source of livelihood. For, almost every house that dots the main bazaar road offers rooms for rent. There are others that are ready to offer a bath and toilet facility alone.

As for the food, it is rustic and delicious. We found, on enquiry, two well-known eateries that serve authentic Maharashtrian cuisine — Bhavu Joshi and Rajesh Bapat. Known by their founders’ names,  they serve food that is simple, authentic, tasty and nourishing. While we took a stroll in the evening, we located Rajest Bapat in a small bylane. We made a brief halt and savoured their mouth-watering modaks.

We then headed to the local temple, which is picturesque and clean. Here, people seemed to have a better civic sense than in cities. Being Lord Ganesha’s fiefdom, modaks are a hot favourite here and taste out of this world — syrupy jaggery-coconut centres couched in soft rice pouches, expertly twisted round and served piping hot! A gastronomical delight indeed. Ganpatipule has warm, cubbyhole shops selling a plethora of juices from kairi pannah to kokum juice and cashewnut syrup. It is a pleasure  to walk down the lush country side of this town, shopping for trinkets and other curios as you pass by.

According to a local legend, the Konkan coast was originally a part of the ocean. Lord Parashuram (one of the dashavataras of Lord Vishnu) known for his determination, his dislike for the Kshatriya race and an extremely short temper, ordered the ocean to retreat several miles. The sea receded and the land of Konkan was born.

Handicrafts are also one of the major attractions of Ganpatipule. Wooden toys, combs and knick-knacks are also found aplenty. While taking a leisurely walk on the beach, we watched little starfish and tiny molluscs push themselves adroitly into the beach sands to avoid being spotted. We even spotted tiny water birds that flew in dainty flocks. Later, we lolled around on the beach, while the waves gently rocked us back and forth.

Ganpatipule exudes an old-world charm and has a certain element of quaintness to it — a perfect weekend getaway indeed! Visiting this town was a refreshing experience. What made our stay better was the culture. Try and interact with the denizens and soak in the local sights and sounds and you will definitely enjoy your holiday here.

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