They say the powdery white sand here glows at night and changes hues at sunset. Though the few beaches around Ganpatipule cannot be compared to the serene backwaters that Kerala offers, they still continue to remain one of the crown jewels of Maharashtra and one of the state’s most famous images. Precisely the reason why this less-explored destination (I prefer to call it less explored because it almost never makes it to the list while planning a beach holiday, with more known options like Alibaug and Goa always vying for the top spot) deserves to be seen and experienced. In the current scenario, where international travel seems a long way off and exploring destinations closer home is the most plausible option, a getaway to this coastal town is ideal for someone craving for that one quick weekend escape.
Once used to transport coconuts and spices, this sleepy town is known for its flavorful cuisine and warm hospitality today. Dotting the Konkan coastline, nearly 25 kilometres from Ratnagiri and situated towards the southern end of Maharashtra, it has ample potential to grow into a major tourist magnet of sorts. For what it probably lacks in sophistication, it more than makes up for it in its spectacular white sand beaches, archaeological marvels and tropical climate. Taking a plunge in the warm waters here and enjoying a cocktail is simply the perfect antidote to a hot sultry afternoon.
While no one is quite sure how tourists stumbled upon Ganpatipule, Maharashtrian and Gujarati families from Mumbai and Pune have frequently been visiting Ratnagiri, and especially Ganpatipule for over a few centuries for the famed Swayambhu Ganpati Temple, believed to be around 400 years old. Two beautiful idols of Lord Ganesha can be found here, one made out of white sand and the other made of bronze. With a hill in its immediate background that resembles Lord Ganesha, most visitors make it a point to circumambulate the hillock as a mark of respect to the deity.
Though the place hasn’t changed significantly over the years, it was only a matter of time until tourists started flocking the town for its dazzling beaches and the growing number of upscale hotels and homestays. I checked into the eco-chic Blue Ocean Resort & Spa. With rooms that boast of contemporary decor and elegant artworks that adorn the walls, the beach-front villas and sea views could stop the most world-weary traveller in their tracks. Set in lush greenery opposite the crescent-shaped Malgund Beach, across Arrey Warrey Road and against the backdrop of coconut palms, the property has an idyllic setting. Enjoy the fine spa or laze around the pool side, basking in the shade. A few old traditional houses of Ganpatipule have also been converted into homestays including a number of charming waterfront cottages. Travellers with modest budgets have long flocked here. However, Ganpatipule over the last few years has also caught the eye of vacationers with deep pockets. And while it may now seem like a versatile slice of holiday heaven with luxury villas, wellness retreats and laidback homestays, what stands out is the fact that it has still managed to retain its original ethnic and cultural vibe.
There is no greater love than the love of food. Delve deep into one of Maharashtra’s most distinct coastal food cultures at Ganpatipule. Discerning locals can be seen haggling for the freshest produce and seafare at the local market. For a wholesome Maharashtrian vegetarian thali complete with aamras (seasonal) and ukadiche modak it doesn’t get any better than Mehendale’s Swaad Dining.
Honestly, it is the calmness of everyday life—witnessing fishermen in their traditional longboats, children splashing offshore, fishing birds of a certain species— that makes it hard to imagine a better setting to rejuvenate one’s body and soul.
Nearest airport: Mumbai (317kms, 10 hours to Malgund)
Drive from: Mumbai to Ganpatipule; halt at Chiplun for its sandy beaches, mangroves and cashew plantations.
Rickshaws and taxis are easily available, however, tourists prefer self or chauffeur-driven cars.
Motorcycles and bicycles are also available for rent.
Around the Town
Jaigad Fort Coastal fortification protected under the Archaeological Survey of India.
Lighthouse Located atop the peninsular tip, the lighthouse dates back nearly two centuries.
Beach Hopping Drive along Guhagar Beach, Malgund Beach and Bhandarpule Beach.
Nivali Waterfalls 45mins drive from Ganpatipule.
What to Eat
Traditional fish thali includes the fresh catch of the day (pomfret or mackerel—fried or made into a spicy curry), multigrain bhakri, sol kadi and rice.
Wholesome Maharashtrian vegetarian thali comprises of puri, aamras (seasonal), kokum curry and steamed modaks.
Do not miss
Alphonso mangoes of the Devgad variety, cashew nuts, kokum sherbet and local mango pickle.