The moment I woke up and peeked out of the glass window of my room, the glittering beach beckoned. I was at Ganpatipule on the Konkan coast, with the gorgeous Aare Ware beach sprawled in front of me. As part of the ‘Wheels of Wander’ campaign by Maruti Suzuki Alto and Outlook Traveller, I had arrived here with Hersh, Sagar and Rushaad - 3 friends from Mumbai- to explore the region on a 4-day self-driving trip.
Thanks to the low tide of the morning, the sea had receded, revealing more of the golden stretch along the beach. Soft waves caressed my feet as I walked along the sand, slippers in hand. The cool morning invited the muted rays of the sun, as the sky turned from purplish to a light orange and then eventually a dull blue. In a country of more than a billion people, one needs to be truly lucky to be able to find a place with not another soul in sight. I had chanced upon it and was soaking in its serene charm. Taking in the refreshing start to the day, I prepared for the next leg of the journey on wheels, and recapped our previous day in my mind, when we had arrived at Ganpatipule.
Ganpatipule, though often regarded as a spiritual destination, is an ideal place for slow travellers. Here, full days of unwinding can highlight the plan. The town is dotted with beachside resorts as well as a few budget guesthouses. There are a number of small eateries that showcase the local food, menus heavy with fish and other marine delicacies. ‘I can stay here forever’, said a voice inside me, but I had only a few more hours before we had to leave for our next destination. But as they say, ‘’with all good things in life, there’s always a next time’’.
Ganapatipule is a popular weekend getaway for people living in Mumbai and Pune, as a spiritual stop to pay respects at the Swayambhu Ganpati Temple. The temple is frequently visited by devotees, as it houses a 400 years old naturally created idol of Ganesha. Unlike other Hindu deities, the idol faces west, characterizing it as one of the Paschim Dwar Devatas or ‘West Coast Gods’.
The holidaying travellers at Ganpatipule have yet another lure – the soft golden sand and the stunning sunsets in the evenings. The beach lies right next to the temple and one is likely to be in the company of hundreds of people. But the glamorous descent of the sun into the horizon often leaves everyone speechless, only concentrating on viewfinders to take a great photograph.
Only 1km north of Ganpatipule lies the Malgund stretch along the coast. Far quieter and in tune to those who like a bit of solitude, this was my favourite. It straddles the Arabian Sea and a namesake village, where fishermen cast their nets in the mornings. Malgund is also the native village of the famous Marathi poet, Kavi Keshavsoot.
The regional open air museum, which is at a walking distance from the Ganpatipule Town, has some models that depict the traditional Konkan life. The museum has a number of exhibits that walk you through local life of farming, fishing and other occupations. The well-maintained establishment is especially relevant if one is travelling with kids.
Only 14km from here, this is an erstwhile fortification which was built by the British. While the fort has weathered, its outer shell of walls offers a commanding view of the Arabian Sea, a lighthouse in the distance and a power plant. The 16th century fort has a rich history of having passed through the hands of many rulers – Bijapur Kings, the Portuguese and even the British.
Even though we had spent only a day at Ganpatipule, it has been forever etched in my mind as one of the top places to visit on the Konkan coast.