Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ganapatipule and Ratnagiri

We reached Jaigadh by evening and tried exploring options. But this place was buzzing with industrial activity as a huge steel plant is coming up. The possibility of tourism being developed has diminished here. As it is it was not a really hot destination. So we moved ahead to Ganapatipule.

Ganapatipule is one of the most famous destinations in Maharashtra, mainly because of the Ganesha Temple which is made famous by MTDC (Maharastra Toursim Development Corporation). I had visited this place 10 years back and I had really enjoyed my time at MTDC resort. So, I had my fond memories about this place.

Ganesha Temple

Ganesha Temple and Naved in deep thoughts

As soon as I entered this town, I was completely disappointed. It has become like any other temple town with crowded streets; too many small lodges. There is absolute dearth of service at every place. We found a homestay there, but the owners were not staying there. There was a boy who was caretaker and he was neither experienced nor inclined to give service.

We however, stayed over there as it was getting dark. The next day we spoke to most of the people about what kind of activities we can start over there and how the experience of a tourist can be enriched. However the answers were mostly negative – everything is literally “god given” so human beings don’t need to put much efforts.

We then went to the temple and the beach. This beach used to be a very beautiful beach sometime back. The location of MTDC resort is wonderful. But now there is so much construction around that getting view of the beach is difficult. People have removed sand from the beach for construction purpose; which has led to creation of highs and lows in sand. This has made is very risky and government has put up a signboard giving names of the people who were drowned there; in order to deter tourists from entering in the sea. It is a classing example of unplanned growth can kill tourism potential of a place.

Beach at Ganapatipule

However, if you love beaches and sea; then head towards nearby village Malgund; which is just 6 km away and not explored at all.

View of Malgund from a hill at Ganapatipule

I recommend, do not stay at Ganapatipule even if you plan to visit the temple. It is better to stay at Velneshwar; which is 50 km away if you want natural surroundings or you can also stay at Ratnagiri and come down here to visit the temple. This would enrich your experience and also save you money. Public transport is easily available from Ratnagiri and if you have your own car then nothing like it.

We left by evening from Ganapatipule and took short cut alongside coast to Ratnagiri. We reached towards late noon and tried to look for homestays but we could find none. So, finally we checked in a hotel.

We then moved straight ahead to Bhagawati Temple, one of the most famous spot here. It is a scenic spot on top of a hill along the coast. The most amazing aspect of this town is that, it has two beaches, separated by Bhagawati temple. The one towards north of the temple is called “Pandhara Samudra” (meaning white sea in Marathi) as the sand is white here and that to the south of the temple is called “Kala Samudra” (black sea) as the sand is black here. It is amazing to see both from the temple hillock.

Bhagawati Temple complex

For reasons unknown contrary to normal preference of the people for white sand; in this town the beach with black sand is more popular.

View of Bhagawati Jetty from Temple and White Sea(Pandhara Samudra)

Bhagawati temple is a great spot to see the sunset and enjoy evening breeze. The temple is nicely constructed also there is statue of Sarkhel Kanhoji Aangre (Chief of Naval Staff of Marathas); one of most brave and fierce fighters of the empire.

View to South of temple towards Black Sea(Kala Samudra)

The next day morning we got up and visited Thiba palace; built for keeping King Thiba of Burma in captivity. There is also Thiba point; where the king used to sit and watch the sea remembering his homeland. Though both are very beautiful; sheer feeling of Thiba’s isolation and longing for motherland made us feel depressed and we left quickly.

Thiba Palace

View from Thiba Point

We started towards our next destination ---------Malvan (coming soon Malvan, Shiroda and Vengurla)