Escapades into Konkani Territory
Mumbai to Goa the 582 Km long route with vast coastline on the west and hills in the east is truly a fantastic experience. A journey along the NH17 into the Konkan country is nothing but a self discovery. Infact getting off the highway at periodic intervals and taking detours through state highways, village roads towards the scenic coastline of Arabian Sea is a mission in discovering spectacular virgin beaches, formidable forts of yore, breathtaking sceneries and lot’s more. So be it short or a long weekend, pack your bags and head straight for the Konkan country, this is one journey that you will not easily forget and want to undertake often. Get set and go…..Just one caveat the distances given in the diagram are not to scale.
Alibaug: Gateway to the Konkan Land
Just 113 km from Mumbai and you are into the first stop Alibaug. Alibaug is a perfect concoction of nature, history and religion. Apart from the Alibaug beach with the blackest sand of the region there is the once impregnable Kolaba Fort built by Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj, inside are 2 temples. Then there is Akshi a quiet beach 2 kms away. Nagaon beach is just 7 km from here you can take a boat ride to the twin forts of Khanderi and Undheri.
Kanakeshwar: The Gods in Silence
Kanakeshwar, on the Konkan coast is just 12 km from Alibaug. This is one temple where there is no clamouring, no brokering just peace. The famous old temple of Lord Shiva built in 1764 is the prime attraction here. The temple is atop a hill that is 1200 feet high and one has to take a flight of 700 – 750 steps to reach on top. On the way you will find Nagobacha Tappa and the famous step Devachi Payari. There is also a statue of Nandi, the bull, Brahma Kund and the Maruti Mandir.
Kashid: Mystic Calmness Wedged between the Hills
139 km from Mumbai, Alibaug to Kashid by the coastal state road is an exhilarating journey. The Kashid beach reaching into the seas is not exactly bustling with activities and perhaps that is its forte. Take a casual stroll through Casurina groves and cypress trees and loose yourself by forgetting about mundane life back home. From Kashid you could head for the ruins of the Revdanda Beach fort. This is an old portugese fort overrun by betel nut plantations still a gaping hole made by cannonball fire on the ramparts give a majestic view of the sea. The Korlai Beach and fort is also another nearby attraction from Kashid.
Around 19 km from Kashid is Phansad Bird Sanctuary as you drive inside you will find this place is much more than a bird sanctuary. The sanctuary spread over a 1000 hectares is home to a number of avian species.
Murud- Janjira: The story of the Invincible Fort
167 kilometers from Mumbai you reach the unconquerable fort of the Siddis the Janjira fort. The fort built some 350 years ago remains unconquered to this date despite attempts made by the British, Portuguese and the Marathas under Shivaji and Shambhaji. The attractions of the fort are Kalarbangdi, Gaimukh and Chavdi the huge canons, Bala Killa the central point of the fort.
The Murud Beach with white sands is the other attraction here. Once in Murud you can also visit the nearby Garambi falls just 4 km away.
Shrivardhan: The Birth place of Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath
Shrivardhan is 208 km from Mumbai and a 6 hours drive. Beaches, temples, historic monuments galore here. The Shrivardhan beach is long clean with black sands. The beach is not rocky and one can go up to a good distance into the water. Shrivardhan has some nice sightseeing on the outskirts. Just 5 km away from the Shrivardhan is the Kondivili Beach and the Shankar temple. The Kondivili beach is clean and unmarked by footprints. You can also take a look at the residence of Peshwa Baji Rao 1 on the Peshwa Smarak Road, though it is under the control of the local administration.
Harihareshwar: The Dakshin Kashi on the Konkan Coast
Very rarely is there a place in India that inspite of being a pilgrimage centre does not loose its pristine charm. Harihareshwar is one such place an ideal beach resort and an ideal pilgrimage point. The famous landmark here is the Shiva Kalabhairav temple built during the reign of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The next attraction is the tranquil Harihareshwar Beach split into two halves north and south by the Kalbhairav temple complex. Bagmandala just 4 km away is another attraction. By the way, Harihareshwar is 219 km from Mumbai.
Harnai and Anjarle: Konkan’s Best Kept Secrets
Harnai is 280 km from Mumbai. If you are done away with all the silence, the hallmark of the Konkani beaches then perhaps gearing up to frantic activities is not all that bad. Harnai is the epicenter of fishing activities. It is crowded with narrow little lanes. In the evenings as the fishermen return with their catches the place becomes very lively with the auctions on to sell the catch to the highest bidders. Tired with the cacophony of Harnai head straight for Anjarle some 15 kms away. Boats take just 5 minutes to reach. Anjarle Beach is quite a contrast to the hustle and bustle of Harnai. The place is quiet and it would seem that you are perhaps at your own private beach.
Guhagar: Outliving the ‘Enron’s Dream’
Well, we all heard of Dabhol Power Plant isn’t it, the dream project of Enron and how it vanquished after promising to change the local economy forever. The locals did not change but Guhagar 320 km south of Mumbai certainly became more accessible with smooth roads and better hotels. The entry point to the Guhagar beach has an element of surprise in it. Even if you are on its doorstep you will not realize how big it is. This is because the way to the beach is through narrow lanes, mud houses and finally a thick border of tall trees. All give an effective camouflaging to the Guhagar beach. The beach otherwise is calm and quiet with long stretches of white sand. “Nature at its best” that’s what sums up Guhagar.
Hedvi and Velneshwar: The story of the Beach and Temple
Hedvi and Velneshwar set apart by 5 kilometers are very near to Guhagar and around 370 km south of Mumbai. Both the beaches are fine examples of one-temple-one beach entity. Velneshwar is famous for an old Shiva Temple in the village centre, constructed in typically colourful Konkani folk tradition. However the Beach here is not the place’s USP with filth and squalor around.
Hedvi an hour’s drive from Guhagar is also known for the Beach and a temple. Hedvi Beach is nice, clean and desolated. Coconut trees line the beach. On the beachfront you can relax on the shelters made of dried palm leaves. Finished with the beaches you can head for the famous temple of Lord Ganesh. The temple built during the temple of powerful Peshwas houses the idol of lord Ganesha with ten hands. That is why he is known here as the Dashbhuj Ganesh. In close proximity to the beach is the famous Baman Ghal. It is essentially big fissure in the rock. During high tides, the sea water gushes through it making huge splashes.
Ganpatipule and Ratnagiri: God’s own Beach with history lessons
Ganpatipule and Ratnagiri is around 375 km south of Mumbai and well into the south Konkan territory. If Ganapatipule is all about Lord Ganesha, the affable god of good times, then Ratnagiri is walking down the History lane. Ganpatipule is best known for the Swayambhu Ganapati Temple. The lord Ganesha here is one of the Paschim Dwar devtas. Right outside the temple is the beach. The waters are supposed to be safe for swimming, but be careful. Gapatipiule excels in a number of exciting water sports activities which is a must do here. Do not miss out the fruits and sweets with very Konkani flavour. Jaigad Fort now in ruins 20 kms from Ganpatipule is also a must visit.
Ratnagiri a charming seaside town is just 25 kms from Ganpatipule. Other than the vast expanse of black sandy beach with a backdrop of a 15th century fort, it is famous for Alfonso mangoes, coconuts and jackfruits. If you get turned around by Sun Sea and sand Ratnagiri is the place for you. Mandvi Beach, Pandre Samudra, Bhatye Beach and Ganeshghule just 20 km away is the most beautiful of them all with white sands.
Get your history lessons right with Thibaw’s palace- the palace of the exiled Burmese King, Tilak Ali- the birth place of Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak now turned into a museum. You can also visit the Ratnadurg fort a short 10 minute’s drive, though now only in ruins still offers some peek into the past.
Devgad and Kunkeshwar: Gods love Mangoes
Kunkeshwar and the small detour to Devgad is all about Temple, fort, Beaches and the world famous picture perfect Hapus mango orchards.
Kunkeshwar is around 500 kilometers south of Mumbai. The main attraction here is the gorgeous temple of lord Shiva once worshipped by Shivaji Maharaj. The Temple stands majestically on the heavenly beach supposed to have been built by an Arab Muslim in gratitude. The beach clean and clear of any signs of habitat for miles is all yours to grab. The vast expense of the white sand, emerald waters of Arabian Sea with the backdrop of green hills in the east you will fall in love with Kunkeshwar. Devgad just 27 km from Kunkeshwar offers more sightseeings with temples fort and beach and the mangoes- as much as you can.
Devgad literally means the house of god and true to the name the place is lined with up with many temples. The Gajbadevi and Vimleshwar Shiva are the big temples of the place attracting a sizeable number of devotees. The Devgad beach is yet another beach from the storehouse of Konkani coastline offering some moments of solitude. You could spot the windmills in action from the beach. Just south of Devgad, blue waters of clean Tara Mumbri Beach is another attraction. If you are in the mango season get ready to be treated by the king of Fruits, mango. Devgad’s Hapus or Alphoso mangoes are renowned all over the world for sweetness and meaty pulp. By seeing the neat rows of Mango Orchards of Devgad it is hard to resist the temptation of plucking one. Another nearby attraction is Vijaydurg fort and beach.
Malvan and Tarkarli: Jewel in the crown of Sindhudurg
Malvan is around 540 km south of Mumbai and is part of the Sindhudurg district the southernmost part of Maharashtra. The whole area of the place still reverberates with the heroics and valour of the great Maratha – Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The virgin beaches and rows of coconut palms are there to be grasped with both the hands. The main attraction here is the Shivaji’s own Sindhudurg fort that is built on Kurte Island. One of the prime attractions of the fort is the foot and hand imprints of Shivaji Maharaj and the Shree Shivchhatrapati temple. Malvan Beach is one of the active Beaches in the Konkan region with good number of food joints and a bar. Malvan beach is not your typical place to unwind and chill but remains the most easily accessible beach. Other notable beaches in the area include Chivra Beach, Achara Beach (22km north of Malvan) and Tondavali Beach (19km North of Malvan)
Tarkarli beach is around 6 kms from Malvan and can be easily termed as the little heaven by the sea. The white beach and the gentle clean waters would coax you to frolicking. Along with the beach, there a few coastal villages those worth a visit. So laze around, bask in the sun and enjoy Malvani cuisine.
Vengurla: The last of the unspoiled Paradises.
Lying at the foot of a green, crescent ridge, Vengurla 550 km south of Mumbai is our last destination. The state of Goa is very near to this place.
Besides the Sagareshwar beach, Vengurla is replete with historical forts, very old temples and quiet villages. Shri Sateri Devi Mandir and Shri Vithoba Temple are located at the village of Aravali some 10 kms away. Taking an early morning walk in the Casaurina- framed Sagareshwar beach is a heavenly experience.
Lighthouse perched on the hill overlooking the jetty should be your next stop .It offers a splendid view from the top. Vengurla Rocks or Burnt Islands, the fruit research center and the cashew factories of the area should be your next stops.