If wanderlust flows in genes, it is my father who has given me a strain. A geologist by profession, my dad or baba as I call him has a bag full of travel stories of his own fascinating expeditions. So when he landed up in Pune, a road trip had to be planned. This time it was also decided that we would try and delve into the heartland of Maharashtra, the state which has been home for a while. A little research and talking to friends helped us zero in on Ganapatipule and so an early January morning, bags, baba; books and I were out on the road to answer the call.
The road from Pune to Ganapatipule is a visual treat. After zooming through the silky Pune-Bangalore highway for about two hours and a sumptuous local breakfast of Chai and poha, we took a turn from Karad to enter a road which led us through forests and plains to the virgin stretches of the Konkan coast.
Now, I am a lover of the road. During any of my travels, it is almost always that the beauty of the road leading me to the place of visit seems far more intriguing and beautiful than the place in itself. The road in this case was not an exception, the roads leads you through small villages, peripheries of the Koyna forest reserve and then brings you too one of the most beautiful seaside road strectches in India. This road plays hide and seek with the jade blue Arabian Sea for a stretch of nearly 15 kms on the way to
Ganapatipule. Every few minutes, as you peep out of the car window a new gorgeous view of beautiful beaches with almost no people on them, with hills and groves for company alone, dazzle your senses. Somewhere in the middle of this heaven stands Ganapatipule, a quaint temple town.
Staying options here are scattered and there are options for both the luxury traveller and pocket friendly . Most places can be booked in advance over internet and the helpful and simple people around, warm hospitality and fiery fresh sea food specialities make you feel at home within minutes you touch down.
During our stay at Ganapatipule, we visited the local Ganesha temple, and few beaches around the area. The Aarey Waarey beaches and even some of the small nameless beaches around the corner are most ideal for a quick sea bath; some pensive walks by the sea or reading on the beach – whatever your mojo is. We also made a trip to the Jaigad fort in vicinity. This is a must go. An old fort that has changed hands from the Bijapur rulers, to the Marathas and eventually the British – this fort is a sea outpost and offers some breathtaking views of a river confluence, coastline and serene backwaters.
The fort is a protected monument, and takes a slightly steep climb to the peripheral walls so it is a must that you wear appropriate clothes and footwear if you decide to drop by.
A visit to Ganapatipule is like a breath of fresh air between hectic city life. It is a place with a postcard view in almost every direction. It sure lacks the usual trappings of tourism related luxury but it is the same earthiness and simple natural abundance of the place that makes it so irresistible.
Nature here is at her bountiful best here. She is the lush green of her meadows, the deep jade of her seas and the myriad hues of the abundant wild flowers growing in the region. You would, may be yearn for a shack by one of these beaches or feel a snack bar around could have made you happier, however when you look at what nature showers you with at a place like this you would give all that up pretty easy.
My baba had a great time. He soaked in the sun, breathed the crisp fresh air of the sea and climbed with me to the top of the fort and expressed the same childlike glee, at the sea views, which makes a full life lived so much more worthwhile.
I will come back here, may be with another traveller, and may be alone. Ganapatipule does not hold you, neither does it cast a spell. What it does however is that it becomes a trusted friend for life. A friend you can come back to at any time and soak in some peace.