Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Konkan Coast

The last weekend, being a rather long-ish one, we decided to pack our bags and take a break from the non-stop action that is Mumbai. Our destination? The famed Ratnagiri coastline.
After about 9 hours, a couple of breaks and many motion sickness tablets later, we arrived at our Resort - well, more of a homestay, actually, the Oceano Pearl.
This is situated a bit further along the coast, at Ganeshgule, the lesser known cousin of Ganpatipule.
our lovely weekend pad
I wish I could tell you that we stayed at this marvellous treehouse at the property. Sadly, its not for families with young children
Oceano Pearl has many things going for it - its rustic ambience, the fantastic location, just minutes from the beach, nestled in farmland and greenery throughout; but primarily, its biggest USP, by far would be the absolute lack of cellphone signals this far out into the coast.
The little sit -out in the front for those who want to keep an eye on the comings and goings
This means I spotted far more people willing to make eye contact and wanting to hold a conversation, Child 1 and Baa-lamb included.
Plenty of green and no towers in sight
Both kids were thoroughly chuffed that the stretch of beach adjoining the property was deserted. The evening was thus spent watching the sunset, releasing tiny starfish back into the sea and spotting scuttling sandcrabs.
Deserted. Except for my 3 and an odd cow.



sandcrabs were being chased...

starfish were being admired...

sunset was being enjoyed.


What? We really love sunsets.
Dinner, at the resort (there isn't anything around for miles, so, unless you want to traipse into town for a meal, this is your best bet) was a homely affair. If you are planning to order here, though, I suggest you order at least an hour in advance as the food is freshly prepared and made to order.
The following morning, we set off after breakfast to Ganpatipule.
This flautist, outside the temple playing the tune from 'Hero'. Blast from the Past!

The temple exit, facing the sea
The Ganpatipule temple by the sea, had one of the most picturesque locations as far as temples go. Situated on the shores of the beach, the sea was quite some distance away, but we were told that once a year, the waves wash right upto the sanctum sanctorum.

There's also a rather large Mooshika guarding the entrance. Legend has it that anything whispered into the ear of said Mooshika comes true.
Child 2, whispering secrets into a willing ear
For child 2, what was also truly legendary were the laddoos that were being sold at the temple. They were consumed in copious amounts, thus energising us for our next stop - the Ratnadurg fort and the Bhagwati temple situated within.
The Bhagwati Temple
The husband casually informed me that the fort was supposed to be haunted. But in the bright light of day with the sun mercilessly beating down on us, the place looked quite benign.
Views from the fort

I do wish when restoring or maintaining a fort, people wouldn't casually slap paint on the stones in an effort to spruce it up, but that apart, the fort itself was pretty impressive. placed atop the cliff with spectacular views of the sea as well as the surrounding land.
Painted walls. Really, now. 
The Marathas clearly knew their stuff.
For my Mumbai friends. I know you're repeating this in your heads :)
We'd taken the scenic route to and from the fort, along the coast and could see the Aarey as well as the Vaarey beach (I promise you I am not making these names up). The waters were crystal clear and there wasn't a soul to be spotted on the white sand below.
clear blue seas

Serious urges to run across those white sands

Look! Not a soul in sight!
The only thing stopping us from racing down to the beach was the lack of shade and rising mercury levels. Beaches in India especially in the summer months are best enjoyed before 10 am or after 4pm.
a sea of Fishing nets being folded away for the day

We stopped in Ratnagiri for lunch and decided to drop into Thiba palace.
Thiba Palace
The palace was built by the British for the erstwhile king of Burma in exile, and is currently being restored by the ASI.
restoration under way

The central courtyard
I can't wait to see the palace restored to its former glory complete with a Burma teak staircases and the 100 year old stone structures. It also houses several sculptures from the 10th and 12th Century, which were rather worn, but still beautiful. I really enjoyed the eclectic collection of statues and works from the region.
a terra cotta capital from the region housed at the palace
Our evening was spent once more playing at our 'private beach' and making 'sun-hearts'.
Mum, dad and sunhearts

The sun dawned bright and early the next morning on sundry birds, flowers and holi celebrations.
A Bird on a wire...

A Solitary heron...

an early sandpiper...
...and other colourful, unidentified species.
Yes, this being the Holi weekend, the kids were looking rather furlorn at the prospect of missing out on the celebrations at our apartment, and so, colours and giggles were the order of the day.
The evening saw us visiting another fort nearby - Purnagad.
its almost like a gateway to another world


This one isn't under the purview of the ASI and not particularly well kept, but still, so brilliant to look at, you can see why the Marathas were such a formidable force. A short ride later we were back at the beach at Bhandardara. Not our cup of tea- more commercial, and a bit more crowded. The kids, however, did spot a flying monkey :)
We had to leave early the next day to make it back at a decent time to Mumbai, but Umesh, our intrepid driver and guide during this trip suggested we visit Marleshwar on our drive back.
the Sahyadris
This temple is situated in a cave high up in the hills of the Sahyadris, and although there's a short climb to get to it, the view makes it worthwhile.
tucked away within the mountain range

Yup, the temple is through that tine doorway. And yes, we were warned that we might be visited by the odd snake.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, except for another couple of pitstops (Zunka Bhakars included)
this cheeky lady and her baby who we all fell in love with...
and a few more anti- vomiting pills later, we made it back home, tired, yet thoroughly refreshed, and a bit more in love with India.
A view of the village celebrations through our windscreen