Sunday, January 20, 2008

News on Ganapatipule, Jaigad (The Economic times)

Explore the natural beauty of Ganpatiphule beach
20 Jan, 2008, 0018 hrs IST, TNN
While droves of people from Mumbai head out to Goa every New Year’s Eve, eager to replicate the city’s endless traffic jams, crowds,
congestion and frayed tempers in a more exotic location, a few choose more offbeat destinations. Ganapatipule is a perfect retreat for
someone who wants a beach along the same coastline, minus the frenetic crowds putting considerable effort into having a good time.
On New Year’s Eve of course Ganapatipule is anything but desolate — it’s a touch and go getting accommodation at the MTDC’s large
resort complex on the beach. But it’s not packed either — there’s still enough space and beach to go around without people being in each
other’s hair all the time.
While there are several other resorts that dot Ganapatipule, MTDC has most of them trumped on location. Apart from being spread
across a very impressive stretch of the coastline, the MTDC resort is right next to what’s perhaps the biggest attraction — a Ganapati
temple that the place derives its name from.
According to local legend, the deity is ‘swayambhu’ — manifested of its own accord instead of actually being carved and installed.
And yet, Ganapatipule holds attractions for the secular visitor as well, unlike Tirupati for instance, where gawkers and tourists just out for
a good time are not welcome. First off, there’s the main beach, clean and well maintained.
Just a few kilometres away, there are several other beaches entirely devoid of the trappings and clamour that every big city beach is
encumbered with — even the almost mandatory coconut water guy is absent from some of these.
Jaigad Fort is a mere 35 kilometres away, an archaeological marvel that time and poor maintenance have done very little to diminish the
splendour of the fort. With the sea on three sides, Jaigad is one of the most visually spectacular destinations in Mahrashtra. What’s
lacking though is any attempt at giving the place a historical context.
For a traveller spoiled by the European and American tendency towards guided tours that are chockfull of trivia and history, it’s a bit odd
having to walk around and rely on conjecture and a DIY approach to figure out the how’s and why’s of the place.
It could be argued though that the lack of explanation leaves nothing to distract one from the sheer impact of the fort, and its ramparts
that overlook the sea.
Ganapatipule is among the few places where hotels by and large still focus on the local cuisine and have mostly not been pummelled into
an indistinguishable mix of South Indian, Chinese and Punjabi food. Modaks stuffed with a jaggery and coconut filling, freshly brewed
kokum sherbet/solkadi, distinctly flavoured vegetarian fare and a fairly extensive seafood menu are all exclusive to the place.
One eccentricity of all the restaurants that outsiders will have to adjust to is the fact that not everything is available all the time — items on
the breakfast menu for instance cannot be had as an after -dinner snack.
A mere eight hour drive from Mumbai, and well connected by buses from Ratnagiri, Ganapatipule is the perfect destination for a stressfree
weekend where the lack of an overwhelming number of tourist attractions enforces a lazy relaxed pace

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