The monsoons had started in Mumbai. People all around us were going for treks, picnics and all I did was the week-end travel to Pune. Gopi felt the need to getaway from Mumbai too, so after a bit of googling he decided on Ganapatipule. Ganapatipule is situated along the western coast of Maharashtra 375 kms south of Mumbai, along the Konkan coast. It is significant to the Hindus for the famous Ganpati temple. The entire coastline is also breathtakingly beautiful with the beautiful beaches overhung by the cliffs.
Neways 19th August week-end was decided for the trip. We already got our train and resort bookings done. The group consisted of Nitesh, Ryan, Jo, Gopi, Nittu, myself with Pawan as a last minute entry :)
Our reservation was made in the JanmShatabdi Express from Dadar at 5:30 am in the morning. For once I did not mind waking up at 3:15 a.m. We caught the 4:28 slow train from Borivali and reached Dadar by 5:15 a.m. Dadar being the first stop the train was already at the platform. We boarded the train which left the station right-on-time. Immediate hunger pangs had us munching on veg sandwiches which we bought from the train. Last nite's sleeplessness saw me sleeping through the entire train journey missing the scenic beauty of the Western ghats. We reached Ratnagiri station at 11:00 a.m. The first thing that immediately struck all of us was the "SUN SHINE". Out came the sun glasses and the cameras. We all struck some poses at the station all the while waiting for Jo's uncle.
Jo's uncle had a Sumo arranged for our trip. He first took us to his Bank where over a cup of tea the discussions varied from horse-racing to French influence in Pondicherry, muslim community in Ratnagiri ....
He introduced us to our driver Sandesh who would then be in charge of our entire trip. We decided to go to our hotel at Ganapatipule first which is 40km from the main city.
On the way we decide to play Dumbcharades. It was lots of fun with Pawan trying to unsuccessfully act out movies which none of us could understand and Ryan proving to us that he could enact a movie just in seconds. As we reached our resort we could see the breathtaking beautiful beaches with the white sands lined with lots of coconut trees.
We reached the MTDC resort at 3 pm and asked the driver to meet us at 4 pm. While we got fresh Nittu and Ryan placed the order at the nearby MTDC restaurant. For lunch we had some really good quality food.
At 4pm we set out for some sight seeing. Our first stop was the 4000 year old land mark - the Swayambhu Ganapati temple (Swayambhu means 'self-made', this is a temple of the self-originated idol, Ganapati). After the lords' darshan we went to a place know as "Prachin Kokan". Here accompanied by our guide Geeta we got an insight into how the whole Barter system worked in the olden days. A halt at their shop saw some of us buying some paintings and the famous kokam sharbet.
Our next stop was at the birthplace of the famous Marathi Poet Keshavsoot. We took a look at the now renovated and converted house of the poet into a library, open-air theatre. From here our next stop was at the Shiv Sagar hotel which had an interior like that of a king's palace. It is said that there would be a film shooting there this Diwali. Our final destination for the day was much awaited as we went to the beach. After having some coconut water with lots of malai we all hit the beach. initially I preferred to stay out of the water but seeing everyone playing I could no longer stop myself. Ryan, Jo, Gopi, Nittu and myself played in the water with each one trying to pull the other in the water. Nitesh preferred to stay by himself in the water while Pawan opted to be out of it altogether. Finally with the night creeping and the tides getting higher we left the beach and went to our rooms. After having a bath we had dinner at the same restaurant. At dinner the Catch The Word Antakshari game started and the day ended with a game of UNO at the hotel room.
The next day we awoke at 7:00 am (average time considering all people) and checked out of the hotel at 8 am to Marleshwar. This is 60 kms from Ganapatipule, famous for it's Shiva temple and waterfalls. On the way we halted at a Shivaji temple (don't recall the name), the view from atop this hill was really spectacular. From here we went to Ratnagiri for breakfast. All of us devoured on some lip-smacking upma,wada sambhar,misal pav and finally some sheera.
We reached Marleshwar at 11:00. The temple is situated in a cave on top oh a hill. After taking this darshan we went to watch the nearby falls. There are lots of waterfalls here but looking at the wave current no one ventured to go very near. Soon it also started raining and we decided to get back to the Sumo. For lunch Sandesh took us to Hotel Shubam which he proclaimed had very good food. We ordered for fish thali, prawns biryani, fried Surmai fish and some crab curry. Though I did not njoy the fish curry a lot rest of the items were delicious and we ended the lunch by a glass full of sol kadhi. Our final stop was at Tiba Point. From here the view of the entire city was spectacular.
Finally at 4:00 we left for Ratnagiri station, after telling our goodbyes and thanks to Sandesh we went to the platform 2 where our train was scheduled to come. The train was 40 mins late and hence we decided to play a round of DONKEY at the platform. The game continued even after we got into the train and though there were a lot of contenders for the position of DONKEY it was finally Jo who managed to acheive it. We then started with UNO, in between we were served dinner(Puri bhaji & Veg Pulao). We finally reached Dadar at 11:30 pm, caught the train to Borivali and was in bed by 12:30 a.m. Thus ended our amazing trip to a another world of religion and relaxation.
Epilogue: The trains of Mumbai are crowded even on a Sunday nite at 12:00 am midnite. Wonder what peope do travelling so late ???