Possibly one of the greatest manifestations of human faith, Ganpatipule is bounded by the green hills and blue sea. This is one of the most visited pilgrim destinations in India. And why not! It is home to the over 400-year old Swayambhu idol of Ganesha, believed to have been formed on its own. The town is small, but it does not in any way lessen its importance. A glimpse of this can be had during the Ganpati Festival, when thousands of devotees reach here to reaffirm their faith in The Protector. The sunrise and sunset are particularly ethereal, as they spill into the blue waters, thus turning it into hues of orange and red. The temple is bound by a courtyard, where devotees sit meditating. The sun rays bestow their light on the lord and it is then that you can understand why he is the lord of pule (sands).
Swayambhu Ganapati Temple
This renders the town its sanctity. The idol within the temple is said to have originated on its own, hence the name. An idol inside the sanctum is created in copper and sits on a lion. The sanctum where he sits gets illuminated by the sun’s rays at sunrise and sunset. During the day nagaras (heavy drums) and played, and in the evening when the idol changes clothes, chaughadas is sounded. The modak sweet prasad is distributed to devotees from the temple portico. Everyday in the afternoon, the holy lunch of pulse, rice, mango pickle and boondi laddoo is distributed. Also, it is mandatory to walk in a circle on the paved path around the temple.
Open from: 5.00 am-9.00 pm
Located in Ratnagiri, this palace was home to the exiled king and queen of erstwhile Burma, where they stayed for five years. Today, it houses their stone tombs and some belongings from their era.
Open from: 10.00 am-5.00 pm
Entry fee – Rs 3
This is the birthplace of the Marathi poet Keshavsoot. Today, it is a converted student’s hostel and its courtyard has the Keshavsoot Smarak memorial dedicated to the poet.
Located 35 kms from Ganpatipule overlooking the Sangameshwar River, Jaigarh Fort is a 17th century fort commanding splendid views of the sea. The beach is relatively small but safe to visit.
This is another beach destinations lined with coconut groves. The sea is good to swim in, since it is relatively free from rocks. It is also home to an old Shiva Temple, which infrequently has pilgrims visiting it.
Built in a horse-shoe shape, the fort is bound by the sea on three sides and land on the fourth. A highlight of this fort is the Siddha Buruj bastion, which has a lighthouse on it. In addition, the fort houses the temple of Goddess Bhagwati and a well, adjoining it.
Mid-October – early February, August-September during the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival
This is one of the best places to get cashewnuts, coconuts and kokum sherbet. If you travel during the mango season, get your hands on some of the best varieties of mangoes the devgad hapoos. In any case there are canning units where a variety of mango and mango articles are available including ambapoli (pancakes of dried and crushed mangoes) and phanspoli (thin dried and crushed jackfruit). Ask the locals and get your hands on some homemade mango and gooseberry pickles.
Skip the usual, and order local fish curry, kokam curry and rice. Considering that it is a pilgrimage destination, non-vege food might be a little difficult to be found. However, the Tarang restaurant overlooks the sea and offers good veg and non-veg snacks. There is an ample of vegetarian fares available, and you can try the batata vada and sabudana khichdi at Shree Bhau Joshi Boarding. It is also the best place to have the sol kadi. Ganpatipule is also a known spot for getting sweet modaks, which are the favourite of the patron God. The MTDC Restaurant also offers simple vegetarian thalis and aam ras (mango pulp). In fact you must carry some fesh mangoes from here.
Obviously, the most prominent festival is Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated in August or September. During this, unbelievably large crowds of devotees gather at the Swayambhu Temple and Ganpatipule beach and this is something to be seen! This festival is marked by vibrant celebrations, prayers and feasting. An idol of Ganesha is carried out in a palanquin through the town, accompanied by a priest and drummers. Held at the same is Gauri Ganpati Festival, when Ganesha’s mother Gauri is prayed to for three days and later immersed in the water.