Caves and Waterfalls Hopping in Panchmarhi, Madhya Pradesh

Well, we discovered, that’s all what you pretty much do in Panchmarhi – caves and waterfalls hopping! An extremely rich bio-diversity zone, Panchmarhi has, historically been a cantonment hill-station since the time  Captain James Forsyth of the British Army along with Subhedar Major Nathoo Ramji Powar, discovered it in 1857. Owing to its big cantonment base, the hill station is still, thankfully, free of the concrete clutter that has beset most other popular hill towns of India. Large open grounds that make you want to run around, almost endless cover of forests, instantly take you back to a world that we, the city-breds, have lost to ‘development and progress’.

We started off immediately upon reaching Panchmarhi, unable to resist the charms of both the beautiful surroundings and the lovely weather. And walked, trekked, climbed to caves, waterfalls and view-points that gave us a peek into Panchmarhi’s history, geography and folklore. Before you embark on the same adventure as us, make sure you have an authorised guide by your side and an open Gypsy van to take you from hill to hill…

Pandav Caves: Situated right in the middle of the town, our guide told us that the caves had nothing to do with the Pandav brothers despite the name. Built by Buddhist monks at various times from the 1stcentury AD, the caves are in a relatively low hill made of rocks.

Apsara Falls (or, the Fairy Fall): Called so because like to believe that fairies bathe in the little pool created by the fall, the Apsara Fall isn’t spectacular, but nice. It requires quite a bit of a walk through the woods and rocks though, so carry water.

Bee Falls: Now, this is the big one. And requires almost a one and a half kilometre of an arduous downhill trek. Not for the one with a weak heart and weak legs! The Fall is called so owing to the sharp sting sensation you can feel while bathing in the falls. Here too, you need to trek by the woods and a pretty stream to reach the hill from where the climb starts.

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Priyadarshini: Or the Forsyth Point, this isn’t very far away from the Panchmarhi town, and gives a good view of the famous ravines of the Satpura plateau. Once again, you need to walk up a tiny hill to reach this point. What did we tell you about strong legs?

Bade Mahadev: Almost every cave around Panchmarki is the seat of one of the Hindu Gods. Like the one which is called Bade Mahadev, has a Shiv temple deep inside the cave with water spilling from its roof, giving it one sinister look. Visitors actually offer prayers at the Shiv Ling. We’d urge you to go take a look even if you are a non-believer. There is a Parvati cave adjacent to the Shiv cave, located atop a flight of stairs. This cave is a mere hole in the rock and hence, won’t make you gasp in wonder.

Gupt Mahadev: Probably called so, for, the cave is behind a narrow passage that allows only one person at a time. Another Shiv temple this, with a Hanuman standing guard outside, it is about 500 meters away from the Bade Mahadev, and you gotta walk!

Dhupgarh: What a lovely name! It means, the place of sunshine. That’s because, this hilltop is the highest point of the Satpura range and from here, you can see both the sunrise and the sunset. The drive uptoDhupgarh is very beautiful, takes you past curious vegetation, valleys of the Satpura and giant rocks. Ideally, we should have trekked up to Dhupgarh, but time, alas, or the shortage of it, decreed otherwise. A protected zone, entry to this point is restricted in the early morning owing to the wildlife that is often found loitering here. A lodge here, called the Bison lodge, has been transformed into a museum with information on the geography, history, flora and fauna of the region.

Our tip for Panchmarhi: When planning a holiday in Panchmarhi, make sure you allot at least two days to the little town. This way, you can both visit the sites that are on every tourist’s must-see list and also loiter around the grounds and hills just so that you are reinvigorated…

Must-see places in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Until I landed in Bhopal, I didn’t know that the city is also known as the city of lakes. Why, it has approximately 15 lakes, both big and small, scattered around various parts of the city. That it is also extremely well maintained was another discovery. Clean sidewalks, a lot of greenery all around, roads lined with flowers and plants, smaller cities are certainly better at conserving their natural wealth and charm. Thinking all these to myself, I wished we could have explored the city a little more. But we had only twenty four hours in our hands…and we had to make the most of it. Giving a detailed tour of the city a miss and shopping too, we singled out the following places and set about early the next morning…

Upper Lake: We went there straight after breakfast, hoping to beat the crowd. And we did. Resplendent in the winter sun, the serene waters, the many boats, anchored, refresh you almost immediately. Extremely big, we walked by the promenade for quite some time, soaking in the morning sun and the quiet. The residents of Bhopal, apparently, have an affair with the lake – every evening, the lake side draws people by the hordes, be it for the boat rides or for the music in the promenade or simply the walks and meeting friends. Since the boat rides had still not opened at that early hour, we promised our daughter that we’d be back during sunset…for a short ride underneath the crimson sky…

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Sanchi Stupa: Sanchi is a little more than an hour’s drive from the heart of Bhopal. We suggest you leave early to beat both the crowd and the strong afternoon sun. An extremely beautiful drive, flanked by miles and miles of wheat fields, you will want to stop many times on the way just to run into the farms and click pictures. We also stopped by upon noticing a fully laden oranges orchard! And then there is also the Tropic of Cancer point. We were excited like kids to stand there and take a photograph!

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The Sanchi Stupa, without doubt, is one of the most well preserved and well maintained heritage sites in India. I guess that’s what struck us first. In sprawling grounds, with layers and layers of history, the Stupa gives a deep insight into the life and times of the dynasties that patronised Sanchi from the 3rd century BC. It is advisable to take a guide here, since there is so much to see and learn. The guides charge about INR 500, which is the rate laid down by the authorities.

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Bhimbekta Caves: The Bhimbekta Caves are on the opposite end from Sanchi, about 45 kms from Bhopal. We had a quick Biryani lunch at Hakeem in Bhopal, and sped to the Caves that date back to the Paleolithic age. That, is almost 100,000 years ago! Giant rocks and caves are scattered across a wide protected area with thick vegetation. The tour of the caves take about an hour. Here too, suggest you take a guide. We did, and were overawed by the stories he told us about early man, how they lived, ate and prayed. The rocks and caves are a treasure trove of early man paintings, and give a deep insight into the evolution of the art-form in the hands of the early man.

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An extremely enriching, sort of education day it turned out to be, this brief Bhopal sortie. Make sure you follow suit in case there for 24 hours.

Go Restaurant Hopping in Clarke Quay, Singapore

When in Singapore on business, the best way to soak into the city is to go out for walks and stroll by the bay and Quey after logging off in the evening. I did just that. The first evening, it was the Marina Bay (Read: An Evening Walk in Marina Bay, Singapore), and on the second evening, I turned towards Clarke Quay.

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Located on the banks of the Singapore River, Clarke Quay is famous for its eateries and pubs and bars. Perfect place to catch up with friends after a hard day’s work. I strolled up to Boat Quay, a couple of yards ahead, overwhelmed by the thousands of colourful lights that had lit up the buildings, bridges, promenades of the Quay and across. You can opt for a boat ride here and go all the way up to Marina Bay and back. What’s more, there was a live band performing close by. We stopped for a mug of beer parked ourselves at the small seating area and sipped it over some favorite hits of the 80s & 90s. The place had a great choice of drinks, but let me warn you, they are very expensive. That one mug I sipped was for S$20. That’s for the beer, music, ambience and the lights, I concluded. But worth every penny…

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By now, my colleagues had joined me, and we headed towards Jumbo Seafood, the famous seafood restaurant in Clarke Quay. Remember this, when it comes to good food, you will never be short of choices in Singapore. Taking that further, when it comes to sea-food, even more so. After our feast at the Makansutra Gluttons Bay last evening, Clark Quay would be our haunt this evening. And so, we went on a rampage. The manager at Jumbo Seafood told us to wait for about 30 min — a 30 mins wait on week day? What is the probability of getting a table on a weekday then, we wondered. We didn’t wait though. We ran to the next famous place there – Harry’s!

Why should you waste time waiting when Harry’s is right next door, we reasoned. The famous Singapore chain lives up to its reputation as one of the most popular hangouts in the area. Excellent service, even more excellent location right overlooking the river – we ordered a tower of beer with some snacks. Food is quite average here – we ordered a Satay which was decent though. But we majorly saved our appetites for the feast next door…

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Back at the Jumbo Seafood after 30 min of Harry;s, we started off with local Tiger beer followed by fried prawns in cereals. The prawns weren’t a great choice as the batter was really sweet. Then came the dish we were drooling for – Pepper Fried Crabs and Chili Crabs. The former was one of the best I have had, perfectly cooked, succulent with adequate flavor of peppe. The latter, Chili Crabs, were served with the traditional buns and was good, but not as good as the one we had at the Bay area the day before. Shark Fin soup and mixed fried rice completed what turned out to be a very heavy meal indeed. Overall, a must do and a must have when you are in Singapore.

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Without any room for any more food, we walked back to our hotel to call it a day, a beautiful, gastronomically rewarding day. Nay, evening 😀

An Evening Walk in Marina Bay, Singapore

One of the first things to do, when in Singapore, is to stroll by Marina Bay in the evening — the place where both locals and tourists frequent, to simply sit and walk by the Bay as the hours slip by. This is also where you see Singapore’s famous mascot, the Merlion.

Start from the famous One Fullerton hotel and head to the end, where the fantastic seafood food courts and restaurants are. You can also see some bit of the famous 15-min laser light show from the Marina Sands Hotel from across the bay that starts at 8pm every day. That’s what we did. Called Wonder Full, if you want a better look, go up to the Event Plaza of the promenade at the Marina Bay Sands’ side. It is free of cost and takes place twice – 8pm and 9.30pm – everyday. I, however, was on the other side of the bay and saw these

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A few pictures and stroll on. Soon you will hit the Merlion, where you will obviously stop again for some more photos. Keep walking and soon you will come up to a bridge that will take you across the river towards the float at Marina Bay’s Grand Stand. Turn right and keep walking on the promenade to hit the famous open food court, Makansutra Gluttons Bay.

Give yourself to Makansutra Gluttons Bay

It is, after all, a foodie’s paradise. You will have a tough time choosing from the Crabs, Prawns, Sateys, Grills and more. On the ambience front, it isn’t much, but the experience is!! The wooden tables, gorging on the amazing seafood and other delicacies is something you wouldn’t want to miss for anything.

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We picked Chili Crabs without a second thought. Chilli Crabs and hot buns are the THING to have when here. You will fall in love with the Crab gravy. We did. And ordered some more buns to scrape off the last drop from the plates. And then, go ahead and order some fried prawns and some chicken grills. Wash them down with a tower of local Tiger Beer. When done, you will be ‘floating in happiness in the Singapore air’! Cheesy lines, but mirrors my state 😀

 

Where to Stay in Ganapatuphule – Abhishek Beach Resort & Spa Review

Our Ganapatiphule holiday (Read: A Beach Holiday in Ganapatiphule) was a sudden decision in October, by which time it was probably too late to get booking in any decent hotel in and around Ganapatiphule. It was a housefull at almost all the places that we would have preferred to stay at – Blue Ocean and the Ferns, We, however, did not want to stay at the MTDC hotel that is right on the beach, fearing heavy crowd. And so, were left with only Abhishek Beach Resort & Spa!

Review of Abhishek Beach Resort & Spa (Ganapatiphule)

We booked their so-called ‘suite’ that has two AC bedrooms and, and nothing else!! It is in the ground floor, close to the noisy restaurant and open to the inside road of the resort that gave a thoroughfare to the staff and guests thereby giving you almost no privacy or quietude! Although grandly called a ‘suite’, there is no tea counter, which means you are at the mercy of the cook at the restaurants for your early morning cuppa who turns up only after 7am. Sadly, by this time, you’d have long gone to the beach (Read: Why you will fall in love with the Ganapatiphule Beach). The tea that you get upon your return, despite repeated requests to make it light and without milk, is so atrocious that you’d much rather go without it.

Worse was yet to come. While setting out for our tour of Ganapatiphule ( Read: Sight-seeing in Ganapatiphule) around 10 in the morning, I gave the keys at the front desk (as is usual) requesting house-keeping to clean up the rooms before we retuned in the evening. Well, you guessed it – when we came back tired around 5 that evening, the rooms were still not done. It took them another 20 minutes to send the cleaner for an extremely elementary sweep and scrub. No, he didn’t do the beds and the bathrooms too were as is. And they call this place ‘Resort & Spa’!

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Food at the Abhishek Beach Resort & Spa is extremely basic. We had only our breakfasts there since it came in the package. Of the two days that we had breakfast there, one day had fruits, idlis and tea/coffee only, while the other day they had fruits, poha, missal pav and tea/coffee. You could order eggs on the table though. Even this would run out every 5 minutes. Clearly, they are not equipped to handle full house. Worse, a number of young guests turned up wet and full of sand straight from the beach, and the staff made no attempt to impress upon them to shower before hitting the breakfast table. Complete absence of civilities there. We’d hurry though our meal and get out quickly to save ourselves any further trauma…

Dinner, mind you, is extremely expensive there considering how poor their general upkeep is. On the first night we decided to have some drinks at their open deck before heading to Sameer (Read: Where & What to eat on a Ganapatiphule Holiday) for dinner. The cost of a beer, a cocktail and two mocktails with a plate of 5-6 prawns was a whopping INR 1500! For a restaurant like that, this was high.

To sum up my review of Abhishek Resorts, avoid at all cost. Their only plus is, they are a 2-minute walk from the beach. Everything else, their food, house-keeping, general hospitality is very poor, and the crowd they attract, too, are the types who lack basic travel manners.

Where and What to Eat in Ganapatiphule

The one big reason why fish lovers look forward to a holiday in Ganapatiphule is, obviously, because of the fishes you can eat there. Our’s is a Bengali household. So you can imagine the excitement. The itinerary is always drawn up in two parts – one for sight-seeing (Read: Sight-seeing in Ganapatiphule) and one for must-eat at restaurants. Considering we’d be there for two lunches and two dinners found out a couple of places. Read all about them here…

Sameer in Ganapatiphule: A completely completely local place that also seemed to be extremely popular with the locals, Sameer is a very simple joint with those nondescript tables and chairs, where you have to remind the waiters to clean your table at least twice, and where the pot-bellied, elderly owner sits behind a high desk that has enough and more sculptures of local deities and two imposing portraits of Hanuman and Sai Baba behind him, complete with garlands, flowers, lamps and incense sticks. The soft regional songs playing in an ancient music system, and the chatter of the owner’s friends who drop by every now and then, complete the picture.

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The ground rule for ordering at Sameer should be to read the menu in the big board on one of the walls, ask the waiter what is the best thing to eat and trust him blindly when he suggests you to try out the Thalis. The Fish Thalis. We went ahead with a plate of Surmai Fry, Prawn Fry, Pomfret Thalis and Prawn Thali. They serve it with Kokam drink, Rice and Wheat Roti. You have to order in advance if you want to eat theBhakris (Rice Roti).

Do I have to mention that the food is finger-licking good? That your greed to have more and yet some more gets you back to the place for dinner too? That you wish the place was closer home, so that you could plan a sortie every week?

Amantran in Ratnagiri: Amantran is a complete antithesis of Sameer. This is a proper restaurant with seating both inside and outside. When we went in for lunch, the place was filled to the brim. Clearly, it’s a very popular place. An extremely helpful and warm staff who were amused at our eagerness to devour all the fishes they had cooked, they told us about all their treasures – crabs, bhakris, aam raas…

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We ordered them all. Yet again, just like in Sameer. We ordered crabs, clamps, pomfrets, prawns, surmais, Kokam juice and Aam Raas for desserts. And when it was time to leave, we wanted to lie down on the tables.

To say that food at Amantran is awesome will be an understatement, but owing to the lack of a fitting superlative, lets call it super super awesome. If you happen to come this part of town and not eat at Amantran, well, your stupidity and loss!! Mark it in your GPS when at Ratnagiri. Or even at a 100km radius – makes complete sense to drive 100kms for the food at this place!

Sight-Seeing in Ganapatiphule, Maharashtra

My eulogy about the Ganapatiphule beach shouldn’t leave you thinking there isn’t much else to do when there. On the contrary, there are quite a few interesting places which should be a part of your must-visit list when in Ganapatiphule. For the starters, there is the famous Ganapati temple right at the beach. And then there is Jaigad and Ratnagiri, both about 25 kms on either side ofGanapatiphule, which, we insist, you must drive to.

Ganapati Temple: That’s what most people go to Ganapatiphule for. Thronged by thousands for its unique deity called the Swayambhu Ganpati referring to its self-origination, the temple is open to devotees almost throughout the day.

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Sight-Seeing in Jaigad

As I said, Jaigad is about 20-25 kms away from the Ganapatiphule town. The drive is completely by the sole coastal road, and passes by smaller beaches and little hamlets that have the quintessential mud and stone houses.

Sight-seeing in Ganapatiphule -- Ganapatiphule-Jaigad Drive

Jaigad Fort: This is the most popular draw in Jaigad — The fort that overlooks the sea, straight out of the Enid Blyton story books. Only that this fort belonged to the Sultan of Bijapur way back in the 18th century. Now, in complete ruins, you can climb the stone stairs from various parts of the fort and take a round its perimeter for a lovely view of the sea and the surroundings. We, thankfully, went in November when the tall grasses inside the fort had dried and turned brown. Besides the lovely colours they gave to our photographs, I was also somewhat relieved that this would perhaps keep the snakes, other reptiles and insects away! The fort is open from morning until evening and on almost all days. They charge a nominal fees at the entrance.

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Jaigad Lighthouse: The lighthouse is about a 2-3 km drive from the Jaigad Fort. While the Fort is on one side of the Power Plant, the approach to the Lighthouse is from the other end. Ask the locals and they will guide you. And do not worry about getting lost. There is only one road – no way you will get lost. The Jaigad Lighthouse has specific timings. They also charge a nominal entrance fees, and the person in charge will take you right up to the top of the Lighthouse from where you get a 360 degree view of Jaigad and the sea. Very very awesome. Photography inside the Lighthouse is prohibited, since this is a fully functional lighthouse.

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 Karhateshwar Mandir: We aren’t the types who visit temples for the sake of religion. We do it for the sake of history and architecture. Exactly the reason why we went to the Temple, very close to the Jaigad Lighthouse. A Shiv temple built of wood, the temple is extremely simple which is why there is certain warmth about it. Mostly a local temple, it is open throughout the day.

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Sight-Seeing in Ratnagiri

Ratnagiri, too, is about 20-25 kms from Ganapatiphule. And is one helluva drive, by the coast and fishing villages, and through acres and acres of mango orchards. You are officially in the Mango Kingdom when in Ratnagiri.

Thebaw Palace: Truth be told, we were completely unaware of the history behind the lovelyThebaw Palace – that a Burmese king and his wife had been made prisoner by the British and brought to Ratnagiri where he was given a palace to stay in so that the Britishers could rob Burma of its famed teak wood. And no, we haven’t read Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass House yet. Which is why we were mighty surprised with the Palace. Bright red, in massive, unmaintained grounds, 3-4 rooms at the rear have been converted into a museum that tells the history of the Palace and its times.

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Ratnagiri Fort: The next major attraction in Ratnagiri is the imposing fort that literally rises from the sea. Stretching to about 2km, the fort is in the form of a horse-shoe and has a Hanuman temple. On the wing that has the temple, you can see a part of the Ratnagiri town from the fort’s rampart. If you have time in your hands, we’d advice you to go for a trek/walk from one end of the fort to the other.

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Ratnagiri Aquarium & Museum: The aquarium houses the usual round of underwater marine life such as turtles, seahorses, eels, barbs etc and a giant skeleton of a whale in one section, and a whole lot of dead fishes in bottles and shells in another section. Frankly, it isn’t a marvellous aquarium, but children like them anyway. We went for our daughter. She liked the place. Which was more than enough for us. I personally liked the real plants section and wished I could replicate some bit of it back home. Remember, they charge an entrance fee at the aquarium too, but nominal..

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Aareware Beach: You will see this beach when you drive from Ganapatiphule to Ratnagiri. We decided to stop by on our way back. The beach is certainly longer than the Ganapatiphule beach. And just as beautiful and pristine. But the best part about this beach is that there are hardly any tourists here. Only local kids play cricket/football here, while a few hopeful souls cast their net to catch crabs. We took a stroll here, waited for the sun to descend into the sea and discovered beautiful floral designs made by little crabs in the beach. Their constant go in and out of the holes make little balls of sand that come together in seemingly floral designs. Trust nature to make beauty look so simple…

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As the sun came close to the western horizon, we drove up to the cliff overlooking the AarewareBeach upto where a local sells tender coconut water. Replenishing ourselves with the sweet water, we took our vantage positions in the grass and waited for the sun to call it a day. Yet another of our ‘most beautiful sunsets’ this, we sat there in peace and contentment, until the sea had swallowed the sun and we could see it no more. The sky, rendered red, orange, lilac from the Magician’s bag, bade us Goodbye…

Sightseeing in Ganapatiphule -- Aareware Beach

Also read: Where & What to eat in Ganapatiphule

Why You Will Fall In Love With The Ganapatiphule Beach

When in Ganapatiphule, we tried not to have an agenda. Instead, with a lot of time in our hands, we did everything to while it away. We tried hitting the beach first thing when we woke up in the morning. And remembered to forget the watch and the mobile at our hotel room. Keeping track of time was a strict No No. Instead, we simply wanted to soak in the sun and the sand and the sea, and wash away our city-life stress. We reasoned, if not now, then when.

We had seen the beach only briefly the previous evening, during the sunset. Extremely clean and expanding up to 3 kms from one end to the other, the southern side was slightly rocky compared to the northern end. I was sure, I’d come for a jog here early the next morning.

Which I did. Bare feet. About an 8km run alongside the sea and along with the rising sun. Needless to say, it was meditation on the run. Only to be broken by a flock of seagulls. Right by the lapping waves, now flying, now sitting, there were hundreds of seagulls, all laying a claim to the beach at that early hour. Since I was out for a run, I wasn’t carrying my camera. So what? Promised that I’d be back the next morning with the husband and the daughter and the Canon with its 30mm lens, just right to shoot the lovelies…

Which we did. The next day. My report was enough to get the two late-risers extremely excited, and get to the beach with the first rays of the sun the next morning, camera and all, just to catch the flight of the seagulls. And what did we see? Not the flight, but the dance of the seagulls. One of the most unusual dance forms, where while flying away upon seeing you advance with your camera, they go swirling up in the sky. Suddenly it feels as if you are caught in the centre of a performance, in the eye of a beautiful storm. Resplendent in the glow of the rising sun and the music of the sea, the seagulls’ dance enthralled us for a long time. We played and laughed with them, until the sun came almost overhead. It was time to hit the sea now…

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Which we did. You will be amazed at how pristine the beach is. We had it mostly to ourselves. The regular crowd, keep within a 200m radius of the Ganapati temple that is right on the beach. You can easily avoid by going to either end of the beach. So while the northern end was occupied by the seagulls, we ran up to the southern rocky end to claim it for ourselves. Pity they do not have the sun decks in the beach. Which means, you need to carry your own beach umbrellas should you decide to catch up with a book in the beach. Lest you should be shocked, I belong to that category who‘d much rather read in a beach against the sounds of the lapping waves, while the husband and the daughter will jump into the waves and play run-catch. I was happy to capture the mirth and merriment in my lenses…..

Tip: Try to reach the beach very early. Once the sun is high up in the sky, it gets really hot. And there is no shade around…

Drive from Mumbai to Ganapatiphule

Ganapatiphule is about 300 kms away from Mumbai. This meant about a 7-8 hour drive that would include stopping for breakfast and washrooms on the way. The day before, we packed a big snacks basket that included bananas, apples, sweet buns, juice packets, dry fruits, chips and water. Thus armed with a decent stock in case we couldn’t find any place good for food, we started off at 7am.
To our pleasant surprise, there were ample breakfast and snacking options along the way. The drive too, was a very good one with only very few stretches of somewhat bad roads. And since we started early, we managed to beat traffic, thus adding to the beauty of the drive.  Ah yes, the drive. With the rains gone almost two months now, the lush green countryside had given way to a nice colour of brown, exposing the red soil and rocky hills in many places. The trees though were luxuriously green and I wondered if they were the evergreen types. A closer look told me that the trees that lined up the route were mostly Mango trees. But of course! This is the famous Ratnagiridistrict of Maharastra that gives to the world its most loved and most expensive variety of mango, theAlphonsos. They are there everywhere. Along the highway. In neat orchards. In the little hills. Makes you promise yourself to come back here during the Mango season. As though you can simply get off your car, climb a Mango tree, pluck one and eat it!! No Sir! They guard every tree during the fruit season. And shoo away wide-eyed city-mongers like me…
Golden brown meadows, mango orchards, banyan-tree canopies, a lake, meandering through hills and valleys, the drive is indeed very beautiful and you’d fight the urge to stop at numerous places for a longer viewing and a quick photograph. You won’t see the sea though until the very end of the journey (unlike the Mumbai-Kashid drive where you drive alongside the coastline for about 45 minutes). And when you finally do see the sea, you will fight another strong urge to run straight to it instead of checking in at your hotel first or even having lunch! 😀

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Will tell you all about that, but first, a little info that you may find helpful —
Best Routes for a Mumbai-Ganapatiphule Drive
We took the route Mumbai Eastern-Express Highway-PanvelKhopoli RoheMahadKhedChiplunSavarde – Chafe – Ganapatipule. Once you take the Khopoli turn to exit the Expressway, it’s a 2-lane road until Ganapatiphule, going past small towns and hamlets. On our way back too, we took this same route.
There is an alternative route that from Mumbai-Pune- SataraUmbrajChiplun State Highway –PatanChiplunSavarda – Chafe – Ganapatipule. This route is obviously longer for Mumbaikars…..
Breakfast/Lunch Options For The Mumbai-Ganapatiphule Drive
Since we had started from Mumbai at 7am, we were at the Panvel McDonalds around 7.45. Just in time for breakfast. And since we were unsure of the type of food options we’d get beyond Khopoli, we had a hearty meal of burgers and coffee here. Did our rounds of the washroom too, lest there should be no decent/clean place for the rest of the drive. However, we did see a chain of Kamath, the famous highway restaurants, at Penn, about 55 kms from Mumbai. And then we saw many small joint during the course of the drive, but most of them were closed until 10 am. Was it because of Diwali or generally, we couldn’t tell.
We, however, decided to have lunch only upon reaching Ganapatiphule. And so made a pit stop by a rice field at around 11am. Fishing out the buns and bananas and apples and juices from our food basket, we stuffed ourselves enough to last until 3-3.30pm. And looked forward to the fishes, Konkani style, when in Ganapatiphule.

A Beach-Holiday in Ganapatiphule (Maharashtra,India)

This January, we shall complete 8 years of living in Mumbai. In the span of these 8 years, we went from being immigrants to residents. Happily. Mumbai has given us some of our richest experiences, moments. And yet, it is a process of constant discovery — From its wares to its food to its history to its buildings to its neighbourhoods to its nearby, mofussil towns and villages.

Ganapatiphule has been one such discovery. Popularly touted as an ‘attractive weekend getaway’ from Mumbai, we, frankly, found it to be much much more than that. And wished, dearly, to spend more time that what we had scheduled for. A weekend is just not enough. In any case, a trip toGanapatiphule from Mumbai can never be done over a Saturday and Sunday. Read, never! For,Ganapatiphule is a little more than 300 kms away from Mumbai, thereby making it a 7-8 hour drive. A one-day stay is, therefore, mandatory. We had done just that — drove off in the morning of Diwali, stayed there the next day, and drove back on the day of Bhai Duj. Making it a woefully short and inadequate trip. We did try to stay back – called up a few hotels nearby to find out if rooms were available. But being the Diwali week/weekend, there was absolutely no scope for an extension. And so, we insist, and implore – Should you plan a trip to Ganapatiphule, plan for a minimum 2-day stay. That’s a 4-day holiday.

And No, we aren’t getting carried away. There’s really so much to do out there. Like — combing the beach (they have an aweful lot of them, absolutely pristine and sparkling), waking up with the sun to see the dance of the seagulls, going for a bare-feet jog alongside the relentless waves, admiring the countryside rendered brown by the autumn sun, catching the sunset standing on a cliff. Did I forget to mention bathing in the sea? Well, that’s because, I don’t much enjoy doing that. But the hubby and the daughter more than make up for my disinterest.

Here’s a round up of everything that you can expect in Ganapatiphule. Click on the links below to read our stories and recommendations

And check out the photos on our Facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/WheelsOnOurFeet

Travel and food stories from around the world, through the eyes/lenses of a Mumbai-based husband-wife-daughter trio…

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