WORDS: AURELIA FERNANDES
PHOTOGRAPHS: SAMEER MANGTANI
GREAT FROM: Mumbai, Pune:
GREAT FOR: A relaxed beach getaway
After hours of staring at tarmac, the shades of turquoise inching over the horizon are sure to hit you like a breath of fresh air. You’re probably going to find yourself doing a double take, because, of course, such clear skies and blue waters can only be the product of Instagram filters and not a real phenomenon, let alone on the Konkan coast. But you’ll find that your mind is quick to get used to the vast coastlines, swaying palm trees and winding roads in the charming town of Ganpatipule, just 343km from Mumbai. With the prospect of two beaches, Ganpatipule Beach and Aare Beach, within relatively close proximity (8.6kms), get ready to dig your toes into the sand while the sea breeze embraces you.
Aare Beach is sure to repeatedly wiggle its way into your itinerary, thanks to the fact that it is spotless, save for the few boulders that make the perfect perch from which to watch the sun set. Ganpatipule Beach, on the other hand, is where all the fun is. With the sound of the Swayambhu Ganpati Temple bells ringing through the air, it’s anything but quiet. Crawling with tourists, horse carriages, dune-buggies, jet skis and camels, the beach has a long list of activities that’ll keep you on your feet. And, if that tuckers you out, there’s nothing like some fresh coconut water or a gola to pep you up again, or even a session at the nearby Aeropagus Spa.
Away from the beach, the small coastal town offers an eclectic mix of activities and sights. A testament to this would be the 17th-century Jaigad Fort. Today, all that remains of this coastal fortification is the outer wall and ruins shrouded in frangipani. While Jaigad’s glory days are long gone, you can scale the fort’s ramparts for what is easily one of the most stunning views of the Konkan coast. Not far from Jaigad Fort stands the Jaigad Lighthouse. Erected in 1932, this towering lighthouse is almost hidden by the industrial plants that are changing the landscape of this sleepy town. At first glance, this candy cane-coloured lighthouse seems like more effort than it’s worth. While the lighthouse keeper unlocks the door, insisting that you take your shoes off, you’re bound to wonder if you should do this at all. That thought will linger on, as you scale the spiral wrought-iron stairs all the way to the top, where, while you duck to avoid the oddly-low door frame, the evening sun mercilessly assaults your eyes. Then, after the few seconds it will take you to adjust to the brightness, there is that view. With the sound of crashing waves, the gentle sea breeze playing with your hair and the blue waters before you, it’s easy to lose track of time, making that one hour seem too short. Be sure to take your camera along, because the lighthouse offers a very interesting view of eagles in flight as they glide graciously across the evening sky. As you head back towards Ganpatipule, you’ll find yourself immensely glad that you made the trip to Jaigad’s gems before they’re permanently lost to industrialisation.
Ganpatipule is a sleepy temple town, so, once the sun goes down, there isn’t much to do. However, that sunset is an event in itself, and you’ll find yourself racing back to Aare Beach once again to catch the warm hues of the dying sun melting into blue waters.