Ganpatipule, is a small coastal township situated near the shores of the Arabian Sea, and is a popular vacation spot for many tourists, mostly those from Mumbai who wish to escape the stress and strain of city-life. The nearest railway station is Bhoke on the Konkan Railway, but most tourists prefer Ratnagiri (including me), and buses to and from Ratnagiri to Ganpatipule and Malgund is easily available, with the frequency between two buses being not more than 30 minutes. The bus ride is pleasant and you may enjoy – as I did – zooming through dirt lanes and small groves, occasionally passing through quaint villages, and small towns. However, some tourists prefer to go there by car, as the road offers a scenic view of the coastline.
Ganpatipule has a wonderful selection of hotels to suit every pocket, but I would recommend the MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism) tourist lodge, which is situated just beside the beach, and offers idyllic views of the sea from almost all the rooms. The lodge also offers certain adventure sports.
The most striking feature of the beach at Ganpatipule is its cleanliness. The white sand beaches seem to be untouched by humans, and lack the hordes of tourists, discarded rubbish and throngs of peddlers and stalls that most other beaches have. Though you might not be able to find any quick snacks on this beach (except the MTDC restaurant on the beach), you will be able to enjoy the stretches of white sands, the pristine blue waters and the dancing waves at your own leisure, without the interference of meddling crowds.
The Prachin Konkan (The Ancient Konkan) museum is situated within walking distance from the lodge. The entry fee is 15 rupees for each person and includes a guide, The guided tour of the open-air museum takes around an hour and is a must for history-lovers and botanists. The museum showcases many exotic plant species and the exhibits tell the story of a simple village lifestyle. It showcases the ancient traditions, culture and rituals of the Konkani villages and one feels oneself to be almost transported back in time. There is also a bird sanctuary inside the museum and the tour ends at the gift shop where one can buy local handicrafts. The nearby restaurant offers local delicacies including kokam kadi, modaks (the favorite sweet of Lord Ganesha), ambapoli (thin pancakes of crushed and dried mango) and phanspoli (thin pancakes of dried and crushed jackfruit). Also situated near the beach is the Swaymbhunath Ganapati temple, from which the town derives its name. Inside the temple is a mouse (the chosen ride of Lord Ganesha) which is believed to fulfill wishes.
Devotees stand near the statue and whisper their heart’s desire into the mouse’s ear, and it is believed that the mouse conveys these prayers to his master, who as his magnanimously fulfills them. All in all, Ganpatipule is a wonderful place to visit.