Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Relaxation trip at untouched paradise: Ganeshgule beach

Considering Long weekend in the month of January, We planned trip for Relaxation in Ganeshgule. This untouched place has beautiful Resort named Oceano Pearl home stay resort. This was my first trip which was more focused on relaxation and not to explore nearby area. Travelers for this trip were Me, Renuka, Aditya - Neha, Saurabh – Vrishali and Anannya.

FRIENDS...

About Ganeshgule, Ratnagiri and surrounding places:
             Ganeshgule, a village few kilometers ahead of Pawas offers you a beautiful untouched beach. Not much explored by tourist hence it offers sandy beach with crystal clear water. Ganeshgule beach is 1 km long beach blocked by mountains on both sides. It offers you piece of mind & freedom to stroll and bath in the blue waters whenever you feel.
Ratnagiri city is a port city on Arabian Sea coast of Maharashtra in India. It is a main city from the Konkan region and famous for its Alphonso Mangoes, Birth place of “Lokmanaya” Bal Gangadhar Tilak, prime leader of India’s freedom movement and Shivaji’s Fort. There are many tourist points in Ratnagiri district that are blessed with untouched and beautiful beaches.

The route to reach Ganeshgule from Pune is –
Take National highway 4 – Drive till Karad city on highway – Cross Karad and drive for few km – after Karad, look for the first flyover on the highway – Do not take flyover route – Take right below the flyover – Drive on State highway 144 – Malkapur – Amba – Sakharpa – Pali (Do not confused with Pali from Ashtavinayak locations) – Drive towards south for few km on NH – Take left after crossing Patergaon – Ganeshgule.
Alternate route is Pune – Amba ghat – Sakharpa – Ratnagiri – Pawas – Ganeshgule.

Total distance via this route is around 304km.

Other routes are Tahmini – Mangaon – Mumbai Goa national highway OR Pune – Umbraj – Koyanagar – Chiplun – Ratnagiri - Ganeshgule.

Day 1: 24th Jan 2015 – Pune - Ganeshgule (Total Distance traveled: 324 km):
           We woke up early in the morning and left home at 6 AM with our friends. We wanted to avoid the highway traffic and enjoy the morning breeze. After Wai phata, we took a pit stop for tea and coffee at Virangula hotel. We decided to go by the Amba ghat route. After crossing Karad, we took right from Amba ghat route. Because of smooth and wide road we were able to move faster to reach our destination. We wanted to have lunch in Ratnagiri but because of few pit stops for photos, we were not able to make it. We had our lunch in Hotel Kasturi which is close to Amba ghat. Because of nonstop drive after lunch we could reach our destination by 2.30 PM
           Soon we reached at Oceano Pearl home stay resort. The resort was a mixture of Konkani-modern style with lot of greenery and with a huge farm of different trees (Wadi in Marathi) like Coconuts, Alphonso and many more. They have built nice rooms and one tree house which are very close to the beach. Management and staff from resort welcomed us with a smile. We booked 3 AC rooms which were cleaned with all required amenities. 

Hotel Oceano Pearl Home stay
Hotel Oceano Pearl Home stay

Hotel Oceano Pearl Home stay
Room

          We took some rest and then went on beach. Ganeshgule beach is around 1.5-2 km long beach and gives you a feel of a private beach. With white soft sand all over the beach, it was very neat and clean. Water was so clear that we were unable to stop ourselves from going into the water. It was good evening to spend with friends. We had our delicious dinner before our day ends.

Kabbadi Kabbadi

Sunset from Ganeshgule

Day 2: 25th Jan 2015 – Ganeshgule:
            Our day begins by 9 in morning. We had tasty breakfast and then spend some time playing cricket in their Wadi. After our cricket game where our wives enjoyed more than us, we went in water. We enjoyed sea waves a lot. We liked beach and it was one of the cleanest beaches in Konkan. Sea bed is safe to swim but avoid right side of shore. There are few rocky patches in the sea bed. After spending more than 3 hours on the beach, we came back to the resort for lunch.

Ganeshgule beach

Ganeshgule beach

Purnagad (Purna = complete; gad = Fort) is just 19 km from Ganeshgule beach. It is said that Shivaji Maharaj stopped his fort construction after this fort hence the name Purnagad (fort). According to some evidences, the fort was built by Sekhoji Angre, son of Kanhoji Angre. One can view the entire fort premises in a sight. The fort is having two doors, one facing east and the other facing west directions. The fort is very close to the village – Purnagad which is a 10 minutes’ walk. The main entrance door is a very robust structure between the two bastions.

Purnagad (Only this Photo was taken from Google images)

For evening time, we again went on beach. There is Small Mountain on right side of beach. It takes hardly 20 min to reach on the top of hill. Location of rocky plateau on mountain makes this place a perfect location to view Sunset. Location is covered by sea from 3 side and beautiful sunset on horizon. View of the sea from here is breathtaking and this is the best place to witness the sun on horizon spreading orange-red color all over the sky. 

Me and Ocean 

Sunset

Colors and sunset

After spending some time we had some snacks. Today we decided to visit Ratnagiri for dinner. We had our delicious dinner at Mithila. After dinner we went back to the hotel for rest. 

Day 3: 26th Jan 2015 – Ganeshgule:
             We woke up early morning by 7 AM. Ganeshgule has a long, scenic, unexplored beach. Only we were on the beach with only the sea waves for company and it was like we were on our private beach. We spent around one hour and then returned to our room. We just spend entire day on resort. Oceano Pearl resort has sports equipment for cricket, Badminton, Volleyball and cream etc. Constant supply of tea/coffee by staff made us feel fresh. We were the only tourists in resort. Oceano Pearl resort and Ganeshgule village is perfect spot for bird watching. Small trail in nearby forest is good for forest birds.

Paradise Flycatcher
Paradise Flycatcher

Sea Waves



Ganeshgule Beach
Ganeshgule Beach

             Pawas is well known for the Ashram of Swami Swaroopanand and is few km from Ganeshgule village. Pawas is a prime spiritual place in Ratnagiri district due to a very long stay of Swami (saint) Swaroopanand. He was born on 15th December 1903 at Pawas. At the age of 20, he had received the initiation (Dikshya) from his Guru Sadguru Babamaharaj Vaidya from Pune. From this point, his journey in the spiritual world had begun. At the age of 70, on 15th August 1974, Swamiji took Samadhi (self-immolation) at Pawas. The temple in Pawas is very clean and well maintained. It is definitely a must visit place if you are in Ratnagiri area.
            Next destination near Ganeshgule was Ganeshgule temple. This temple is older than Ganpatipule. The Ganesh idol in the temple is "Swayambhu" (i.e. formed naturally) idol with its trunk turned towards the west. The statue of the mouse in front of temple is very beautiful and made up of metal alloy. You can see beautiful valley view from the temple.

Ganshgule Ganesh Temple

             We were here for relaxation hence after delicious lunch; we took in noon, swimming in the ocean in evening and witness sunset from sunset point on mountain. For Dinner, we all together decided to have Barbeque in dinner. It was memorable time with friends. We celebrated Aditya – Neha’s wedding anniversary by cutting a cake at midnight on beach. Tomorrow will begin our return journey to Pune. 



Sunset

Color in sky

Tree House

BBQ Dinner by Me, Renuka and Saurabh...Clicked by Anannya

Day 4: 27th Jan 2015 – Ganeshgule - Ratnagiri - Pune:
             We left Ganeshgule via Ratnagiri route by 11 AM. We took our small break at Ratnagiri for Bal Gangadhar Tilak Birth Place. He was the first leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities called him "Father of the Indian unrest." He was also conferred with the honorary title of "Lokmanya", which literally means "accepted by the people (as their leader)". You can see the entire house which is maintained very well. You can get a sense of the typical house of a Ratnagiri resident. Some of Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s personal belongings like pagdi, uparna, and pen are there on display along with some old photos too. Unfortunately tourists skip this place but I feel proud and lucky to visit such place where a legend freedom fighter of India was born.

We travelled via Amba Ghat – National highway 4 and reached Pune safely by 9 PM.

FRIENDS

Major Expense:
  • Car rent for 4 days: INR 14500/- including all tolls, Parking and night stay chargers
  • Room rent at Oceano Pearl home stay resort: INR 3000/- per night including all meals
Contact numbers for your reference:
  • Oceano Pearl beach home stay at Ganeshgule: 02352-237800, 02352-219400, 8605599789, 9405340784
Other Travel blog on Konkan:
     Ratnagiri, Ganeshgule and Jaigad

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune

Monday, 12 January 2015

Pune’s Bird Paradise - Bhigwan, Diksal bird watching in 2015

I visit Bhigwan at least once a year for bird watching and this year was not an exception for my activity. My travel year begin with this trip. I and Renuka decided to visit this place on 12 Jan 2015. To avoid crowd we decided to visit on weekdays. Plan was to spend 4-5 hours in Bhigwan (main location is known as Diksal village) and come back home by late afternoon.

Greater Flamingo at Bhigwan
Greater Flamingo at Bhigwan

About Bhigwan Bird sanctuary:
Bhigwan, a catchment area of Ujani Dam, is about 105 km from Pune on the Pune-Solapur highway (NH 9). An area of about 18000 hectares has been proposed as a sanctuary for migratory birds. It is an amazing place to see wet land migratory birds like Bar-Headed Goose, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, many spices of ducks and many more birds.

To reach at Diksal village (near Bhigwan), easy way is Pune – Hadapsar – Join Solapur highway – Drive your vehicle 100km from Pune on Highway – Do not use Bhigwan flyover – Take left at Bhigwan square on highway – Drive 3 to 3.5km – Take right for sanctuary. How to identify correct right turn is; you can spot water tank tower (yellow colored) on that T junction at left hand side of road. Otherwise ask local villagers about Diksal / “where can we see Rohit bird (Marathi name of Greater Flamingo bird)?”

You can spend half day or full day along with your camera and binocular. More than 60 bird’s species can be found in this backwater.

12th Jan 2015: Bhigwan Bird sanctuary (Total distance travel by car: 230km):
             As we had to cover around 105-110km we decided to leave Pune by 5 AM and we managed to leave on time. Soon we touched Solapur highway. Road condition of highway was excellent. Due to wide and smooth road, we were able to reach Bhigwan in less than 2 hours. We told our boatman friend to arrange some breakfast. We all were excited to see migratory birds.
             When we reached the village at around 5.30 AM, I was surprise by looking at back water. Water level was quite low as compare to last year. After some tasty breakfast we left for bird watching in his boat. Since it was an odd day, we were the only bird watchers in the catchment area. Soon we spotted a group of Flamingoes. We set our cameras and kept pin drop silence. Slowly Bharat took us close to birds. He promised me last year that if we came on an odd day he will take us close to birds. He is an expert to handle such conditions just that he doesn't want to do it on weekends due to crowd. Also birds get disturb quickly.

Sun rise at Bhigwan, Pune
Sun rise at Diksal, Bhigwan

Early morning light on Flamingo couple
Early morning light on Flamingo couple 

Love...Greater Flamingo
Love...Greater Flamingo

            Soon we were so close to birds that we were able to hear they movement as well. It was an amazing moment for me to witness flamingo hardly at 15-18 feet distance. We spend around 1.5 hours watching their activity without disturbing them. By any chance if they noticed us, they were just moving their position. A couple of times they flew away but again settled down close to our boat. I wanted to click some close up clicks so I entered in 4.5 ft. water whereas boat sailed away from me. I was in the middle of water catchment area for 45 min and got some nice clicks. I was in front of at least 3000 Greater Flamingo. What a treat to eyes.

Lots of Greater Flamingo
Lots of Greater Flamingo at Bhigwan

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo

Sea gull at Bhigwan
Sea gull at Bhigwan

Sea gull close up
Sea gull close up

             After spending a lot of time with greater flamingo, we left that place to spot other birds. We went on other side of catchment area by boat. We saw huge group of Painted stork. We spend around hour and watched there morning activity, sun basking etc. Besides Flamingo, we spotted Woolly Necked Stork, Coot, ibis, bar headed gooses, Ruddy Shelduck (aka Brahmini Duck), Northern Shoveler, Garganey Duck, Comb Duck and many more.

Art of Wings, sea gull
Art of Wings, sea gull

Ready for take off - Greater Flamingo
Ready for take off - Greater Flamingo

Painted stork colony  at bhigwan
Painted stork colony  at bhigwan

Marsh Harrier with kill at Bhigwan
Marsh Harrier with kill at Bhigwan

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis

Ruddy Shelduck (aka Brahmini Duck)
Ruddy Shelduck (aka Brahmini Duck)

           It was quite bright now, and we slowly made our way back to village by boat. During our return journey, we saw huge group of Flamingos. After some nice click we came back. Our trail ends on a good note.
We returned to Bharat’s house and had lunch on highway and returned home by 4 PM. 

Bird List which we saw in Bhigwan:
Greater Flamingo, Pueple Swamphen, Common Moorhen, White-breasted Waterhen, Glossy Ibis,
Black Ibis, Oriental White Ibis, Asian Open bill Stork, Painted Stork, Woolly Necked Stork,
Common Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Black Tailed Godwit, Black Winged Stilts, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Shelduck / Brahminy Duck, Spot-billed Duck, Common Coot, Comb Duck, Garganey Duck, Pochard Duck, Bar headed Duck, Pallas Gull, Brown headed seagulls,
Black headed seagulls, River Tern, Common tern, Gull billed Tern, Grey Heron, Purple Heron,
Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Large Egret, Eurasian Spoonbill, Little Cormorant, Common Kingfisher,
White Throated Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Wire-tailed Swallow, Common Swallow, Red Rumped Swallow, Purple Rumped Sunbird, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Green nee eater, Red Avadavat,
Spotted Munia, Black Drango, Red-Wattled Lapwing, Yellow-Wattled Lapwing, Osprey,
Western Marsh Harrier.

Below are snaps taken during my various visits to Bhigwan

Greater Flamingo portrait
Greater Flamingo portrait

3 Idiots - Painted Stork
3 Idiots - Painted Stork 

Painted Stork close up
Painted Stork close up

Bar headed goose at Bhigwan
Bar headed goose at Bhigwan 

Woolly necked stork
Woolly necked stork  

Black neck Ibis
Black neck Ibis

Greater Flamingo in flight
Greater Flamingo in flight

Basking in sun light - Painted stork
Basking in sun light - Painted stork

Ruddy Shelduck in flight
Ruddy Shelduck in flight

Flamingo

Let's Fly - Greater Flamingo

Only and only Greater Flamingo
Only and only Greater Flamingo at Bhigwan

Expenses: 
Car Petrol: INR 1500/- (Avg INR 67/Lit, Total distance cover by car was 230km)
Toll on NH-09: INR 30/- (Return toll)
Toll 2 on NH-09: INR 50/- (Return Toll)
Boat ride: INR 1000/- for boat (Normal chargers are INR 1200-1400/- per boat)
Lunch: INR 420/- per person (Masala papad + 2 vegetables + Rotis and Cold drink)

Contact number:
Bharat (Boatman from Diksal): 9766292989. 

After this trip, I had 2 more trips to Bhigwan in which I took corporate groups (from other IT company) to teach them how to identify birds, Basic photography tips and to increase awareness about nature. I am sharing some photographs from my 2-3 visits. If you want to witness beauty of migratory birds (Our guest) then what you are waiting for?

Prits at Bhigwan - Photo clicked by Wife Renuka
Prits at Bhigwan - Photo clicked by Wife Renuka

Me busy with Sea gull - DND me :)

Wildlife Photography is not an easy job...I was in 4.5 ft water alone for around hour. Thanks for wonderful click Renuka Kulkarni


I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune