Sunday, 10 November 2013

Kokan paradise: Guhagar and surrounding area

           After a long monsoon break, we were ready to explore Konkan region again. I have been to this place 2-3 times before my marriage but I wanted to visit this lovely place with the wife. We took advantage of post-Diwali festival vacation and planned 4 day trip to Guhagar, Hedvi, Velneshwar and Ganapatipule.

About Guhagar and surrounding:
           Guhagar is situated on west coast of Maharashtra, India. A word GUHAGAR means cave house in the local language.Guhagar is a scenic town with hilly terrain. A perfect tropical paradise. It is even called a temple town. It is famous for Durga Devi temple and Vyadeshwar temple.Guhagar beach is one of the main tourist destinations and is a unique place to enjoy Konkani culture.
           Velneshwar and Hedvi are the two places near Guhagar, famous for the natural beauty and the temples. Dashbhuj Ganapati temple (Lord Ganesh with 10 hands) is a major attraction of Hedvi.
          Ganapatipule is another holy place which is close to Guhagar. Due to Jaigad jetty, both the places came close now.

There are 2-3 ways (via Tamhini ghat OR via Varandha ghat OR via Kumbharali ghat) to reach Guhagar. Best way to reach Guhagar from Pune is, Catch National highway 4 (Mumbai-Bangalore highway) towards Kolhapur/Bangalore direction – take right turn at Umbraj – Paatan village – Kumbharali ghat – Koyananagar – Chipalun – Take a left on National highway 17 for Guhagar (There are different ways from Chipalun for Guhagar which meet on one route after 3-5 km drive) – Pat Panhale village – Guhagar.

Guhagar Beach
Guhagar Beach
Travelers for this trip were me and my wife Renuka.

Day 1: 7th Nov 2013 – Pune - Guhagar (Total Distance travelled: 278 km):
           We woke up early morning and left home at 6 AM. We wanted to avoid highway traffic and enjoy the morning breeze. We had plenty of snacks with us so without any pit stop (Except at car fuel station) we drove towards Kumbharali ghat. Road condition till Guhagar was good except some small patches in Kumbharali ghat. Due to less traffic and smooth road condition, we reached Chipalun very quickly. By 9.45, we were in Chipalun for breakfast. We had south Indian breakfast at restaurant Shivsagar. Food was average in taste. From this point, my wife took charge of the car and we proceeded towards Guhagar.
          We gave a call to Mr Damale to spot his home, where we booked our homestay for 2 nights and last night in the tent which we brought along with us. Soon we moved into our room and took rest. By 1 PM, we came to the market area for Lunch. For this trip, we had decided to try a different restaurant for Veg meal. We went to a pure veg restaurant named “Vainateya” owned by Savarkar family. This was my favourite veg restaurant from Guhagar. We enjoyed a quality meal and came back to our rooms. We spend some time in Damale’s Konkani garden which was on back side of his home. In Marathi such Farm/tree plantation is called as Wadi. There was direct access to Guhagar beach from his plantation area. Cool breeze, roaring sound of sea waves makes us feel fresh. After spending an hour, we can in the room for rest.

Veg Thali (Sorry for bad Photo quality)
             After rest for a while, we planned to visit the beach in the evening. Surprisingly, even at 5.30 p.m., there were hardly any visitors. Guhagar beach is one of the cleanest and less polluted beaches in Maharashtra. This beach is assumed to be very safe. The beach slope was gentle and sea water was clean enough to see the seabed. This beach is much better than any other famous beach from Konkan area. Unfortunately, we were not able to witness the sunset. We had long walk on the soft sandy beach without wearing any foot wares. It was a perfect evening for us.

Typical Guhagar, Konkan road

           We had veg meal dinner at Mr Ravindra Damale’s place. After dinner, we went for walk towards market area. By 9 PM, all shops were shut down and peaceful environment with Diwali festival lighting.
  • Car Petrol: INR 2500/- (approx. 32 Lit at average INR 78/lit)
  • Toll on NH-4 (Khed-Shivapur): INR 75/- one-way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Anewadi-Satara): INR 50/- one-way entry
  • Breakfast at Shivsagar, Chipalun: INR 110/- for 2 people including coffee.
  • Lunch at Vainateya restaurant: INR 80/- per person (Limited meal)
  • Dinner at Damale’s place: INR 100/- per person (Unlimited veg meal) 

Day 2: 8th Nov 2013 – Guhagar – Ganapatipule (Total Distance travelled: around 190 km):
            We woke up early morning and plan was to have a 1 day trip to Ganapatipule. We wanted to spend evening time at Velneshwar beach watching the sunset. We skipped morning walk on the beach and left home after breakfast.My car was not in the mood to start the journey. I tried a lot of time and then I give up. We called a mechanic(Refereed by Damale) and then got to know that Car battery was dead. There was nothing which we kept ON for the whole night. It was happened due to end of battery life. I was too upset as I had done car servicing 1 month back and service engineer didn’t notify me about the battery.
              With the help of Jumper, car engine woke up for the journey. He gave some instruction to do, just in case it happens again during my day journey. To start the car on 2nd gear on the slope was the backup option. Mechanic helped us and didn't con. He told me not to believe on anyone as people might misguide you to earn money. He advised me to buy a new battery but in hometown to avoid rip-off in Konkan.
              After wasting an hour, we went towards our 1st destination, i.e. Hedvi temple. Hedvi is 30 min drive from Guhagar is also known as the Beach and a temple. The temple houses the idol of Lord Ganesh with ten hands. That is why he is known here as the Dashbhuj Ganesh. This temple dates back to the age of Peshwa. Temple area was clean. Soon we went to Hedvi beach. Baman ghal is a major attraction in Hedvi during high tide. There is unmarked rock patch route behind temple (Temple which is on the right side of the beach). It is unique landscape in its own way. This beautiful natural wonder is a gorge in the black rock patch and is around 20 feet deep, 35 feet long and 1-2 feet wide in dimensions. During the high tide, the sea water gushes in and splashes around. We went there during low tide so miss water splash. I have seen the huge water splash around 3 years back and believe me, it’s fun to watch this wonder.

Hedvi Temple
Hedvi Temple - Dashbhuj Ganesh Temple

Beautiful Hedvi Temple
Beautiful Hedvi Temple

Unmarked route behind temple for Baman Ghal

Baman Ghal
Baman Ghal

            We move ahead for Ganapatipule via Jaigad jetty. Most of the time, the road is parallel to the seashore and gives you wonderful view. You can load your vehicle on the ferry and save time. Because of Jetty, we can save around 20-25 km. Bhatgaon Bridge is another route to avoid Ferry but road condition is pathetic. Better to go with Ferry option. First Ferry starts at 6.30 AM in morning and then ferry after every hour till 9.30 PM. After waiting for 45 min in the queue, we load our car on the ferry. 

Narvan Beach

             We reached Ganapatipule by 12.30 PM. I parked my car on a slope in the parking area. We joined the queue to enter the temple. There were too many tourists and we spent around 50 min in the queue. According to a local folklore, the Hindu god, Ganapati, taking umbrage by a remark made by a native lady, moved to Pulé (a few km ahead of the town) from his original abode of Gulé. Thus the region was named Ganpati-pulé.The temple is at the base of a hill and very close to the sea.The God is considered to be the Paschim Dwardevta (Western Sentinel God of India), and those who visit Ganapatipule, make it a point to pay their respects to this deity. 


              After visiting Temple, we took lunch in the restaurant. Again car was not ready to begin our return journey. I started car engine on 2nd gear with the help of slope. To avoid risk and ferry queue, we decided to come to Guhagar via National highway. Our Route was Ganapatipule – Nivali – National highway – Chipalun – Guhagar. We dropped Velneshwar beach and reached home by evening. We rested till it was dark outside.For dinner, we tried restaurant Shradha. It served tasty seafood. We had masala egg meal and veg meal. It was very hectic day due to day trip and car issue.
  • Jaigad jetty, Car chargers with driver: INR 140/- (one way)
  • Person chargers for ferry: INR 20/- (one way)
  • Auto to Market (in Guhagar): INR 30/-
  • Egg masala meal at hotel Shradha: INR 90/- 
  • Veg meal at hotel Shradha: INR 80/-
  • Auto from market till Room: IR 30/-

Day 3: 9th Nov 2013 – Guhagar:
             Today we decided to spend the entire time in Guhagar and cover nearby places. We went to Durga temple of Guhagar. There is temple pillar at the entrance of the temple. Few hundreds year ago, the temple was located in place of the pillar. But to avoid attacks from pirates, it was moved the new location where it is situated now. A Temple premise is very clean and there is a medium sized man-made pond next to the temple.We went to another temple of Lord Ganesh named Ufarata Ganapati temple.Lord Ganesh idol is facing sea shore i.e. directing west. Normally it should face direction east. And hence name Ufarata (reversed) Ganpati.We got to know the story behind Ufarata Ganapati. A few years ago, there was deadly high tide which destroyed most of the coastal homes. People started praying at Lord Ganapati to stop the disaster. At one night, Idol from temple changed his face direction from East to West and sea waves became a claim. Hence people started calling this Ganapati as Ufarata (reversed) Ganpati. Vyadeshwar temple of Lord Shiva is literally a stone's throw away from the S.T. Depot, right in the middle of the bazaar. It is the Kuladaivat of a lot of Kokanastha Chitpavan Brahmins and major attraction/holy place from Guhagar.

Temple Pillar

Towards Durga Devi temple

Durga Devi Temple, Guhagar
Durga Devi Temple

Vyadeshwar Temple
              We had our lunch at a famous hotel named Annapurna. Other nearby places to see is Gopalgad fort and Anjanwel lighthouse towards the north side of Guhagar. The car can reach right till entrance gate of Gopalgad. It was built for the protection of Dabhol an ancient port city which also finds its mention by the famous geographer from ancient Greece Ptolemy. This fort is believed to be built at the start of 16th Century by the Siddi. It was captured by Shivaji Maharaj in 1660. In 1699, it was captured by Khairatkhan who was a Siddi ruler who ruled from Murud Janjira. Tulaji Angre then won this fort in 1744 and then later lost it to Peshwa in 1755. What remains today are only the ruins of this huge fort that spans 7 Acres of land.Some cannon balls can be found in the fort. There is a private Mango orchard in the fort and due to ownership issues, the entrance to the fort is blocked. 

Fort Wall
              Anjanwel lighthouse is also close to Gopalgad fort. With the permission, you can see the entire lighthouse and its functionality. This entire area is located on a small hill and hence it is always very windy. One can view beautiful lush green landscapes around. Surrounded by the Sea on all three sides, Gopalgad and creek next to it offer picturesque scenery.

Lighthouse (Photography is not allowed hence took photo from outside with permission)

             In noontime, we set up our tent in Damale’s garden (Wadi). Location was amazing as we can see sea waves from Tent and area was covered by trees. We took rest for whole noon and went on the beach for swimming. After spending an hour we came back and went in the market area. There are some snacks stall close to the beach where you can enjoy chats (Type of snacks) and tea/coffee. We spend late evening time on the beach and then went for dinner. For dinner, we selected Restaurant Lagoon. It is restaurant and bar but they have a very nice family section where people can enjoy their meal without having any alcohol. Veg food was average but the seafood was tasty. We returned to our rooms and next morning we were supposed to leave for Pune. 

Our stay at last night

We! Mad travellers

  • Lunch at Annapurna restaurant: INR 355/- for 2 people including Pomplet fry dish and veg meal)
  • Auto (Room to market: INR 30/-
  • Auto (Market to Room): INR 30/-
  • Snacks on the beach: approx. INR 20 for chat plates like Bhel, panipuri etc
  • Dinner at Lagoon restaurant: INR 250/- for 2 people

Day 4: 10th Nov 2013 – Guhagar – Pune (Total Distance travelled: around 275 km):
               Early morning we went to the beach for a walk and swimming. Clear weather and cool morning breeze from the sea made us feel fresh. We spend a lot of time on the beach and then came for breakfast. We left Guhagar by 10.30 AM. We came via Kumbharali ghat – National highway 4 to Pune safely by 5 PM.

Damale's House and My Uber cool machine

  • Home-stay Rent for 3 days: INR 990/- (Room for 3 nights and 4 days)
  • Toll on NH-4 (Anewadi-Satara): INR 50/- one-way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Khed-Shivapur): INR 75/- one-way entry
  • Car petrol near Wai phata: INR 700/- (approx. 9 Lit at average INR 78/lit)
Contact numbers for your reference:
  1. Homestay at Ravindra Damale: - (02359)240042, 9420475602.
  2. Homestay at Jog: - (02359) 240875.
  3. Atithi Niwas Homestay by Yogeshkhare: -9273650764, 9423802208.
  4. Sagar lodge: - (02359) 240347, 9420152272 (located in market area)
  5. Hotel Vainateya: - (02359) 240515, 9420722905. (close to Bus Vyadeshwar temple)
  6. Naresh Kesarkar (Car Mechanic): - 9673353517 (Very reliable person)
Visit Places which we miss due to lack of Time:
  • Velneshwar Beach and temple
  • Budhal beach (Not on tourist map but very clean and beautiful village and small beach) 
I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni