It’s easy to fall in love with Ratnagiri: virgin beaches, inviting home-stays, delicious seafood and Ratnagiri Alphonso (Hapus) mangoes.
Mango harvest time in Ganeshgule is still practised by using traditional methods. Pic Courtesy/ Raphael Baumann
So, when we heard about a three-day mango tasting tour to Ratnagiri by The Western Routes based in Pune, we signed up in a flash.
Ratnagiri is famous for its Hapus or Alphonso mangoes. Pics courtesy/Raphael Baumann
We began from Pune at 6 am. The journey was scenic, after Karad, from where we left NH-4, and drove through smaller village roads. Sporadic drizzles had given the forests of the Western Ghats a fresh coat of green that contrasted with the bright blue summer skies.
Thibaw Palace was home to Burma’s last king while in exile
Post a six-hour drive, we were eager to savour the famed mango meal. When we reached the home-stay at Ganeshgule, Mithil Pitre our host, welcomed us with glasses of cold Aam Panha (a sweet, refreshing drink made from raw mangoes).
Purnagad Fort was believed to be the last citadel that Shivaji built
Pitre, who runs a home-stay by the beach invited us for the feast, which included unlimited Aamras (fresh mango pulp), freshly-cut mangoes and the Maharashtrian Thali delicacies — Sol Kadi, Bhakri, Amti and Koshimbir.
Ganeshgule has a white sand coast
After lunch and a nap, we visited the Ganeshgule Ganpati temple. This temple is nearly 400 years old, and one of the few south-facing temples in India. The evening, Ganeshgule’s white sandy beach made for a quiet retreat.
View from the bend of a hill of the scenic Aare-Ware beaches that lie beside each other
Post a Sabudana-Khichdi breakfast, we drove towards Aare-Ware beaches. The twin beaches lie beside each other, separated by a hill. We halted at a bend on this hill to marvel at the scenic horizon over both the beaches.
We helped ourselves with Kokum Sherbat, tender coconut water, Bhel with Kairee (raw mango pieces at shacks that dotted this stretch.
The Ganpatipule temple, one of Maharashtra’s most visited and revered religious sites, was next on the itinerary. Many worshippers thronged to pray to the deity. Built recently, this red-and-white temple appealed to the eye.
A trip to Konkan is incomplete without seafood. Our lunch break was at the highly recommended Hotel Amantran in Ratnagiri. The generous spread of Prawn Tawa Fry, Pomfret Fry and Surmai, topped with Amrakhand (shrikhand with mango pulp) was mouthwatering.
Sated, we headed to the Thibaw Palace, which was the abode of Thibaw Min, the last king of Burma (now Myanmar) while he was in exile. Now a museum, it also houses artefacts excavated from the Konkan. Our last stop was Purnagad Fort. It earned its name (purna: old, gad: fort) as it is believed to be the last citadel built by Shivaj.
All morning, we made sand castles by the beach. This was followed by breakfast of Amboli (rice flour pancakes) and Coconut Chutney.
We set out for a mango picking session at an orchard in Ganeshgule. It was fun to spot ready-to-pick mangoes using traditional, agrarian techniques.
By now, it was time to bid adieu to this mango paradise. But we ensured that we took back loads of ‘food’ souvenirs from the Deshmukh household in Pawas village where a small unit cans mango and jackfruit pulp.
Its sensible to buy quality Alphonso mangoes at its source since it’s nearly three times cheaper than in Pune or Mumbai. We weren’t complaining!
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A villager at Ganeshgule temple narrated a folklore that Lord Ganesha shifted to Ganpatipule from Ganeshgule after the water stopped surging from his navel!
Pic courtesy/Jayesh Paranjape