When we started out to explore Maharashtra, we hadn’t given much thought to its konkan coast line. The guidebooks didn’t give much information either; they only listed Alibag, Murud and Ganapatipule, and that too briefly. As a kid I’ve been to Alibag and Murud and never thought of them to be more than just family vacation spots. As for Ganapatipule, we thought of it as just another religious town with a picturesque setting. Strangely none of the guidebooks had bothered exploring the stretch in between. I’m so glad we did!
Here’re the places we visited along the Konkan Coast :
- Alibag: We stayed here for a night to explore the fort and didn’t regret it. But Alibag beach was nothing special and the town didn’t have anything special to offer either. So if we had had a car, we would have probably seen the fort in the morning and moved on to Murud the same day.
- Murud: This is a lovely, small, fishing village. It has a great atmosphere and a lovely beach. Kashid beach, 17km north of town, is even nicer. Janjira Fort, some 4kms south and accessed by a boat, though quite dilapidated, is also worth a visit.
- Diveagar: This is a gem of a place. It’s small, laid back and absolutely beautiful! It’s quite tourist friendly as well with plenty of home-stays that offer home-cooked, yummy meals and a few promising-looking resorts as well. We regretted not having stayed here. Chatting with the friendly locals, especially Deepak and Deepika, made it a memorable visit.
- Shrivardhan: The beach here is nothing special nor is the town. It has a couple of locally famous temples but we didn’t check them out.
- Harihareshwar: The stay at MTDC’s Resort with the secluded beach by its side made our stay at Harihareshwar quite special. Moreover, the village is very atmospheric with friendly, warm people.
- Karde Beach, Dapoli: This was a true ˜beach stay’ as the resorts lining Karde Beach are a little removed from the nearby villages and crowds. We watched Dolphins in the morning, snacked on Bhelpuris while watching sunsets and ate all our meals at the resort where food was absolutely divine! It’s a great honeymoon spot.
- Guhagar: This was an unfortunately short visit; we couldn’t find a good place to stay . The beach looked gorgeous with blue waters.
- Ganapatipule: Most famous for its Ashta Vinayak site, Ganapatipule is the most touristy town in the Konkan Coast circuit. Its beaches are beautiful but are a little too crowded.
The people of Konkan Coast turned out to be some of the friendliest people we’ve met in India so far. In shared autos, absolute strangers would give us the warmest smiles! Elderly maushis would ask us where we were from and even offer advice on what we should see/do in town. Once, on our way to Dapoli, a stranger guided us to the boat, auto and bus that we needed to take, and then also offered to buy us some chai while we waited; it was just unbelievably sweet! And then, of course, there was Deepak and Deepika, whom we met in Diveagar.
The other fantastic aspect of Maharashtra’s coast is its food. Vegetarians may not find anything special here but this is paradise for seafood lovers! I’m a big fan of my mom’s Kerala-style seafood dishes and could never find restaurant food to match that quality or taste. But in Konkan, the Fish Fries and Fish Curries were to die for! Most places, especially the home-style ones, offer Fish Thalis, which consist of a Fish Fry of choice, Surmai being the most popular, and a Ras (curry) of prawns, served with chapattis and rice; LOVED it! And these thalis are usually priced around Rs.100 or less – unbelievably cheap!
Visiting undiscovered places or those that are considered ˜off the beaten path’ is fun and adventurous. But it also comes with its own problems. Our biggest problem was transportation. None of the towns we visited were connected directly; we had to hop over multiple modes of transport to get to each of them. Lugging large backpacks through all this wasn’t easy either. Of course, having a car would have helped a lot. But, looking back, I think we enjoyed the experience of riding autos and boats and Duggis with the locals tremendously; I wouldn’t trade that for anything! A car would have been comfortable but it would have never given us the unique experience we’ve had.
Overall, Maharashtra’s Konkan Coast has been an eye-opener. I wish MTDC would do more to promote the region and make it more accessible. Not that the coast is devoid of visitors; in fact, Maharashtrians from around the state visit these beach-towns in hordes. Both weekends that we were here, we had trouble finding accommodation. It’s just that people outside the state don’t seem to know much about the area. It’s almost as if the Maharashtrians are holding this secret close to heart; they probably want to preserve its pristine beaches from the chaos excessive tourism can cause. And nobody would blame them for wanting that!
Getting around the Konkan Coast using Public Transportation
Note: Duggi, Dum-Dum, 6 Seater, Minidor all refer to the same large sized autorickshaws.
Alibag to Murud
a) Autorickshaw to Murud (INR 500)
Murud to Harihareshwar
a) Autorickshaw from Murud to Agardanda (INR 100) or Rajpuri (INR 50)
You can even catch a Duggi (8 seater Autorickshaws)
b) Launch/Ferry (INR 10.50) to Dighi – a 20 min ride
c) Duggi from Dighi to Borli (INR 12)
d) Duggi from Borli to Srivardhan (INR 16)
e) Duggi from Srivardhan to Harihareshwar (INR 16)
Use Duggis for Day Trips to Diveagar and Srivardhan.
Harihareshwar – Srivardhan – Diveagar – Srivardhan – Harihareshwar
Alternatively use Diveagar as your base and cover Harihareshwar as a day trip. Diveagar has a lot more mid to high range stay options than Harihareshwar.
Harihareshwar to Murud (Dapoli)
a) Duggi from Harihareshwar to Bagmand (INR 12)
b) Ferry from Baghmund to Bangot AKA Veshvi (INR 6)
c) Duggi Bangot to Devahare (INR 20)
d) ST Bus Devahare to Mandangadh (INR 10)
e) ST Bus from Mandangadh to Dapoli (INR 27)
f) Autorickshaw from Dapoli to Murud (INR 150 incl hotel hunting)
** Murud is quite far from Dapaoli ST Stand
Murud (Dapoli) to Guhagar
a) Autorickshaw from Murud to Dapoli 6 Seater/Tracker stop (INR 180)
b) Tracker (super sized Jeeps) from Dapoli to Dhabol (INR 20)
c) Ferry from Dhabol to Verdul (INR 5)
d) Duggi from Verdul to Guhagar (INR 15)
Guhagar to Ganapatipule
a) ST Bus from Guhagar to Chiplun
b) ST Bus from Chiplun to Nivali
c) ST Bus from Nivali to Ganapatipule
*** We did not explore ferry as an option for this leg. In hindsight, it would have been faster if we had used ferries.