A weekend trip to Ganapatipule is the perfect antidote to the hustle bustle of a city that never sleeps. If you’re in love with the maximum city like me, gyrating to the different vibes around each corner you turn, you’ll definitely agree to the fact that weekend getaways are quintessential to find your song amidst a cacophony of chaos. To recharge, rejuvenate and strike head on the Monday onslaught.
A quaint little town nestled amidst acres of dense green flora, Ganapatipule is almost a secret destination on the Konkan coast of Maharashtra carefully hidden from the crowd. The pristine beaches just prove that. Don’t just assume you will be alone here like Leo De Caprio in “The Beach” but compared to places like Lonavala and Khandala (located close to Mumbai), the crowd would be scarce at any given time during the monsoon season.
When you choose a trip to Ganapatipule for your weekend retreat, the phrase “The journey is more important than the destination” comes true in the literal sense. After you drive past the city limits the scenery is simply mind blowing. During monsoon, it’s a blanket of super charged greenery all around. Relaxing to the eyes and soothing to the soul.
How to plan a trip to Ganapatipule – the route
The distance from Mumbai to Ganapatipule is around 350 km and takes about 6 to 7 hours by road. Hence it’s essential to start early when you plan a trip to Ganapatipule so that you reach your destination by afternoon and enjoy the scenery in the fading evening light.
From Navi Mumbai, you can take the State Highway SH66 (Erstwhile NH-17) aka Mumbai-Goa Highway which spans almost 90% of the route passing through Panvel, Pen, and Kolad. Kolad is famous for white water rafting in the Kundalika River. But let’s keep that for an upcoming post. About 280 km from Navi Mumbai, close to Sangameshwar you take a right from SH66 to Kond Asurde – Dingani Road (Route 106) to Ganapatipule. Or you can ignore all of the above and navigate on your cell phone. Google maps will guide you all the way. Just make sure to keep your phone charged. Mobile network has good coverage to guide you for the entire route.
Our trip to Ganapatipule experience
So four friends, driving a little green goblet, set out to experience this magical beauty. It was a quick plan (as all weekend plans are 😉 ) and we started at 4 am from Navi Mumbai to Ganapatipule.
As we crossed Pen, it started to rain heavily. I love Mumbai monsoon and enjoy driving in the rain. We had short intervals of sun followed by heavy and light spells of rain. Typical Western Ghats monsoon. The road conditions improve significantly after Pen, although this is not something you’ll always find. So beware of the potholes as you speed up.
Apart from the photo stops our next major stop was Chiplun (230 km from Navi Mumbai) for some light snacks and tea. After driving for about 50 km from Chiplun we took a right from route 66 towards Ganapatipule.
The view just turned epic after this. Driving through the Western Ghats during monsoon is an epic experience in itself. It’s like floating in a green carpet (excuse the occasional potholes). The flat top hills ornamented by seasonal water falls presents a magnificent vista to behold. Seven hours of driving felt like an hour as we were so engrossed by the beauty of nature that revealed itself in a new incarnation around each corner we turned.
A particular “wow” moment that you should not miss is the first glimpse of the sea. As you drive along the winding hilly roads inching closer to Ganapatipule, suddenly the mountains vanish and all you see in front is the Arabian Sea with majestic blue hues extending to the horizon. This moment is just priceless. I really find it hard to describe it in words. After curving around from one hill to another for about 3 hours the abrupt change in view was so captivating. We had to stop right there and appreciate the view with a big “WOW” and a long photo stop.
We reached Ganapatipule at around 3 pm and really struggled for some lunch as all the restaurants were done for the day. Finally had to settle for some snacks again.
Where to Stay during your trip to Ganapatipule
One of the most preferred places to stay during your trip to Ganapatipule is the government MTDC resort (based on countless reviews on the internet). It’s on budget, has a prime location on the beach (with direct beach access) and the food is average to good. However, one major drawback is that it requires pre planning and advance booking. Since ours was a whirlwind plan in the span of a night so there was no time to pre book. We did take a chance though but as expected there was not a single room available.
We actually went without any plans and that was the beauty of this trip. But if you are with family I’d highly suggest pre booking your accommodation. You can refer to Trip Advisor for accommodation reviews. Trust me the reviews are always bang on.
We finally found a tiny lodge about 5-6 km from the main Ganapatipule town, right on a cliff top with a marvelous view of the Arabian Sea and the beach below (not the Ganapatipule beach). The view compensated for the shabby indoors and we didn’t care much. I’d not recommend this for a family though. We had to scale down about 100 feet of the steep cliff to get down to the beach which was again an adventure in itself. The cliff is rocky so again if you are with kids tread on your own risk.
We found the beach completely empty in the evening. There was not a single soul around. The house keeper actually warned us that the currents are unsteady and there’s no beach guard there so we were very careful in not getting too carried away. It’s about a kilometer long, pristine beach with a fresh water rivulet flowing in (maybe seasonal). We restricted ourselves to knee deep water only. The beach was so empty that at times it was a bit scary too.
The evening was all beers and the soothing sound of the sea. While returning to our lodge we stopped by the cliff just to listen to the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below. We had few pints stashed in the car just for this moment and let me tell you – it was magical.
Trip to Ganapatiule – Day 2
After breakfast, we decided to drive to Ganapatipule beach. The main beach was comparatively crowded that day. There was some ritual going on in the temple and beach was full of devotees. Or maybe we were spoilt by the previous day experience. Finding a pristine beach all to yourself is something you can only dream in India. But my guess is that we were lucky. We did a quick tour of the Ganapatipule Temple before hitting the road back to Mumbai.
We started our return journey at around 12 pm after lunch. We decided to take the route to Ratnagiri and then drive to Mumbai. The decision was perfect. The route through Ratnagiri has majestic views dotted with small fishing villages on the way. We had so many photo stops on the way. Almost compelled to press the brakes on every turn.
After we crossed Chiplun I just remember the journey in parts as we were rotating on the driver’s seat. Whenever I was not driving I was dozing off. But I still remember the evening sun peeking through the trees are we drove back to our waiting cubicles in Mumbai.
A trip to Ganapatipule is something that every Mumbaikar should try at least once. Driving on this route is great fun and an amazing experience. But if you are not into self-driving then there’re other options like an overnight bus or train that you can readily avail. But in my opinion, self-drive is the best option for a full on experience. The ghats are quite safe to drive if you follow the basic driving rules.
Signing off for now………