For anyone at Kolkata, who wish to have a secluded yet economic weekend beach holiday, Bakkhali is an obvious choice. The beach is located at one of the 50 odd island clusters of Sunderban area – famous for its mangrove trees and the Royal Bengal Tiger. Although there are enough mangrove trees at Bakkhali, thankfully there are no tigers roaming around.
On a lazy afternoon, one can just sit at leisure at Bakkhali beach sipping tea from earthen pots enjoying the breeze whilst the low waves caress the feet. The sea at Bakkhali is not ideal for swimming as there are no large waves here. Perhaps it is one of the reasons that many tourists do not visit this place often. However, the accommodation facilities are very cheap. You usually get a decent accommodation at a very reasonable price without any prior booking.
One can also take an extended morning walk through the long stretch of sand to the town of Frazerganj. A cycle rickshaw van ride through the rural landscape takes you to the Frazerganj fishing harbour. Add to it a visit to Henry’s Island – the latest holiday spot at Bakkhali developed by the fisheries department jointly with the ministry of tourism.
Ganapatipule is a popular beach for a weekend tour in Maharastra, especially during the monsoons. Like the Kashid beach near Alibaug, this is beach of white sand. It has a twin beach named Bhandarpule which gives you a spectacular top view as you drive towards Ganapatipule. There are several other beaches in the vicinity among which another twin beach ‘Aare-Ware’ and the secluded beach of Malgund are worth viewing. Other attractions include the rarely visited Jaigad fort perched on a hilltop near the Jaigad Creek.
Ganapatiphule is famous for its Swambhu Ganapati Temple. The temple is frequently visited by devotees as well as tourists looking for a beach holiday. The rock cut idol of Ganesha is around 400 years old and unlike other Hindu deities faces west and falls in the category of Paschim Dwar Devatas (West coast Gods). Since the rock formation was nature created and not man made, the idol is known as “Swambhu” (Self Generated). Such Swambhu Ganesh Statues are prevalent in Maharastra. At Amboli , we saw a similar statue (though much smaller) at Swambhu Ganapati Temple of Ragheshwar Ashram.
Among the popular legends the most common is that one gentleman escaping from a village feud stumbled upon this idol and later created a temple around it, which underwent renovations in the following years to come to the present state. Since the rock cut idol originated from Sand Dunes (Termed in Marathi “Pule”), the village has been named as “Ganapatipule”.
On the final day of our Konkan adventure we started as early as 08:00. Since Savli Resort would offer only tea in the morning, we had pre-arranged for our provisions for breakfast. Our Konkani gentleman with golden necklaces came with his auto rickshaw in the right time. The first destination was the Tara Mumbri beach. Situated south of Devgad, the beach was 4 km from Kunkeshwar. We reached the Tara Mumbri village at around 08:30 a.m
The fishermen’s village was on our left and on our right was a road lined with palm trees which led to the beach. There was a local boat-building yard in the village covered with a shade. in the foreground, there was the backwater with several fishing boats sailing on it towards the sea – a familiar scene which we have seen earlier in Nivati village.
From the serene village of Nivati, the island fort of Sindhudurg, located in the town of Malvan is a 3 hour drive in an auto-rickshaw. We had booked the vehicle till Kunkeswar with enroute halts at Sindhudurg fort and Tarkarli beach. Our stay at Kunkeswar was booked at Saavli Resort. Although Saavli resort offered only lodging, the only other staying option at Kunkeswar is at Bhakti Niwas whose accommodation was very Spartan. Bhakti Niwas also did not offer in-house food facility.
When I first viewed the huge Bhogve beach with pristine clear sand and not a soul around, I asked the auto rickshaw driver Murugappa – “How come the beaches are so clean and desolate here? It is near Christmas now – where are the tourists? It is not that these beaches are unseen.” With a faint smile Murugappa replied – “Why should people come here sire? There are no sources of entertainment here. You do not get foreign liquor, no luxury hotels here. Many do not like Malvan cuisine. People prefer Goa to these beaches sire… you get all kind of entertainment there from pub to discos.”