Yet another town in Ratnagiri with a tranquil and picturesque beach. The landmark at this beach like Ganpatipule is a temple, the Kalbhairav Shiva temple. For those who are not afraid of sailing in the small fishing boats which dot the coastline, a trip to the north side of the bay is worthwhile to see the original residence of the Peshwas or the prime ministers of the Maratha empire. The route to reach this beach is the famous Mumbai-Goa highway via Panvel-Mangaon-Goregaon Phata 230 km away. Besides just lazing on the beach, one can also visit the Peshwa Smarak and Bankot fort at Bagmandala about four km away. This beach is also not fully exploited by Mumbaikars though the distance of just 230 km is not a very long drive to enjoy a wonderful three to four sunny days at a wonderful beach.
The whispering casuarinas and the crashing waves lull you to sleep. The dying embers of a bonfire sparkle as you lie on the sand with a bright starry canopy spread above. This is Bhatye beach at its romantic best. Living by the sea in the tented resort of MTDC is an experience one cannot afford to miss. Just on the outskirts of Ratnagiri, this is one of many beaches in the Konkan which has not yet caught the eye of Mumbaikars. Ratnagiri, 356 km by road, is now connected by rail route thanks to Konkan Railways. But the seats have to be booked well in advance if one wish to travel to Ratnagiri by train in summer and travelling by a state transport bus is almost an impossible proposition in the vacation rush. Sunset seen through the casuarinas is a photographers' delight. Also, the view of the setting sun from the hill at the far end of the beach is breathtaking to say the least. Closeby is Pawas where one can visit Swaroopanand Swami Ashram which is famous for its pious and tranquil ambience. The beach, with its proximity to the town, has the added advantage of offering a gastronomical feast of seafood cooked in Malwani style. In fact, at all the beaches in Konkan, one can royaly pamper the palate beginning with the famous solkadi, followed by vade sagote, mutton or chicken served with vadas, a konkan speciality, chicken with that typical coconut gravy and the fresh catch of the day.
Along with a virgin beach with clear blue-green waters, one can experience a fell of a typical Konkan coastal village at Vengurla. This getaway is for those who are prepared to rough it out as there are very few hotels. Of course, one can always partake the hospitality of the locals. For the adventurous types, camping on the beach is the best bet. In all probability, the group seated around a bonfire will be the only souls answering the call of waves with beam from the lighthouse on Vengurla Rocks (Burnt Island) close by. Located in Sindhudurg district, this far from the madding crowd getaway is 550 km by road. The nearest railhead is Sawantwadi on the Konkan Railway. It is an ideal stopover for a day or two on way to Goa.
This palm fringed beach is famous for its clean white sands and safe waters. At the south end of the beach, you have the old Harnai Fort standing majestically. This fort was built in various levels and is a very interesting piece of architecture. One can also camp on the beach at the MTDC tent resort. Located in Ratnagiri district 247 km by road via Panvel-Pen-Lonar Phata-Dapoli, this beach is at the foothill of what can be called as the only hill station of the Konkan, Dapoli. The nearest railhead is Satara which is 154 km away. Close to Murud-Harnai, one can also visit Panhale Kazi, the famous rock-cut monuments. Dapoli and Murud-Harnai offer the best of both worlds, a beach and a hill station.
Closer home, this beach is quite popular with city tourists. Many visit this idyllic place for a day's picnic. Fringed with swaying palms, it is the best place to tie a hammock and have a siesta with the cool sea breeze blowing. The drive down to Murud is a very pleasant experience from Alibaug onwards. The road is extremely narrow and lined with thick plantation winding its way through small villages occasionally giving a glimpse of the tempting waters beyond. Located in Raighad district, the nearest railhead is Panvel 122 km away. Besides the beach, one can discover the charms of an island fortress. The 300-year-old fortress is an architectural marvel which was once considered impregnable. The fortress is located in the sea and is approachable only in low tide. If one loses track of time within the precinct of this amazing fortress, which happens quite often, one might be stranded with water all around and would have to wait for the tide to receed. The other tourist attractions nearby are the Nawab's palace and the Janjira caves. Besides the MTDC resort, there are plenty of small resorts available at affordable prices. In summer, the locals rent out extra rooms to the tourists.
A sleepy village with an excellent and not-so-well-known beach is yet another wonderful getaway. Right on the beach is Revdanda Fort, one of Shivaji's innumerable forts. Though in ruins now, the fort has withstood the ravages of time quite well and a considerable portion is intact. Time seems to stand still as you stare out to the open sea from the gun turrets of the fort. Between Murud-Janjira and Alibaug, this destination is highly appealing as it has not yet been commercialised. There are just two hotels which have come up recently so the pristine beauty of the beach has been retained so far. It is an excellent place for those who like a quiet and peaceful holiday.
The journey to these two destinations is as wonderful an experience as the beaches, if one travels by ferry. The boat journey of more than an hour from Bhaucha Dhakka or Ferry Warf to Rewas Jetty is simply exhilirating. Sailing with sea gulls for company is not a Mumbaikar does every second day. There are now catamarans from Gateway of India which touch Rewas in 30 minutes flat but don't provide the same romance as that of the ferry. Of course, one can travel by road but it is not the same and is too time consuming. Located in Raighad district, Kihim is 136 km while Alibaug is 124 km away. The nearest railhead is Panvel which is 85 km from Kihim. Rewas Jetty is just six km from Kihim. Both these places have turned into a weekend retreats for the rich and the famous who have their bungalows along the beach and in the interiors. The proximity to the city is the main asset of the beaches and tourists throng them in large numbers. In fact, much of Alibaug's charm has been lost due to the presence of too many people. On Sunday, Alibaug resembles Juhu beach but with greater scenic beauty. In comparison, Kihim with MTDC tented accommodation on the beach, is a more attractive proposition. The attractions around Kihim include historic forts, churches, synagogues and the fascinating tower of St. Barbara. Accommodation is no problem as there are many resorts which have sprung up in the last few years to suit all kinds of budgets. Instead of a day's picnic, one should visit these beaches for three or four days to really enjoy and experience its beauty.
If there is a concentration of good beaches down the coast, there are also a few in the north towards Gujarat. Fringed with casuarinas, Bordi is a very safe beach where the water for half a kilometre does not rise above the waist. The entire stretch of 17 km from Dhanu to Bordi is scenic with a backdrop of orchards of various fruits, especially chikoos. By road, the distance is 145 km. Bordi is also a station on the Western Railway, while the major station is Dhanu 15 km from Bordi. Besides the MTDC resort, there are quite a few hotels near the beach and one can also get accommodation in spacious Parsee bungalows on the beach. An ideal place to unwind as there is nothing much by way of tourist attraction besides the sand and the sea.
This beautiful beach is a place where great mythologies have come to life. Shooting of the serial Ramayan took place at Umergaon. But this destinationa with its sylvan surroundings has been a favourite for tourist who seek a quiet holiday. Located on the border of Maharashtra and Gujarat, one gets to experience the cultures of both states. The beach is in Gujarat, the land of prohibition. So by evening, one can spot the tourists and locals heading east across the railway track to raise their spirits in Maharashtra. Umergaon is also a railway station on Western Railway and by road it is 160 km away. Accommodation is available very close to the beach. Long walks on the beach and hours of swimming on this relatively unexploited beach is the highlight of this destination.
** Information on this page is contributed by Mr. Rohit Bodhe