Ganpatipule, on the coast 375km south of Mumbai, has several kilometres of almost perfect beaches and clean waters that leave those of Goa for dead. For much of the year life plods along very slowly but woe betide anyone coming here for a bit of peace and quiet during the Indian holidays (Diwali is especially busy). These tourists haven’t come for the hedonism of sun and sand though, but rather for the town’s seaside temple (235223; 5am-9pm) with its Swayambhu Ganpati, or ‘naturally formed’ monolithic Ganesh (painted a lurid orange), allegedly discovered 1600 years ago.
Foreign tourists do not frequent Ganpatipule often and you are likely to be an object of considerable curiosity. For a quieter patch of sand, head towards the beach in front of the MTDC Tent Resort.
There are several places to stay in and around the town but a kilometre or so from the beach is the unforgettable Hotel Shiv Sagar Palace (25147163; firstname.lastname@example.org; d with/without AC from Rs 1000/1500; ). This massive pink structure, full of colonnades, domes and arches looks like a tacky Las Vegas hotel on LSD. The sweeping driveway is big enough to park a 747 on and, once inside the hallowed halls, you’ll discover a kitsch world of orange plastic palm trees, towering chandeliers, gold tables and mirrors. It’s worth staying for the novelty factor alone. The stunning sea views, good vegetarian restaurant and a professional attitude bring an unexpected class to the place.
The MTDC Resort (235248; fax 235328; d with/without AC from Rs 1400/1200; ) is nicely ensconced among the palms and has the prime beachside spot. Its Tent Resort (235248; 2-/4-bed tents Rs 300/500), might be a cheaper option but the tents have no security and can get very hot. The resort offers a variety of water sports, has a Bank of Maharashtra (235304), which can change travellers cheques but not currency, and the Tarang Restaurant (mains Rs 40-90), serving local specialities such as Malvani fish curry. MTDC can also organise tours (Rs 1200 day tour, Rs 500 evening tour) of the region that include a boat cruise and village visits.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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