Sindhudurg, the southernmost district in the Konkan belt of Maharashtra and just above Goa, is a traveler’s paradise with stunning panoramas, beautiful golden sandy beaches, pristine backwaters, quaint villages, rare temples, awesome food, amazing people and so much more. Surprisingly (though I am not complaining and I hope it stays that way) it has also managed to remain a secret and avoid hordes of tourists who end up visiting Goa instead.
This year we brought in the new year at this gorgeous place and loved every minute that we spent here. So much so that for a while I even contemplated on keeping this place my own little secret and trying to preserve it the way it is. But then I decided that such beauty must be shared and more tourists visiting also means more development and better maintenance of the local heritage sights.
While I will write detailed posts on my own trip and experiences, please find below 5 reasons why this area of Sindhudurg (in Konkan Maharashtra) should be on your travel wish list for 2015 –
1. Capture the Stunning landscapes – geographically the Konkan belt is sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. Thus no matter where you go, there is always a hill (at times cliffs) dramatically ending into the sea resulting in a stunning landscape just waiting to be photographed. There are even more scenic fishing villages, untouched backwaters, small lagoons, golden beaches, swaying coconut trees, ruins of forts, and I could go on and on. All of them so picturesque that you just can’t help but reach out for your camera to capture that moment. This area has also somehow escaped commercialization, and hence majority of the locations are still as nature designed them. While I loved all the sunsets and landscapes that I captured, my favorite was this pic that I clicked from the top of a small hill (that we climbed) and saw the setting sun against the opposite rock.
2. Laze in one of the many golden sand beaches – This entire area is one long coastline with beaches pretty much all along the way. There are multiple beaches to choose from such as Bhogwe, Kille Nevati, Tarkali, Devbaug, Vengurle, to just name a few and common characteristics for each are – clean white sands, gorgeous blue waters and not another soul in sight (correction at times there is a local dog and some crabs for company!). Here you can try swimming, reading, sleeping, fishing or eating, as its like your own private beach. Though we spent a fair amount of time on many of these beaches, my favorite was sitting on a rock by the Bhogwe beach at night, with the sound of waves for music, changing reflections of the moonlight on water as entertainment and an occasional sea-gull for company.
3. Enjoy the Rural experience and its simplicity – instead of the bigger towns such as Malvan (that have resorts), try staying in one of the many smaller local villages of Kudaal or Vengurle. This helps in enriching your holiday with an authentic rural experience of Konkan. Rural tourism provides an opportunity to interact with locals, understand their lifestyle, eat authentic food, hear the local folk tales, their perspectives, things which we all miss in our daily city lives and international tours. For our own trip we had a fabulous time walking all around the villages, seeing the old traditional houses and communities, meeting with some of the most amazing people (who offered us a meal), experiencing the local farm-lives, eating tasty home cooked food and sharing stories. I loved the simplicity and kindness that these people have and wished a lot more places were like this.
4. Trade a room in a hotel for a quaint homestay experience – there are many unique stay options available here and depending on your choice you can either stay in a tree house, or a bamboo house on a hill or an old traditional Konkani house on an estate. We chose to stay in an eco-village (homestay) with bamboo cottages atop a hill and enjoyed the gorgeous views of the Karli river and the Arabian sea and gorged on the tasty food lovingly prepared by our hosts. This eco-village is also amidst a small forest and we spent many hours walking through the various trails, enjoying the trees and the surrounding views, spotting various local birds and trying to identify the different species of trees and flowers.
5. Explore the local art, heritage and culture – This entire region was the seat of the Marathas and is still rich in its local arts, heritage and culture. There is still an abundance of forts (Sindhudurg, Vijaydurg), Palaces (especially the old Sawatwadi palace), rare temples (Sun Temple, tree temples), art of Ganjifa paintings, Pinguli pupetters, wooden toys of Sawantwadi, cashew and betel nut workshops and much more. The options are so many and each so unique that you are literally spoilt for choice and always end up short of time. My personal favorites were – visit to the Sun Temple, walking on the walls of the Sindhudurg fort and selecting the famous Sawantwadi wooden toys for all my nephews and nieces.
I would also urge you all to visit this paradise within the next two years as construction for a new international airport is ongoing in Chipi, close to Sindhudurg. Once that is complete this area will change and forever loose a lot of its local flavor and beauty.
Tips for Your Trip –
Time to Visit – This entire region can be visited all year round with several unique attractions for each season.
How to Reach –
By Air – You can fly to Goa and then drive for about 1.5 hours to the nearest village in Konkan. Please note that the driving time can vary depending on the village / beach you choose to stay in.
By Rail – This entire belt is accessible by a couple of trains of the Konkan Railways that connects Mumbai to Goa. You can disembark on the station closest to your place of stay.
By Road – There are several sleeper buses that ply overnight on the Mumbai-Goa highway. You can disembark on the highway in a town closest to your place of stay.
Where to stay – For your stay in Konkan, there are numerous villages and beaches to choose from. We chose the village of Parule, roughly 22 kms from the town of Sawantwadi, for our stay and booked Aditya Eco Village, Bhogwe. They have six bamboo cottages on a hill with gorgeous views of the Karli River and the Arabian sea beyond. You can reach them at – Aditya Bhogwe’s Eco Village (9423052022/9545430031/02366 269538; firstname.lastname@example.org) and be assured of great food, warm hospitality and all possible arrangements to help you make the most of your stay.