Ganapatipule is a sleepy hamlet in the Ratnagiri district of southwest Maharashtra in India, around 375 km off Mumbai by road. Untouched by commercialism, the pastoral beauty of the village is enhanced manifold by the six kilometers of virgin beach on the breathtaking Konkan coastline.
The locals believe that Ganapatipule is blessed. They say that in an age when men were devout and miracles were the norm, the scriptures talked of four Dwardatas (welcoming deities) to the sub-continent, and they marked Ganapatipule as the western deity.
Legend has it that during 16th century AD, a villager seeking refuge from the skirmishes around his tiny village, arduously made his way through the kerda jungles and stumbled upon Lord Ganapati's idol here, around which he made a temple. For four hundred years thereafter, generation upon generation of villagers, who came from elsewhere and started living there, cared for and added to the shrine and made it into the temple one sees today.
The temple at Ganapatipule lies picturesquely at the foot of one of the two ticketed hills and next to a glorious beach. Ganapatipule is called so because of the temple of Lord Ganesh or Ganapati (the elephant headed deity) built on the fine white sand or pule.
The idol placed in the sanctum sanctorum or the Garbhagriha has been painstakingly preserved. At sunrise and sunset, a shaft of golden light penetrates the Garbhagriha and illuminates the idol.
The hill itself is considered sacred and people perform pradhikshina (a sacred ritual of encircling) of the hill, which is made possible by the rock-encircled path. A perennial spring flows from the hill to a pond beside the temple.
The rhythmic beat of the nagaras (a percussion instrument) every morning at the temple awakens the placid village. Amidst the entrancing beat, prayers are offered. The chaughadas (percussion instruments) are played in the evenings, signaling the time when the smaller idol's clothes are changed and the last naivyadham (sweet offerings) are made along with mantra-pushpa. This is also when the priest holds a flower in his hand while chanting incantations before the idol is put to bed.
From atop the hill, one has an idyllic view of a small creek that winds its way across the beach and goes behind the hill. This natural curve is very interesting and one can wade on foot across the two shoals of the creek. Rowboats provide hours of enjoyment and the sight inland is one of swaying palm trees and the jungles.
Places Around Ganapatipule
One can walk around the village over a rough road to Malgund village where the renowned Marathi poet Keshav Sut was born. The backwaters here abound in brilliant blue fish, and the paddy fields with the long legged, long beaked Sarus cranes. Malgund is a larger village than Ganapatipule and boasts of a market place, petrol station, auto-rickshaws, and other facilities at a convenient distance from Ganapatipule.
Bhandarpule on the other side is another beautiful beach village, serene, clean and as easy to fall in love with as Ganapatipule and a must for explorers.
Fairs & Festivals
Six times in a year, the temple becomes the hub of grand activity. Come Bhadrapad (end-august-mid September) and the festivities commence and continue for five days. The villager's and pilgrims join enthusiastically in a procession honoring the Lord. The smaller idol of Ganapati is placed in an ornate palanquin, and carried on the shoulders of the devotees through the village.
How To Reach
By Air - The nearest airport is Ratnagiri around 50 km away.
By Rail - The nearest railway station is Ratnagiri on the Konkan Railway Network.
By Road - There are regular as well luxury buses running from Mumbai 375, km away and Pune, 144 km to Ganapatipule. Most of the time, journeys are overnight and one can reach Ganapatipule by morning.