Konkan Travel Guide

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Makarand Hartalkar

'Konkan' is the coastal region of Maharashtra state linning the Arabian sea. It extends from north to south and is made up of the districts of Thane, Mumbai, Raigad, Ratnagiri & Sindhudurg. The Konkan region is seperated from the rest of the state by the Sahyadri mountain range also known as the western ghats. This region has remained in isolation (thankfully) for a long time for lack of proper means of transport. About ten years ago (around early 90s), this region opened up with the advent of the 'Konkan railway' - the rail route that connects Mumbai (Bombay) with the entire western coast of India. 'Konkan railway' in itself is an unparalleled achievment of engineering excellence for India involving construction of several bridges and tunnels through its entire run across the state. 

The region boasts of a unique culture that is unlike any other region in the country. People are quite friendly and hospitable. There are several places of geographical, cultural and architectural interest in the Konkan region. Most places offer long stretches of unexplored beaches, which have a serene character without much commercialisation.

From north to south, Vangaon, Tarapur, Dahanu, Chincholi, Kihim, Alibaug (not so interesting anymore), Nagaon, Revdanda, Kashid, Murud Janjira, Dighi, Shrivardhan, Harihareshwar, Murud Harne, Anjarla, Devgarh, Ganpati Pule, Ratnagiri, Malvan, Vengurla, Ubha danda, Sagareshwar & Terekhol are just a few coastal towns from where one could enjoy an interesting dialogue with the endless ocean. Amongst places of cultural interest, there are a large number of temples and temple complexes spread all over the region, most of which are at least 100 years old. Along with the temples, there are quite a few places connected with the political history of Maharashtra such as forts and palaces built during the rule of the Marathas (the great Maratha warrior prince - Shivaji & then the Peshwas). The forts of Arnala, Vasai, Alibag, Janjira, Raigad, Vijaydurg & Sindhudurg offer an insight into the history of the region along with splendid views of unexplored landscape / seascape. The

Mumbai (Bombay) and Thane are highly commercialised cities and these districts do not have much to offer. Chiplun & Ratnagiri are two strategically located and fast-developing towns south of Mumbai. These are the only two major commercial towns (or cities?) in the region. Kudal & Kankavli in the south & Mahad in the north are also trying to catch up with development. However, fortunately, most parts in the districts of Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg have managed to remain free from commercialisation and adulteration of the landscape. Travelling through these districts of the Konkan region is an experience in itself.

Do not expect luxorious resorts and exotic seaside getaways. There are quite a few motels and lodges and occassionaly a few good (but not so great resorts) dotting the region. Most motels are situated along the busy Mumbai-Goa national highway. These usually cater to the local tourists and trade travellers. The state-run MTDC - Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation runs a few (so-called) resorts at Malvan, Ratnagir, Ganpatipule and Kihim. These however are badly managed and in most cases poorly equipped.

However, if you can take care of yourself and manage to spend a few nights without much comfort and luxory, then you are in for a wonderful experience. A journey to this region with a wealth of natural resources is well worth compromising on comfort for a few days. Malwani food is fast becoming famous across the country. If fish is your favourite, start packing your bags. Go, indulge into one of the most unique travelling experiences in India!

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