An off-beat destination and one of the hidden gems of India that very few people know about, the Konkan belt lies in the western region in the state of Maharashtra. This region is blessed with beautiful non-commercialized beaches, historic forts, scenic roads, jungles, villages and relaxing nature around. Not sure how to get there? Don’t worry – the places in the Konkan belt are well connected by road. The best time to visit is from October to March when the weather is cool and less humid. You may start your tour either from Mumbai or Pune and take a drive to Murud Janjira Fort (approx. 4.5 hours drive).
From here you may take a small diversion and drive around 2.5 hours to visit the strategically constructed hill fort of Raigad. From Raigad fort, continue your journey along the Konkan coastline to Harihareshwar beach (approx. 2.5 hours drive). Visit the ancient Ganesha Temple when you drive to Ganpatipule (approx. 5.5 hours drive). The temple is located right on the beach. Explore Sindhudurg Fort, temples and wonderful beaches as you arrive from Ganpatipule to Sindhudurg (approx. 3.5 hours drive). You may end your Konkan belt tour in Goa (approx. 3.5 hours’ drive) and fly back to your native place from Goa. So, let’s dig into what this region of India has to offer.
Murud Janjira Fort
Situated near Murud village, this majestic fort is a wonderful depiction of the fort architecture in western India. The 17th century Murud Janjira fort is considered as one of the strongest forts in India. For most of the 17th-18th century, the fort was under the control of Abyssinians who were migrants from today’s Ethiopia. This fort was attacked by the Marathas, the British, and the Portuguese, yet remained unconquered.
The fort is a testimony to the marvels of ancient engineering, as it stands entirely intact even today despite ravages of wind and tide. This offshore sea fort can be reached only by ferry (approx. 5-10 min ride each way). Rajapuri Jetty is the place from where you can hire boats to and fro the Murud Janjira fort. Inside the fort you can see the Darbar (The court area), bastion, lakes, Temples, Mosques and School. Placed inside the fort, see India’s three heaviest cannons named ‘Kalal Bangdi’, ‘Landa Kasam’ and ‘Chavri’ weighing over 22000 KG with a range of 12 KM and are heatproof. In monsoon, from June to September the fort is closed for visitors due to rough sea and heavy waves. This magnificent fort that withstood a number of invasions is worth a visit.
Located in the Sahyadri Mountain range, Raigad is a hill fort built by The Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He made this fort as his capital in 1674 when he was crowned King of a Maratha Kingdom. On arrival at the foothills of the fort, get buckled up for a mesmerizing hike up to the fort on the narrow path, surrounded by lush greenery and an amazing view of the mountain range.
Climb up to 1475 steps to reach the massive fort. One also has an option to reach the fort by a ropeway. Inside the fort one can see Samadhi (Tomb) of jijau & Jijau Palace (Mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj), Tiger Cave, Chitta Darwaja, Maha Darwaja (Entrance of the Fort), Iron Pole, Elephant Tank, Jagadishwar Temple, Samadhi of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Storage of arms & armours, Ganga Sagar Lake, and much more. The Raigad fort bears the heritage of the ancient Marathas. The huge entrance of the fort, the stone carved art all around the fort and the rock-solid structure takes one by surprise as to how perfect were the geometry skills and the architecture of the bygone era.
Harihareshwar is famous for the Harihareshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is this place where the River Savitri flows through the town and meets the Arabian Sea. Harihareshwar also holds religious significance as it is home to many temples of various deities like Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma. The most ancient temple of Maharashtra state is the Kalbhairav Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Hence, Harihareshwar is also called as “House of God”. The highlight of the town is the Harihareshwar Beach which will definitely soothe your soul. Take a refreshing early morning boat ride at the beach or if you wish you may indulge in water sports. You may also take a tour to nearby Bagmandla village which is historically linked with Peshwa’s. Here you may enjoy a ferry ride and visit Bankot fort. Evening you may spend a relaxing time at the secluded Shrivardhan Beach near to Harihareshwar.
Ganpatipule is home to 400-year-old Ganesha temple called Swayambhu Ganpati Temple that is located right on the beach. It is believed to be a self-manifested monolith of Lord Ganesha and said to be discovered 1600 years ago. The speciality of this temple is that the deity is placed in such a way that at the time of sunset a shaft of Sun rays lights up the idol. Explore and understand the traditional Konkan way of living at the Prachin Konkan Museum. The museum is set in 3 acres of lush green area. Take a walk in this heritage museum and unfold the original Konkan culture. Enjoy a coastal ride and spend some relaxing time at the beautiful, pristine Aare Ware beach. Experience the magnificent view of sunset over the golden sand on this beach.
Home to the ancient fortress Sindhudrug fort, built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1664 AD, Sindhudurg is taking a leap in Konkan tourism. This fort witnessed many battles and remained with the Marathas for many years and hence has a significant place in the history. Another major attraction of Sindhudurg is the Sawantwadi Palace. The palace houses a museum which showcases the silver throne of the royal Bhosale family. You may also see the Ganjifa Art at the palace which is still carried out from generations. Take a walk at peaceful Moti Talav (Lake) or if you wish you may also enjoy a boat ride or spend some relaxing time at the garden nearby. Also, visit 15th century Bandeshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the village of Banda near Sindhudurg. Spend your evenings at the Malvan beach or indulge in Scuba diving.
Jay Kajaria is Founder of Bespoke India Holidays. Bespoke India Holidays is an award-winning company that specialises in creating luxury trips to India and the subcontinent.