Friday, 19 May 2006

Who hasn't heard of Ratnagiri ?

Famed for its Alphonso/Hapus Mangoes....

The drive from Mumbai (Bombay) was 8 hours long with a couple of breaks along the way, but the scenery more than made up for the long journey. I hear the train journey has some beautiful views too.

We stayed at the wonderful "Kokanes Kohinoor Samudra Resort" Located on the Ratnagiri - Pawas Coastal Highway, its away from the city, situated on a cliff, sprawling over 2 kilometres from end-to-end, it has the most brilliant view from every room in the multiple buildings.

The town of Ratnagiri is pretty small & so easy to navigate after driving around in Mumbai.
We first headed towards the Thibaw Palace - which was built for the exiled King & Queen of Burma (now Myanmar) in 1910-11. They lived here until they died. This would be a familiar name for those who have read "Amitav Ghosh's - The Glass Palace"

It has also been partly converted into a museum. The museum is rather pitiful as it has only 4 rooms. One on the ground floor which has some old sculptures salvaged from the Ratnadurg Fort. The 3 rooms on the first floor have some old, badly damaged copper vessels, old photographs and the last room is an attempt to recreate the grandeur of the palace. The sad part of it is that, although the furniture is still solid (being made of Burma Teak) the furnishings are terrible. Synthetic bright curtains drag your attention away from the intricate light fixtures.

These 4 rooms and 2 used for offices are currently the only usable rooms in the palace. there are plans to renovate & strengthen the remaining buildings. Hopefully it will be sensibly done.

A short drive away is the scenic Thibaw Point

Do stop here for some wonderful views and to click some really outstanding pictures.

If you are already hungry, a quick drive away is Hotel Amantran which serves up the most amazing Malvani food. At approximately Rs.65/- for a Non-vegetarian thali, you can't beat the price either. The food is much better than the Mahesh's, Gajalees & Highway Gomatak's. Its that great. And the sea food is absolutely fresh & comes from relatively unpolluted waters.

Then take a slightly longer drive to the Ratnadurg Fort. Start with a visit to the Bhagwati Mandir

On the way to the Fort, if you pass throught the city you will see the Majestic Shivaji on a Rearing Horse.

The Ratnadurg Fort itself has a lot of crags, nooks & corners. There are brilliant views to be seen from certain vantage points. But be careful & look out for crumbling rocks.

You will be able to see the Lighthouse in the distance. If you are so inclined you can even travel upto it.

Another sight is the Ratnagiri Cement Factory and Jetty

If The Indian Freedom Struggle and its fighters interests you, Ratnagiri is the birthplace of both Sri Lokmanya Tilak & Veer Savarkar. Both their houses are within a few feet of each other within the city.

Sri Lokmanya Tilak's Janmasthan has been converted into a museum in his honor. It is open through the day. The house has been preserved as it is. And its a pleasure to walk barefoot on the cowdung smeared natural flooring. His topi & a few clothes are also on display within the museum.

Sri Veer Savarkar's house has been turned into a kind of library which is only open between 4 & 6 pm.

Round up the day with a nice quiet evening on the beach, Ratnagiri is famed as the "Black and White Beaches Some beaches in the area have black sand and the others have white. The tide here is quite reliable and you can bathe in these waters.

There are a lot more temples and other places to explore in Ratnagiri if you are so inclined. you can also make a lot of short excursions to nearby places like Ganapatipule, Pawas, Dapoli, Guhagar, Karde, Murud and Ladghar

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