My first visit to Dapoli was about 6 years after my marriage. It so happens that my wife’s native place is near Dapoli, due to which our visits started.
Dapoli is in Ratnagiri district which lies in Kokan area of Maharashtra. As most of you are aware, the Kokan is one of the most picturesque places in Maharashtra, blessed as it is, with miles of beaches, greenery of the top order, and an undulating landscape.
Dapoli is known as the Mahabaleshwar of the Kokan, since it is blessed with a mild climate and situated at a height. It was very popular with the British, who had their army camp here.
Let’s go on a tour of Dapoli and the surrounding towns and places of interest. Join me!
Let’s go in the same order as I visited them. The first town is the beach facing, Murud. Please note that this Murud is different from Murud-Janjira. We had stayed in one of the beach facing resorts where the waves almost lap at your legs. If you want to spend your holidays lazing at the beach, hanging on a hammock tied between two coconut trees, this is the place you want to be in. If this is not heaven, I don’t know what is.
For the adventurous, the nearby beach of Karde village is the answer. There is a huge choice of the best water sports ranging from the common, speed boat pulled parachutes (parasailing), where you will be flying and feeling the sea wind against your face, to the sea-sofa. This is an unique experience, where, literally a air-filled sofa is attached to a speedboat, and you are supposed to catch hold of a few straps attached to the sofa and hold on, as the speedboat drags the sofa, with you hanging on for dear life. Believe me, it’s a thrilling and adrenaline pumping experience. And safe too, since you don’t enter the sea waters without a life jacket. And all the other water sports are available too.
For those, not inclined to enter the water themselves, but would rather enjoy other species doing it, you can always go dolphin watching, early in the morning. This will certainly act as great stress buster.
For the foodie minded, are sure to enjoy the wide variety of fish platters on offer. And these fish dishes can be had, fried or with curry, sitting on the beach, enjoying the hot afternoon sun.
For those with devotional mindset, Murud has a beautiful medieval temple dedicated to Durga Devi. Nearby, is a memorial to the great social reformer, Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve.
Murud is also known as Murud-Harnai. Harnai, a neighbouring village known for the fish auction taking place at Harnai bunder and also for the sea fort, Suvarnadurg, situated a mile away from the mainland. Nearby, is the village of Anjarle and the Anjarle beach.
But Anjarle is more famous for the Ganpati mandir, situated on a hilltop overlooking the beach, hence also known as ‘kadyavarcha Ganpati’. The Mandir is, of course beautiful and peaceful, and when you drive from Dapoli to the Mandir, you pass through winding roads, and climb small hills overlooking magnificent vistas of the Arabian Sea. The panoramic view of the beaches and sea, seen from the vantage point of the hill, will stay with you forever.
Asud is one village, which should not be missed, when you are anywhere near Dapoli, and with good reason too. Situated at a distance of just 8 km. from Dapoli, on the road to Murud, it is famous for the ancient temples of Keshavraj and Shree Vyagreshwar. Once you park your car on the road side, and enter the village, you are transported to a different world, where work related or any other stress, just evaporates, as you start walking down the hill, on a winding path, covered by a canopy of coconut, betel and jackfruit trees, planted so densely together, that the rays of the Sun, cannot penetrate, even during the main summer months.
The coolness of the place is enhanced by softly running streams of water, which have been channeled through rocks, an ingenious piece of aquatic engineering. Once you reach the bottom of the hill, you cross the main stream and then again start climbing the ancient steps, ushering you to the temple built on top of another hill. Once you reach the top, the ancient temple embraces you into its structure and provides you with cool water trickling down the Gomukh, for your parched throat. The silence of the serene surroundings is broken only by the chirping of the birds. Shree Vyaghreshwar mandir is situated on the riverbank and houses the Swayambhu Shivling. Asud village is certainly a must-visit.
Jump on a vehicle on the way to Dabhol, and reach the Chandikadevi Mandir, just before you enter the town of Dabhol. This temple, dedicated to goddess Chandika, is underground inside a natural cave. You are not supposed to carry any light inside, and the only an oil lamp allows you to take darshan.
It’s a real experience when you enter the temple for the very first time. Once you enter, the darkness envelopes you, as you feel your way inside. You proceed like this for sometime , and then the dim oil lamp near the main idol guides you, suddenly you are in her presence. This temple is known to be very ancient.
Dapoli has one of the biggest Krishi Vidyapeeth or Agricultural University in India. There are many nurseries too, Amrute Nursery and Koparkar nursery, to name a few. Blessed with a good climate and fertile land, the nurseries of Dapoli offer a wide variety of flowering and decorative plants. The Amrute nursery also has staying arrangements, though not on a large scale. Don’t miss having lunch or dinner at Amrute nursery, whether veg or non-veg. I had the tastiest foods here and you should too, though advance intimation needs to be given.
The ST stand is just on the exit road going out of Dapoli and is flanked by a huge ground. The roads are tree lined and offer shaded roads. There is a lots on offer in Dapoli and the surrounding villages. So friends, Chalo Dapoli!