Not many people know that though my Surname is “Punjabi” I am a maharashtrian through & through. In fact, my mom was born in the “then village” and now city of Ratnagiri. My Grandmother has a house in Ratnagiri and most of my summer vacations have been spent in Ratnagir. To be honest, today, when I look back, those truly are the most cherished memories that I will carry in my heart forever!
So this December, after a last minute tragic denial of my South African Visa, we decided to spend some days with my Grandmother in Ratnagiri. To be honest, initially, I wasnt very happy with this development. But the minute I step foot into Ratnagiri, after 4 long years, it all came back to me….the smell of that red soil….the feel of the ocean in the air….the extraordinary seafood….and most importantly, my Grandmother’s love in each moment that we spent there.
Though I left Ratnagiri after staying for a couple of amazing days, Ratnagiri refused to leave my heart this time (I am actually having a splurge of emotion as I write this even!). So this is my ode to the amazing memories that this place has given me and also a good read about why you must visit this beautiful place!
Now, just like every place on this planet, Ratnagiri has evolved. It is not exactly the “village” that it used to be. Though you can call it a city, Ratnagiri has still manages to maintain that old school village charm which hardly any place does. It takes you back to those days as a kid when your only worry was that “Vacation will end in some days”. You will see upcoming or recently opened dominos and ccd’s but you will also see that “Usacha Raswala” (Sugarcane Juice wala) who has been sitting there for donkey years…right there…exactly that spot. In the whole hustle bustle of the city life, we have somewhere along the way, forgotten what it is to be truly happy and it is exactly these tiny little things of the “village life” that will remind you of them.
Where do I even start about the food in Ratnagiri. If you, like me, feel that the food in Goa is amazing, the food at Ratnagiri is 10 times better and yet 10 times cheaper! The seafood….OMG! You will, on a daily basis, find everything from the tiniest Mandeli to the biggest Lobster in the local Ratnagiri Fish market. To be honest, since we have a house there, we don’t really eat out too much and m fondest memories of the most amazing food we have here have been cooked at home. But a few places you must try the sea food at are “Amantran” and “Gomantak”. Apart from the seafood, you also get some damn good Bhel on the beaches of Ratnagiri which you must try!
Though it has never been glorified or even realized to its full potential, there are a lot of places that you can visit as a tourist in and around Ratnagiri. The beaches are so beautiful that you would trulu just want to spend days and days there and no matter how cliched it may sound, you must witness sunset on these beaches.
There is also a pretty great Light House which you must visit. I promise that you will be blown away. PS- the timings fr the lighthouse tour are 4pm – 5pm only!
There is also the Theeba Palace that you can visit and ofcourse, the very popular Ganapati Pule is just a 40 minute drive from Ratnagiri. Also, the road from Ratnagiri to Ganpati Pule is surreally scenic! Matches upto the Great Ocean Road of Australia even!
One thing you must not miss, if you want to live the essence of this place, is the “Shanivarcha Bazaar” (Saturday Market). Here not only will you find everything possible, you will also see what and how the people in ratnagiri live. The memory of trotting down the hustle and bustle of this market whilst clutching my aaji’s sarree is still so fresh and always brings a smile to my face.
What breaks my heart that inspite of there being so much to do and so much to see in these tiny villages in Maharashtra, we as tourists choose to travel abroad rather than experiencing the beauty in our very own country. I hope 2017 will change that to some extent and if this post contributes atleast 1% to that change, I will be more than just happy!
Until next time….