Folks, continuing on from Deogarh on my Konkan Darshan trip, I now started again in the auto, driving back towards Tarkarli. Ganu now started telling me about the temple of Kunkeshwar, a lonely stretch of sand that simply sparkles in the sunlight. We approached this temple by the road that branched off at Jamsande. The drive has a grand finale when we neared the temple, as the panorama of undulating fields and swaying palms against the backdrop of a deep blue ocean unfolded beyond the auto’s windscreen.
Kunkeshwar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located just south of Devgarh, beyond the creek at Mumbri. Built by the Yadava rulers circa 1100 AD, this temple is renowned as a good example of contemporary temple architecture. It is said that Shivaji visited this temple on numerous occasions. Other than the temple, the beach on which it is located is also renowned for its serenity and beauty.
The locals here believe that once upon a time a merchant from Mumbai was caught in a storm at the sea, and as he prayed to God for help, he noticed a flicker of light far away in the sea. Following this light source he reached the beach and found that the light was coming from a DIYA lighted near a Shivalingam. Thanking God, he vowed to build a temple for Lord Shiva, here and that’s how the temple came into existence. That was a local belief – but today the temple is a massive structure and attracts thousands of locals all year round and especially during the Hindi month of Shravana.
After offering prayers to Lord Shiva, we headed for the Dhaba near the temple and had our lunch. It is the temple town, and as the Dhaba was near the temple, only vegetarian food was served and I thanked Lord Shiva for it. Ganu, later in the evening at Tarkarli told me that -he just could not believe that anyone can survive without rice and fish in Konkan – let him be a local or a tourist.
I wanted to be in Tarkarli well before Sunset so that I could get the hut, freshen up a bit, have a hot cup of tea, and then head for the beach and try to catch some breathtaking moments of the sunset in my camera.
All these beaches are part of one district in the Konkan region of Maharashtra- Sindhudurg (named after the famous fort itself). Besides the natural heritage, Sindhudurg also has a few craft pockets specialising in handloom weaving, pottery, painted woodwork, lacquerware, copperware, etc.
But Sindhudurg, one of the Maharasthra’s rapidly developing tourist attractions, offers much more than just the sun, sand and sea. It has a character quite different from the rest of India and this character is very truly reflected in the Konkani cuisine, which is a unique blend of simplicity and richness – the two constantly recurring notes being struck by coconut and fish. A traditional Konkani meal consists of rice and seafood, the coastal line explaining the preference for fish. The delectable Malvani cuisine including varied regional delicacies as the mouth-watering Misal, Sol-kadi, etc, are added attraction at any given time.
Sea-food lover’s paradise, Malvani cuisine is typical and spicy just like the Malvani language. Bhangda, Surmai, Prawns, crabs or any other fish depending on the season, is always the fresh catch of the day. Chaitanya, a ‘hole in the wall’ eatery in the Malvan market serves excellent seafood, generous helpings at reasonable prices.
Well, everything else is so beautifully and naturally designed that one tends to forget about time, but it is true that this place lacks in one aspect – comfortable places to stay around. Because of the proximity of this area to Goa – the tourists are rushing through to stay in Goa — and the fact that it is quite far away from big cities, like Mumbai and Pune, there aren’t many places to stay around here.
All in all, I enjoyed my stay at Tarkarli, from the local Malvani cuisine to the lovely drive north to visit the Kunkeshwar temple and the forts of Devgarh and Vijaydurgh. I highly recommend that you visit this coastal paradise, rich in history and heritage. So friend here ends our trip to Maharashtra’s Konkan coast. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed being there. Cheers!