Ratnagiri – The Jewel on the Western Coast of India
I spent my entire childhood in Chiplun, a town near Ratnagiri. And since last few years Ratnagiri has been my hometown. Having spent so many years of my life here, Konkan has a special place in my heart. For me, this place is heaven. What won’t you find here!? Roaring clouds and raging rains in monsoon, lush green landscapes, the sea and beautiful beaches, diverse wild life, flora and fauna, incredibly tasty seasonal fruits like mangoes, jackfruits, berries, the fresh fish, exotic local dishes, Konkani festivals like Shimagā and the quiet life. Konkan is pure bliss!
Sea waves crashing on the rocks
So when I started this blog, my initial posts were bound to be about Konkan and Ratnagiri. If you google Ratnagiri, you’ll find plenty of resources for places to visit. Depending on what kind of traveller/visitor you are you’d want to visit some of them. However, this post is about some of the interesting things/places in the city which are not obviously mentioned in most articles.
Lighthouse and the outer wall of Ratnadurg:
Most tourists coming to Ratnagiri invariably visit Ratnadurga. It’s difficult not to miss this landmark. However, what almost everyone misses is the interesting features this area holds in its belly (literally!.. Read on). There is a lighthouse that is easily seen on the southern end of the fort. The beacon on this lighthouse can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Adorned on the outer hillock of the Ratnadurga fort this lighthouse is one of the best places around the city that offers a spectacular view of the sprawling Arabian sea and the city of Ratnagiri. Unfortunately it’s open only for an hour between 4pM and 5PM and would be closed during rains. For a small charge, one can also carry a camera. Nonetheless, an interesting off-beat place to visit. If you follow the outer wall of the fort from here all the way till the north end, you can get another interesting view of the Ratnagiri harbour. Along the way, near the Hanuman temple, you’ll also be able to check out the ancient doorway in the rampart and a view of the city over the patch of jungle.
Secret tunnel of Ratnadurg:
If you’re like me, you won’t mind walking a bit. If you walk about a mile down the hill from the outer rampart towards the Ratnadurg fort, over the cliff, you can see a big cave at the base of the fort and a spectacularly carved out path in the rock for movement of dhows. If you plan your visit during low tide, this carved path is better visible. You can use this tide estimator, which is fairly accurate even if Ratnagiri is not a listed city. This cave is the mouth of a tunnel that runs all the way up the hill inside the fort. This end of the tunnel is now closed. This used to be a secret way into and out of the fort.
Thebaw Palace and the annual Art Circle festival:
The Thebaw palace (and the Thebaw point) is a well known landmark pretty close to the city, though a bit on the outskirts. The story of the palace is also intriguing. The Thebaw palace hosted the King of Myanmar and his entire family exiled by the British. Author Amitav Ghosh does mention many stories of king Thebaw in his book The Glass Palace. Currently the whole palace is under renovation and it should be open to all from the summer of 2018, but the rich Burmese teakwood work and the facade still do tell the story of that era in silence. There also is a small museum at the back. If you love Indian classical music, and you’re visiting Ratnagiri in late winters, you’d be able to attend the annual performance arts festival. It is held in the courtyard of the Thebaw palace and the whole atmosphere becomes magical with the tunes of musical instruments and the classical Ragas. Usually this is arranged around the third weekend of January. In 2017, this festival completes its 10 years, so it’s going to be even more exciting.
Mysterious old wells no one knows about:
Ratnagiri is a city situated along the slope of a hill and it has these mysterious old wells in a stretched, comparatively flatter plateau area. These ancient rectangular wells, now dry, are constructed approximately in a straight line and are supposedly connected to each other by underground channels. Nobody really knows much about these wells. Many of these wells are becoming difficult to spot these days, because of the increasing urban constructions around. But I once tried to track these and counted six. There might be more, some say twelve! Find these and peek inside to find the connecting passage at the bottom.
Patit Pawan temple:
Ratnagiri is a historic city. One of the landmarks in the city is the Patit Pawan Mandir built by the freedom fighter V. D. Savarkar . It’s not at all an architectural marvel or not even close to any of the beautiful temples. But it has a historical importance. This is the first temple in India that was opened to people of all casts, creed and religion alike. One of the shackles that prevents the society from progressing is discrimination based on a person’s origin. Savarkar showed courage to change that and I always feel inspired by this place.
When you come to Ratnagiri, do try these places 😉