Travel is that last piece of cake which will always tempt you to have more. There’s a feeling about a place that gets trapped inside you after you escape yourself from the regular affairs of your busy life and let yourself indulge with nature. After all, silence and solitude are the best ways to communicate with the earth. We introduce you to a place, so beautiful and serene that it will sooth you to the bottom of your soul. Sawantwadi, a small town in the midst of the Konkan Valley is a painting of an artist that has come to life. The simplicity and calmness in the surrounding will make you breathe something more than air. For a Mumbaikar desperate to escape the hot humid summer, this could be a perfect destination to relieve you over a short weekend.
Location - Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra Distance from Mumbai – 587 kms Local transport – Buses, Rickshaws, Tangas
I recalled in my mind, the picture of the scenic beauty and simplicity of the serene town that I had left behind as I headed back towards the crowded roads and busy life of Mumbai. Sawantwadi, a village located in the midst of the Konkan valley of Maharashtra is a perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the metro cities. It is a pioneer for keeping alive the craft, the Mughal treasure, Ganjifa. I slid my hand into my bag and pulled out a pack of Ganjifa cards which I had bought with me as a fond memory of my visit to Sawantwadi. I carefully looked into the round disc-like cards of Ganjifa with the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu painted on them. My eyes widened as I measured the intricacy of these designs on the cards. It pleased me to quickly pen down the beauty and uniqueness of the craft.
Ganjifa inscribes the incarnations of lord Vishnu on the cards with delicate details. Each card holding a lot of skill and hard work, every bit of paint is put with extreme care by the craftsmen. A single deck contains 120 cards which includes 2 suit cards with the incarnation painted on them and 10 numerical cards depicting the symbol of the incarnation on it.
The Sawantwadi palace is a heritage property of the royal family of the region, the Bhonsles. Rani Satvasheela Devi is the last survivor of the royal family who still resides in the palace. The palace is constructed using laterite stone and is around 500 years old. Opposite to the palace, is the beautiful lake called Moti Talao around which the city is built. The scenic view from the palace is so magnificent, the stretch of the landscape is filled with colours of nature. Narendra Park, Narendra Hill, Vithal Temple and Hanuman Temple are other attractions of this town. Ganesh Temple is known or its fine and beautiful sculptures.
Stepping into the traditional culture of the place, you can experience distinct continental cuisines here. Malvani food is the local cuisine which is famous for its spicy flavour of curries and fries. You can taste fusion of Malvani and Konkani cuisine including specialities like Konkani style fishes and Kokum juice which is exceptionally refreshing during summers. The other staple foods include solkadi, rice, nachni bread, curry, vegetables and dried fish.
10 kms away from Sawantwadi is the beautiful hill station of Amboli which is a natural splendour. This precious ecological hotspot, enriched with treasures of flora and fauna. Situated at an altitude of 690 metres above the sea level, it comprises of dense forest which makes the ambience cool and refreshing. This place turns majestic when the waterfalls gush down the hilly terrain. The flora seems like dancing to the sound of the rain when monsoon arrives this region. Seeing the vibrant colours of the greenery around will make you promise yourself another visit to this place. Some places just can be fully appreciated without experiencing the magic that flows in its breeze.
Craft and Creativity
Since centuries, this town has treasured its cultural entities and retained the skill to develop beautiful handicrafts. Chitaris, a group of artists have kept alive the art of hand painting ancient playing cards called Ganjifa and creating lacquer-ware. The Moti-Talav on one side is surrounded by a local market called the Raghunath market with shops known for selling local wooden toys and artificial fruits made of lac. These beautiful handmade entities can be kept as a memory of your visit to the place.
As I unlocked the door of my house in silence, I thought to myself thinking about the craftsmen. ‘Some heroes aren’t as we know them, they do not fly, they have no muscles, but they can disappear.’