Get really excited about travelling to the Konkan.It's just a long single road that passes through villages and towns,lush green rice fields and peaceful rivers... and some mountains with breathtaking view.Went to Chiplun which is in the Ratnagiri district.One passes through the Raigad district which is named after the main fort of Shivaji.Today it is well known for its ropeways.Near the Raigad fort,is the Suvarna Ganesh Temple at Diveagar.The gorgeous solid gold Ganesh bust was found in a field by a farmer ploughing the land.It was then placed in a temple till recently, when dacoits stole this magnificent masterpiece.
Chiplun is on the banks of the Vashishti river.It has a whole lot of schools and is an industrial town.Close to Chiplun, lies the town of Dervan.Here is the temple which has "Maulas or soldiers of Shivaji guarding it.The temple here is known as Shri Samarth Gad and has a hall with stories about Shivaji's life on the walls.To enter the main temple,women must be clad in sarees.
At Chiplun,we stopped by the famous Abhishek restaurant whose walls are adorned by photographs of filmstars...everyone except Amitabh has been here,we were told.Even the Thackerays have been here.
Abhishek hotel is far away from the coast but gets its seafood from Guhaghar,Harne and Ratnagiri.Their staff of 70 are all taught how to cook all the dishes so there are never short staffed.The menu includes kingfish,Bombay duck,prawns,crabs and clams,cooked Malvani style.But one dish reminds you of the Far East....the popular Prawns Sisami...made with sesame :)
Wellknown theatre personality late Macchindra Kamble's photo is seen in the menu card.He made the Malvani dialect popular in plays.The menu card had a notice to patrons that brought a smile...."when there is a power cut,do not demand fan and AC"....sort of Puneri style!
What makes this place tick is 'gharguti jevan" or homestyle food.Fresh fish,tender meat,large portions and energizing flavors....but not spicy!
The Thalis come with Solkadi,curds and Pandhari Rassa.
Chapatis,rice and wades are served.Everytime I have visited,the place has been packed.Locals and travelers enroute to Goa
It being mango season we ventured to the market to get some.Only found one shop with small size mangoes.They were being sold cheaper if unripe.I bought two dozens.
One of my friends mentioned a breakfast item that's famous in the Konkan...it's called "Atval"...a thick rice porridge made of red rice that's filling and delicious.She also told me of "Dangar" or balls of papad dough made of poha,uraddal,chillies and hing.A simple accompaniment to spice up a meal.You will find many such items in the Konkan.Will wait for my next trip to discover more.....