Friday, 28 August 2015

Walking in the Konkan Rains – Monsoon Mania in Ratnagiri

Konkan knows how to do monsoons. Living in North, you have forgotten the magic of rains. So before you forget what monsoons are all about and before Konkan too forgets what monsoons are all about with the climate changes and all, it is time you went and saw and experienced the monsoons yourself. The trip will have only one objective - enjoy the rains up, close and personal. It is going to be a week of only greenery and flowers and water flowing on the streets, water in puddles, water dancing down from the skies, water gurgling in rivulets, water raining on the sea and water crashing down from the hills.

The Beautiful Snake Gourd Flower (Trichosanches Cucumarina)

You pick Ratnagiri for your first walk in the rains and boy is it magical! Overcast sky greets you on your first day in Ratnagiri. You cannot help smiling. Heritage and other attractions in Ratnagiri are simply going to be incidental. Everything is perfect- or is it?

Allamanda Blanchetii or Purple Allamanda Flower that belongs to Apocynaceae or Oleander family

Tridax Procumbence - a weed

Mimosa Pudica - lovingly called chui mui as the leaves fold when touched

And the rain gods oblige. It is the kind of rain you remember from the days Delhi used to have monsoons. There is a slight breeze that seems to choreograph the rain into that languorous dance that kind of makes you want to sit on a park bench and lose yourself in the performance. After every performance, the rain pauses as if to catch its breath. The pause never lasts too long. And soon enough the dark clouds roll in. The choreographer up there treats you to another exhilarating performance. This pattern repeats itself every hour you are in Konkan. Today as you walk in the general direction towards the Thibaw Palace, the destination is not important. You want to feel the present. It is the delights by the road that interest you.

I could have never imagined the walls, the roofs and even tree trunks completely overgrown with green; there is moss, there are creepers, there are ferns, and there are some more ferns with beautiful coloured veins on them and then there are these flowers with dew dripping, these are flowers that I swear I have never seen before, and all these gold blessed sights leave me feeling lost in this Konkan wonderland and just to be sure I keep checking over my shoulder; yes this is a just a regular road with vehicles and with houses and with students with backpacks smiling and playing hookey with their giggling partners, and there is even garbage here even as the fern leaves try to camouflage it; so ok yes that clinches it, this is a regular road in India and I am here, and I have no idea how this happened that I am here in this heavenly place but I am sure some cosmic miracle took place in the universe and there was this flash of lights, lights that could give me a seizure just looking at them and then there is a clap of thunder and I am here in this gold blessed place

as I balance the umbrella with one hand, and with the other hand I try to put the viewfinder to the eye but the humidity is fogging up my glasses so I try to push up the glasses to the forehead where the cap visor wont let them stay put so I push the cap up and again push the glasses up and again bring the viewfinder to my eyes and try to click but the goddern shutter would not click and I am seized with this panic and invoke God that this could not be happening to me, God how could you do this to me, come on for godsake I am in Konkan after this cosmic miracle and the dern camera wont click and you know god I am not the kind of person who does not care about photos and says it is the memories that I carry home that count, to me it is the photos that I carry back that

help me carry the memories back when my synapses fail to complete the circuit with my memory centre in the brain it is the photos that take me back and help me knit a story and so for a moment I forget the rains, the ferns and the flowers and the love crossed kids who seem to be smirking at me now as I look at the camera as if it is a goddern piece of wood block I just picked up from the side of the road and then I punch the buttons and scroll through the menu and change modes and then that cosmic thing comes back to help one last time and the goddern synapses connect and I remember a friend showing me the manual setting on the lens and I toggle it to M and try to move the little lens appendage and I seem to hear the tiny focus sound, oh god that godblessed sound sounds so sweet so now I hold the umbrella stalk between the shoulder and neck and push the cap up and push the glasses up even as I adjust the lens with one hand and with the other hand press the shutter and this time it clicks and the photo is not looking bad either and I again seem to notice the rain tapping on the umbrella, the ferns with coloured veins, the houses, the towers of local Doordarshan and AIR and  the rain and the flowers are again looking beautiful and I say a quite thanks to the friend who showed me to shoot in the manual mode and who by another miracle has just saved my trip that probably happened because of a gold blessed cosmic miracle when lights flashed and skies thundered.

Stairway to Heaven
Opposite the Thibaw Palace stairs go down to the fishing village below at the foot of the cliff by the sea. The steps covered with moss seem to lead straight to heaven.

View of Kajali River and Kajali Mangroves, Ratnagiri

Residences of bureaucrats overlooking the bay of Ratnagiri
On the way to Jijamata Garden the views of the bay are priceless. Mangroves grow thick here seemingly creating islands of water in the greenery. The houses of the district bureaucrats occupy the prime estate on the hill abutting the sea just beyond.

View of Fishing Village in the Kajali River. Bridge leading to Bhatye Beach can be seen in the distance - Ratnagiri

Jijamata Garden under beautiful looking rain bearing clouds

Spot the Butterfly!

No, we are not going anywhere; we want to stay in Ratnagiri

Jijamata Garden is ticketed with the standard tiled fountains that don’t seem to work anymore. But the views of the sea and the flowers and butterflies more than make up for it. There are some children rides here which might start whirring around in the evenings.

Even a cactus can’t resist from flowering in this weather

Yes such houses do exist!

Just looking at these dream like houses you could settle down in Ratnagiri - unimaginable but yes these houses are in middle of the town.

Trip to Ratnagiri is incomplete without riding in the colourful auto rickshaws

I mean I have seen some gold blessed things in my travels but then sometimes even things like auto rickshaws make me wonder if this was all planned in the big scheme of things or one day somebody decides to put these beautiful, I mean really beautiful, curtains in the autos and then the entire fraternity of autos picks it up and here we have all autos in Ratnagiri wearing these wonderful saffron curtains and while it rains outside, the nice driver puts these covers on either doors and spreads these curtains and now as we go rocking these curtains throw such beautiful shadows inside and I feel as if I am in a palace in Jaisalmer or something but it is not this green outside in Jaisalmer or rains so much there but I just want to forget the world outside and want to lie inside even as it rains more and

even if  I want to go see Thibaw Palace but right now I am wondering when was the last time that dern curtains made me so happy and then I wonder is this because of these happy curtains that Ratnagiri has such friendly auto rickshaw drivers, because an auto driver just drove me from Ratnadurg, where he had come to pray to Shree Bhagwati Devi, into the city and did not charge me and which leads me to think if I could talk to the auto association in Delhi and distribute these curtains to auto drivers here so that passengers and the driver themselves could feel happy when they go rocking on Delhi streets but all this thinking is making me miss the present and I am like to hell with the auto drivers in Delhi, let me just soak in this experience for even I am not sure if God intended only the Ratnagiri autos to be this happy so I will assume its one-off phenomenon and that I will have my fill of this godblessed interior even if god does not mean me to sit in another happy auto like this all my life and as I go puddling on the streets I am as happy as all the auto drivers in Ratnagiri with those beautiful curtains.

And this is just couple of hours of rainwalking in the middle of a city in Konkan. In the next few days, rains of Konkan weave magic around you and cast a sweet & wet spell. The rain sings to you all day long, the rain lulls you to sleep, you wake up smiling listening to the falling drops. Meals have never been this leisurely as you sit by the window looking out to the rain outside. You cannot have enough of the heaven's bounty from the skies. You experience it all - rain on the beach, rain on the fort ramparts, rain as you go discovering churches, rain as the train clatters through glistening forests and green fields and misty hills and rain as you sit in the auto rickshaws with these beautiful curtains. Konkan you are beautiful - let this magic continue for ever. And, yes, let it rain!  

Post Inspired by Hirsch who went cycling around India in 2009. He wrote dern delightful accounts of his gold blessed adventures at 

Hirsch bro, wherever you are, hope it’s a special place with lots of marshmallows, ladybugs and dewy flowers

Getting There: Ratnagiri lies on the south west coast of Maharashtra on the Mumbai-Goa highway and is well connected by trains from Mumbai. Ratnagiri is about about 350 kms from Mumbai and 300 kms from Pune. In Ratnagiri you can hire auto rickshaws to take you around the town and to the fort. The Jijamata Garden will offer you spectacular views of Arabian Sea and Bhatye Beach. Other attractions are the Ratnadurg with its Lighthouse and Thibaw Palace, now turned into a museum.


  1. This post is one of a kind,very different from your regular ones.Should the credit go to Hirsch or to the manual mode whatever be the reason the smells, sounds, hues of Ratnagiri are conveyed with lot of feeling and one feels like walking in the rain once again.
    Only request if you could name few more plants or mimosa atleast!!

    1. Hi Mimosa,

      Yes let the credit go to Hirsch! The camera really gave a tough time on this trip but in the bargain got to learn few more things about photography!

      I am sure rains still continue in Konkan - do take that walk in the rains!

      And yes, the Mimosa or Chui Mui has been named - Thanks!


  2. Loved all the pics of different and beautiful flowers drenched in rain !! The snail click is is depicting that not only you love the rains they are out too. Lovely description by you as always !! When the camera stopped working god wanted you to probably just sink in for a while in the charisma of nature. Your struggle with the machine was really empathetic... but magic did happen and here we are seeing your clicks !! Keep Travelling and unraveling the mysteries of nature !! Best luck....

    1. Hi Leena,

      Thanks for visiting and writing in!

      Yes Konkan is truly incredible in the rains. It seems everything - plants, creatures everyone is celebrating the life nurturing rains. Yes, sometimes at the cost of clicking, we tend to forget to experience the present moments. These days I do try to take it easy and lose myself in the moment.

      Thanks again and do plan to go and experience the magic of the monsoons in the Konkan.