Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Harne-Murud - what to do, see, eat and more.

Harne-Murud is a small fishing town. Most of the livelihood comes from fishing, hapoos/alphonso mangoes and offlate, tourism. There isn't much to do here.

My extended family hails from harne-murud as per the last recorded origin in our genealogy book. The temple of 'durga devi', our family deity brought us here. 

Durga Devi temple:

The temple was built way back in 18th century. This was my second visit here and in the span of 3 years I saw ample transformation in the tourist traffic that went from a trickle to a flow, and the change in the temple complex.
The priest here is friendly, just like me; after all we share the same surname: D He along with his wife try and keep the temple spic-and-span.  The temple itself is small and over the years has become more beautiful because of the constant maintenance, especially the paintings on the wall and pillars.

Like most temples, this one is run by its trustees. One story goes like the majority trustees overpowered the trustee belonging to the family who started this temple. The used the funds from donations to build a prayer/function area adjacent to the entrance of the temple. In this pursuit the beauty of the temple structure hides behind the new shoddy prayer hall. Needless to say when I looked at it, I felt sad. For our own selfish reasons like power and money, we spoil God's home.

However, after having said my prayers, sitting in silence in the temple courtyard and enjoying the peace, I was relieved to feel the energy back. Luckily, selfish reasons had not changed the sanctity and purity of this place and the belief my family and many others have in the Durga deity. 

A lot of the activities - both spiritual and cultural- happen around the temple, much like in most small towns in India. It is a landmark and a meeting place for the locals. The beach is a mere 5 minutes walk from here. That's where the real action lies - on the shore, in the air and underwater!

The Beach

The sun rises late on this western sojourn and sets later still. The beach here isn’t the prettiest, but it certainly is one of the less inhabited one’s. It is quite clean and fairly empty except in the mornings and evenings. The mornings are dominated by the hustle of the fishing boats, the occasional local, the interested tourist and the sporadically drawn calm. The evenings are livelier.

Mind you, this is a typical Indian beach where the tourists come prepared with a change of clothes after the morning swim, something the locals are hardly bothered about. Children are woken up before sun rise for the customary family time at beach, photography included! Post bath and breakfast is the apparent quality-family time: local sight-seeing, temple trot, food sampling etc. The evenings bring with them the usual session of playing catch, building sand castle, camel ride (perhaps they took the ship of the dessert to mean a ship!) and eating/drinking the street food. If you thought the beach seemed action-less, concentrate on the shore, the air and underwater!

Some locals have started para-gliding on the beach. Strategically located near the temple, it gives you some airy high for a decent Rs. 500. I had to forcibly give this a miss thanks to my weighty issues while my cousin enjoyed the whole experience. I do not know how safe their gear is, but if you’re ready to take on some risk, I recommend this activity! Be at the beach in the evening, spot the glider in the air, follow the cord tied from the glider to the jeep, approach the jeep-wala, strike the deal and go zooming!

Let me remind you that Murud is a small fishing town. But there are many ‘not so small’ fish in the sea here. Get into one of the many boats parked at the shore at the break of dawn and you can go Dolphin spotting. The temperature and the other geography of this area make the seas here a good breeding ground for grey and black dolphins. The typical boat seats about 10 people and is motor operated. They take the keen tourists around for 45 minutes for dolphin spotting.

I was first a little apprehensive seeing the big waves and the basic boat. Sea sick-ness was another concern. But as our boat zoomed into the sea and we got a glimpse of a dolphin’s snout, all apprehensions were forgotten. We could barely get a glimpse of the nose when we heard a shout from a guy on d other side of a boat ushering us to see the pair of dolphins jumping up and diving back into the water. There was flurry of excitement, shouts, pointing of fingers signaling a spotting. It was a fun experience and the dolphins seemed to have been trained at enthralling a keen audience, especially while we were video-taping it!

Another activity on the beach is bullock cart ride! For 50 bucks, the guy let's you ride the cart, pose on it and get some kicks out of it, like we did!

Traditional Food

If you happen to go to Murud, or any other konkan town, don’t forget to try the speciality food. The drinks like aan panha (drink made from boiled raw mangoes mixed with sugar/jaggery), kokan sherbet (a sweet-sour drink made from a fruit), sol kadi (made from buttermilk and kokam fruit) etc will tickle your taste buds and refresh you instantly. If you’re a non-vegetarrian, don’t forget to try the local fish and prawn dishes apart from a preparation called komdi vade (chicken curry with puri like vadas made from a mixed dough). Also, if you end up there in summers, feast on the Alphonso mangoes, right off the trees, but be careful not to get caught!!


Homestay in Murud is a very economical option. You can get accommodation for as low as Rs. 300 (excl food). But beware the facilities are too basic at times as we discovered in our first and last homestay there. There was no cooler or A/C’s, the bathroom was okay, water had to be drawn from the well, there were too many ants and mosquitoes and the food they offered was dismal. The very next day we found ourselves in a Hotel by the beach, much to everyone’s relief. So if you want to try homestay, be prepared for certain discomforts, and who knows, yours may actually turn out to be fun!

Read about the drive from Mumbai to Harne Murud here

Read more about Silver Sands Beach Resort here

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