Have You Been To The Scenic Town Of Sawantwadi In Maharashtra?

This little town on Maharashtra's border with Goa is a charming visit for a long weekend, with many mini getaways wrapped into one coastal parcel
Fishing vessels anchored near the shore at Malvan
Fishing vessels anchored near the shore at Malvan

Visit Sawantwadi, a former royal kingdom of Maharashtra, on a long weekend or if you are travelling by road to or from Goa. This picturesque town can be a base to explore a part of the Konkan region. Make day trips to the coastal towns, learn about the folk art of the Thakar tribal community or buy the traditional wooden toys to encourage the local craftspeople holding their own against competition from foreign manufacturers.  

Moti Talav in Sawantwadi
Moti Talav in SawantwadiHello Travel

Moti Talav

Nestling in the heart of Sawantwadi is the Moti Talav. The lakeside is a popular recreation centre for the local people. A bridge cuts through the lake and there is a paved pathway running around the waterbody. Lined along its banks are offices and commercial complexes, an old market, hotels and restaurants. On the other side of the lake is the royal palace. The best time to visit the lake is early morning, before the chaotic traffic takes over or in the evening when the illuminated fountains cast a pattern on the water. Boating and other water sports activities are usually available here.

The two-storied Sawantwadi palace is made of red laterite
The two-storied Sawantwadi palace is made of red laterite Wikimedia Commons

Sawantwadi Palace

Built by Khem Sawant III during his reign from 1755 – 1803, two-storied palace is made of red laterite sits pretty in the middle of a landscaped garden. The architecture combines local and European styles. Today, the palace has been converted into a boutique art hotel offering unique experiences such as a Ganjifa art workshop, a local village lunch, a day at the beach, a visit to the Pinguli village for leather puppetry, and a private picnic experience amidst the Amboli ghats. 


Vengurla is characterised by its white sand beaches
Vengurla is characterised by its white sand beaches

About 30 km by road from Sawantwadi is Vengurla, a popular sea beach on the Konkan coast. During the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Vengurla port was a busy trade centre. Make a day trip covering the old port of Vengurla, Vithoba Temple, Redi Ganpati, Terekhol Fort and Sagareshwar Beach.

Chitar Ali

A short uphill walk from Rajwada/Moti Talav will take you to Chitar Ali, a lane lined with shops selling colourful wooden toys. It is the Chitari community who specialise in this art. Although there is no end to the things that these people can shape out of wood, it is the fruits that deserve special mention. From a distance, it is not unusual to take the wooden fruits for real. As with most traditional crafts, these wooden toys are also facing a stiff competition from Chinese goods. While exploring the toy shops, you may also check out the grocery stores for genuine Malvani spices.


The island-fort in Sindhudurg
The island-fort in Sindhudurg

In a little over two hours' drive, you can be at Sindhudurg, a coastal town famous for its island-fort in the middle of the Arabian Sea. Built between 1664 and 1667, the fort is a reflection of the architectural prowess of the time. The fort contains a temple dedicated to the warrior king of Maharashtra, Chhatrapati Shivaji. There are several organisations which conduct snorkelling in the vicinity of the fort. The fort mostly remains out of bound during the monsoon. On the way back to Sawantwadi, make a detour through Malvan, another coastal town of the Konkan region, known for its unique cuisine.


The Amboli hillside is  covered in innumerable waterfalls
The Amboli hillside is covered in innumerable waterfalls

Although the misty green hills of Amboli deserve a visit on its own, you can also make a day visit from Sawantwadi, which is around 30km away by road. The best time to visit Amboli is during the monsoon if you want to see the hillside covered in innumerable waterfalls. Do not be surprised to find people clambering up the slopes to go underneath the waterfalls even during torrential rains. Be careful if you want to venture too because the rocks can be very slippery and accidents are not unheard of. Origin of the Hiryankeshi River and its temple, Kavaleshwet point, Mahadevgad point, and Shirgaokar point are some of the other attractions of Amboli.


Follow the National Highway 66 to reach the Thakar Adivasi Kala Angan, a cultural centre and museum in Pinguli, a tribal village, nearly 30km away by road from Sawantwadi. Run by the Gangavane family, it is an attempt to preserve the folk culture of Maharashtra's Thakar tribe. The family specialises in string and shadow puppetry, and Chitrakathi (a musical narrative explained through paintings). The entry to the complex lies through a lightly wooded area where you will find specimens of the art painted on tree trunks and dioramas explaining the tribal lifestyle. At the museum, you will find puppets, paintings, musical instruments, some of them a few centuries old, part of the family's legacy. With prior arrangements, they will also hold a short kalsutri (string puppet) show for you. Contact 91-9403804631 / 9987653909.

Getting There

Sawantwadi is right on Maharashtra's border with Goa. Hence the nearest airport is Goa's Dabolim. Mumbai is over 500km by road from Sawantwadi. If you are travelling from Mumbai, you may take an overnight train on the Konkan railway route.


There are several hotels and resort in and around Sawantwadi. You may try Dwarka Homestay located in the middle of a 15-acre farmland and an orchard full of mango and other fruit trees. For a heritage experience, check out the Sawantwadi Palace Boutique Art Hotel.

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