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Vengurla (Sindhudurg)

A picturesque town in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra just north of Goa, Vengurla defines a typical Konkani ambience and culture with the Arabian Sea located on its west and the land surrounded by a semi-circular range of hills. There is lush green foliage here, mainly of cashew, mango, coconut, and different kinds of berry trees. The hills of Dabholi, Tulas, and Mochemad lie to its north, east, and south, protecting as it were a traditional way of life that has not yet been corrupted by urban pressures.

Vengurla is often referred to as the ‘gem’ of Sindhudurg district. More so because of its rich cultural heritage and its religious icons in the form of the temples dedicated to Shri Devi Sateri and Shri Rameshwar. These are the two most important temples of this region and there are many more, each one with its own unique heritage value and at least one legend attached to it. Vengurla was under the reign of Adil Shah of Vijapur. In 1638, Dutch representative Johns Van Twist obtained permission from Shah to open a trade settlement at Vengurla. This eventually led to the Dutch building a fort around this settlement and gaining a stronghold over the region right up to 1682. Vengurla therefore became a well-equipped naval base for the Dutch and when they finally left, the Sawants captured their abandoned trade settlement, which was later taken over by the British rulers.

Vengurla is also famous for its Vengurla rocks. These are found off the coast and named Brent Rocks, locally called ‘bandara’. You will find on these rocks settlements of the Indian Swiftlets. Earlier these birds were smuggled to Malaysia, Korea and China but active environmentalists have stopped this illegal migration and the species has been saved.

Vengurla is also well-known for its folk art, Dashavatara. These comprise stories narrated from mythological epics and are performed by the locals in temples. The make-up and drapery are made by the artists themselves. Interestingly, there never is a proper script to these plays. The director discusses the general structure of the play and the actors perform accordingly, often indulging in extempore improvisations. And yet, despite the lack of a linear narrative, they can perform throughout the night. Unfortunately, this traditional folk art is fading away and there now remain only three to four groups that perform regularly or during festivals, Mochemadkar and Chendavankar being two of them. Dashavatar is very similar to Yakshgaan, the folk art of Karnataka.

Vengurla is very well-connected by road and state transport buses link it to most of the important cities and towns. The nearest railhead is Sawantwadi, 30 kilometers away. Malvan, yet another favourite with tourists, is only 50 kilometers from Vengurla.

Distance from Mumbai: 537 kms