Solved - (13) Permission denied: .htaccess pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable
I don't recall how the permissions got messed up on the server and the site would not load. The error was 403 - permission denied.
Upon checking the logs, I found that the error was:
"(13)Permission denied: /var/www/.htaccess pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable"
I tried to connect using FTP and no files or folders were visible.
Here's what helped:
changed to root user and ran the following commands on the server:
usermod -G ubuntu
usermod -G apache
chmod -R 755 /var/www/
Checked ftp client again and all the files were visible. I refreshed the page and the site loaded fine.
The issue is resolved :)