Harihareshwar, a coastal town in Konkan Maharashtra is known not just for its beautiful beach, but also as a place of pilgrimage. It is situated at the mouth of River Savitri that divides the Raigad and Ratnagiri districts. Here the river flows and merges into the Arabian Sea. Harihareshwar is part of the three famous beach towns in Raigad district of Konkan Maharashtra – the other two being Diveagar and Shrivardhan. Harihareshwar attracts people of all ages, but, this hasn’t negatively impacted the beauty and tranquility of the beach and its natural surroundings. This is attested by the Olive Ridley turtles which nest on its beaches during the rearing season.
Harihareshwar finds mention in the Sahayadri volume of Puranas. The holy status conferred on the place has earned it the moniker – “Kashi of the South”. Lord Shiva is the main deity of the village. The temple has the deities of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh along with Devi Parvati in the form of three lingas. Lord Vishnu has blessed the temple, and, it’s believed that his footprints are visible on the shore. Beside the main temple is the temple of Kalbhairav and Devi Yogeshwari.
The temples were constructed in the 16th century by the Peshwas, as the deity here is their ‘Kuladaivat’ or clan deity. Harihareshwar holds an important place in Maratha history, and Shivaji Maharaj visited here in 1674. The Temple is surrounded by four holy hills viz. Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, and Parvati: Harihareshwar, Harshinachal, Bramhadri, and Pushpadri. The Temple grounds have various ponds nearby called “Teertha”.
The parikrama goes round the temple and crosses across its four hills. The route is challenging, especially during high tides, when the sea water surges up, covering parts of the route, and making it impossible to complete the parikrama. The temple is located on a hill, to start the the parikrama path descends right towards the Arabian Sea. Gayatri Tirth, is the first teerth that can be seen on the right side. From there descend the 70 steps cut into the laterite rock that lead to the shore. Walk down Vishnugiri hill. Here one comes across Shuklateertha. Nearby there are a number of other teerthas (ponds) that are named in the Puranas viz. Gayatri, Shool, Chakra, Naag, Gautam, Kamandalu, Kaamdhenu, Gauri and Pandav Teertha – Pandavas performed the Pind Daan in honour of their father here.
The waves along the Parikrama route have cut small caves and niches into the rocks. In one of the caves, sweet water flows out of one of the crevices. A natural ‘Aum’ is carved just above this spot. There are other carved sculptures inside the caves in this route, and in one such cave there resides a beautiful shivaling.
Situated on the Shivachi tekdi, lies a narrow culvert, approx 3 feet wide, that is called Ganesh Gully. At the end of the culvert lies a Ganesh etched on the rock face to the left. During high tides, the Ganesh is submerged in the sea water. It is visible only during low tides as the Ganesh is submerged nearly 30 feet below the sea level. Nonetheless, the place is worth a visit even during high tides as it provides fantastic views against the backdrop of rocks.
Four kilometers from the Harharihareshwar temple lies the Agasti caves. They are accessible by walking along the shore. The entire circuit from Harihareshwar temple to Agasti caves is around 8 Kms and covers the “12 Banyans” and Morgiri. One must be prepared to walk the entire distance if one wishes to visit the caves, as there is no other mode of transportation.
Things to do around Harihareshwar:
- Visit Shrivardhan and Diveagar, the other two beach towns in the Raigad district that have pretty beaches and beautiful temples.
- Drive along the coastal road from Diveagar to Harihareshwar. Along the way, one passes through vast stretches of Arabian sea peppered with fishing trawlers, colorful fishing villages like Bhadrakhol, secluded beaches and in some places an intricate web of mangroves.
- Visit Devkhol for its ancient temple with beautiful carvings of Gods and Goddesses. The surroundings are a Bird-watcher’s paradise as one can spot a variety of local migratory birds.
- Visit the sea fort of Janjira and Padmadurga near Murud via Dighi.
- Trek upto the hidden fort of Madagad to enjoy excellent views of Murud creek in the North and Bankot creek in the South. The trails upto the fort pass through a thick forest that is home to wild boars and panthers, and it is best to hire a local guide before venturing into the forest.
- Visit Bagmandala jungle jetty and cross by local ferry that carries the car. Drive up to the Bankot fort to enjoy excellent views of Harihareshwar beach, and further ahead to the Velas beach.
- Visit natural underground springs – “Gangasthan” off the road to Borlipanchatan, that emerge from five cisterns at specific intervals. Water springs forth intermittently due to an underground siphon system.
Getting There and Around:
The best way to explore and get around Harihareshwar is with your personal vehicle.
From Pune, one can reach:
Via Tamhini Ghat:
From Pune, reach Chandani Chauk and travel towards Paud along the Pirangut Road. At Paud take the road to Mulshi Dam to reach Tamhini Ghat. Once you cross Tamhini Ghat, turn left at Vile to reach Nizampura. Here continue travelling towards Mahad until you reach Mangaon. Turn right 500 mts. after Mangaon ST Stand on SH 97 towards Mhasala. Continue straight from Mhasala and you will see the boards directing to Shrivardhan and Harihareshwar.
Via Bhor Ghat:
From Pune, take the Pune — Bangalore Highway NH4, all the way until Khed Shivapur. This is a 4 lane highway and the road conditions are excellent. Turn right just ahead of Khed Shivapur at Bhor Phata to proceed towards Varandha Ghat. From here reach NH – 17 at “Hotel Sagar” just outside Mahad, and then turn right towards Mangaon. Get off the highway at Lonere Phata to Goregaon, and the drive to Mhasala. Continue straight from Mhasala and you will see the boards directing to Shrivardhan and Harihareshwar. The Varandha ghat road is not smooth, so beware of the bad roads if you opt for this route.
From Mumbai, take the Mumbai – Goa Highway.
Drive from Panvel until Mangaon on NH66 – Mumbai Goa Highway. Turn right 500 metres. after Mangaon ST Stand on SH 97 towards Mhasala. Continue straight from Mhasala and you will see the boards directing to Shrivardhan and Harihareshwar
If one is travelling by Public transport, then ST buses run from Chinchwad & Swargate in Pune and Thane & Mumbai Central in Mumbai. There are bus services that run to Shrivardhan, Diveagar, Harihareshwar, Borli and Dighi. One can take the ST Buses for any of these destinations and then travel to Harihareshwar in an auto-rickshaw.
The best way to get around Harihareshwar is on foot. However, one can easily find an auto-rickshaw to travel around if visiting distant places.
Best time to Visit
The winter months between November and February are the best time to visit Konkan in general and Harihareshwar in particular. Monsoon, too, is a good time to enjoy the fresh greenery in Konkan. However, heavy rains may force you to be confined to your rooms in this season.
Where to stay
MTDC’s Beach Resort is the best place to stay in Harihareshwar. They also offer tented accomodation during winter. One can also find guesthouses and homestays in Harihareshwar with locals offering rooms in their houses. Check out the MTDC website for booking cheap guesthouses.
Where to eat
There are not many restaurants in Harihareshwar. MTDC’s resort has a great selection of food dishes. Other local restaurants also exist, if you wish to indulge in local delicacies. Check with the locals and ask around. Many houses will prepare home cooked food on request.