Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Harihareshwar

Harihareshwar is located on the western coast in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. It is known for the Shiva temple known as Hareshwar. That's why the name: Harihareshwar.

Harihareshwar lies about 220 kms from Pune. There are multiple ways to reach Harihareshwar. The one we took was probably the longest route.

Routes to Harihareshwar

1. Via Tamhini ghat
Map
This is the commonest and probably shortest route to go to the Kokan area from Pune. From Chandani Chowk, take the road towards Paud, Mulshi, and follow it up to the Tamhini ghat. After crossing the ghat, you have to join the National Highway 17, the Mumbai-Goa Road at Kolad.

2. Via Khopoli-Pali Road
From Pune, you take the Mumbai Expressway. Take the Khopoli exit. From Khopoli, take the Khopoli-Pali road. I don't know much about this route. We did not take this route. With this route, you get out on the NH 17 somewhere near Kolad.

3. Via Khopoli-Pen Road
From Pune, you take the Mumbai Expressway. Take the Khalapur exit (go past the Khopoli exit), and take the Khalapur-Pen road. This is a beautiful drive, though a bit lonely. It's a stretch of 25 kms and takes approximately half an hour. There aren't any shops or garages on this road. So, make sure you have an extra tyre with you, and also get to know how to change a punctured tyre, just in case. This route goes directly in the Pen city right through the market. Cross the town and join the Pen-Alibaug road at the other end of the town. After around 5 kms, take a left at the Wadkhal naka. That's where you join NH 17.

Eventually, all roads lead to NH 17. :)

On NH 17, you will pass all small and large villages and towns. The important towns on the way are Nagothane, Kolad, Indapur, and Mangaon.

To go to Harihareshwar, you must take a right at Mangaon. Just after crossing the ST stand on the right hand, a small road is seen on the right. It can easily be missed, so keep a watch on it. Interestingly, the road points to only Morba, the next village on that route. But that really is the turn that you need to take to go to Diveagar, Harihareshwar, and further down south.

From the Morba road, you must cross the Morba-Sai ghat. After Sai (a village), comes Mhasla. At Mhasla, there are two ways to reach Harihareshwar. One is a direct route to Harihareshwar through several ghats. The other route is via Diveagar and Srivardhan.

We took the direct route to Harihareshwar. This route is a bit lonely. I would recommend taking the other route via Diveagar and Srivardhan. Not only is it scenic, but also easier to drive and not very lonely. The distance is also lesser. Or may be the scenic road makes it seem lesser.

Staying at Harihareshwar

Tents at Harihareshwar MTDC Resort
We stayed at the MTDC beach resort. It is good, clean, and peaceful. In fact, it has it's own beach, though small. You can go for boating at the MTDC resort. The rates are around 1500-2500 per night based on the type of room you choose.

We stayed in the special room and then upgraded to a tent for a day. If you plan to stay at the MTDC resort, go for the tent. The experience is amazing. All the tents are situated amidst tall trees and have a view of the open sea. It's beautiful to get up in the morning to the view of the vast sea in front of you. Also, at night, it becomes a bit creepy to feel all alone in the tent and the quietness around. You might hear a bird perching on the roof top of the tent and get the jitters. It's great fun.

Other than MTDC, there is also a good resort very near the Harihareshwar temple called the Hari-Hareshwar Beach Resort. This too is priced at around the same price. The tents are bigger here and it's very close to the beach.

Where to eat at Harihareshwar?

There are several places where you can get decent food in Harihareshwar. One such place is Prachiti Bhojanalay. It is very close to the temple and you get only vegetarian food there. Priced at Rs. 50/- per thali, you get unlimited food here. Just opposite Prachiti is the Hari-Hareshwar Beach Resort that also offers veg and non-veg thalis. Priced at Rs. 120/- and above for non-veg thalis, it's bit costly. However the food is good.

The MTDC resort has its own restaurant called The Grasshopper Inn. Don't know why it has such a weird name. We thought it was exorbitantly priced and the food was also only just okay, average.

On the way to MTDC is another small khanaval (forgot the name) that serves vegetarian food for Rs. 70/- per thali. Even this is affordable and pretty good food.

A few meters ahead, there is a turning at which are several tapris that serve wada-paav, bhaji, bhurji. At that junction, there's a nice joint aptly called Turning Point that serves batate wade, anda bhurji, kanda bhaji, chai. It's really nice and a good breakfast stop.

Apart from these, there are many places where you can tell in advance if you want to have food there. These are mostly arranged at the homes of the locals there, who serve home-made food.

Harihareshwar Beach

MTDC beach at low tide
This is one thing that you need to be damn careful about. The beach at Harihareshwar is not good for swimming and fun and frolicking. It is full of rocks that go under water when it is high tide. If your first look at the Harihareshwar beach is at the time of high tide, you might be misled thinking that the beach is pretty good and safe. But it really is not. The sand at the beach is quicksand and pulls you inside. The rocks are dangerous, jutting out in the open. In fact, at the beach near the temple, there is a low-lying area which is covered by 5-8 feet of water during high tide. Boats are anchored there when high tide. So, you can imagine how deep it becomes.

MTDC beach at high tide
Even at the MTDC beach, at the boating area, there is small stretch of beach that is covered with water at high tide. If you are at this beach at the time of high tide, you can experience for yourself how the water rises slowly and covers all the rocks. Be really careful with the rocks. They have sharp edges that easily cut your feet if you step on them by mistake.

So in all, I would advice that the Harihareshwar beach is best to be seen from far and enjoyed. Don't venture too much in the waters. If you want to enjoy the beach, Diveagar is the place for you.

Harihareshwar Temple

Going down to the sea on the Pradakshina Marg
The Shiva temple is famous for its Pradakshina. It takes around 30 mins to complete the Pradakshina. The temple itself is also beautiful just like other Shiva temples. What makes it unique is that it is situated right at the sea, and has a Pradakshina that actually is a complete one unlike the one we usually take in a Shiva temple. Inside the temple, you can take the half Pradakshina. Outside, the Pradakshina is a full one involving climbing up the mountain and then climbing down and walking along the sea-cut rocks. It's actually spooky.

When you reach the top, you get to see a notice that warns that the sea near the Pradakshina Marg is dangerous, you should take care not to venture near the lashing waves during high tide, and that you should first get information about the high and low tide timings. You might feel like overlooking the notice (feeling you are at the top of the mountain, and there's no sea there.) But you are mistaken. As soon as you turn left, you will see the deep gorge that you need to climb down that goes directly to the sea. And you certainly are frightened.
Pradakshina Marg

As you climb down, you can see yourself literally climbing down into the sea. There is a small pathway carved in the rocks that's the Pradakshina Marg. On the rocks you can feel the power of the sea. You are at the mercy of the Elements and know in your heart that you are a mere midget in the vastness of this universe. The wet rocks are a proof of how far the waves come in. And you thank yourself that it's low tide at the moment.

So, if you want to do the Pradakshina, make sure it is low tide. Don't leave the hands of your kids as you complete the Pradakshina.

Tips for Visiting Harihareshwar
  • If you are visiting Harihareshwar directly, take the route that comes via Diveagar. It's more enjoyable.
  • Keep a watch on the high and low tide timings. If you have internet on your smartphones, all the better. We used this site to check the timings: http://wap.swellwatch.com/tideStation.php?dataPoint=5890&region=1456&regionName=Arabian+Sea&trace=region:1092:The%20World%7Cregion:1647:Indian%20Ocean%7Cregion:1456:Arabian%20Sea. After the high tide time shown on this site, we observed that bigger and more powerful waves kept on coming to the shore for the next hour or so. So, to start with, this is a good site. But you would want to consult other resources too as well as consult the locals about the tide timings (In Marathi, high tide is called bharti and low tide is called ohoti.) Moreover, the site shows the timings of the Arabian Sea. The timings at individual beaches may differ based on the water level and coastline. So, do consult other resources for accurate information.
  • Keep first aid, sunscreen lotion, caps, old newspapers handy. All these are useful at times.
  • Keep a torch handy as night falls. The electricity at Harihareshwar cannot be relied on.
  • One and a half day is more than enough for Harihareshwar. To enjoy the beach, proceed to Diveagar.
Have fun!

2 comments:

  1. Nice read .... very informative.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good post. Harihareshwar is famous for lord shiva temple. Along with temple harihareshwar beach is famous tourist destination in Maharashtra.
    list of beaches in maharashtra

    ReplyDelete