Quick Guide Harihareshwar, Maharashtra

Renowned for its beautiful, tranquil beaches and temples, Harihareshwar, is one of the most popular weekend destinations from Mumbai and Pune
Quick Guide Harihareshwar, Maharashtra

Fast facts
Distance 220 km S of Mumbai Travel Time By road 51/2 hrs By rail 33/4 hrs road 2 hrs
When to go Monsoon (June-August) is when Harihareshwar is most green and beautiful, but November-February is best for a beach holiday
Tourist Office MTDC Harihareshwar, Near Kalbhairav Temple
Tel 02147-226036

Getting there
Nearest airport Mumbai
Rail Nearest railhead isMangaon (62 km/2 hrs).
Road NH17 to Lonera Phata via Pen and Mangaon SH97 to Shrivardhan via Goregaon and Mhasla SH98 to Harihareshwar

Most people visit Harihareshwar for its temple, but even those who are not spiritually inclined may experience something similar to the spiritual succor that pilgrims find at the end of their arduous journeys. For Harihareshwar rewards visitors with a glorious view that is picture-perfect and worth every hour of the journey.

There is an almost Om-shaped beach here, like the one in Gokarna, but bereft of the hippies you will find there. There are hardly any footprints on the brown sands. Waves lap at the shore, so gently that it seems as if you are standing by a lake and the sea&rsquos magnificence is in full view only from atop the rocks dotting the shore. 

Near the other end of the beach is the residence of the local deity, the Kalbhairav Temple. This side, always abuzz with people, lies close to a fishing village where the countryside meets the sea. It&rsquos a sacred confluence of sorts and standing at the beach, watching the fishermen bring the day&rsquos catch home, is a calming experience.

Things to see and do
The Kalbhairav Temple is the nucleus of this temple town. Visit the temple in the mornings, retreat for an early noon siesta, and then visit the beach during late afternoon.

On the Beach
The northern stretch of Harihareshwar Beach sees few tourists on most weekdays. It has a couple of chaat stalls frequented by pilgrims and fishermen. Apart from munching the snacks on offer there and walking on the sand, there&rsquos little else to do here. The sense of isolation is complete on the tranquil southern side of the beach, where the black sands and rock formations are usually all yours.  Although the clear waters look inviting and calm, there are strong undercurrents. Swimming is advisable only during high tide. Also, it is recommended that swimmers stick to the southern side of the beach if opting for beachwear.

Water World
Harihareshwar Boating Point, a small booth, sits just beyond the MTDC Resort as you climb down to the beach. Operating from morning till twilight, and mostly during season time, private entrepreneurs offer scooter rides and family boat rides. Life jackets are also available.

Kalbhairav Temple
The Kalbhairav Temple, housing idols of the Hindu Trinity as well as the Goddess Parvati, is shrouded in mystery as far as its year of construction is concerned. However, most believe the first Baijirao Peshwa reconstructed it in 1723. The architecture is fairly simple and the one-storeyed structure is located on a large compound facing the sea.

Ganesh Gully
Harihareshwar&rsquos favourite legend, passed down generations, is centred around Ganesh Gully. It is said that a narrow cleft about 3 ft wide between two rocks, located just about 150 ft behind the Kalbhairav Temple, houses a Ganesh idol. It would require a lot of luck, and high tide, to catch a glimpse of it though.

Where to stay
The MTDC Resort (Tel 02147-226036 Tariff INR 2,100-2,300 www.maharashtratourism.gov.in), located along the beach, is a reason in itself to visit Harihareshwar. The Konkani huts are set in a bamboo grove. Each room has an attached balcony, with sliding doors to provide a better view of the sea. Harihareshwar Beach Resort (Tel 226002, 226376 Tariff INR 2,500-3,500 www.harihareshwar.com) is located near the Shiva Temple. They have rooms, cottages and a restaurant. Shiv Sagar Caterers (Tel 226038, Cell 09273147421 Tariff INR 600-2,000) offers 4 spacious but modest rooms, two of which are air-conditioned. They are willing to arrange bonfires along with Konkani delicacies. The staff is hospitable. At the beginning of the temple road is Ganga Nivas (Tel 226243 Tariff INR 400-500) a homely stay option. Gokul (Tel 226439 Tariff INR 1,400-4,000 www.harihareshwargokul.com), opposite Kaatal Lake, has 6 basic rooms and 4 air-conditioned rooms.

Where to eat
Considering you&rsquoll have to walk all around Harihareshwar looking for food if you feel hungry beyond the designated &lsquosupper time&rsquo (read 9.30pm), you would do well to place your order at a gharghuti (a home serving food) well in advance. The ones situated close to the temple, such as Prachitee, Mohan Kutumbe Restaurant and Kiran Wakankar&rsquos of Mauli Beach Resort, serve only vegetarian food. But there are enough options if you would like to sample typical Konkani seafood. Shiv Sagar Caterers, close to MTDC, serves delicious Konkani cuisine, and specialises in prawn masala and crab curry. Kokum is served for a local aftertaste. Vishranti Bhojanalaya, a 2-minute walk away from the bus stand, is set in a cosy, thatched veranda. Try their surmai thali. A little ahead is the popular, vegetarian Guru Geeta restaurant. MTDC&rsquos restaurant Grasshopper Inn serves good food in an outdoor setting overlooking the sea.

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