The southernmost point of District Raigad is Harihareshwar, the abode of Gods. The districts of Ratnagiri and Raigad are demarcated by the wide expanse of River Savitri. It is a holy place of pilgrimage and as the Government of Maharashtra has designated Harihareshwar as a tourist place, the place has seen a great influx of tourists. On one side is Savitri River, also known as Bankot Creek. On the other side is the huge expanse of the ocean and jutting out into the sea is a promontory that is Hariharswhar. In the Sahaydri Volume of the Puranas, the holiness of the place has been described. Because of its holy status it is also called the Kashi (Benares) of the South.
Shri Kshetra Harihareshwar Temple
There is a small garden on the left as one enters. The Ganapati and Maruti temples are located here. There is also a well known as Brahmakoop Legend has it that it was dug personally by Lord Brahma. Nearby are two stone light-pillars ( deepmalas) twenty feet high. In front is the Shri Harihareshwar Temple and next to it the Kalbhairav Temple. All the temples are tiled in a typical Konkani manner. Tradition dictates that one first worships at the Kalbhairav temple, then at the Harihareshwar, does a one and a half circumambulation , including worships at the Ganapati and Nandi and then again at the Kalbhairav temple. The area is clean and the atmosphere pleasing.
Shri Dev Kalabhairav
In most places, along with Mahadev, Kalbhairav is also worshipped. In the Varaha age, there was a demon named Shataghna. To kill him Lord Mahadev in a very angry mood opened his mouth and spewed out flames. Out of this even a more fierce god emerged. This was Kalbhairav.
Circumambulation of the Holy Complex
The Lesser Round
The hill one sees on the left, as one descends Brahmagiri, is Vishnugiri. There is a footpath to get to the top. From the summit one sees a wonderful view of Savitri River, the endless ocean and the Bankot Fort on the other side of the creek. The village of Velas is partly hidden in dense foliage. The boats sail by leisurely. On the other side, one can also see the tip of Morgiri hill. From both the hills seeing the sunset is an out of the world experience. Here also one has to be cautious while walking on the footpath.
Complete (Longer) Circumambulation
This circuit also starts from the temple. First take the Bagamandala road. A little beyond, after a descent one sees a path at the end of an open… This goes to the Parvati hill around which one reaches the MTDC Resort. On the way one sees below a small but beautiful beach. There are a number of shells, of different sizes and colours, lying on the sand. On the left is a velvety beach and a dense clump of cypress trees. Across the Savitri creek one can see Himatgad, the fort of Bankot. At the base is the winding road to Velas which merges into the horizon. The MTDC resort is between the Parvati and Shiv hills. The hill on the right is Shivachi Tekadi A little further a cleft in the hill lies across the path one is traversing. This place is called Ganesh Ghal or Ganeshtirth At this point, facing the sea, one can see the figure of Ganesh etched on a rock face to the left. The cleft is filled with sea water, especially on full moon and new moon when it can be as much as 3 to 4 metres deep.
Although Harihareshwar is an ancient place, the temple one sees today is from the Peshwa period.. An inscription at the Kalbhairav temple records that it was renovated by the Peshwa in 1723. Chandrarao More of Javali built the steps. Shivaji Mahraj had visited Harihareshwar in 1674 while Samarth Ramdas Swami came here after visiting Mahableshwar. At the end of the Peshwai, from 1818 to 1841 the temple was being looked after by the British. In 1842 a managing committee was formed till a trust was created in 1953.
The cave is located about four kilometres from Hariahreshwar and can be approached by walking along the shore. There is a legend attached to the place. The demons of the Vindhya mountain area were creating havoc. The mountain was ‘growing’ with pride. To stop the demons sage Agasti was called.One must be prepared to walk a lot. The circuit, seas shore, Agasti cave, Morgiri and ‘Twelve Banyans’ will be about 7-8 kilometres.
The Coast at Harihareshwar
The sea at Harihareshwar is almost always trubulent. The coast is rocky and the force of the waves considerable. It is pristine, about 3 kilometres long and guarded by Brahmagiri and Morgiri on either side. Since it is a little out of the way, not many tourists visit But a visit is worth it, especially at sunset, when the setting sun creates an out of this world atmosphere. It is an ideal way to end one’s day of sightseeing.