Shrivardhan nestles amidst the mountain in the north, the sea on the west and the creek in the south. The two main roads, Tilak Marg and Prabhuali Marg are parallel to each other and traverse the whole town and reach up to the sea. Linking them are cross roads. To wander around here, with lush green gardens on either side, is an experience in itself. Shrivardhan has many historical and cultural sites to attract visitors. It is also a central place from where Harihareshwar and Diveagar can be reached.
The etymology of the name is also obscure. One theory is that the sequence of weapons in the deity’s hands indicate the word “Shri” . “Vardhan” means development or growth. So a place which developed, or grew, with the blessings of Shri ( God) came to be known as Shrivardhan.
The Coast of Shrivardhan
The coast is about 3 kilometres long, very clean and very calm. This is the main attraction of Shrivardhan. Walk around the beach and feel exhilarated. An occasional wave will wash your feet. The sunsets are particularly fascinating. The dipping sun, the golden waves, and the occasional boat crossing the waves, is a sight to behold. Cameras are now out to capture this scene and later re-live the memory of this walk.
The temple is located in an open ground along the main road. It is built on a rise and steps lead up to it. There is a modern concrete structure in front of the old tiled sanctum, built in a typical Konkani fashion.The Goddess Somjai combines in herself the four deities–Shiva, Bhavani, Vasuki and Nandi.
The Peshwe Temple
A little further on from the Somajai Temple, on the left one can see a small fortified structure, a bastion, a gate and a music gallery on top of the gate. This appears to be a modern day construction. Inside there is a large open space and at the end of it is the small, tiled, Peshwe Temple. It was here that Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath was born in 1660. Although the external structure is modern the plinth is ancient. A statue of a standing Balaji Vishwanath has been placed in front. He is shown in full Maratha regalia with a sword in his hand. The whole image evokes self confidence. The seal of Balaji Vishwanath is placed below the statute. On either side are images of Chhatrapati Shahu Mahraj of Kolhapur and Brahmendra Swami There utterances in praise of Balaji have also been chiselled.
The temple can be reached by a small path from the Peshwe temple of from the Narayan Pakhadi road. The sculpture of Lord Visnu is out of this world. It is carved out of black rock, is about two feet high, and is in the South Indian style. It must be of the Shilahar period. At the base, on the right is the garudand on left is Lakshmi. On either side are sculptures of Jay and Vijay. The ten incarnations surround the whole. From the sequence of the weapons held by Lord Vishnu ( padma, chakra, gada and shankh)the image is that of Shridhar. It is possible that it is called Lakshminarayan because of the small sculpture of Lakhsmi. The very intricate carvings of the ornaments and the weapons is astounding. Sometime during the ages the image was broken but its beauty is still unrivalled.
Jeevaneshwar, abode of Lord Shankar, is near the Jeevana port. It is located within a spacious compound. In front of the main structure are two deepmala- or pillar lights. On the right is a tank excavated in mauve rock and from it one can say that it is a very old structure.
Kusuma Devi Temple
This temple is a little different from others in Shrivardhan area. It is located some distance away from the town and in dense bushes at the foot of a hill. On the coastal road between Shrivardhan and Diveagar, after about a kilometre, one takes a right turn . The road, with dense trees on either side, takes one to the temple, some 3 kilometres from the road.The three deities, Mahasaraswati, eight handed Mahalakshmi and Mahakali have combined in the form of Mahakusuma Devi. All the statues, about 2 to 3 feet high, are on one platform. Kusum means a flower. Since the deity is surrounded by flowers, it came to be known as Kusumadevi.
Jeevana Port is located about three kilometres on the coastal road between Shrivardhan and Diveagar. A cliff protruding into the sea has a Koli village below it and also the port. One can easily get ‘lost’ in the scene before you-the fishing nets, the drying fish and the different shapes and sizes of boats. On top of a nearby hill there is batti-light- which guides the fishermen at night. The view from the top, looking out to sea, is exhilarating.
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