Hari Hareshwar is a small town just warming up to tourism today yet it has enjoyed importance centuries ago during the reign of the Peshwa's. The town gets its name from the temple it is home to. It is unique in the sense that it has a triple linga representing Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Hari Hareshwar being the family diety of the Peshwa's had great importance in Maratha history. It has enjoyed better days when Shrivardhan a nearby Taluka place was a port with its busy transaction with the Portuguese and the middle east.
It is about 5 hrs drive from Mumbai. We stopped at Wadkhal for a bite and took the Roha -Mangaon road. It was a pleasant drive as the early Dec breeze cooled our skin. We had decided to stay at Shrivardhan that night and then go to Hari Hareshwar the next morning not knowing that Hari Hareshwar has some good home stays. The MTDC resort was full so we couldn't get our bookings done there and they are best you get in this area.
Next morning we drove from Shrivardhan to Hari Hareshwar about 18 kms. The elders wanted to have Darshan of Hari Hareshwar first so that's just what we did. It was 111th year of celebrating the Mahakal utsav. Mahakal temple is adjacent to the Hari Hareshwar temple in the same complex. The temples are built in the Peshwa style and we saw some beautiful wooden pillars here. It is very difficult to date this temple. History mentions that Ramabai, Senior Madhavrao Peshwe's queen visited here to worship Hari Hareshwar to ask the Lord for good health for her ailing husband. Legend goes that Pandava's performed their parent's Pindadan, the ceremonial freeing of the spirit here at the seashore the spot is know as Pandav thirtha.
I was flooded with memories of stories told by our staff who came from nearby villages of Paja, Diva, Bharatkhol etc. They always described the ferocious sea in this region and how it had caused the immigration of the villagers of Paja to move to Jivna where the sea is less ferocious. Stories of lost lives of adventurers trying to explore the steep Rockies. To me it was images of the sea lashing out at the low level mountains. The sea deep at the shore and lots of turtles. The sinister stories of turtle egg eaters moving around in the dark moonlit night with a torch in hand. My elder aunt visited there to ask for good health in the tradition of Ramabai in her younger days. She also went there to bring back staff who had gone on a holiday and never seemed to return, she was a successful Nakhwin ( Lady Head of fishing business) in those day. It was these stories that had put Hari Hareshwar on my list of places to visit.
Waves cut the mountain at the bottom
After the darshan we took directions from my aunt and started climbing the mountain using the stairway. My elder Uncle R and Aunt P are not able to climb stairways due to age so they decide to sit near the temple. As we reached the peak we were pleasantly surprised to see a valley like descending path and the Arabian sea till the end of the horizon. It was an absolute Aha! moment. On this descend is a little lover's seat that gives an illusion of suspension in pictures taken there. This path is also considered holy circumvention or pradakshina and if done thrice legend says we earn blessing equivalent to a visit to Kashi. Not for nothing Hari Hareshwar is called Dakshin Kashi. Yet I came here for a different reason for the mystery and intrigue it held.
As we reached down to Pandav thirtha we were awe struck. All along that mountain was a WAVE CUT PLATFORM and designs caused by the lashing waves. The fury of the sea had caused erosion forming intricate carvings in the rock. This was natures art gallery or rather theatre I'd say with the dramatic backdrop of etched out rocks. We sat at the edge of the wave platform and stared at the patterns the sun and the reflection of the sea playing a dance. The water sparkled in the bright sunshine. I could sit there for hours lost in my world of fantasy. I thought of P and how much he would have loved it.
The sparkling water
The designs of Nature's fury
Wave platforms are dangerous sites if you explore on your own. It is a must to take a person from the village along with you. We are Koli and our elders know the behaviour of the sea plus my elder Uncle is ex-Navy so he knows every detail of the Arabian sea. He was with us so we were safe. What makes the wave platforms dangerous is that the sea is very deep near it and if it is time for high tide the water rises suddenly leaving no way for escape or retreat. Also the sea slices the mountain from underneath so there are area that crumble slowly when dry but may crash out during high tide. My Aunt tells us she has seen the platform widen over the last 50 years.
There is a crevice in the mountain called Gayatri thirtha that has a tiny spring of fresh mineral water. It is natures ways of surprising us with fresh water juxtaposed next to the sea. As we walked along we were surprised to see Uncle R and Aunt P on the other side of the platform. They could not resist the temptation of showing us all the things that they knew about the place so they took the opposite side of the circumvention which is flat and came there. Uncle R beckoned us, see Aunt P wants to show you something he mocked. She pointed to a white line running along the platform and ending in the sea, telling us that it was a trickle of milk that came from Kashi. A closer look told us it was a thin layer of marble seen sandwiched in the all latrine mountain.
The trickle of milk from Kashi or is it?
Suddenly we heard someone gasp, Turtle! Turtle!! It had just hopped out on to the natural moss laden ramp but the yelp scared it away. We stood there patiently but none showed up though we could see a lot of them popping their heads and shells in the water. They were quite huge and in large numbers. They are now protected and that definite made us happy.
And the turtle dived back into the sea
In this visit it was low tide period so I missed seeing the ferocious avatar of the sea. I loved the beach too but the wave cut platform completely captured my being. Next time I go there I want to sit in an armchair in the moonlit night and watch the sea and witness its fury that results in places that are so romantic.
Hari Hareshwar is a wonderful place to visit over the weekend if you are in Mumbai. On the way back we also visited the Dive Agar Ganapati temple that is home to the Gold Ganapati Mask found in 1997. Janjira fort is about 40 kms from here. May be a Murud-Janjira-Hari Hareshwar over a week would be great. May be a voyage on the sea.....I dream on....