Harihareshwar. A quaint beach village in the Maharashtrian district of Raigad, nestled in the valley of the four surrounding hills Harihareshwar, Bramhadri, Pushpadri and Harshinachal. This village was one of our first discoveries on the less travelled trail through the mountains and beaches around Mumbai. About 200 km away from the city, the beaches and coastal formations of Harihareshwar boast of rare beauty topped off with unique geological features.

We started off on a cool November morning around 6:30 am (oh yes we got late L) for a 2 day 1 night trip to Harihareshwar.

The Road to Harihareshwar

We took NH 17 (Bombay – Goa Road) and reached the hilly town of Roha after taking a right turn from Nagothane. From Roha we took the Roha-Murud Road to the village of Mhasala and then to Harihareshwar.

Now let me tell you the beauty of this trail is fascinating.

Harihareshwar beach

Harihareshwar beach

Yes. I had to stop and get out of the car to admire it.

But the road quality is really, really painful (for the driver). Keeping that in mind you’d probably better take the Mangaon exit off the NH17 which is the next exit after Nagothane.

MTDC Resort at Harihareshwar

It was 2 in the afternoon when we reached Harihareshwar. A silent sleepy hamlet. Very few people on the road. And a complete absence of mobile networks (I’m not lying), compensated for by a neighbourhood mom and pop store with a PCO housing a BIG land phone. I felt I’d been transported back in time.

Now we all know managing accommodation in any well-known and well-located MTDC resort without prior booking is some sort of a fairy tale.

You wouldn’t believe this – when we reached the one in Harihareshwar just ONE of their tourist cottages was still available – everything else was already occupied – and not just that, a couple arrived just about 10 minutes after us and could not be accommodated.

Harihareshwar has two major beaches – the North beach and the South beach. The MTDC resort is a cluster of cottages spread over a wooded area right on the South beach. Our cottage was just about a few hundred meters away from the sea. They have cottages which are far closer – in fact there’s a beachside MTDC-owned restaurant where the waves literally wet your feet – but unfortunately maintenance work was going on all around the beachside constructions when we visited, so we missed out on the surreal look-at-the-sea-from-your-porch experience.

Lodging at Harihareshwar

The room rent was Rs.2500 per day for us. The room was ok, but not great (true to the comments tourists have made about them all over the internet). But we hadn’t driven 200 km to admire the beauty of the interiors of the room, so we couldn’t care less about that. (As you can see, we have no photos of it.:D) And hey, it did have a big French window opening into a porch overlooking the woods. And none of the windows had any grills. :) :) However I wouldn’t suggest keeping them open at night unless you want to be devoured alive by the mosquitos.

The only irksome part of the MTDC lodging experience was that the authorities were too hung up about us vacating the room strictly within the scheduled check out time – something that’s unusual in most hospitality establishments.

Food at Harihareshwar

Both veg and non-veg food is available at the MTDC restaurant. Each meal cost us about Rs. 600 – 700 (for both of us). The food is quite tasty here (oh and did I mention we had lip smacking freshly fried Pomfrets on one occasion? ;)). But as with almost any Indian restaurant anywhere in the country in any price band – some dishes here can be spicier than you expect. :D

As I mentioned, the original MTDC restaurant was right on the South beach. The makeshift one was right beside the entrance to the MTDC compound, and had open air seating arrangements …

Harihareshwar beach

… perhaps annoying the serene woods around… 

Harihareshwar beach

… but definitely to the delight of their princesses.

Harihareshwar beach

Harihareshwar beach

So all in all – as I’m sure you already understand – don’t choose to stay in the MTDC property if you:

  1. Would like a 5-star room.
  2. Think you would faint at the thought of dry leaves falling into your curry.
  3. Are a proud animal-hater.
  4. Don’t care much about staying close to the sea.

After a quick lunch we started down the wooded trail in our backyard, wandering lazily until we stopped in our tracks to see this.

Harihareshwar beach

The South beach of Harihareshwar

If you really want to know what “pristine” means when used to describe a beach, come to Harihareshwar South. For almost two hours we walked barefoot on the sands and the rocks, with not a single other soul around.

Apart from these souls, of course.

Fauna of Harihareshwar

Harihareshwar beach

Harihareshwar beach

Harihareshwar beach

Yes. A jellyfish-like creature of the ocean that was throbbing (don’t ask me its name or anything)!

We spent around two or more hours soaking up the last rays of the day on the Harihareshwar sands and waters.

We lost track of time as we imbibed all the sparkling blue serenity around …

Harihareshwar beach

Harihareshwar beach

… sometimes literally.

Harihareshwar beach

Flora of Harihareshwar

Harihareshwar beach

Apart from the usual Jhau party at some distance from the sea, a vast part of the South beach was covered with those strange white shoots. Do you know what they are? We’d suspected they’re aerial roots or pneumatophores of mangroves but there’s a tiny glitch with that explanation.

Where are the mangroves??

Check out part 2 of this series, Travel Diaries 3: Halcyon Harihareshwar Part 2, where I tell you about our adventures around the breathtakingly craggy North beach.