Three hours south of Mumbai, directly on the coast lies the town of Harihareshwar, in the southern Raigad district of Konkan (South Kashi). Harihareshwar is home to a 16th century Shiva temple in which the presiding deities are the Trimuti: Brahma, Visnu and Mahesh, with Devi Parvati. The Trimurti are represented here in linga form, or "triple linga".
Harihareshwar, located 175 kms. from Pune, was a prominent site during the reign of the Peshwas, and Hari Hareshwar was the family deity of the Peshwas, thus giving it a place of importance in Maratha history. During that era, the nearby Taluka site of Shrivardhan, just north on the coast, was a major port bringing traffic to Harihareshwar.
Harihareshwar has recently regained popularity as a destination for tourists and pilgrims, who come to see this ocean-side temple, which sits on a hill known as Harihar, or Pushpadri.
The challenging route to Harihareshwar is then repeated by a challenging parikrama route around the temple, described below.
The date Harihareshwar Temple was originally built is unknown, historical evidence shows that Ramabai, Senior Madhavrao Peshwe's queen visited here to worship Hari Hareshwar, praying for the good health of her ailing husband.
Harihareshwar is bordered on one side by the Bankot creek, and on the other side by the Arabian Sea. The Bankot is the confluence of the Savitri River and ocean. A beautiful cypress grove adds greenness to the seaside environs. The town is surrounded by four holy hills, which represent Visnu, Brahma, Siva, and Parvati: Harihareshwar, Harshinachal, Bramhadri, and Pushpadri.
Harihareshwar is often referred to as Dev-ghar, or 'House of God', because the temple sits to the north and is said to have been blessed by Lord Vishnu. The sacred River Savitri enters the sea from Harihareshwar.
The Harihareshwar Temple grounds have Gayatri Tirth, Sita Sansar, Vishnu pad, Pandav Tirth, and 101 Kaurav Astitv. When entering through the wooden door of Harihareshwar Temple, devotees are greeted by murtis of Lord Ganesh and Garuda, who stand to the left and right, respectively, of the sanctum entrance. Inside the sanctum sanctorum is the Sri Trimurti-linga. Elsewhere in the temple complex, a large murti of Mahesh is found.
Parikrama around the Harihareshwar temple is considered a sacred duty by devotees visiting the holy site. The walk encircles around the temple and traverses alongside its four attendant hills
The temple is located at the top of a hill, and the parikrama path descends right down to the Arabian Sea, traversing the rocky shore at places. As you enter the pradakshina area, there is a Gayatri Tirth on the right side. Some 70 steps cut into the laterite rock lead down to the shore, below. Walking down the section of the hill known as Vishnugiri, one comes to the Shuklateertha, which is nearby a number of other teerthas (ponds) that are named in the Puranas. These include Gayatri, Shool, Chakra, Naag, Gautam, Kamandalu, Kaamdhenu, Gauri and Pandavteertha. Pandav Teertha is where the Pandavas performed the Pind Daan rite in honour of their father. Thousands of devotees come to this place each year to offer Pind Daan to their departed family members.
The parikrama path first goes around the temple, then climbs the hill directly behind it, proceeding down to the sea, along the shoreline, then back up to the temple. The pathway winds up and down some 200 feet.
The waves have cut small caves and niches into the rocks here. At one such cove, sweet water flows back out of one of the crevices each night. Just above this spot, there is a natural 'Aum' formed in the rock. There are many beautifully carved sculptures carved into the rock along the route, and in one of the ancient caves resides a Shivaling.
Other Area Temples
There are a number of notable temples in and around Harihareshwar, including the twin temples of Shri Kalbhairav and Shri Yogeshwari temples. Next to a water well called Brahma Koop there are temples dedicated to Ganesh and Hanuman.
Many other temples are found in the local villages of Bagmandala, Agar and Kolmandla, which all sit along the Bankot creek. The Jeevaneshwar, Swayambhu Shivpind, Laxmi Narayan, Rameshwar, and Bharadhkol Vitthal temples are nearby. Many were built in the Peshwa style, and there are a number of beautiful wooden pillars found here.