Getting there: Harihareshwar is an easy weekend escape from the ever bustling city of Mumbai – around 150 kms from Panvel, the roads are mostly good except for a few patches, making it a 4 hour drive. The drive in itself is quite scenic. There are also state buses that take you there from Panvel, and even from Borivali.
Why Harihareshwar: It is still mostly undisturbed, thankfully, unlike other beaches closer to Mumbai which are swarmed by tourists in the weekends who have dirtied the beaches end to end. The water is also not polluted, yet, leaving it clean enough to be transparent and reflect the blues of the sky. So it makes for an easy and beautiful weekend getaway from Mumbai, you can leave early Saturday morning and get back Sunday evening.
Empty little stretches of peaceful shores: If you hit the main stretch of beach early in the morning or around sunset, you are likely to have the entire beach to yourself and may be a couple of more tiny figures far from you. But one day tourists start to arrive a little late in the mornings in groups and all the horse cart riding, quad bike riding (slowest quad bikes you will ever see) and other such Mumbai beachy activities start to happen. So avoid the main beach during the day. But there are quite a few other small stretches of shores that can be fully yours throughout the day, and the mountains at the edge of the sea give quite a few rocky shores where you can lounge around to enjoy the waves peacefully hitting the rocks and splashing a few drops of water over you.
We chose to laze around on the rocky stretch of the shore right outside our hotel in the evening, playing the guitar and singing old Hindi songs, and witnessed one of the most peaceful and beautiful sunsets that we have ever seen. There was not another soul around apart from us, and the only sounds were the waves hitting the rocks and the crickets when the sunset neared. Absolute calmness. And all this just a few hours away from Mumbai – is such a blessing.
There are also quite a few patches full of lush green trees, where you can take a short walk.
Harihareshwar is a very small village, unlike its adjoining beach Shrivardhan, which is quite a small town with many shops and attracts more tourists.
Go to Harihareshwar only if you want a peaceful relaxing lazy time. There isn’t much else to do, if you are the sightseeing type of a tourist.
Stay: There are quite a few homestay options. But we booked the MTDC resort since that is the only place we could easily find online. Though the resort was getting renovated, the rocky stretch of shores on one side, and a short little sandy stretch of shore on the other, both fully empty and bang when you step out of the resort, made us more than happy with the place. The main stretch of beach where all the tourists come, is around 2 kms away from the resort.
Food: The homestays would provide you authentic Maharashtrian food. The MTDC resort and other such restaurants give you a basic Indian menu, but the food was very tasty and cheap too. The main tourist beach has just a couple of stalls selling coconut water and Chaat, nothing else.