Distance: 205 km S of Mumbai
When to go: November-January
STD code: 02147
Rail : Mangaon (56 km/ 1 ¾ hrs).)
Road: Drive down NH17 from Panvel to Lonera Phata via Kolad, Indapur and Mangaon. Turn right towards Goregaon. Shrivardhan is straight ahead past Mhasla and Arathi Road Junction.
Shrivardhan is the perfect getaway for those who want a seaside escape. It offers such a panoramic view of the sea that the water seems to be stretching into the horizon, every-where you look. And the beaches here offer peace and solitude – they are empty most of the day. Only in the evenings do a few fishermen make an appearance, arriving, and leaving, just as quickly. The sands are yours again as the sky turns starry.
At one of the beaches, fishing boats are docked at the rocks. At another, betel nut orchards and coconut groves transport you to paradise. It works like a charm, helping you discover and enjoy beauty in the simplest of nature’s gifts.
Things to see and do
Apart from swimming and taking walks along the beach, there are watersports and activities such as surfing, paragliding, motorboat rides and banana boat rides. While two days are enough to explore the temples here and the Shrivardhan Beach, plan to stay for at least four to five days if you wish to travel to the nearby beaches. The best idea would be to stay for two nights at Shrivardhan, visit the major attractions and Kondivli Beach, and then head to Diveagar.
Right on the outskirts of Shrivardhan, around 2 km down SH4, is Shekhadi Beach. Shekhadi is more a place for enjoying beautiful views than adven-turous swimming sessions. The blackish sand is only visited by those from the nearby Walvati village, which has some lovely marble mosques.
This beach, located 5 km away, is Shrivardhan’s pride. It is one of the few beaches around that’s still secluded. The sands are unmarked by footprints, and the road winds around low-lying cliffs, from where you have to climb down to reach the waters. The currents are a bit unpredictable, but locals claim it is safe for swimming. On a weekday, you will have the beach’s brown-black sands all to yourself.
On the other side of the road lies a small, ancient Shankar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati.
A little ahead on the winding SH4 is the Bharadkhol Beach. Another secluded stretch, it’s a rocky beach with clusters of colourful boats anchored to the rocks on its black sands. You’ll have to climb down a steep but easily negotiable cliff to reach the waters. Watch fishermen from nearby villages bring in their catch for the day every evening.
Shrivardhan’s presiding deity, Somaja Devi, is believed to be capable of curing snakebites and reversing even the most vicious cobra’s sting. At the Somaja Devi Temple in the main town, the victim is made to lie down and burning hot coals are used to cauterise the wound, which is then caressed using peacock feathers by the priest. A short walk away is the Laxminarayan Temple, housing age-old idols; also nearby are the temples of Bhairav, Jivaneshwar and Kusumdevi.
Although everyone is welcome into these humble temples throughout the day, it’s best to visit before night as most of Shrivardhan shuts shop around 9.00pm. There are no prescribed dress codes at the temple, but it is sensible to dress modestly.
Shrivardhan is the hometown and birthplace of the founder of the Peshwas, Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath. The Peshwas, the powerful ministerial dynasty, took centrestage in Maharashtra during the reign of Shivaji’s grandson, Shahu Maharaj. Today, the Peshwa Smarak Temple situated in the centre of Shrivardhan town and a landmark in its own right, lies in a state of neglect, and is usually dark due to regular power-cuts, but visitors continue to trickle in. The temple is open through the day.
Where to stay
Shrivardhan has mostly humble accommodation options, hygienic but lacking in high-end luxury. Arm yourself with mosquito repellents, leave behind the credit card and order your food 2-3 hours in advance.
Shiv Shanti Holiday Inn (Tel: 02147-222163; Tariff: INR 1,500-3,000; hwww.shivshantiholidayinn.co.in), at Dabak Pakadi near the Government Rest House, has 25 rooms, just 5 mins from the Shrivardhan Beach. As far as Shrivardhan is concerned, this is as close as you will get to luxury. They provide 24-hr room service, AC/ non-AC rooms, a swimming pool, TV and a restaurant that also serves seafood.
Right opposite Shiv Shanti is Niwara Resort (Tel: 222298; Tariff: INR 1,000-2,000), approved under MTDC’s Bed and Breakfast Scheme. It is one of the best stay options in Shrivardhan, thanks to the homely atmosphere and the charming couple who run it. They only have 4 rooms, so book in advance. Checkout time is noon. Lunch and dinner (vegetarian and nonvegetarian) can be arranged if ordered in advance.
Sagar Darshan (Tel: 222958, Cell: 09850018213; Tariff: INR 600-2,200), also 5 mins from the Shrivardhan Beach along the Rest House Road, has 5 basic rooms. There’s cable TV, 24-hr water, power back-up and a checkout time of 11.00am. Good Konkani food can be arranged if ordered in advance. Right behind Sagar Darshan is its sister establishment Savli (Tel: 222080; Tariff: INR 900-1,500). They have 14 rooms with attached baths and TVs; some rooms have air-conditioning.
On the road behind the Peshwa Temple is Kalaprasad Guest Park (Tel: 222619; Cell: 09850182065; Tariff: INR 800-1,500), is a good choice for those looking for budget accommodation. Subhan Beach House (Cell: 09158858111, 09922121336; Tariff: INR 800-1,000) is on the beach and will give meals on order.
Where to eat
Shrivardhan lacks restaurants and therefore you’ll have to rely on gharghuthis. You need to order at least 2-3 hrs in advance. Konkani food is most readily available, and surmai is the most popular.
Hotel Prasad (Tel: 02147-222455) near the bus stand offers an excellent vegetarian thali for INR 70, and a fish curry thali for INR 200-250. The shrikhand here is a must-try. The hotel is open from noon to 4.00pm and 8.00 to 10.30pm. Sagar Darshan also serves typically Konkani cuisine, including seafood. Popular dishes include surmai rawa fry, kurkuron bombeel and modak, all of which is cooked with generous amounts of coconut seasoning, characteristic of Konkani food. But you have to place your orders in advance.
Shiv Shanti Holiday Inn offers a varied menu serving both vegetarian and nonvegetarian in Konkani, Continental and Gujarati cuisine. The seafood is well cooked and spicy. Most other guesthouses can also arrange food; but make sure you place your orders beforehand. Chowkar’s located at Chowkar Pakhadi serves delicious and simple vegetarian Maharashtrian fare. Orders are to be placed 2 hours beforehand and the timings for lunch are 12.30-2.00pm and dinner 7.30-9.00pm.