Raigad, an administrative district in the Konkan division of Maharashtra, is a treasure trove of stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. Nestled along the Arabian Sea coast, Raigad boasts of pristine beaches, ancient forts, and holy temples that are sure to captivate every traveler’s heart. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the top places to visit in Raigad, and provide you with all the information you need to plan a memorable trip to this beautiful region.
Hill Stations in Raigad
Matheran, a picturesque hill station in Raigad district, is a serene getaway located at a height of 800 meters. The journey to Matheran consists of a two-hour climb aboard a toy train, a challenging 11-kilometer trek through dense forests, or a meandering vehicle ride. The toy train ride offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Once in Matheran, there are numerous points of interest to explore, such as Panorama Point, King George Point, Echo Point, Lord Point, One Tree Hill Point, Paymasters Park, Porcupine Point (Sunset Point), Rambagh Point, Alexander Point, and Louisa Point. Horseback riding and shopping for unique cane and leather items are also popular activities in Matheran. Additionally, there is a museum dedicated to the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the famed Maratha king.
Religious Places in Raigad
2. Varadvinayak Temple, Mahad
Varadvinayak Temple, located in Mahad village, is one of the Ashtavinayak temples dedicated to Ganesha, the Hindu deity. Believed to have been built by Peshwa General Ramji Mahadev Biwalkar around 1725 AD, the temple is adorned with idols of the Navagraha Devatas, Mushaka, and Shivalinga. Four elephant statues guard each corner of the temple, attracting devotees throughout the year. The temple witnesses huge crowds during festivals like Magha Chaturthi.
3. Ballaleshwar Temple, Pali
Ballaleshwar Temple, situated in the village of Pali, is one of the eight “Ashtavinayak” temples dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The temple, believed to have been built by Moreshvar Vitthal Sindkar (Dighe) around 1640 AD, is located close to the Sarasgad Fort and the Amba River. A bell brought back by Chimaji Appa after defeating the Portuguese in Vasai and Sasti adorns the temple. The original wooden temple was replaced by a stone temple built by Shri Fadnis in 1760.
4. Harihareshwar Temple, Shrivardhan
Harihareshwar, a town in Raigad district, is known for its tranquil and picturesque seaside as well as the revered Harihareshwar Temple. Lord Shiva is believed to have blessed this temple, which is also the Kuladaivat (family deity) of the Peshwas. The temple complex, restored in 1723 AD, houses other shrines like the Kalbhairav Temple and the Mahalaxmi Temple. Harihareshwar, along with Shrivardhan and Diveagar, is a popular beach destination for tourists.
5. Kanakeshwar Temple, Alibag
Kanakeshwar Temple, situated 10 kilometers away from Alibag, is an ancient Shiva temple located atop a small hill. To reach the temple, one needs to climb 700+ stairs. Nearby attractions include ‘Nagobacha Tappa,’ ‘Devachi Payari,’ ‘Pushkarni,’ ‘Gaymukh,’ and ‘Vyaghreshwar.’ The breathtaking views and serene atmosphere make it a must-visit destination.
6. Suvarnaganesh Temple, Diveagar
Suvarnaganesh Temple, located in Diveagar, houses a unique gold idol of Lord Ganesha, weighing over 1 kg. The fascinating history of Suvarnaganesh dates back to when a copper box containing the golden idol and various accessories were unearthed beneath the soil in a nearby coconut plantation. According to local legends, the idols were created around 300 to 400 years ago.
Forts in Raigad
7. Raigad Fort
Raigad Fort, a hill fort situated about 25 kilometers from Mahad, served as the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s Maratha Empire after he restored it in 1674 AD. The fort can be accessed by a ropeway system that transports visitors from the base to the fort within minutes.
The fort offers a view of the ‘Ganga Sagar Lake,’ an artificial lake created within the premises. The ‘Maha Darwaja’ (Great Door) is the main entrance, while the King’s Durbar houses a replica of the original throne facing the Nagarkhana Darwaja. This enclosure has been acoustically engineered to amplify sounds from the doorway to the throne. The fort also features a renowned bastion called “Hirakani Buruj” (Hirkani Bastion), built over a steep cliff.
8. Murud-Janjira Fort
Murud-Janjira Fort, located on the Arabian Sea coast near the port town of Murud, is considered one of the most formidable maritime forts in India. To reach the fort, one has to take a sailboat from Rajapuri jetty. The main entrance faces Rajapuri on the shore and features a small postern gate that leads to the open sea for escape.
The fort houses several local and European-designed guns on its bastions. Once a full-fledged living fort with essential facilities like palaces, officer quarters, a mosque, and two natural freshwater lakes, the fort now lies in ruins. The palace of the Nawabs of Janjira at Murud remains in good condition.
Three massive cannons, Kalalbangdi, Chavri, and Landa Kasam, are a unique feature of this fort. These cannons were feared for their long range and immense power. Another gate to the west, called ‘Darya Darwaza,’ faces the sea.
9. Kolaba Fort
Kolaba Fort, one of the primary naval bases of the Maratha Empire, is accessible from both the sea and Alibag. The fort houses freshwater wells, a rare feature for a beach fort. In 1713, Kolaba Fort, along with several other forts, was ceded to Kanhoji Angre as part of a treaty with Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath. Angre used the fort as his main base for raids against British ships.
10. Sudhagad Fort
Sudhagad Fort, also known as Bhorapgad, is a hill fort in Maharashtra’s Raigad district. The fort, located around 50 kilometers west of Pune, 25 kilometers south of Lonavla, and 10 kilometers east of Pali, was renamed Sudhagad by Shivaji Maharaj. Thaanale and Khadsambale caves can be found near the fort.
The plateau of Sudhagad Fort is divided into three sections, each featuring unique attractions, such as building ruins, a pond, a large tank, the Bhorai Devi temple, four large warehouse ruins, and a vast bastion.
Famous Beaches in Raigad
11. Alibag Beach
Alibag Beach, the main beach in the region, offers a long and flat stretch of sand, perfect for leisurely walks. The beach is relatively clean during weekdays and has a small crowd. The sand at Alibag Beach is dark and coarse, making it difficult to build sand castles. The tide comes in from all sides, so be prepared to wade through water on your way back.
12. Kashid Beach
Located 50 kilometers from Alibag on the Alibag-Murud route, Kashid Beach is one of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the area, featuring almost white sand. With several cottages and resorts available, Kashid is the perfect place for city dwellers to unwind. The beach offers water sports facilities and a few snack shops for refreshments.
13. Mandawa Beach
Mandawa Beach, located 10-15 kilometers north of Alibag on the north coast, is easily accessible from Mumbai. Mandwa is a beautiful, unspoiled beach that offers a stunning view across the bay all the way to the Gateway of India on a clear day. Mandwa village, with its lovely coconut tree plantations, has its unique charm.
14. Kihim Beach
Kihim Beach offers a variety of attractions, including forests teeming with wildflowers, unique insects, and birds. The nearby Kolaba Fort is worth a visit, as is Chaul, an ancient town 15 kilometers from Alibag that features Portuguese ruins, Buddhist caves, the Hamam Khana, a church, a temple, and a synagogue.
15. Harihareshwar Beach
The gentle winds, fine sands, and alluring waves of Shriwardhan Bay make Harihareshwar Beach a favorite among beach lovers. Seafood enthusiasts won’t be disappointed with the array of delicacies available here. Adventure seekers can take a small boat to the north side of the bay and explore the former residence of the Peshwas. Most visitors to Shriwardhan are keen to see the “Peshwas Smarak.”
16. Akshi Beach
Located approximately 5 kilometers from Alibag, Akshi Beach is a white sand beach lined with numerous pine trees. The beach attracts a large number of visitors due to its variety of birds and other flora and fauna.
17. Nagaon Beach
Nagaon Beach, a picturesque beach located about 7 kilometers from Alibag on the Alibag-Revdanda highway, is bordered by pine trees and is popular among tourists. The beach offers water sports such as boat rides and kayaking.
The abundance of cottages, vacation homes, farmhouses, and bungalows in the surrounding area makes Nagaon Beach a popular destination for picnics and weekend getaways. Visitors can enjoy the Arabian Sea tides, as well as the abundance of betel nuts and coconuts available along the shore.