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Marleshwar, located in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, is Shivas's temple located on a hill, accessible by a 50km diversion from NH17 and a 20min hike thereafter. The shrine is most famous for the cobras snakes which are believed to live here with the shivling. Legend says that the cobras are very friendly to all pilgrims and one can even touch them. It seems no one has yet suffered a bite by them. So I decided to try my luck with the snakes at Marleshwar and see if the legend is actually true!
Apart from the snakes, Markeshwar is also well known for numerous waterfalls, especially during the monsoons. With the dense foliage around, the falls make for a beautiful sight.
When I first read about Marleshwar, it was with reference to the caves and snakes, and it was enough to get me excited about it. We were at Ganpatipule, and it was 86km from there. It seemed too far and I decided to give it a skip. Interestingly I tweeted from the beach and my friend Harish from Blogadda read and immediately called up to tell me that I must also go to Marleshwar! It was such a coincidence that I decided to give it another try. We were leaving for Goa the next morning and decided to include Marleshwar, though that meant a diversion of about 100km. Anyway, it was a largely unplanned road trip and we decided to include it in our ever changing itinerary :)
In my opinion it's a place worth visiting if one is already in the area. My big hope was to come across friendly cobras, but they didn't come there when we visited. The priest told us that too many tourists scare them away so they are much rarer to see. Perhaps they come in the night or maybe not even then.
I visited the shrine in December and wasn't really expecting to see any waterfalls, so was pleasantly surprised to see one tall one right next to the temple. As the water was less we could walk right behind the falls. The sun was up and there were actually two rainbows that we could even walk into!
As usual the falls were lovely, but tourists had made it rather dirty. We could find empty bottles, slippers, underwear (???) and quite a bit of plastic near and even in the lake at the base of the falls. It was very disappointing, but unfortunately I have come to expect it all such places where Indian tourists come in large numbers, especially for pilgrimages.
The mountain is accessible from NH17 when you travel from Chiplun to Ratnagiri. The right turn is well marked but it's good to ask the people on the streets for some directions. The right turn to Marleshwar is just before a bridge when you finish the Niwali ghat from a small town.
The road is actually pretty decent, though some patches are bad. You will find plenty of state buses and auto rickshaws on the road. Keep asking for directions, the last left turn is unmarked.
There is parking at the base of the mountain from where the steps start. You can park for free or pay Rs 30 and park under a shade. On busy days the parking gets quite full with many buses also carrying pilgrims.