Kanakeshwar is the most popular and pious location of the entire Konkan region of India due to the presence of the age old Shiva temple. The place is a hilly track near the Mapgaon, village which is around 13 kilo meters away from Alibag town of Maharashtra. The Kanakeshwar temple is a beautiful ancient temple, placed on the top of a small hill which is about 900 feet or 370 metre high. The hill top was named after the temple. Devotees have to trek almost for an hour and cross a flight of approximately 700 to 800 stairs to reach the temple complex. The whole trek is through the jungles and rugged mountain and can be very tedious.
The temple of Kanakeshwar was believed to be built in 1764 by Raja Ramdeorai Yadav of the Hoysala Empire. This Lord Shiva temple portrays the superiority of the Hoysala architecture. The temple is around 54 feet tall and has huge carved doors on the main entrance with traditional lamp pillars on either side. Both the doors have full size lion engraving which marked the Hoysala valour. The centre of the temple is the main “Garba Griha” where a 4 feet tall “Shivalinga” sits in glory. The entire sanctum is covered with silver plating with beautiful drawings on the walls. The temple complex consists of different small buildings each with significance. These buildings are the Nagaar Khana, Bheem Kunda, Sri Ram Ganesh temple and Gomukha. The temple is surrounded by a well maintained garden of flowers.
Inside the temple complex, there is an ancient sweet water tank made of red stone which is locally known as the “Pushkarni” and remains filled with water throughout the year. One has to trek about 5000 steps to reach this auspicious temple and in the mid way there is a place known as ‘Nagobacha Tappa’ (a place of snakes). This spot is popular among devotees and people offer milk in containers or bowls to the snakes. One of these 800 steps is believed to be the step where Lord Shiva himself alighted to see the completion of the temple and is known as ‘Devachi Payari’. Every year during “Karthik Purnima”, a huge fair is organized beside Kanakeshwar Temple complex and hundreds of devotees pay visit.
Once you reach the top of the hill, the natural beauty and the tranquility of the surrounding jungle makes you more pious and the fatigue due to the arduous trek just vanishes. Tourists who are not too fond of crowded temples can visit Kanakeshwar for adventure tourism. Leopards and many other wild animals are visible in the jungle. Small natural lakes are present where tourists can enjoy hunting Crabs. Campfire options are also provided by the state tourism department, but in large groups. From the top of Kanakeshwar one can enjoy an aerial view of almost the entire Alibag region. The vast Arabian Sea stretches till eyes can see and sunrise and sunsets are perfect for photographers. The Khandevi Fort is also visible at a distance and the rugged Western Ghats can be seen from one side. There is a state tourism Dharmashala for devotees where rooms are available at a mere rent of Rs 150 per night, as per records of year 2014.