The city of Nashik on the banks of the Godavari River echoes with history and religious fervour. Located on the western edge of the Deccan peninsula, Nashik had always been a centre of religion, dating back to 1st century BC when Buddhist monks resided here. Nashik hosts the tri-annual Kumbh Mela which draws pilgrims from all corners of India. According to popular legend, Lord Rama and his wife Sita resided here for sometime during his 14 years of exile from the kingdom of Ayodhya. Awed by the city's scenic beauty, the Mughals named Nashik as Gulshanabad. The city is also famous for its growing wine industry, so much so that Nashik is often called the Wine Capital of India. Punctuated by temples, forts, wineries and an equal number of industrial units, Nashik is an eclectic blend of old and new. In fact, it is the third largest industrial township in Maharashtra after Mumbai and Pune. Today, it exports grapes, roses and strawberries amongst other things. Nashik is 180 km from Mumbai (Bombay).
Pandavleni Caves are one of the oldest caves in Maharashtra dating back to 1st century BC. Originally the viharas of Buddhist monks, the caves have extensive writings in Brahmi script. Just behind the caves lies the biggest Artillery Centre in Asia. The centre is under the Army's jurisdiction and entry is restricted for civilians. Ramkund is famous for its curative powers. A dip in the tank is considered holy as it is believed that Lord Rama used to bathe here.Panchavati along the river banks is supposed to be the place where Lord Rama resided. The place is marked with five banyan trees.
Muktidham Temple, 7 Km from the city is built in white marble with an unusual architecture. Eighteen chapters from the epic, Bhagwad Gita, are inscribed on the walls of this temple.
The Kalaram Temple built in 1794 is a huge 70-feet black stone structure with a gold-plated copper peak, known for its architectural grandeur. The Nashik Coin Museum is one of its kind in India which houses a rich collection of photographs, articles, line drawings, replicas and real coins besides a detailed analysis of the various currency systems that existed in India from ancient times.
The famous shrine of Shirdi Sai Baba is 60 Km from the town, while Trimbakeshwar 30 Km from Nashik, is the holy spot dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Sundar Narayan Temple at Nasik
The entrance of the temple is to the East. The two 'Mandapas' are smaller in size but their architecture is attractive a nd littl e ornamental cordons make the round dome. The arched recesses are impressions by Mughal style. Many temples were demolished during the Mughal Regime and graveyards were built in their place. Unique feature about this temple is that it is built at such an angle that on 21st March, rays of the rising sun first fall exactly upon the idols.
Idol - The main deity is of Lord Narayana (Vishnu) and one can see Laxmi (also spelt as Lakshmi) and Saraswati to his left and right respectively. Fine designs are carved on the stones of the temple. On the road leading towards Godavari River there is pond named "Badarika Sangam" Pond.
Sita Gupha Cave
Sita Gupha Cave from which, according to the Ramayana, Sita, the deity of agriculture and wife of Rama , was supposed to have been carried off to the island of Lanka by the evil king Ravana. Near the cave, in a grove of large banyan trees, is the fine house of the Panchavati family.
The largest and simplest of the temples is Kalaram Mandir, built in 1790 by Sardar Odhekar of Peshwa. There are great processions and utsav on Ramnavami, Dasara and Chaitra Padwa. It houses a black stone image of Rama, hence the name. The temple is made by complete black stones, which has four doors facing East, West, South and North.
The Godavari is a river that runs from western to southern India and is considered to be one of the big river basins in India. It originates near Trimbak in Nashik District of Maharashtra state and flows east across the Deccan Plateau into the Bay of Bengal near Rajahmundry in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. It enters Andhra pradhesh at Kandhakurthi in Nizamabad District, crosses the Deccan Plateau and then turns to flow in a southeast direction until it empties into the Bay of Bengal through two mouths. Basara, on the banks of Godavari in Nizamabad District, is home to a famous temple for Goddess Saraswathi and is only to the second temple for the Goddess in India.
Although the river arises only 80 kilometres from the Arabian Sea, it flows 1,465 km to empty into the Bay of Bengal. Just above Rajahmundry, there is a dam that provides water for irrigation. Below Rajahmundry, the river divides into two streams that widen into a large river delta which has an extensive navigable irrigation-canal system, Dowleswaram Barrage that links the region to the Krishna River delta to the southwest.
The Godavari River has a drainage area of 313,000 km² that includes more than one state. The Indrawati, Wainganga, Waradha, Pench, Kanhan and Penuganga rivers, discharge an enormous volume of water into the Godavari system. Its tributaries include Indravati River, Manjira River, Bindusara River and Sabari River.
The Godavari River is sacred to Hindus and has several pilgrimage centers on its banks. It has been held as a special place of pilgrimage for many thousands of years. Many famous personalities, including Baladeva (5000 years ago) and more recently Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (500 years ago) have bathed in her waters as an act of worship.
Every twelve years, Pushkaram fair is held on its banks of the river. Thousands of people have a holy dip in the sacred waters of the river to purify themselves of all their sins. Legend has it that Sage Gautama lived on the Brahmagiri Hills at Triambakeshwar with his wife Ahalya. The rishi kept his stock of rice in a granary. Once, a cow entered his granary and ate up the rice. When the rishi tried to ward the cow away with Durbha grass, it fell dead. The rishi wanted to relieve himself of the sin of ‘Gohatya’. He worshipped Lord Shiva and requested him to bring Ganga to purify his hermitage. Lord Shiva pleased with the rishi appeared as Triambaka and brought along river Ganga. Since Ganga was brought down to Triambakeshwar by Sage Gautama, she is known here as Gautami. She is also known as Godavari because the river helped Sage Gautama to relieve his sins.
Nashik is famous for its grapes and the city is home to a large number of wineries. A trip to the first winery of Nashik, Sula is an interesting activity. The old bazaars along the river banks are a good place to buy bronze statues and beaded jewellery.