Nashik is the fourth largest city in Maharashtra, after Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, situated on the banks of river Godavari. It is said that Nashik got its name from the act of cutting nose (‘nasika’) of Surpanakha, sister of Ravana by Lakshman, the younger brother of Sri Rama. It is also said that Nashik got its name due to Nassak Diamond which was adorned by the idol of Bhagwan Shiva as ‘Neel Mani’ in Trimbakeshwar Temple (30 Km from Nashik) until British seized the jewel in the third Anglo-Maratha war in 1818.
Nashik is also known by the name Panchavati (Northern side of Nashik). Panchavati is the place with five Banyan trees which was made home by Lord Rama during his 14 years of exile. The caves where Sita, consort of Lord Rama stayed before getting abducted by Demon King Ravana are still here.
Major temples in Nashik
Kalaram Mandir is situated within the Panchvati area of Nashik City. This temple is supposed to stand on the spot where Sri Ram lived during his exile (very near to Panchavati). It was built in 1782 by Sardar Rangrao Odhekar on the site of an old wooden temple. The work is said to have lasted twelve years, 2000 persons being daily employed. The temple has standing images of Sri Rama, Sita, Lakshman that are of black stone and around 2 feet height.
Sundar Narayan Temple: The presiding deity of the temple is Bhagwan Vishnu with Devi Lakshmi and Devi Saraswati who are placed in the sanctum of the temple. Built in 1756 by Gangadhar Yashwant Chandrachud, the temple architecture has shades of Mughal sculpture. The rays of rising sun fall on the murtis of Vishnu, Lakshmi and Saraswati on the day of spring equinox (around March 21).
Sita Gufa: Near Panchvati is the Sita Gufa, said to be the spot from where Sita was kidnapped by Ravana. The Sita Gufa, also spelt as Sita Gumpha or Sita Gupha, is an important location associated with the Ramayana. The caves house murtis of Sri Ram, Sita and Lakshman as well as a Shivling, said to be the one worshipped by Sita.
Tapovan is a province which was blessed by the touch of Sri Rama’s feet during His exile. It was later used by the monks and sages for their spiritual advancement. There is Kapila Tirth where the sage Kapila is believed to have meditated. There are 3 kunds known as Brahmatirth, Shivtirth and Vishnutirth that are linked to each other at the bottom by narrow paths.
Bhakti dham: The main deity here is Shiva. The other murtis in the temple are Narnarayan, Virat darshan, Ram, Sita and Lakshman. The entrance of the temple is beautiful with nicely carved murtis of Sapthashringi maata, Ganesh and Sun’s chariot.
Muktidham temple built by Late Shri Jayram Bhai Bytco, is magnificent piece of architecture, made with marble from Makrana in Rajasthan, and by Rajasthani sculptors. One can find in this temple eighteen chapters of Bhagawad Geeta written on the walls. One can also see the replicas of all the twelve Jyotirlingas here and also murtis of all major Hindu Gods and Goddesses. After visiting this temple, one gets a feeling of visiting all the four Dhams (Badrinath, Dwaraka, Puri and Rameswaram) in Bharat.
Kapileswara Temple: Among many temples of Bhagwan Shiva in Maharashtra, this one is considered to be one of the oldest in Nashik. Serene nature and the river Godavari enhance the beauty of this temple. The festivals of Maha Shivratri and Shravani Somvar are celebrated here with great zeal and devotion.
Ramkund: People believe that Sri Rama and Devi Sita had bathed in this place. Pilgrims are drawn to the place to get a holy dip in the waters of River Godavari. To rest the souls of dead, people often are seen to be scattering the ashes left after cremation in this place.
Ardha Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad and Kumbh Mela takes place every twelve years at four places in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. According to the Puranas, it is believed that Kumbh derives its name from an immortal pot of nectar, which the devatas (Gods) and demons fought over. The four places where the nectar fell are at the banks of river Godavari in Nashik, river Kshipra in Ujjain, river Ganges in Haridwar and at Triveni Sangam of Ganga, Yamuna and invisible Saraswati River in Allahabad.
Nashik is a major industrial centre and of historical importance. The Trirashmi (Pandavleni) Caves, or Nashik Caves, a group of 24 caves carved between the 1st century BCE and the 2nd century CE, representing the Hinayana Buddhist caves is a tourist spot. Nashik is also known as “The Wine Capital of India” and produces around 10,000 tonnes of grapes per year. Nashik is well connected by Air, Train and road with the rest of the parts of the country.
Trimbakeshwar is about 30 km from Nashik city and it is the place where River Godavari originates from the Brahmagiri Mountain.
Trimbakeshwar temple was constructed by third Peshwa Balaji Bajirao (1740-1760) on the site of an old temple. Trimbakeshwar Temple is at the foot of Brahamagiri hill, height of which is 3000 feet above sea level and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. The unique feature of the Jyotirlinga located here is the Linga in the temple is in the form of a three faced the symbols of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
There are entry gates on all the four sides, viz. East, West, South and North. On Friday, 16th February 1756, the day of pious Mahashivaraatri the inauguration ceremony of renovated temple was conducted in a grand manner. The work of renovation went on for 31 years, started under the supervision of Narayan Bhagavant and completed by his son Ganesh Narayan. 786 craftsmen toiled day and night for a long period of 31 years.
48 camels, 85 elephants and 112 horses were engaged to transport the marble from Makarana in Rajsthan in the service of the almighty Lord Shiva. The dates of the auspicious beginning and completion of the renovation works are engraved on the main gate on North side, in Sanskrit language.
The main temple is at the centre of the spacious ground, facing east. Its east-west length is 160 feet and north-south breadth is 131 feet. Height of the temple from the ground is 96 feet and diameter of the dome is 185 feet. Annasaheb Vinchurakara, noble man of the Peshave donated three golden pinnacles (kalash) and golden flag with the bulwark that adorn the dome.
On the west side is main sanctum of the temple where the continuous flow of water i.e., Ganga can be seen from the Shiv Ling. On the east of this Jyotirling is marble statue of Goddess Parvati. The holy pond, Kushavarta Tirtha is located 400 m away from the temple premises. This 21 feet deep pond was built in the year 1750. It is believed that the holy Ganga River re-emerges at this pond after disappearing at Brahmagiri hills.
According to mythology, Brahma performed penance here on a mountain to please Lord Shiva and this mountain later came to be known as Brahmagiri Parvat. It is also believed that Gautam Rishi performed hard penance at this place to get rid of the sin of cow slaughter and obtained the blessings of Lord Shiva. Thereafter, on the request of Sage Gautam, Lord Shiva assumed the form of Jyotirlinga and this place, came to be known as Trimbakeshwar.
According to Hindu mythology, Mahamritunjay mantra was chanted by a young devotee Markandeya, whose life was said to be very short. Moved by the devotion of Markandeya who did penance and chanted the Mahamrityunjay mantra, Lord Shiva granted him the boon of immortality.
Om Trayambakam Yajaamahe
Oh God, bless me, so that I may achieve self-awareness and salvation from the fear of death and death itself. And achieve the immortality of spirit.
Poojas performed in the temple
People perform Kalsarp shanti puja at Triyambakeshwar. Tripindi shradha is offered in the memory of the deceased relatives by the devotees. People also perform Mahamritunjay jaap anustan for a long and healthy life and to get rid of prolonged sickness, specially for those on their death bed. People perform Narayan bali ritual to liberate souls of family members who met an untimely death and the Nag bali to absolve the sin of killing a king cobra respectively.
River Ganga (local people at Trimbakeshwar call river Godavari as Ganga) originated at Brahmagiri Hills and flows in three directions, i.e., East (Known as Godavari) West (known as west flowing Ganga) and South (Known as Varna). The Sangam or confluence of River Godavari and its tributary Ahilya takes place near the Trimbakeshwar temple. Trikal Pooja is performed to Lord Shiva at this temple.
Trimbakeshwar is also a place of worship for the followers of Saint Dnyaneshwar (who took samadhi at a young age of 24 years).