Nashik is one of the most important cities of Northern Maharashtra. Nashik, in Maharashtra, is situated at a distance of 200 km from Mumbai (Bombay) as well as Pune. The city has become the center of attraction because of its beautiful surroundings and cool and pleasant climate. Nashik has a personality of its own due to its mythological, historical, social and cultural importance. The river Godavari flows through the city. Proximity to many holy temples and sites including the famous pilgrimage centre of Shirdi and a long tryst with India's sacred past, has made Nashik a confluence for the spiritually enlightened.
Mythology has it that Rama, the king of Ayodhya, made Nashik his temporary abode during the 14 years of his exile. The poets Rishi Valmiki, Mahakavi Kalidas and Bhavabhooti have paid rich tributes to Nashik in many of their works. In addition, Nashik has always been the epicentre of commerce and trade. Ptolemy, the famous philosopher made a mention of Nashik in 150 BC, leading researchers to believe that it was probably the country's largest market place.
Today, Nashik is a bustling township with a blend of the ancient and the modern. Scattered across the city are numerous forts and majestic temples. But it is also the home to many industries. The Security Printing Press of the government, which prints the nation's currency, is located here.
It is part of the green belt and is renowned for the various fruits and vegetables it produces. In fact the yield of grapes, strawberries and onions in Nashik is amongst the highest in the country.
PLACES TO VISIT
All religious activities in Nasik are centered around the holy Godavri River, especially on its Northern banks. Considered as one of the most holy spots, Panchavati is believed to to have been the shelter to Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita during their exile.
This sacred spot gets its name from the five banyan trees that are along the riverside. Believed to be a part of the Dandakaranya Forest, Panchavati has acquired a prominent place in the epic. People frequent here to take a holy dip which is believed to cleanse their sins.
Pandav Leni Caves:
A cluster of Hinayana Buddhist rock cut caves dating back to the1st century BC, the Pandavleni Leni caves are located on the Trivashmi hills. Remarkably carved doorways and brilliant sculptures are the main characteristics of Pandavleni caves, which might have been used as the dwelling places of the monks.
Out of the 24 caves, 3, 10, 18 caves are really worth mentioning for their outstanding sculptures. The cave houses idols of Buddha, Jain Teerthankara Vrishabhdeo, Ambikadevi, Veer Manibhadraji and Bodhisattva. The interiors of the caves were popular meeting places for disciples, where sermons were concerned.
Located at a panoramic place, Dudhsagar Waterfalls in Someshwar is regarded as one among the best in the entire world itself. This cascading falls is a favourite picnic spot in the city, which offers picture book scenery. The waterfalls reach its zenith during monsoon season when the cascade displays plenty of water in it.
The 10-meter stretch of this cascade is often crowed with people. Another remarkable fact about this lovely falls is its creamy white water that got its name Dudhsagar. Carved steps on the rocks make access to the top of this lovely spot easy.
The sanctity of Nasik is doubled with the presence of the Ganga Ghat, which is on the banks of the holy river lined with numerous temples. These bathing ghats reverberate with holy chants of people who gather here to offer their prayers for the souls of their beloved who have left for heavenly abode. The Ganga bathing ghat whose waters are presumed to cleanse all your sins, is the reason why every devout coming here takes a dip in its waters.
The majestic Ganga ghat, looks incredibly stunning in the twilight, when the holy waters of the river are illuminated with a multitude of oil lamps and flowers left afloat by the pilgrims visiting.
A huge newly built temple complex dedicated to Jain saints, Jain Mandir is located at Vilhouli, Nasik. This pretty three-storied shrine presents a different architectural grandeur than that of the other temples. Shree Dharmachakra Prabhav Tirth, which is popularly called as Jain Mandir is constructed with white marble and pink sand.
Built by Sardar Odhekar of Peshwa in 1782, the main deities here are Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshmana. The gold plated copper dome and other sculptures of this magnificient shrine display its structural brilliance. Built in black stone, the70 feet high temple happens to be the busiest temples in the locality.
This grand edifice comes alive during the festivities of Ramnavami, Dushera and Chaitra Padwa. With grand processions & floral decor, it is a sight to see. The temple premises also hold small shrines dedicated to Lord Hanuman, Lord Vithala and Lord Ganesha.
One of the oldest temples in Nasik, the Kapaleshwar Temple, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This fabulous shrine is located against the backdrop of the sacred river Godavri. Absence of Nandi Idol in the temple premises is a mystery. Generally, all Shiva temples have an idol of Nandi Bull, which overlooks its master’s sanctum.
An architectural marvel, this Shiva temple is a must see holy spot in Nasik. The temple stands majestic with its unparalleled tranquility & attracts thousands of devotees on the festive occasions of Shivratri and Shravani Somvar.
An 18th century temple dedicated to Lord Sankara, Naroshankara temple is popularly called as the Ganga of Southern India. This temple was constructed by Naroshankar Rajebahaddur in 1747. Its main attraction here is the unique Mayan style architecture, which is a classic example of the 18th century structural design. The stunning sculptural works on the exterior exhibits strings of intricate designs.
Each section displays some sort of ornamental & elaborate lacework, intricate peacocks wearing blob garlands, statues of saints in Padmasana and an assembly of animals. These elegant designs illustrate the rich lineage of Hinduism, which includes not only human beings but also the entire universe. Other conspicuous formations, which are worth watching include the Naroshankar Bell and Barasati.
The 'Ganges' of the south, Ramkund in the sacred river Godavari, draws countless pilgrim every year. The popular belief is that Lord Ram had his bath here, at some stage of his exile. To commemorate that the devotees frequents here to have a holy dip. In 1696, Chitrarao Khatarkar built a holy tank on the spot where it is believed that Rama and Sita took their bath. Devotees gather here to plunge their beloved’s ashes on the strong belief that it will help the dead to get salvation.
One among the alluring picnic spots, at Ramkund the river Godavari takes a 90 degree bend and that spot is considered as the most holy by the pilgrims.
A Vaishavite temple on the lofty west bank of the Godavari, Sundarnarayan temple is built by Gangadhar Yashwant Chandrachud in 1756. The main deity Lord Vishnu, flanked by Lakshmi and Saraswati is placed in the sanctum of the temple. There are small carvings of Hanuman, Narayana and Indira on the walls. The east-facing temple has three porches with balcony seating, lobed arches and globular domes.
The temple presents imposing architecture especially the vaulted niche, which strikes a chord with the Mughal sculpture. Other significant features of this finely carved stone temple is that it is erected at such an angle that on 21st March, rays of the rising Sun first fall exactly upon the idols.
Once a part of the holy Dandakaranya forest, Tapovan is a pictorial spot and has a close association with the epic Ramayana. Besieged in lush greenery, Tapovan presents a tranquil ambience This place was once used by great sages for meditation.
It is believed that it was here that Laxmana - brother of Rama, cut the nose of Shurpanakha, the sister of Ravana. This sacred place has temples of Laxmana and Hanuman. This stunning locale enthralls the minds of tourists with Godavari’s sacred waters flowing by & long stretches of green woods filled with natural beauty.
An important pilgrim center, the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, Ajneri is located on the Nasik-Trimbakeshwar road. Numerous Jain temples scattered on the landscape are testimony that this lovely place was a Jain settlement earlier. A rocky terrain amid the lush greenery makes Anjneri a popular tourist location. Its rocky surroundings offer a perfect spot for rock climbing.
The serene ambience of the hilly area is renowned for the Institute of Numismatic Studies - a unique museum, which is considered to be one of its kind in Asia. It provides an authentic history of Indian numismatics through photographs, articles, line drawings, replicas and real coins.
A famous locality blessed with the beauty of nature, Ajneri enthralls visitors with its beauty.
Sita Gufaa is believed to be the place where Sita was kidnapped by the demon king Ravana. The literal connotation of Gufaa is a cave and it is located at the western side door of Kalaram Temple. The nearby premises of the temple holds five Banyan trees and hence the place is called Panchavati.
The cave has idols of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshmana. The cave is accessible only through the help of a narrow staircase. Another significance here is the Shivlinga in the temple is believed to be the same idol which was worshipped by Sita.
HOW TO GET HERE
Mumbai Chatrapati Shivaji International airport, which is 171 km away from Nasik, is the nearest airport. All the major airlines have service from Mumbai to all major cities in India and many cities abroad including Singapore, Hong Kong, Colombo and gulf countries. Taxis are available from Mumbai to Nasik and costs about Rs 4,000.
Nashik is one the major stations on the Central Railway and there are a number of convenient trains that connect Nashik to other cities and towns.
Nasik Road railway station is about 9 km away from Nasik city center. This station is directly connected with Mumbai (Panchavti Exp) and regular train services are available from Delhi (Mangala Ldweep), Kolkata (Gitanjali Exp) and Hyderabad (Devagiri Exp). Taxis are also available at the railway station and fare is about Rs 200 to the heart of the city.
Nashik is 185 kms from Mumbai and can be reached by motoring on the NH-3 via Thane-Kasar-Igatpuri. Pune-Nashik is 220 kms. There are several private and state buses available between Mumbai/Thane and Nashik.