Panchavati is a famous pilgrimage site which is situated in the holy city of Nashik of Maharashtra state. It lies on the banks of Godavari River. Panchavati means the garden of five trees. This place has a huge spiritual, historical and religious significance among Hindus.
Pilgrims from all over India comes here in large numbers to take a dip in the holy Godavari River for purification of their sins. Kumbh Mela, the largest peaceful gathering of the world, is also organized here after every 12 years on rotation with Ujjain, Allahabad, and Haridwar. Over a 100 million people from different parts of the world visit this Mela to seek blessings. The northern part of Nashik is referred to as “Panchavati”, because of the presence of five Banyan trees which are believed to be existed here from the times of Ramayana till today.
As depicted in Ramayana, Panchavati once used to be an integral part of the Dandakaranya forest. This was the very place where Lord Rama constructed his abode with his brother Laxman and wife Sita when he was sent to an exile of 14 years.
There is another popular religious place called Tapovan, which is in very close vicinity from Panchavati. According to Hindu mythology, Lakshmana, the brother of Lord Rama cut off the nose of Surpanaka, the sister of Ravana here when she tried to kill Sita. The whole Aranya Kanda is set in Panchavati itself.
One can enter this cave through a narrow staircase. It is located at the western end of the Kalaram Temple. It is the place where Goddess Sita is said to be kidnapped by Ravana. It is believed that she was resting at this place before the demon Ravana came here and abducted her. Inside this cave, the idols of Ramayana trinity – Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana can be seen. There is also a staircase inside the cave which leads to Shiv Linga.
The Kalaram temple was constructed by the Peshwas.It took 12 years to build this temple. The black coloured deities of Lord Rama, Goddess Sita and Lakshmana are present here festooned with knick-knacks. The temple is about 70 feet high and is all made up from black stones. The temple has a gold plated dome which is specially made from copper. There are many additional brilliant sculptures in this temple which represents the magnificent architectural beauty of that era. The Kalaram temple is one of the most historic temples of Nasik, and during special festivals like Dussehra and Ram Navami, it is filled with hundreds of devotees.
The popular belief is that Lord Ram had his bath at Ramkund, during some point of his exile. And therefore, thousands of devotees visit this place to take a holy dip in it. Mortal remains (Asthi) submerged in this Kund, are immediately absorbed in the water. A dip in this holy kunda is considered very religious. The ashes of Gandhiji were also dropped in Ramkund after he passed away on 30th January, 1948. During Kumbha Mela, thousands of Sadhus, holy men and millions of pilgrims dip themselves in the holy Ramkund and Kushavarta reservoirs.
Nashik is a hub of religious activities, which mostly take place on the sacred banks of the Godavari River. The banks of this holy river are broad with scenic ghats and beautiful temples. These bathing ghats produces an echo with holy recites of people who come here to offer the last ritual to their beloved ones. Ganga Bathing Ghat, whose holy waters are presumed to cleanse the sins, offers an imposing view to the pilgrims. The majestic Ganga Ghat looks incredibly magical in the twilight, when the holy water of the sacred river is illuminated with multitude of oil lamps and hovers of flowers.
Other Major Attractions at Panchavati includes Godavari Temple, Sundarnarayan Temple and Naroshankar temple. Tapovan, Akshardham and Shri Kailash Math are also located in very close vicinity to Panchavati.
During the auspicious occasion of Kumbh Mela, millions of people flock here. The next Kumbh Mela will be held at Nashik in 2015 from 15th August to 13th September. If you want to experience the spiritual ecstasy, do visit Panchavati once in a lifetime.
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Several buses ply to Nashik from major cities of the state. After reaching Nashik, you can take an auto or a private cab to reach Panchavati.
The nearest railway station is at Nashik Road, 9 km away from Panchavati and is well linked with major cities of India.
Mumbai Airport is the nearest one, 170 km away from the site and is well connected to major cities of India and abroad.
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