BLEND OF OLD AND NEW-NASHIK

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Most of the visitors who go to Nashik have religion on the mind. But Nashik also offers a fascinating mix of a peep into the past and a relaxing time with its serene present.

Nashik is one of the most popular destinations for the pious Hindus, Jains, and the Buddhists. Due to its association with the epic Ramayana, it is a preferred destination in India. The legends tell us that epic characters Rama, Seeta and Lakshman had stayed in the forests near this place, then known as Janasthana. The nose-cutting episode of Shurpanakha at the hands of Lakshmana is believed to be the etymological explanation for the name of the city. Various places in the city are shown as being visited or associated with Rama. Alternatively, the city has also preserved a tradition of a proverb in Marathi,’Nashik navashikharanvar vasavale’ ( Nashik was settled on nine peaks ). According to many scholars, this is a more plausible explanation for the origin of the name. Even today those nine mounds are known as teks (peaks) in Nashik.

Be that as it may, Nashik is one city that has lured people from distant regions for hundreds of years. Historically speaking, the antiquity of the city goes back to prehistoric times. Archaeological excavations have been carried out here on the banks of river Godavari and have revealed the evidence of habitation from the Chalcolithic age dating back to approximately 1,400-1,300 BC. Since then the city has been inhabited all throughout history.

Temples and Forts

Numerous temples constructed during the reigns of different rulers include the magnificent ones at Sinnar, Anjaneri, Trymbakeshwar and those in the city. Out of these, the temples at Sinnar on Nashik-Pune road and Anjaneri on the Nashik-Trymbakeshwar road were constructed in around 11th-12th century CE by the Yadava kings and their feudatories. Out of these the Aishwaryeshwar temple and the Gondeshwar temple at Sinnar are the most impressive with their beautiful sculptures. The temple complex at Anjaneri was also constructed during the same period and consists of Jain and a few Hindu temples at the foot of the Anjaneri Fort.

The legends identify the Anjaneri hill as the birthplace of Hanuman. Today the small town of Anjaneri is also famous for the internationally acclaimed Indian Institute of Research in Numismatic Studies. It has a very informative money museum explaining the development of currency in India through the ages.

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The temple at Trymbakeshwar, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas ( the phallic emblem of Shiva with fire), is considered the most sacred of all such places. The town of Tryambakeshwar is located at the origin of the river Godavari, considered the Ganga of the Deccan.

 

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Archives of the Brahmin priests in this town are remarkable for preserving the records of the families for whom they have been conducting the rituals for generations together. The Kumbh Mela is celebrated here during Simhastha(i.e. when Jupiter and Sun are in the zodiac sign Leo) which comes after every 12years. At this time, millions of Hindus-both ascetics and other devotees-gather and bathe in the river. The next Kumbh Mela will be in 2027. Tryambakeshwar is also associated with Nivruttinath, brother of Sant Jnaneshwar and is therefore considered a special seat of the Naath Sampradaya.

 

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Vani is also an extremely important place in the Nashik district. It is 60kms the north-west of the city and is known as the seat of Goddess Saptashrunga, meaning the one who resided in seven hills. The temple is located high up on a hill and a bus service is available from its base. This is one of the three and a half Shakti Peethas ( places of goddesses) in Maharashtra.

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Frequently visited are also the temples such as Kala Rama (called so because the black stone was used to make the image of Rama), Naro Shankar and Sundarnarayan. All these temples were built approximately in the 18th century by the rich devotees of that period. The picturesque Someshwar Mahadeo temple on the Gangapur Road is a popular pilgrim cum picnic spot for the locals and tourists.

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The significance of Nashik and environs is further highlighted by the presence of forts at politically strategic points. The district is connected with the neighbouring states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Moreover, its unique geography has provided it natural protection by the Sahyadri mountain ranges. These natural posts have been converted into political watchtowers by the various dynasties that ruled this region. As a result, we find up to 38 major and minor forts constructed in these mountain ranges, making for a veritable treasure for those who love trekking. Among the most important forts are Ankai Tankai, Salher-Mulher, Ramsej, Dhodap, Ahivant etc. The Ankai-Tankai hills near Manmad have a medieval fort and some Hindu and Jain caves carved into them.

Vast Variety

Nashik has also become well known because of the Vipashyana International Academy located at igatpuri. It was established in 1976 with the objective of conducting vipashyana courses for those seeking spiritual healing. This centre, named as Dhammagiri, is 40kms away from the city on the Mumbai-Agra Road. A city with a lot of vibrancy, it has successfully preserved a perfect combination of traditional and modern cultures. It is also known as the ‘wine capital of India’.

 

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What also gives Nashik a different hue are the mansions built out of wood. Despite the growing trend of modern-day construction styles, there are many in the city who prefer to stay in the old buildings with their paintings on the walls depicting the city’s links with its history. With a climate that does not go to the extremes during summer or winter, Nashik is also the Haunt of many migratory birds. Also located here is the Nandur Mahameshwar Sanctuary with its rich flora and fauna.

Places

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The Sarvajanik Vachanalay in the city has got a fantastic collection of some of the most significant publications of Maharashtra. It also houses a small museum with stone and metal sculptures as also manuscripts. There is another museum near Nashik at Gargoti which has a collection of zeolities. Similarly, the Archaeological Museum housed in the Dadasaheb Phalke Smarak at the foot of the Pandav Leni also has a noteworthy collection of antiquities recovered from various places in the district. For tourists coming here, Nashik offers a perfect blend of the old and the new. There is peace and quiet, there are wine festivals, there is history and there is the somber religious environment. It is up to you to choose.

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