Nashik is one of the oldest cities in India, tracing its past to the times of the Mauryan empire (207- 190 BCE), under Ashoka the Great. Archaeological excavations found that humans inhabited the region as earlier as in the Chalcolithic age (approx. 1,400 – 1,300 BCE).

Nashik has prospered under various successive regimes to become one of the fastest developing metropolises in India today.

Identified more with eternal spiritual quality and striking religious realm, the city also offers diverse tourist attractions. There are numerous temples in and around the city, bounded by a range of mountains having peaks of more than 4000ft from the sea level. Ancient forts, lakes, caves and other traditional monuments add to the city’s tourist and historical values tremendously.

Nashik is Famous for Many Things

Nashik is known for several things. For instance, there is a place is known as Deolali, some 104 km from Nasik. It is one of the oldest Indian military centres in the country. It houses an Air Force Station, the School of Artillery of the Indian Army, and many other military establishments.

India’s currency note printing press is in Nashik, established in 1928. The city also accounts for half of the country’s vineyards and is called the Wine Capital of India or the Napa Valley of India. Data show that about 8,000 acres are under grape wine plantation in Nashik.

Viniyard in Nashik
Viniyard in Nashik –By Pablo Ares GastesiFlickr: pb010032, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link 

More than 30 wineries have been established in Nashik district.

Sula Wines Nashik

India’s largest vineyard, Sula Vineyards is situated in Nashik. Sprawling over 3,000 acres, Sula Wines Nashik is said to account for a vast chunk of the country’s Vine sector. The vineyard also has a luxury resort named Beyond, one of the most visited tourist spots in the region.

Dhamma Giri, situated around 40km from Nashik is well-known for the Vipashyana International Academy, conducting courses on meditation and spiritual healing.

Nashik is the city where Babasaheb Ambedkar organized his ‘temple entry’ movement in the 1930s as part of agitation to abolish untouchability.

Freedom fighters Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (Veer Savarkar)  and Anant Laxman Kanhere were born in Nashik. It is also the birthplace of Dadasaheb Phalke, known as the father of Indian cinema.

Since ancient time, Nashik is famous for utensils industry, including handmade brass, copper, silver, aluminium utensils. Blanket weaving and calico painting are widely practised in the region.

Malegaon some 100km away from Nashik is major power loom hub in Maharashtra.

Nashik is the second city in Maharashtra identified under the Ramayana Circuit, the other being Nagpur, for its close links with Ramayana as well as its historical and religious significance.

Ramghat Nashik

Nashik’s Religious Significance 

Nashik with a host of religious and mythological sites is an important pilgrim centre for Hindus since ancient times. Also,  it is equally important for other religions such as Buddhism and Jainism, which were promoted by different ruling dynasties.

Millions of Hindu devotees, sadhus, seers, religious pundits, scholars etc., visit the place to participate in the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years along with other three centers in India. The Nasik Kumbh Mela is known as Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha or Nashik-Trimbak Kumbha Mela.

Round the year, devotees visit Nashik to pay homage to their ancestors or doing religious rites. Traditionally it is an important place for immersing the ashes of the departed family members in the holy waters of Godavari.

The presence of numerous old temples built by various rulers in the past has significantly boosted the status of Nashik as an important pilgrim centre. Some of these temples were built in the 11th and 12th centuries by the Yadav kings.

You can see several monuments such as the Pandavleni Buddhist Caves on top of the Trirashmi mountains near Nashik city.  And there are a series of ancient Jain mandirs, particularly the rock-cut cave temples and other Jain monuments, sculptures etc., in Nashik.

Jainism flourished in the region during the reign of various dynasties, including Chalukyas, Rashtrakootas, Yadavas, Silaahars, and Marathas.

Buddhism, on the other hand, received the state patronage during the Satavahana period (1st – 3rd  century CE).

Nashik Population

Nashik is the fourth largest city in Maharashtra by population,  after Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur. According to the 2011 census, Nashik has a population of 1,486,053. It is estimated to be about 2.16 million as of 2017.

As of 2011, around 85% of the population are Hindus, followed by Muslims (9%) Buddhists (3%), Jains (1%) and others forming the rest.

Nashik is a vibrant modern city gifted with a rich culture and custom, replete with a fascinating combination of both modern and ancient civilization. People live here in harmony with each other.

Marathi is the official language in Nashik. Hindi and English are also widely used. Normally people are adapted to Maharashtrian dishes including pavbhaji and vadapav.

They also take the delicious Gujarati and Rajasthani cuisines.

Geographical location

Situated at 700 feet above the sea level on the banks of the holy Godavari river, also referred to as the “Ganga of the South”,  Nashik lies on the western border of the Decan Plateau.

Mumbai to Nashik

Mumbai to Nashik , it is around 170km and they are well connected by road and railways. Several private luxuries, as well as Maharashtra State Transport Corporation buses, run regular services from Mumbai to Nashik.

Nashik Road is the nearest railway station, which has services to several major Indian cities.  Pune is situated some185km down south, while Nagpur is about 680km away towards the east. The city is spread across an area of 300 sq.km.

Climate

Nashik enjoys a relatively mild dry and wet condition, thanks to its high-altitude location compensating for the otherwise tropical conditions prevailing.

The average annual temperature in the region is 25 ° C, with March to June period exceeding this level, even up to 32 °C in May.

The coolest period is between December and February with and an average minimum temperature of 10 °C. Nashik receives an average rainfall of about 812 mm annually.

The name ‘Nashik’

Nashik or Panchavati is featured in the epic Ramayana, as the place where Lord Ram built a parnakuti (hut)  and stayed for some time along with Matha Sita and Lakshman in exile.

Lord Ram Lakshman and Surpanaka -NashikAccording to Ramayana, it was here, that Lakshman cut the nose (nasika) of the demon King Ravan’s sister Shurpanakha. The brothers got annoyed by her repeated attempts to seduce Lord Ram. Thus, the place got the name Nashik.

The origin of the name Nashik is also attributed to a Marathi proverb, when translated, reads the city that lies on nine peaks.

Nashik is surrounded by a range of nine hills, namely Durga, Ganesh, Chitraghanta, Pandav, DingerAli, Mhasarul, Jogwada, Pathanpura, and Konkani.

During the Mughal rule, the city was named as Gulshanabad. It got the present name in 1751 when the Peshwas of the Maratha Empire took over the control of this region. In 1818,  Nashik came under British rule.

Nashik Tourist Places

Nashik is an important pilgrim centre and an olden city, giving enough reason to the presence of numerous ancient temples, forts, and other historical monuments.

There are many famous religious spots thronged by devotees regularly. This includes Buddha Smarak, Trimbakeshwar, Someshwar Temple, Kushavartha Theerth, Shree Balaji Mandir, Shree Vedic Mandir, Bhakti Dham, Navashya Ganapati, and Mukti Dham.

Many popular places of tourist interest are situated around Nashik.

This includes Dada Saheb Phalke Smarak near Pandavleni, Shanishinganapur, Dhammagiri at Igatpuri, Kalasubai the tallest mountain Maharashtra, Planetarium, Nandur Madhameshwar,  Saputara and Gangapur Dam.

Added to it, Nashik is also gifted with abundant natural beauty filled with lush forest, green landscape, hillocks and mountain ranges, lakes, caves, waterfalls, rivers etc.

As it may not be possible to cover all that is available in Nashik, we are including a few sites seem important for religious and tourists relevance:

Trimbakeshwar temple

Nashik to Trimbakeshwar

Nashik to TrimbakeshwarNashik to Trimbakeshwar, it takes just 40 to 50 minutes by road. The Trimbak town is 30km away from Nashik city and 40km from the nearest railway station, Nashik Railway Station. You can take a taxi or opt for bus service to reach Trimbakeshwar easily. If it is by car you will have pleasant 30-minutes travel from Nasik to Trimbakeshwar.

Trimbakeshwar temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India and therefore considered as a sacred and powerful place of worship of Lord Shiva. It is 10th sacred Jyotirlinga in the Dwadash Jyotirlinga circuit.

The temple is situated at the foothill of Brahmagiri mountains in the Sahyadri range in Trimbak town, also called Trimbakeshwar or Tryambakeswar.

The 13th century- the temple was built in the Hemadpanthi architecture style, which features among other things, the use of locally available black stone and lame stone for construction. The temple was reconstructed in its present form by Peshwa Balaji Bajirao of the Maratha Empire during his rule from 1740 – 1761CE.

The idol of the temple, Shivlingam represents

Trimbakeswar temple Nashikthe significance of the Trinity denoted by three faces embodying Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Maheswara (Shiva).

This is unlike other Jyotirlingas, where Lord Shiva is the main deity.  Here, the Lingam is adorned with a jewelled crown, made of emeralds, diamonds, and other precious stones.

Devotees visit the temple in large numbers to offer different rituals around the year. Kumbh Mela is celebrated in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik when Jupiter (Guru) and Sun are in zodiac sign Leo (Simha Rashi).

Trimbakeshwar is the only place where  Narayan Nagbali ritual is performed. It is a special pooja to absolve the sin of killing a king cobra.

Brahmagiri Hill

The holy river Godavari (known as the Ganga of the South) originates from the top of the Brahmagiri hill, thus making the hill a very sacred place for Hindus.

At the top of the hill,  water arises from below the rocks, flows into a cave and gradually emerges as a river in its further course.

There is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Ganga and another temple- Kolambika Devi temple and a collection of Shivalingams nearby. The place can be approached by climbing about 750 concreted steps.

Nashik- Brahmagiri HillBy L. Shyamal – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link 

Hindus believe that the river Godavari is rising from  Lord Shiva’s head as he releases it from the lock of his hair, thereby making it so sacred.

During the Hindu calendar month of Shravan  (normally July- August), devotees flock Brahmagiri hill to offer prayers. They perform ‘Parikrama’  (circumambulation) of the holy hill as part of the rituals, regarded as an extremely pious act.

On the Brahmagiri slopes, there is a cave known as  Nivruttinath named after the Sant Nivrutti Nath, the 13-century yogi of the Nath sect, poet and philosopher.

He is believed to have stayed in the cave and attained spiritual knowledge praying here. He attained samadhi in Trimbakeshwar, where a temple is built, visited by his followers.

Kushavarta Teerth

Kushavarta Teerth is a kund or water tank situated very close to the Trimbakeshwar temple. The holy Godavari river takes its course from here, and therefore the kund is treated as a sacred bathing place. A dip in Kushavarta Teerth is believed to wash off all your sins and purify your soul.

Hindus believe that this is the spot where Gautam Rishi brought down the holy river Ganga on earth by his mystic powers. To make it happen, the rishi is believed to have used Kusha or grass; hence name Kushavarta Teerth.

Nashik- Kushavarta Teerth
Nashik- Kushavarta Teerth

Today, the water tank is made stronger by a cemented structure with flights of steps, pillared aisles on the sides, well-decorated arches and pavements along the borders. It was built by Raoji Abaji Parnekar of the Holkars, the Maratha rulers of Indore in the late 18th century.

Kushavarta Teerth is surrounded by a chain of temples along its six corners. This includes Kedareshwar Mahadev temple, Sakthi Vinayak temple, Kusheshwar Mahadev temple, and the Godavari temple.

Pandavleni Caves

The Pandavleni Caves are man-made caves carved out of solid rocks surfaces on the Trirashmi mountains situated 8 km from  Nashik city.

These caves also known as Nashik Caves are splendid examples of the rock-cut architecture and artwork prevalent in ancient central India, extensively used especially by Jains and Buddhists.Pandavaleni cave Nashik

They were created to facilitate a large group of monks to stay and perform daily prayers and other religious rituals peacefully.

Pandavleni Caves are a group of 24 Buddhist caves built between the first and third century CE according to inscriptions on them. Some caves were completed or modified in a later period (8th -12 century CE)

The caves are built at a height of about 300ft from the base of the hill, somewhere midway to the top. People can visit the caves through stone-cut steps leading from the base of the hill and pass-through from one cave to another.

Most of the caves were built as viharas (Buddhist monasteries) and the rest were made as chaityas (shrines).

They have beautiful pillared entrances, some with a range of cells,  carved-out wells and beautiful sculptures of Lord Buddha in different forms and sizes. Some of them contain ancient inscriptions (total 27) in Brahmi script using Prakrit language.

According to the inscriptions, these caves were funded by various royal families, and other donors including traders, travellers, villagers etc., at different periods.

The name Pandavleni Caves was drawn from a reference in the epic Mahabharata that these caves were created by Pandavas for their stay while in exile.

Kalaram temple

Shree Kalaram temple is an ancient Hindu temple in Panchavati dedicated to Lord Ram. It was built in 1794 by the Peshwas of the Maratha empire.

Here, the idol of Lord Ram is black in colour; hence the name of the temple, Kalaram. The idol of Lord Hanuman at the main entrance is also black. The temple has the statues of Mata Sita and Lakshman as well. The top of the temple is made of 32 tons of gold.Kalaram temple Nashik

Kalaram temple is considered as one of the important temples in Nashik, for it is built on a spot believed to be where Lord Ram had his parnakuti and stayed along with Mata Sita and Lakshman.

Large crowd visits the temple to offer prayers every day. Rath Yatra is an important festival celebrated here on Ramnavmi.

Kalaram temple is linked with some historical events related to the Dalit movement in India. It was in front of this temple that DR. BR Ambedkar led a protest in March 1930 for securing the Daliths’ right to enter temples.

Other famous historical temples in Nashik include  Naroshankar Temple (built in 1747) dedicated to Lord Shiva and Shree Sundar Narayan Temple (1756) dedicated to Lord Vishnu

Anjaneri

Anjaneri hill in the Sahyadri Mountain ranges is situated adjacent to Trimbakeshwar, at 4,264 feet above sea level.

Nashik MountainsBy Savitr1915Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

The hill and the surrounding villages are noted for their scenic beauty and green landscapes, with beautiful lakes, caves, waterfalls, etc. The place, famous for its ancient fort is also seen as an ideal place for trekking exploits by people from far and near.

Anjaneri hill is attached with some mythological bearings that make the hill a holy centre for Hindus. According to Hindu texts, Lord Hanuman was born here, and the name of the hill is derived from that of his mother Anjani.

There is a temple on the hill, dedicated to Anjani, which attracts over a lakh of devotees during Hanuman Jayanti every year. Tuesdays and Saturdays are special days for the temple, and a large crowd gathers here to offer prayers on these days.

There are also other temples on the hill dedicated to Lord Hanuman and Anjani Matha visited by devotees regularly. Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated with exciting fairs including yatra (procession) and wrestling events in the Anjaneri village.

Some 108 Jain caves built in the 12th century are also seen on the mountain.

Ramkund

Ramkund is a sacred bathing ghat in Nashik for Hindus located on the banks of Godavari river in Panchavati.

According to Hindu texts, this is the place where Lord Ram used to take bath while he stayed along with Mata Sita and Lakshman in exile.  A dip in this sacred kund is considered very virtuous by Hindus.Ramkund Nashik

Devotees visit the place to bathe, offer prayers also to immerse the ashes of their dear ones in these waters. A chain of temples dedicated to various deities is situated near the kund.

You can also see a monument of the Father of the Nation made of marble near Ramkund.

Mangi Tungi Hills

The twin hills of Mangi Tungi are situated in the Tahrabad village of Nashik district on the Selbari range of Western Ghats. Lying about 130 km from Nashik city, they are more than 4,000 ft above the sea level and linked by a narrow ridge. Both the peaks are barren and have vertical surfaces.

This is one of the important pilgrim centres in the country for Jains from ancient times. The place is known as ‘Siddhakshetra’ where Jain munis and Hindu mythological legends are believed to have attained moksha or salvation.

Mangi Tungi Hills- NashikBy Deepan Choudhary – originally posted to Flickr as Mangi Tungi, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Hindu texts relate the place to Lord Ram’s meeting with Sugriva. Lord Krishna’s brother Balram was believed to have gained moksha here.

The hills are accessible by steps, although climbing the sharp pathway is hard and tough at some places. The main track is made to visit the Mangi hill (4,343ft. above sea level) first, and then pass through the narrow ridge to climb the steeper Tungi hill (4,366ft).

The  Statue of Ahimsa, the world’s tallest single-stone statue of the first Jain Tirthankara Lord Rishabh Dev is built here.

It was carved out of the Mangi-Tungi hills. The statue is 108 feet tall and including the pedestal, it measures 121 feet. A large number of devotees visit the place daily to offer prayers. The Mahamastakabhisheka rituals are performed once in every twelve years on the Statue of Ahimsa.

The Statue of Ahimsa- Nashik

There are seven old temples on Mangi hill. You can see many images of ‘charanas’ (feet) of holy men carved out on the rock surface.

A pond named as  Krishna Kund relating to Lord Krishna and a cave named after his brother, Balbhadra Cave is on the hill.

On the Tungi hill, there are five temples and two caves. One cave named after Lord Chandraprabhu, the eighth Tirthankara.

The other is Ram Chandra Cave which has idols of Hindu mythological greats including  Lord Hanuman.

You can also see here a giant statue of Munisuvrata Swami (Munisuvratanātha) the twentieth Tirthankara in padmasana posture. Idols of Jain deities including  Bahubali, also called Gommateshwara, the son of the first Tirthankara, Lord Rishabh Dev is also seen here.

The images inside the caves and on the rockface relate to several ancient Jain legends and monks.

The hills will give you a panoramic view of their magnificent surroundings. This includes the ranges of Western Ghats, the  Mosam and Panjra rivers flowing nearby; the famous forts of Mulher, Thermal and Galna; and the mountain passes like the Selbari Pass, and the Hindabari Pass among other several sites.

Saptashrungi Devi Temple

Saptashrungi, meaning the land of seven hills,  is an important Hindu pilgrim centre, about 60km from Nashik. Villages such as Nanduri, Kalwan, and Vani of the Nashik district are on the foot of the hills.

The Saptashrungi Devi temple, built in 1710CE and dedicated to Goddess Durga is the main attraction of this centre, visited by thousands of devotees every day. The temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas in India

The temple is two-storied and reachable by a series of rock-cut steps. You can see images of Lord Ram and Lord Krishna and others carved out besides these steps.

The deity enshrined in the top floor of the temple is an ornamented 8-feet and eight-armed idol of Goddess Durga, carved in a cave at the base of the rock face. The goddess is known as Saptashrungi Nivasini,  means she dwells within the seven peaks.

Performing Parikrama around the temple is believed to be a pious act by Hindus. There is a pathway created for this ritual, steep and rocky at an average elevation of more than 4,000ft. Chaitra Pournima is a very special day for the temple.

People also see the surrounding hilly forests ideal for trekking exploits.

Jain Mandir NashikJain Temple Nashik

Fairs and festivals in Nashik

Kumbh Mela is one of the famous festivals celebrated in Nashik, when millions of Hindu devotees gather here to bathe at the waters of Godavari river, passing through the heart of the city. The Nasik Kumbh Mela is known as Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha or Nashik-Trimbak Kumbha Mela. The Mela is held in every 3 years alternatively in centres such as Allahabad, Haridwar, and Ujjain besides Nashik. The Maha Kumbh Mela is held in every 12 years.

Nashik Kumbha Mela

Rath Yatra is another festival in Nashik, when a large number of devotees assemble at Kalaram temple in Panchavati during Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Ram. This is associated with other rituals including bathing the idols of Lord Rama and Hanuman in the holy river Godavari.

As elsewhere in the country, Nashik also hosts other Hindu festivals including Makar Sankranti and Diwali with a lot of pomp and enthusiasm.

Jains perform Mahamastakabhisheka rituals on the statue of Tirthankar Rishabhdev (the Statue of Ahimsa) in Mangi Tungi every 12 years. Last time, it was held in 2016, attended by millions of devotees from different parts of the country.

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