This 20 sq-km area in old Nashik gets its name from the five (pancham) banyan
This 20 sq-km area in old Nashik gets its name from the five (pancham) banyantrees (vat vriksha) that are in the area. It’s believed that Panchavati was a part of the Dandakaranya Forest mentioned in the Hindu epic Ramayana and Rama, Sita and Lakshmana stayed in this area during their 14-year exile from Ayodhya. For this reason, many pilgrims converge at Panchavati to take a dip in the nearby Godavari river as it is believed that doing so will wash their sins away.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Panchvati is home to several shrines that can be visited while travellers are staying in Nashik.
Kala Ram Mandir
The Kala Ram Mandir, 5 km south of Central Bus Stand, was constructed in the 12th century by Yadava kings. The entire temple, including the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, has been created from black stone. The 70-ft-high temple holds some major processions during Ramnavmi and Dussehra.
A two-minute walk from the Kala Ram Mandir is Sita Gufa, an underground cave where Sita is said to have lived in exile. A narrow path, which can be accessed only by one person at a time, leads to the cave. Pilgrims need to stand in a queue, and the cave is best seen during daytime (10.00am– 4.00pm), when there is plenty of light. There is no idol inside the cave.
The 18th century Naroshankar Temple in the Panchavati area was built in the ‘Maya’ style of architecture. It houses sculptures of saints, peacocks, monkeys, elephants, etc. on its premises. The temple is enclosed by a 11-ft-high fortification and in its four corners are meghadambaris (umbrellas). One of the four meghadambaris was washed away by a flood in the Godavari river. The front part of the temple’s fortification has a ‘bell house’, which contains the famous Naroshankar bell.
Across the river from Ramkund (a holy tank) is the Kapileswara Temple, located on a slightly elevated portion of land. A little further out is Muktidham Temple, 7 km southwest of the city. Another attraction in this area is the 18th century Sundarnarayan Temple, which houses a deity of Lord Vishnu.
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
It is better to stay in Nashik and as there are only a few lodges available here. There are, however, plenty of eateries. Friendship Restaurant and Little Punjab serve vegetarian meals. Ambika Missal is much sought after for its misal and snacks. Punjab Hotel has nonvegetarian fare. For samosa, kachauri and sweets head to Sagar Sweets.
When to go July to March is pleasant, especially during the monsoon
MTDC, Paryatan Bhavan, Govt Guest House Premises, Near Golf Club Ground, Nashik, Tel: 0253-2570059, STD code 0253
Region Khandesh & Nashik
Location In old Nashik, on the northern banks of the Godavari river
Distance 14 km from Nashik
Route from Nashik Via Vir Sawarkar Path
Panchvati is located around 14 km from the Nashik Railway Station. Autos charge about ₹150 for a drop. You can also hire a car for eight hours for ₹1,200 approx