Trimbak, as Trimbakeshwar is often called, is a town that lies in the shadow of the Brahmagiri Hill, the source of the holy Godavari river. The existence of this town is firmly centred around the magnificent Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga Temple. The Kushavarta Tirtha holy pond near Trimbak hosts the Kumbh Mela held once in 12 years.

LEGENDS AND MYTHOLOGY

At Trimbak are three swayambhu lingas, representing Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They do not rise above the ground but lie in a lower-level aperture. Trimbakeshwar thus gets its name from the holy trinity or ‘tri’. Trimbak also means ‘three eyes’, which Shiva alone possesses.

Kapil Taragi
Devotees at the entrance of the Trimbakeshwar Temple
Devotees at the entrance of the Trimbakeshwar Temple

Trimbakeshwar is also one of the four places where drops of heavenly nectar fell according to the Kumbh Mela legend. According to another legend, the great Sage Gautama meditated at Trimbak and was blessed with the Varuna, a never-ending supply of foodgrains. Other rishis, jealous of his good fortune, sent a cow to his granary. Gautama tried to chase the cow away with blades of grass but she died of wounds inflicted by some of the blades. Gautama prayed to Shiva that the Ganga may be sent down to Trimbak, so that he could be purified of his sin. The river appeared as Godavari (or Gautami, from Rishi Gautama), and Shiva too began residing here as Trimbakeshwar.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga Temple

Devotees enter the temple from the south and approach the sanctum, a few steps below the main mandapa (hall) of the temple. The jyotirlinga is housed in a small depression inside. The Godavari constantly pours out of the top of the lingam. The mandapa, which has doors on all four sides, usually sees pujaris and devotees immersed in rituals. Curvilinear slabs rising in steps form the roof of the mandap. The entire structure is ornamented with exquisite sculptural work. The sangam, or confluence, of the Godavari and its tributary, the Ahilya, is just outside the Trimbakeshwar Temple. The sangam bustles, especially in the mornings, with pilgrims and pujaris.

TIP Only male devotees are allowed inside the sanctum

Kushavarta Tirtha

The Godavari River descends from its origin in the Brahmagiri Hill and merges into the Kushavarta Tirtha. The Kedareshwar Temple is on the southern end of this holy pond. This temple has some exquisite carvings depicting the forms of Lord Shiva.

Sant Nivrutti Nath Samadhi Mandir

This simple shrine with a narrow, colourful dome houses the samadhi of Sant Nivrutti Nath (1195-1219), who was the older brother of one of Maharashtra’s most famous saints, Sant Dynaneshwar. Nivrutti Nath was the first to achieve sainthood in the Varkari sampradaya (tradition), and he guided all his three siblings, including the eventually more famous Dnyaneshwar, besides Sopan and Muktabai, along the path to spiritual enlightenment. An estimated 5 lakh devotees are said to converge at the shrine over four days every January, during the Pausha Vadya Ekadashi celebrations.

Courtesy MTDC
The awe-inspiring edifice of the Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga Temple
The awe-inspiring edifice of the Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga Temple

Neel Parbat

If you are athletically inclined, walk up this scenic hill, taking a flight of 200 stone steps. Ideally undertaken around sunrise or in the late afternoon, the climb takes about 45 minutes to an hour. The sadhus from the Juna Akhada, followers of Brahma, stay atop the hill. There are temples here to Neelambika Devi and Matamba Devi (incarnations of Goddess Durga), and to Brahma and Dattatreya. All the temples are very clean, and are situated in a row. You get lovely views of Trimbak and the imposing Brahmagiri Hill from here.

Brahmagiri Hill

Climbing the Brahmagiri Hill (4,248 ft) is a must-do. To access the correct route, go to the Maharashtra Tourism Office at the base and walk past the house-cum-canteen of the very friendly Wayal family (Tel: 02594- 233807). You can leave your heavy bags behind with them. Fortify yourself with a cup of strong tea, and take a walking stick to ward off curious monkeys en route. It is a reasonably straightforward walk starting with a dirt track, followed by steps and then again an unpaved stretch. And it’s very doable (4 km each way). There are many teashops en route. After reaching the top, you need to cross over to the other side to reach the source of the River Godavari. The river gushes forth from a spring that is within a small 4-ft by 4-ft pit. Statues of Rishi Gautama and his wife Ahilya have been constructed in a concrete square.

Gangdwar

This is where the Godavari makes an appearance for the first time after it emerges from its source atop the Brahmagiri Hill. Located halfway up the hill, albeit on a different route, it’s an easy ascent of 750 concrete steps. The river flows out as a tiny spring from the mouth of the holy Nandi. There is a temple dedicated to the River Ganga atop the hill. Nearby is the Kolambika Devi shrine, and the 108 miniature shivalingas that Rishi Gautama worshipped, which are in the open. A few steps further down is the Gorakhnath Gufa (cave), where the Sage Gorakhnath performed penance. Descending further, the Godavari flows from the roots of an audumbar (fig) tree. This is known as Rama-Lakshmana Tirtha. Lord Rama is said to have performed the shraadh ceremony for his father, King Dasharatha, here. There is a small Ram Mandir here, which one Gopalrao Ghanekar built at a cost of ₹25,000 in 1857.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

The MTDC-run Sanskruti Holiday Resort (Tel: 02594–233143; Tariff: ₹2,500–3,100) is a good option. The other comfortable and squeaky-clean option is the Sevekari Nivas (Tel: 233170, 234130; Tariff: ₹300–1,000, dorm ₹50 per person), 2 km south of Trimbak, on the road to Nashik. Both have western-style toilets. The Shri Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan (Tel: 233048/ 521; Tariff: ₹275–950) offers modest, low-cost accommodation.

Inside the town and close to the bus stand is Dhruv Palace (Tel: 233464, 234019-20; Tariff: ₹1,400– 3,940), which has a restaurant and offers room service. Also near the bus stand is Hotel Krushna Inn (Tel: 234008–09; Tariff: ₹1,850–6,500).

If you are looking for a good thali, make sure to head to Ambika Bhojanalaya, which offers delicious Gujarati thalis for lunch and dinner. Mahalakshmi, also near the temple, is popular for its vegetarian food.

Also pay a visit to the places run by the friendly couple Megsham and Suvarna Deshpande. Their Shri Prasad Lunch Home, at Omkar Palace, has Punjabi and Chinese dishes as well as a good standard thali. Sanskruti, on NH3, is also popular for the variety it offers.

FAST FACTS

When to go Anytime of the year. The maximum crowds arrive during Mahashivratri

Tourist Office

MTDC Holiday Resort, Trimbakeshwar, Tel: 02594-233143, MTDC Paryatan Bhawan, Govt Guest House premises, Near Gold Club Ground Nashik, Tel: 0253-2570059, W maharashtratourism.gov.in

 STD codes: Trimbakeshwar 02594, Nashik 0253

GETTING THERE

Region Khandesh & Nashik

Location At the foot of the Bramhagiri Hill (4,248 ft) in the Sahyadri Range in NW Maharashtra

Distance 28 km SW of Nashik

Route from Nashik SH from Nashik

Air Nearest Airport: Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport (208 km/ 6 hours). Taxi costs ₹3,000–3,500

Rail Nearest railhead: Nashik (28 km/45 minutes). Private taxis (available round the clock) charge ₹700–800 to Trimbakeshwar

Road When going from Mumbai, take NH3, via Igatpuri, to Nashik. Take the SH from Nashik to Trimbakeshwar

Bus ST buses as well as private buses have regular buses from Mumbai, Pune and Aurangabad to Nashik, everyday. Regular buses ply to Trimbakeshwar from Nashik and they cost ₹30