Visited a number of places in the two days and what follows is a description as seen through my eyes :)
1. Tryambakeshwar temple - This is the biggest and the most famous attraction of Nashik. had heard a lot about the temple and its unusual 'shivlinga' and we reached the temple in good time... not too long a queue and the crowds quickly dispersed. The unique shivlinga had 3 holes instead of the usual ling structure which is said to signify Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Also the darshan was by viewing the ling in a mirror because the actual ling is set deep down!
After the darshan, I stepped out to take some photographs of the temple but I was prevented from doing so by the guards... but that wasnt to stop me, was it? ;) I stepped behind a tree and clicked a snap nonetheless!! With that the visit to the temple came to an end and we returned to the cool interiors of the waiting Scorpio....
2. Godavari dam- Next stop was the dam across the Godavari river... though not originally in the plan, we made a stop nyways. Not much to look at but the lake was huge and the cool breeze rippling over the surface was refreshing! Spent quite some time by the lake, dipping my feet in the water, posing for a few pics :)
3. Panchavati We then moved on to our next stop, Panchavati, the place which was witness to the cause of many a great events.... The ghat and the Rama (kalaram/goraram) mandirs were on the agenda and they were duly visited... What wasnt on the agenda and turned out to be the highlight was the 'Sitaguha'... It was a temple with a difference, it was a guha but again, with a difference.... there was a low, extremely low entrance through which we could pass only by sitting down and moving on our butts and then were steep stairs down... and so thats how we went, one step at a time on our butts :D Right outside the sitaguha was the site of the famed 'panch vat' from which the place takes its name!
By the time we were done with our sight-seeing, the sun was in its dying stages and it was time for us to bid adieu to Panchavati....
4. Phalke Smarak - There is a museum and smarak dedicated to the great Dadasaheb Phalke who hailed from Nashik and I was enthused to go visit it, hence we decided to take a slight detour and go inspite of it being late in the day.... but alas, it was not meant to be! Due to some unscheduled load-shedding, the musuem and the entire premises had already closed for the day and we had to return dejected!
5. Adhikari dinner - By now, I was completely tired and all ready for a good night's sleep but there was still one item on the agenda - a dinner invite at Baba' colleague Mr. Adhikari's residence! Though the dinner was nothing to write home about, I did meet two extremely smart and talented young girls - Pratyusha and Priyanka. Daughters of Mr. Adhikari, they had many awards and credits to their name and I even got to listen to a marathi elocution from Pratyusha!
Dinner done we finally returned to the hotel room and I tucked in for the night!
---**---Day two dawned ( a bit too early, if u ask me!) and we were all ready for another day at the road...
1. Gargoti mineral museum - First stop for the day and I was spellbound!! The unimaginable beauty of stones/minerals.... who could imagine that within the inocuous looking stones are sparkling amethysts, radiant rubies and the like!! It simply was unbelievable... spent quite some time in the museum and took a lot of photographs and even bought a beautiful blood-red pendant!
2. Shirdi - Well, the trip would have been incomplete without a visit to the Saibaba temple at Shirdi... so there we were, racing against time to make it for the 12 o'clock aarti but we missed it by just a few minutes! This was the first time I was visiting Shirdi and I was pretty amazed at the sheer number of people I saw... hundreds of devotees waiting patiently in queues stretching over a kilometre to pay their respects to Saibaba! I also asked for his blessings for the new innings in my life and after spending some time in the environs of the temple, we had our lunch at a nearby restaurant and were soon on our way...
3. Shani Shingnapur - We were now in the last leg of our trip and wanted to make the most of it... our driver suggested visiting Shani Shingnapur temple since we had come so far and shouldnt leave without seeing that as well.... There is also a famous saying that goes with the place - no doors, no windows to the houses in this area, anyone daring to steal turns lame!! Well, a place with so much novelty had to be visited! But nothing had prepared me for the sight that awaited me!! Only men were allowed to offer puja and that too only wearing a saffron cloth tied around their waists... also a purifying bath was a must and so there were I was in a sea of half-naked, fully drenched men waiting for the darshan!! The Shani god (not an idol but a piece of rock!) was being bathed with oil and all the women had to watch from a distancewhile the men made the offerings.... Strange sight, indeed!!
The trip to Shani Shingnapur officially concluded our Nashik trip and we all bundled into the waiting Scorpio and left for home, sweet home!!