Nashik is also known by the names of Godavari, Panchavati and Gautami etc. The place where Lakshmana had cut off the nose of Ravana’s sister Shurpanakha and Sitaharan took place, that place is famous as Nashik Panchvati. Nashik is the place of Lord Trimbakeshwar, a little far from Panchvati. The Putasalila Godavari originates from the nearby Brahmagiri mountain. The greatness which is of the sin-removing Ganges in North India, the same is Godavarika in the South. In the south it is famous by the name of Ganga. Just as the ascetic Bhagirath is credited for the descent of Ganga on this earth, similarly the flow of Godavari is the result of the severe penance of sage Shrestha Gautam, which he received from Lord Ashutosh.
Just as Mother Ganga, who descended on the earth due to the efforts of Bhagirath, is called Bhagirathi, similarly the other name of Godavari, which came as a result of the penance of Rishi Gautam, is Gautami. Their glory is too much. A huge Kumbhka fair is held here when Jupiter enters Leo. Godavari-snan has a great significance on the occasion of this Kumbh. Trimbakeshwar, situated near the origin of these holy godess Godavari, also has great glory. According to the request of Gautam Rishi and Godavari, Lord Shiva pleased to reside in this place and became famous as Trimbakeshwar.
There are three small lingams in a small pit inside the temple, which are believed to be symbols of the three gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. According to Shiv Purana, the one who has darshan and worship of Trimbakeshwar always has joy in this world and in the hereafter. There are seven hundred wide steps to reach the top of Brahmagiri mountain. After climbing these stairs, ‘Ramkund’ and ‘Lakshmankund’ meet and on reaching the top of the summit one gets the vision of Bhagwati Godavari emerging from Gomukh.
In the description-context of Nashik-Mahatmya, it is said in Shiva Purana, Rudrasamhita, Chapter twenty four
Whoever takes a bath and drink of Gautami Ganga at the time of Simhastha festival in Godavari, Gods, Demons, Yakshas and human beings, will be free from all troubles and will be victorious. One attains salvation by bathing, worshiping, reciting and donating in Godavari during the time of Simhastha Guru. One who takes a bath in ‘Indratirtha’ at the time of Kumbh festival in Godavari and sees ‘Trymbakeshwar’, gets rid of all sins and goes to ‘Indraloka’ and one who takes bath in Indratirth on Kumbh festival and performs Shradh-tarpan for ancestors. , he attains Akshaya happiness by getting rid of the debt of the father.
It has been described in Rudrasamhita, Chapter Twenty Seven that whosoever takes a ritualistic bath in the Godavari at Simhastha and has darshan of Trimbak on the occasion of Kumbh festival, gets the merit of bathing all the pilgrimages and worshiping and darshan of all the deities. At the same time, all the sins of that person are also removed.
The residence always has a special importance, but its special importance increases during the period of Simhastha Kumbh. The reason for this is that Godavari resides in the Trimbakkshetra – Godavari (Nashik) during the Simhastha Kumbh period, pulling all its parts from Heaven and Patala. A person who takes birth in a span of ten yojanas around the banks of the Gautami Ganges situated in Godavari, gets salvation along with his ancestors. In Shiva Purana, there is a great deal of manifestation and greatness of Gautami (Godavari).
A GLORY STORY
Once upon a time, there lived a great sage known as Gautama, whose name of the most pious wife was Ahalya. He did penance for ten thousand years, where Brahmagiri is in the south. Once upon a time there was a terrible precipitation for a hundred years. Everyone fell into great sorrow. Not even a wet leaf was visible on this ground floor. Then Gautam Rishi pleased Varuna by doing penance for six months. Varun appeared and asked to ask for a boon – the sage prayed for rain. Varun said- ‘I will give you eternally inexhaustible water, according to your wish, by not raining against the laws of the gods. You prepare a pit.’
On being told this, Gautam dug a deep pit with one hand and Varuna filled it with divine water and said to Gautam, the sage who was adorned with benevolence, – ‘Mahamune! This water, which will never be depleted, will be a pilgrimage for you and it will be known on earth by your own name. Donations made here, home, austerity, worship of the gods and Shradh of ancestors – all will be inexhaustible. Maharishi Gautam also got great happiness by doing a favor to others through that water. Due to the influence of Gautamji, there was joy everywhere in that forest.
Once there, the women of Brahmins settled in Gautam’s ashram got angry with Ahalya about the incident of water. They provoked their husbands. They worshiped Ganesha to bring evil to Gautam. Devotee Lord Ganesha appeared and asked to ask for a boon – then he said – ‘Lord! If you want to give us a boon, then do some such remedy, by which all the sages, by reprimanding them, get Gautam out of the ashram.
Hearing the words of the wicked brahmins, Ganesha explained them in a different way and said – Brahmins! You are not doing the right thing at this time. Being angry with Gautam ji without any offense will only harm you. If sorrow is given to those who have done favor in the past, then it is not beneficial for itself. Earlier, when you had to suffer due to fasting, then Maharishi Gautam gave you happiness by arranging water. But at this time all of you are giving him sorrow. It is not proper to do so. That’s why you ask for some other boon. But the brahmins did not listen to Ganesha, then because of being subordinate to the devotees, those Shivakumars said – ‘Whatever you have prayed for, I will definitely do it, what will be promising will remain behind.’ Saying this he disappeared.
After that, one day Ganeshji went to Gautamji’s field as a weak cow due to the mischief of those evil sages and because of the boon he received. The cow was trembling because of the boon given to her and started grazing there barley etc. At the same time divinely Gautamji came there and started driving the cow with a handful of straws. At the touch of those straws, the cow fell on the earth and died at the sight of the sage.
Those hateful brahmins and their wicked women were hiding there watching everything. As soon as that cow fell, they all said – What did Gautam do?’ Gautam was also surprised and called Ahalya and said sadly – ‘Goddess! What happened, how did it happen? It seems that God has become angry with me. What do I do now ? Where do I go? I got murdered.’
Then the brahmin said – ‘Now you should not show your face. On seeing the face of the cow-killer, one should immediately take a bath with clothes on. As long as you remain in this labor, Agnidev and Pitra will not accept any of the poems given by us. That’s why sinners, cow killers! You go somewhere else with your family. Do not delay.’
There upon Gautam immediately left that place and on the orders of all of them, he went a distance away and built an ashram for himself. Going there also those brahmins said – ‘As long as there is murder on you,
Till then you should not perform any Yagya-Yagadi Karma. You have no right to perform any Vedic Dev Yagya or Pitru Yagya.’ Munivar Gautam, being saddened by that sorrow after spending a side according to his statement, started praying again and again to those sages for their purification. On praying to his humble nature, those brahmins said- ‘Gautam! Revealing your sin, you circumambulate the whole earth three times. Then come back and fast here for a month. After that you will be purified after doing one hundred and one circumambulation of this Brahmagiri. Or bring Gangaji here and take bath with her water and worship Mahadevji by making one crore Parthivalinga. Then take a bath in the Ganges and circumambulate this mountain eleven times. Thereafter, you will be saved by bathing the earthly Shivling with a hundred pots of water.
Thereafter, following the orders of those brahmins, Maharishi Gautam started worshiping Lord Shiva. Satisfied with the worship of Rishi Gautam along with his wife, Lord Shiva appeared there with Shiva and Pramathagan and said – ‘Mahamune! I am very pleased with your excellent devotion. You ask for a groom.’ At that time, bowing down to Lord Shiva, the sage said with folded hands, ‘Dev! Make me sinless.’ On this Lord Shiva said- ‘Mune! Blessed are you, an act of gratitude, and always sinless. These wicked ones have deceived you. They are all ungrateful. They can never be saved.’
Hearing the words of Mahadevji, Maharishi Gautam said- ‘O Maheshwar! Those sages did me a great favor. If he had not behaved like this, how would I have seen you. My great selfishness has been proved by his misconduct. Maheshwar was very pleased to hear this talk of Gautamji and said – ‘Vipravar! Blessed are you, the best among all the sages. I am very happy on you. You ask me for a better groom.’ On this Gautamji said- ‘O Devesh! If you are happy, then grant me the Ganges so that the world can be greatly benefited. Asking for such a boon, Gautam caught both the feet of Shiva. Then Shiva said to Ganga, ‘O Goddess! Purify you monks and do not go back immediately
Manuke stay here till the eighteenth Kaliyugat.’ Then Gangaji said – ‘Maheshwar! If my greatness is greater than all the rivers, Ambika and Ganki Matha you also stay here, only then I will remain on this earth.’ Hearing the words of Gangaji, Lord Shiva said – ‘Gange! You are blessed. Listen to me. I am not different from you, however I am here according to your statement
I will be situated.’
Hearing the words of Lord Shiva, Gangaji became happy in her heart and started praising him immensely. At the same time the deities, ancient sages, many great pilgrimages and different types of areas arrived there. They all worshiped Gautam, Ganga and Shiva with great respect. Thereafter the deities eulogized him by bowing their heads and with folded hands. At that time, pleased Ganga and Girish asked the gods to ask for a boon. Then the deity said – ‘Deveshwar! If you are satisfied and the best among rivers, Ganges! If you are also happy, then you should kindly reside here to make us and human beings dear. On this Gangaji said- ‘Gods! Then why don’t you yourself stay here to make everyone’s favorite? I will return just as I have come after washing Gautamji’s sins. How can I find out if any of my specialties are considered here in your society? If you can prove my specialty here, I will definitely stay here – there is no doubt about that.”
Hearing the words of Gangaji, all the gods said – ‘Ganges is the best among rivers! Whenever the supreme friend Brihaspatiji will be situated on the sign of Leo, then we will all come here, there is no doubt about it. We will come to you respectfully to wash away the same sins, when people get polluted by the filth that will be bleached here for eleven years. We have said this absolutely true thing. Sirdware! Mahadevi! Therefore, you and Lord Shankar should always reside here in order to be kind to all the worlds and to be dear to us. As long as Guru (Jupiter) stays on Leo sign, we will stay here. At that time we will be purified by having a trikal bath in your water and having darshan of Lord Shankar. Then after taking your permission, we will return to our place.’Thus, on the prayers of those deities and Maharishi Gautam, Lord Shankar and Ganga, the best among the rivers, both settled there. The Ganges there became famous by the name of Gautami (Godavari) and the Jyotirmay Linga of Lord Shiva was called Tryambak. This Jyotirlinga is the destroyer of great evils. From that day onwards whenever Jupiter is situated in Leo, then all the pilgrimages, regions, deities, lakes like Pushkar etc., rivers like Ganga etc. and Shri Vishnu etc. Devgans definitely come and reside on the banks of Gautami. As long as they live on the banks of Gautami, they do not have any fruit in their place. When they return to their world, only then do they get the fruits of their consumption there. This famous Jyotirlinga named Tryambak is situated on the banks of Gautami and is the destroyer of great evils. One who worships, worships, eulogises and bows to this Trimbak Linga with devotion becomes free from all sins.