Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NASHIK- A HOLY CITY

Nashik in Maharashtra State is one of the holiest Hindu Cities as one of the four places where 'Purna Kumbha Mela' takes place once in 12 years.There are more than 100 ancient temples situated in this city.
Nashik is situated 171 km from Mumbai and 210 km from Pune and it is the third largest city in Maharahtra.As per the  area it is the second largest city next to Mumbai.It is the ninth most populous city in India and Nashik District is the eleventh most populous district in India.
Nashik district is also well known for its agricultural products like 'Onions, potatoes and vegetables which are exported from here in large scale.There are so many vineyards here and Nashik is also known as 'The Wine Capital of India'.Grape is also exported from here in large scale.
The famous temples like 'Kalaram' which is dedicated to Lord Shri Ram, One of the Jyothir Linga temples 'Triumbakeshwar Temple, Someshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Muktidham temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu etc are situated in Nashik City. Mumbai,Pune and Nashik are known as the 'Golden Triangle' of Maharashtra.

'Nashik' is also pronounced and called as 'Nasik' and has reference to nose.Nasik is the Sanskrit word for nose.According to the epic 'Ramayana' during the exile period of 14 years by  Lord Sri Ram, his consort Sita and Sri Ram's brother Lakshman, they  lived at this place which was part of the forest 'Dandakaranya'.They lived in a beautiful place of the forest  known as 'Panchavadi' where they found a cave for  their safety.(That cave is still there and known as 'Sita Gumpha').One day demon King Ravan's sister 'Soorpanakha'  approached them at 'Thapovan' near Panchavati and requested Rama to marry her.Rama denied her request and replied he was already married.When Soorpanakha  tried to Kill Sita because of her jealousy towards her  Lakshman with his sword cut off Soorpanakha's  nose.This event resulted in the abduction of Sita to Lanka by Ravan and the war between Rama and Ravan later.'Nashik' got the name from this act  of cutting the nose of  'Soorpanakha' by Lakshman.
The tourist spots in Nashik are mainly-

Panchavati:- Panchavati is the venue of the Kumbh Mela and a Pilgrimage site.Panchvati literally means garden of five banyan trees.It is on  the banks of the sacred river Godavari.The events described in the epic Ramayana's Chapter 'Aaranya Kanda' happened in this place.





Sita Gumha:- Gumpha means Cave and this cave was a dwelling place of Sita and Sri Rama during their exile period.They made a 'Parnasala'(Ashram, small house) also at this place.The Shiv Linga that Sita worshiped is still inside the cave.Idols of Sri Ram,Sita Devi and Lakshmana are also installed in the cave for the devotees for worshiping.

Kala Ram Temple:- It is situated at Panchavati and it is dedicated to Lord Sri Ram.It is the biggest temple in this area.
Someshwar Temple:-Dedicated to Lord Shiva and is very famous and is 6 km away from Nashik.

Muktidham Temple:- This Vishnu temple is visited by many  tourists and devotees.

Ganga Ghat:- Well maintained bathing ghats near the banks of sacred river Godavari.People offer last ceremonies of departed souls of their relatives here.Oil lamps and flowers are floated as religious rituals here.
Ram Kund:- It is believed that at this bathing ghat of Godavari river Sri Ram and Sita used to take  bath.This bathing spot of 27 m x 12 m was built in 1696.A dip in Ram Kund will fulfill our wishes is the belief.

Pandavleni Caves:- This is a tourist spot and are oldest Buddhist Viharas.
Triumbakeshwar Temple:- One of the 12 Jyotir Linga Temples in India.Large number of devotees and tourists visit this temple.River Godavari originates from the premises of this temple.

Shirdi Sai Baba Temple:-The Samadhi Temple of Shirdi Sai Baba which is visited by large number of devotees is in Shirdi 119 km from  Nashik City.





Coin Museum:- Large collection of real ancient Indian coins are on display at this museum.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tourist Spots in Satara District

Satara District in Maharashtra State has several places of interest for tourists.A place surrounded by seven hills is the literary  meaning of 'Satara'.
Satara has the famous hill stations 'Mahabaleswar' and Panchgani.
Mahabaleswar Hill Station
It has a height of 1438 m and the largest hill station of Maharashtra state.The famous Hindu Pilgrimage Shrine of Lord Shiva Mahabaleshwar temple is visited by large number of devotees and tourists every year.
The temple  Pancha Ganga Mandir dedicated to Lord Krishna is also situated here and there in that temple is a carved  statue of a 'Goumukhi'(a cow) and  from its mouth originates the rivers 'Krishna, Veena. Savitri,Gayatri and Koyna'.
Panchgani Hill Station
It is on the highway to Mahabaleswar from Pune.It is surrounded by five small hills which denotes the name 'Panchgani'.It has an altitude of 1334 m.
Vajrai Waterfall
Bhambavli Vajrai waterfall in the district of Satara in Maharashtra State is situated 5 km from the Kas Flower Valley and is a very beautiful sight especially in the monsoons.During the period from July to October the mountains will be lush green and the Kas Valley will have numerous types of bloomed flowers and the waterfall adds to its beauty.The spot where the waterfall is situated is serene and the tranquility of the place attracts all visitors.This is a three tier waterfall falling from a straight cliff.
Thoseghar Waterfall
It is situated 36 km away from Satara and is a pleasant sight to watch in monsoon period.
Ajinkyatara Fort
This Fort which has a height of 3300 feet high is in the center of the City.From the Ajinkyatara mountain a spectacular view of the city is possible.On the Fort temples of Mangala Devi,Lord Shiva and Hanuman are there.
Char Bhinti Hutatma Smarak
It is built in memory of the Martyrs of the 1857 freedom movement and is in the heart of the City.
Sajjangad Fort
Sajjangad Fort is situated 9 km from City of Satara and the 'Samadhi' place of Maratha Saint Samarth  Ramdas.
Masjid and Minars of Karad
The Masjids and Minars of Karad are important historical   Shrines  built by Ibrahim Khan, Sultan Ali Abdul Shah of Bijapur in 1586.
Nandgiri or Kalyangad Fort
It is on the northeast of Satara and is having a height of 3537 feet above sea level.
Mayani Bird Sanctuary
It is a well known Bird Sanctuary having more than 400 species of birds including migratory birds.Mayani is bestowed with scenic beauty and tourists love this place.
Shri Bhavani Museum, Aundh








Aundh is 43 km from Satara and the beautiful museum building situated on the slope of the hill has more than 8000 articles on display and a library having several manuscript collections also.
Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum
Satara was the erstwhile Capital of Maratha Kingdom and have a rich heritage.
The museum display large collection of articles of interest to all visitors  including weapons of the past.
Kanher Dam
Built in 1986 on Veena River.The dam can be viewed from Yevteshwar Hill which is a beautiful sight.
Koyna Dam
One of the largest dam and a hydro electric project built on the river Koyna.Dam and nearby Nehru park are famous picnic spots.
Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary
It covers a large area and lies at an altitude ranging from 600 to 1100 meters.
There are many kinds of wild life here including tiger,Panther,barking deer,pythons,Indian giant Squirrels and also many species of birds.
Maha Ganapati Temple, Wai
It is an important and famous temple which is visited by large number of people.



Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tourist Attractions In and Around Aurangabad

Ajanta and Ellora Caves are the most visited tourist spots in Aurangabad but there are many other tourist attractions in this place.
Bibi Ka Maqbara:- Built by Azam Shah, son of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb as a tribute to his mother and Queen of Aurangazeb, Begum Rabia Durrani.It is a monument in white marble and contains the tomb of the queen.This monument is a replica of the Taj Mahal of Agra.There is a lawn with ponds,water channels,fountains and a garden also.
Panchakki:- A water mill established by Malik Amber in 1695 to grind flour grain and was powered by water brought by canals from a distant hill.
Aurangabad Caves:- Like Ajanta and Ellora Caves these are also very ancient Buddhist caves.
Darwazas:- Aurangabad is also known as City of gates because of these 'Darwazas'(gates) of historical importance made as a part of defense system.There are four main gates leading in to the city and nine secondary gates.
Quila- E - Ark:- This is a palace built by Aurangzeb in 1692.
Daulatabad and the Fort:- Daulatabad was previously known as 'Deogiri' and the Sultan of Delhi 'Mohammad bin Tughluq' shifted his capital from Delhi to this place and renamed it as 'Daulatabad'.(City of Fortune) in 1327..He forcefully moved the people to this place and made it the capital of his empire.After a few years he again shifted the capital back to Delhi.There is a formidable fort here which attracts tourists.
Khuldabad:- This place has the tomb of Aurangzeb and his General Qamer-Ud-din-Khan.The tomb of Asaf Jah 1, the first Nizam of Hyderabad is also here.The Dargah of Zar Zari Zar Baksh,Shaikh Burhan Ud-din-Gharib Chisti are also in this place.
Jayakwadi Dam:- This is a beautiful dam and the water is used for irrigation purpose,industrial use and for drinking purpose also







 in the area.There is an attractive garden and bird sanctuary in the surroundings.
Gautela Sanctuary:- Has an area of 250 square kilometers and is located at a height of 700 feet at a distance of 65 km from Aurangabad.It has rich vegetation and wild life such as 'Monkey,Sloth bears,Wild boar,Leopards,Jackal,Bats,Cranes,Storks' etc.
Mhaismal:-A small hill station in Aurangabad district at an altitude of 1087 m.and is 40 km from Aurangabad.An exact copy of the Tirupati Balaji Temple exists here on the top of the hill station.The view of the surrounding areas from here is very exciting.
Shahgani Masjid:- It was built in 1720 AD and is a very large and beautiful Mosque.
Jama Masjid and Kali Masjid:- Were built by Malik Amber and are  beautiful.
Chouk Masjid:- Another majestic and beautiful Masjid built in 1655 by 'Shayesta Khan'  maternal uncle of Aurangzeb.
Bhadra Maruti: A beautiful Hanuman temple near Aurangabad.
Chini Mahal:- Is an ancient and beautiful Fort.
Museums:- Chatrapati Shivaji Museum,University Museum and Sunehri Museum are the three main museums in this place.Sunehri Mahal was built by a tribal chief of Aurangazeb and transformed into a museum at present.Sunehri Mahal had paintings of gold and hence the name.All the museums contain antiques,coins,artifacts of historical importance,Pottery,Paintings' etc.
Lonar Crater Lake:-It is located at 'Lonar' of Buldana district in Maharashtra and easily accessible from Aurangabad.It is located 550 km from Mumbai and 160 km from Aurangabad.It was formed by the impact of a meteor in very ancient period.It is the third largest crater lake in the world, the other two are one in Siberia and another one at Oregon state of US.
The Lonar crater lake has at the top a circumference of 8 km.The lake is saline.
Grishneshwar Temple:-One among the 12 Jyothirlinga temples in India, Grishneshwar Temple is visited by large number of tourists and devotees. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

AJANTA AND ELLORA CAVES

Ajanta   Caves are fascinating rock cut monuments built during the period 2nd century B.C to 6th century A.D.The wall paintings and sculptures of these caves are magnificent  traditional masterpieces of Indian art and are stunningly beautiful.These monuments are situated in the district of Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra.
Ajanta caves are situated 104 km from the city of Aurangabad and 59 km from Jalgaon railway station.They are at a distance of  12 km from a village known as Ajanta.
Ajanta caves are a group of 30 caves which were built in two phases one set of caves in 2nd century B.C and the others around 400 CE.These caves were made for Buddhist monasteries and were made under the patronage of the rulers of that period.The caves were divided for use as living,   education and for meditation and worship.The Buddhist monks selected this calm and serene village for a peaceful stay and to perform their religious rituals without any disturbances.These caves were a learning center  where large number of pupils were taught.
In the Ajanta caves marvelous wall paintings are seen which are the oldest survivals of wall paintings ever found in India.The wall paintings are unbelievably beautiful and made as per the traditional methods using natural colors and dyes.There are finely carved sculptures and pillars in all these caves.The ceilings are also decorated in geometrical patterns or in floral designs.The wall painting themes are depiction of stories from 'Jataka Tales', different incidents about the life of Lord Buddha.Social theme depictions are also included.The paintings of cave Nos.9 and 10 dates back to 2nd century B.C.
After the decline of Buddhism these caves remained abandoned and unnoticed till 1819 when an Officer of the British army rediscovered them.That area  was a jungle at that time and later transportable roads were made and this place became a tourist destination.These caves are protected by the Archaeological 
Survey of India and are UNESCO World heritage site.
Ellora caves are situated 100 km from Ajanta caves and are 30 km from Aurangabad district headquarters.There are nearly 100 caves in this region


















 but 34 are famous and visited by tourists.These caves belong to Buddhism,Hinduism and Jainism.
Caves 1 to 12 are Buddhist caves, 13 to 29 are Hindu caves and 30 to 34 are Jaina caves signifying the traditional religious tolerance and solidarity of different faiths in the country.
Ellora is one of the world's largest rock cut  monastic temple complex.The world's largest single monolithic excavation temple is the 'Great Kailasa' of cave No.16.