|The Sita Gufa at Panchavati (Photo Courtesy: Sita Gufa Trust)|
Panchavati is situated on the banks of the River Godavari, in Nashik, Maharashtra. It is believed that Rama during his period of exile, had built a hermitage within the forest of Dandakaranya, close to a cluster of five banyan trees. Banyan trees are known as "Vat Vriksh"in Marathi and since there were five Vat Vriksh there, the place came to be known as Panchavati.
Even today, Panchavati bears a lot of sights and scenes that are reminiscent of the times of Ramayana. There are a number of places that one can visit in Panchavati, mostly by foot, or auto-rickshaws. People prefer to walk through the streets of Panchavati, for two reasons - one, it is easier to cover the different temples that are close to one another and more importantly, since it is the land that Rama walked on, people feel it is more appropriate to walk rather than take a vehicle. Those who find it difficult to walk can hire autorickshaws.
The moment you enter the parking near Ramakund, the place where the three rivers, Aruna, Varuna and Godavari converge, and where Rama is believed to have performed the last rites of his father, Dasaratha,
you are surrounded by tourist guides. Hiring a guide helps you to quickly move from shrine to shrine by foot. They normally charge around Rs.200/-
|Ramakund in Panchavati|
|The Banyan (Vat) Trees outside the cave (Photo Courtesy: Holy Darshan - Nashik)|
The cave has a queuing area and a hall inside where books and photographs of the idols in the cave are sold. The queuing area also has signage which say that anyone suffering from TB, Asthma or other respiratory diseases should not attempt to go down the cave.
The cave has a low entrance - say about four feet and one has to really stoop to go down the first level. It further reduces as the level goes down deep into the cave.
|The entrance to the Sita Gufa|
|Sita sees Maricha in the form of a golden deer and asks Rama to catch it for her|
|The idols of Ram, Sita and Lakshmana as found in the Sita Gufa (Photo|
courtesy: Sita Gufa)
|Shiva Linga worshipped by Sita Devi, inside the Gufa (Photo Courtesy: Holy Darshan - Nashik)|
|Ravana appearing as a hermit and Sita coming out to give him food|
|Rama and Lakshmana meeting an wounded Jatayu who tells them that Ravana had carried Sita away|
|Lakshmana cutting Surpanaka's nose|