Sita Haran Museum:Situated in Panchavati, it is exactly in front of the Sita Gufa (narrow cave in Panchavati where Sita stayed for some days during Vanvas. The entrance of this gumpha is small, a bit narrow and a little slope).
We can see Sitaharan Museum with just a Re.1 entrance fee. It is definitely worth watching. Awesome sculptures and murals based on the Sita haran (kidnapping of Sita) theme.
Sundara Narayana Mandir:The sea port town of Nagapattinam is home to the handsome Soundara Raja Perumal. Thiru Mangai Azhvaar is said to have been so lured by the beauty of the tall and lanky Lord Soundara Rajan that he imagined himself as a lady (Nayaki) to admire better the beauty of the Lord. In almost each of the 10 Paasurams that Thiru Mangai Azhvaar composed in praise of Soundara Raja Perumal, one can see him admiring his beauty.
ponnivar meni maragadhaththin pongkilam sodhi agalaththu aram
min ivar vayil nalvedham odhum vedhiyar vanavaravar thozhi
ennaiyum nokki en algulum nokki endhilam kongkaiyum nokkuginrar
annai ennokkum enru anjchuginren achcho oruvar azhagiyava
‘Achcho’ is a phrase used to show our excitement when we see something that keeps us ‘spell bound’.
Now we are at Nasik Panchavati and let us have the darshan of Sundara Nayaryan Perumal in this beautiful form (sundara murthy).
The Sundarnarayan temple is built by Gangadhar Yashwant Chandrachud in 1756 at a distance of 1 km from Central Bus Stand. The entrance of the temple is to the East. The architecture is attractive and the round dome is made by little ornamental cordons. The arched recesses are impressions of Mughal sclupture. The main deity is of Lord Vishnu - also called Narayana. Fine design is carved on the stones of the temple. On the road leading towards Godavari River there is Badarika Sangam Pond. It is said that the king of Devgiri bathed and performed rites in this pond. We also find a mention of this pond in the holy book Dnyaneshwari. One remarkable thing about this temple is that it is built at such an angle that on 21st March, rays of the rising Sun first fall exactly upon the idols. In the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, are idols of Sunder Narayan with Goddess Lakshmi and Vrunda (Thulasi Devi) while His vehicle Garuda sits in front. The temple also has idols of standing Ganesha, Kaal Bhairav and sitting Maruti.
Sundarnarayan temple is situated at the corner of Ahillyabai Holkar Bridge. The story goes like this : Vrinda Devi was a very pious and faithful wife of Jalandar - a wicked demon. Jalandar, a mighty crook, was the devotee of Lord Shiva. Pleased with his prayers and impressed by Jalandar's wife's chastity, Lord Shiva gave him a boon that made him immortal. With this boon, Jalandar became vicious and started creating havoc on earth. He not only troubled human beings, but also disturbed the Gods. He even ventured to pick up a quarrel with Lord Shiva himself. It became necessary to eliminate him which was contrary to the boon given by Lord Shiva. The only way out was to suspect Vrinda Devi's chastity. For this task Lord Vishnu duplicated himself to look like Jalandar and lived with Vrinda Devi. Thus her chastity was suspected and the boon given to Jalandar was withdrawn and he was destroyed. When Vrinda Devi came to know of the trick played by Lord Vishnu, she got furious and cursed Lord Vishnu. His attractive body turned black due to the curse. Lord Vishnu took a holy bath in the river Godavari and regained his complexion. Since he became beautiful again, - the Lord is named as Sundarnarayana. Sundar in Marathi means beautiful.
The 9th pasuram of Amalanadhipiran - Aalamaa maratthinilai.... Lord Ranganatha reclining on the serpent couch Adisesha in Sri Rangam is the one who (long ago) having devoured the seven worlds, was seen (by the Sage Markandeya and found to be)lying on the leaf of a great banyan tree as (an exquisite) Child, incomparable; the Lord Ranganatha is adorned with beautiful garland studded with peerless gems and pearl necklace; His Holy Body (Archa form) of blue diamond lustre is of enormous beauty and excellent complexion; such a divine BODY of God has, aiyo! outweighed my mind ( i.e, the Lord showing His whole BODY full of beauty has taken away everything from me- my mind, heart and soul).
When plucking Tulasi for devotional purposes, one should use one's fingers only, especially the fleshy parts and not the nails. When doing so one should chant the slokam "Tulasi Amritajanmaasi, Sadaatvam Kesavapriye" - meaning "Oh, Tulasi, birthplace of the nectar, your are always dear to Kesavan." Perumal becomes happy due to this act of us since we offer Thulasi to him. Thulasi Devi is here in this temple along with Sundara Narayana Perumal.
Rama's hunt of the golden deer: One of the key episodes of Ramayana talks about how Rama hunted a golden deer (actually an illusion created by the demon Maricha). When the deer got hit by Rama's arrow, it shouted "Lakshmana!!!", mimicing Rama's voice. Hearing this, Sita insisted Lakshmana to rush and look out if Rama got hurt somewhere in the jungle. That is when, the demon king Ravana came and captured Sita and flew away with her to Lanka.
Few kilometers from Nashik, there are locations where it is said the hunting of the golden deer took place. There is one at 32 KM, one at 39 KM and one at 42 KM and one at 60 KM. Each of these temples explain various states of Ram when he was trying to follow the deer till he killed Marichan.
Baneshwar - Location where Rama shot the arrow towards the golden deer
Madhyeshwar - Location where the deer saw Rama and started running for life
Mrugavyatheshwar - Location where the deer fell, hit by the arrow
It is said, the deer still ran further away and finally dropped dead only in Aurangabad.
All these places have specific temples built for Rama.
It was nice to get to know about so many places of pilgrimage surrounding the town of Nashik.
From Nasik if we travel for 25KM there is an important place called Taket - Jatayu moksha sthalam - Place where Ram gave Mukthi to Jatayu. Let us see that place in our next upcoming articles. For now, we are starting from Nasik/Panchavati and going towards Taket.