Pune-Sinnar-Nashik '19


Prologue : Had a hectic start for the year , and without possibility of a longish road trip, decided to do a quick one to Nashik between 19-21 Jan

Googled a bit and planned to visit the following places :

Gondeshwar Temple (Sinnar)
Gargoti Museum (Sinnar)
Trirashmi Caves(Pandavleni)
RamKund area of Nashik city

Sule Vineyard tour was suggested by a few pals, but somehow , spending a day in a heavily "manicured" place like that, dint appeal much to us.So dropped it .


Day 1 Pune-Sinnar-Nashik

We started off at around 7 ish taking the usual Pune-nashik highway route , assuming we would be comfortably be in Sinnar by 11. However , encountered a a mammoth snarl at Chakhan (industrial area in the outskirts of Pune) , which slowed us down and also sapped off much of the energy. Had to play my 5 1/2 year old kid's favourite song ( a song about couple of toads fooling around ) in a loop through out the jam , just to keep him occupied. Phew.

Once we were out of the jam, we took a halt for some breakfast and tea at a roadside joint . The place was far off from Pune or any city as such, and observed migrants from far flung region of West Bengal and a couple of NE states , manning the kitchen and services. May be the cheap internet , video calling, content from their homeland are making life bit less difficult for 'em in a very different cultural terrain, these days. Hope so.

Gondeshwar Temple

Anyway , we reached Sinnar bit late by 12.30. Google Maps does provide the accurate location. As we were near the temple, we just observed a number of bikes and couple of cars parked outside a dilapidated structure. Apart from a few kids running after kites , there wasn't much of an activity around.


Outside the Gondeshwar temple

And then...we walk into ...this...


Gondeshwar temple,Sinnar

This is a 11th century temple built by yada dynasty. Apart from the main shrine which is dedicated to Shiv, there are some other shrines dedicated to Parvati, Vishnu,Surya and Ganpati. The walls of the temple have motifs from Ramayan. The temple is definitely lacking an active upkeep. Apart from the customary ASI board with some info about the temple and a few dustbins , didn't notice much of an effort by them to maintain it . The compound wall of the magnificent temple is also breaking off. There were very few tourists , and apparently its the haunting ground for pre-wedding/post-wedding shooting maniacs. There were at least 5 such groups indulging themselves with ton of shooting gears , drones and of course ridiculous poses. Had to obstruct some of the ongoing photo/video sessions in-order to take closer look at the walls. I am sure, these activities would lead to a lot of physical damage to the walls and the structures. I feel we Indians like to gloat over our heritage, but extremely irresponsible and insensitive to those in real life. Anyway - end of rant.

Anyway here are some of the other pics


The Shivling is a large one, and though rest of the temples/idols are conventional ones, the Parvati idol is really interesting one. Not sure what is actually depicted.

Parvati idol-is that mahishasur being slayed ?

After spending couple of hours we decided to go to the Gargoti Meuseum. Had a single regret - of not carrying a proper camera :(
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Gargoti Meuseum
Website : Gargoti – The mineral museum

This is around 10 minutes driving distance from the above temple, and located within the MIDC area, this is India's largest private collection of rare stones/minerals . Google map provides accurate location. There is an entry fee of 200 Rs / head , and this place houses a dazzling display of rare and very old (millions of year old) precious mineral stones. There is a guide which gets allotted to a group of 4-5 visitors, who walks you through the display galleries. Some of the stuff is seriously mind boggling, though it gets a bit monotonous at times. There are couple of dino eggs, dino bones, moon dust in display. Also theres a stone that has a droplet of water lodged inside it, which is several million years old. Remember the mosquito in Jurassic park ?

This is like a fine arts gallery , crafted by Mother Nature. There were colour shades which I was seeing for the first time, and never imagine something like that could ever exist. There were stones, recovered from river beds/mines which were cut, carved, polished to perfection by nature through millions and millions of years of patience.

Attaching some of the pics. Definitely recommended for someone interested in stones/geology. Theres also a shop which sells stuff (as in the website) .


Superman-Fortress of solitude :D



Had a very late lunch and headed straight to our room at the Express Inn Hotel in the Nashik-Agra highway side. The hotel a very comfortable one, and is definitely a recommended one if you are looking for comfort and luxury(or if you were just lucky and got a good deal with MMT like me :) )


Day 2 Trimbakeshwar and Brahmagiri hills

Had a sumptuous breakfast in the hotel, and headed out early at around 830 towards Trimbakeshwar with tentative plan of covering it and Buddhist caves on the way back.

Trimbakeshwar is one of the most important jyotirlings in India. Perched in the foothills of of Brahmagiri hills, this 18th century temple was built in Hemadpanthi style by Nana Saheb Peshwa. The temple houses a unique shiv ling with three faces representing the holy trinity.Theres also a kind which is supposed to be one of the origins of Godavari river. This temple also had the famous Nassak diamond, which was looted off by the Brits after the Anglo-Maratha war.

Holier the place , often behaviour of people around remains far from it. Right at the entry of the temple campus, there was paring lot, and while approaching it , we were asked to shell out 100Rs for the car. We were further told that this was the only parking area. However , seeing it near empty, I felt there was something fishy about it. Decided drive ahead, and then right next to it, discovered the govt parking lot. The temple is around 5 minutes walking distance from the parking lot, through small crowded, bustling lanes of the small temple town.

Realised after reaching the temple, that we might have underestimated the popularity of the place, and there was a long line already.We spent almost 3 hours in the line, as it trudged along at snails pace. There were people from all parts of the country and what was common through most of them was this extreme urge and impatience to view the lord, so much so that they were ready to push and trample down who ever was ahead of them in the queue. Anyone with small kids, be careful, people go mad when they get a chance to enter the temple.Or it could juts be a bad day , that day perhaps. Who knows. But be careful !

After the darshan was finally over, had a quick bite of south indian food at the kamath hotel which is ubiquitous in Maharashtra.

Asked around and came to know about Brahmagiri hills. There are quite a few myths and legends associated with these hills. Apparently Mahadev indulged in tandav Nritya on the hill, Godavari has its origin here, also the hill has few caves frequented by sages for meditation. There are two routes to approach this place. Right near the temple theres a flight of around 700 steps leading right to Gangadwar. There was also another approach with around 250 stairs but at a place around 5-7 kms away from the temple area. Rickshaw are available till the start of the second option and they charge around 400-500 for a too fro journey.


On the way to Brahmagiri hills

Took a rickshaw and after a few winding turns around a hill, encountered this


After walking around 1 km through the muddy track we reached a place where we could see this.


Brahmagiri hill

There began the stairs.Had ecided to get guide(local lad to help shoo away the monkeys). If you don’t want to get a guide, you can even borrow a stick to ward off monkeys. There were shops selling nimbu-pani and tea en-route, but its always safe to carry your own water. Palkis are also available.

Finally reached the place where Godavari is supposed to have appeared . Theres a small temple with a black idol of Godavari.

Temple Godavari origin

Legend has it that Godavari appeared at this place to wash off the sins of Rishi Gautam who thought he had killed a cow , due to a trick played by Ganesh. There are few caves where Gautam and his wife Ahalya prayed. Theres a small cave where there are 108 shiv ling - which was worshipped by Rishi Gautam. There was a site associated with Gorakshanath.

The view from top was just amazing, and I could just wonder what a sight it would be during the rains.

Trimbak city from top

It was late afternoon, and very pleasant. With those caves and stories narrated by those folks there , it was as if we experienced this primordial instinct of humans to create stories at its best.How many generations were these passed through and how many more generations will pass these on !


Must be amazing after rains...

Soon sensed the heavy-set familiar smell of weed which was being consumed by a sadhu baba in one of the caves. After one more sagacious tale of ungodly act of a certain god by him, we decided to leave.On the way down, gulped down some nimbu pani- which in all probabilities was prepared by the water from Godavari in one of the caves.We took the rickshaw back to Trimbakeshwar temple, and then drove back to the hotel, not before a round of sumptuous snacks from a roadside dhaba along the highway.


It was already evening and we were tired by the time we reached . We decided to extend our stay by one more day so that we could cover Buddhist Caves and the Nasik city areas. With no affordable rooms available in the hotel we were staying at , had to book a cheaper one at a place nearer to the city.

Decided to go for the Buddhist caves the next morning,


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Day 3 - Trirashmi Leni (Nasik Caves or Pandav leni)

A group of 24 Buddhist caves , these were built between 1st Century BC to 3rd Century AD. Nestled amongst the TriRashmi hills, the place has no relation with Pandavs of Mahabharat fame. Though not as rich as those of Ajanta, Ellora, these definitely would figure right after them in the list. There are lot of intricate carvings, buddha statues, bodhisattvas, stupa, inscriptions,caves,religious motifs, and is a must visit place if you are in or around Nasik. My poor photography skills , plus the cranky mobile phone , definitely won't do justice to this magnificent place.

The place was around 2 kms from our hotel. Headed there at around 8.30 AM in the morning after breakfast. Also noticed a memorial dedicated to Dadasaheb Phalke and a Buddhist Prayer hall at the foot of the hill. There must be around 200 steps leading to the caves. ASI , for some weird reason has decided to put signages with detailed information about the caves all along the steps , but not a single one near the caves. So , it becomes really tough to actually related the information that you read to what you see when you reach the top.

There are a few inscriptions available on the cave walls , which you can read up in the wikipedia page for this site. I just wish ASI was more sensible enough to install more information boards right were it mattered! There were so many religious motifs , and we just wished we could have been better informed somehow. You can make out lot of stuff about footwear and headgear of those time if you note the statuses closely. Overall an amazing experience. My son enjoyed the most as he climbed, slid through the network of rock cut stairs within the caves. We spent nearly 3 hours, and then decided to get back to the hotel to check out .



Kids will have gala time climbing these up and down









Notice the reddish hue-perhaps remnant of old colors



Main Stupa








Next We checked in to the SSK Solitaire hotel , and after lazing around in the afternoon after a heavy lunch , we headed to the Panchvati area of Nasik which has lot of historical places and spots with mythological importance. Ramkund was the place where I had a chance to witness the Shahi Snan during the Nasik Simhasta Mahakumbh. Had seen people pour through the narrow lanes leading to the Godavari river in thousands.
This time around, we just kept loitering around the narrow bylanes , bordered with old/new residential houses ,lodges , dilapidated structures , and of course temples. There was this constant pleasing humming mix of unique streams aartis, bhajans, bell chimes from various sources filling up the air. We visited the usual places like Ramkund , kalaram Temple, SIta Gumpha, kapileshwar temple etc, spend some more time on the river bank and headed back to the hotel. The area is extremely crowded -so make sure you hire a rickshaw , rather than getting your car !

The SSK Solitaire hotel is Okayish , a typical business hotel where you can perhaps just spend a night. Food was okay though a bit costly even by big city standards.

Day 4 Nasik - Pune

We started at around 10 in the morning with a silent prayer to God to spare us the Chakan traffic while entering Pune, and well, we weren't disappointed :) With quite a few pit stops for food, tea , pan , photos, child tantrum, grapes , reached Pune by 5 Pm.
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Audio guide as in , where they hand you a system with earphone and content ? No , nothing of that sort was available.
Or are there apps/audio files that can be downloaded and used for such occasions ?
This site , though very important one , perhaps doesn't draw enough attention from visitors or ASI due to closer and more illustrious cousins (ie: Ajanta Ellora) :)