Magazine 2013
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
RH, VOL. 3 JULY 2013  
Nashik: Development Into A Pilgrim Centre  
Mittal Chauhan  
The paper focuses on development of Nashik into pilgrimage centre and major tourist attraction with  
its wide and diverse culture. It focuses on how Nashik has transformed into major tourist and religious hub  
and factors leading to it. An attempt is made to understand how Nashik as a pilgrim centre has developed  
and emerged as an instrument for employment generation and development.  
Keywords - , Pilgrimage centre, Development.  
Nashik is a city situated on the banks of river Godavari, in the state of Maharashtra. Nashik is believed  
to have derived its name from Ramayan, when Lakshman chopped off the nose (nasika in sanskrit) of Surpanakha  
Ravan’s sister). It is one of the holiest place for Hindus due to its mythological, historical, social and cultural  
importance. Nashik is home to a large number of sacred ghats and temples. It is also one of the four locations  
where the revered Kumbh Mela is held every twelve years. Besides, this it is also a tourist hub attracting visitors  
of Shirdi, Trimbakeshwar and millions of devotees who come to take a dip into the holy water of Godavari and  
remit sins. Shirdi, a small hamlet is renowned for the Shirdi Sai Baba shrine. The Saptashringi Devi Temple,  
Bhandardara and Saputara, Jawhar – a picturesque hill station and the Nandur Madhameshwar Bird Sanctuary  
are some of the other attractions of Nashik.  
Nashik is also popularly known as Grape City and City of Temples.  
Nashik has its own rich cultural history. It was owned by various rulers mainly by Maurya rulers, followed  
by Marathas during 1748 and British during 1818. Hindus are in majority followed by Muslims and Buddhists  
majority being Marathi speaking population. The economy of Nashik is primarily agrarian in character. Non-  
agricultural employment depends heavily on village and cottage industries. Nashik is quite rich in trade and  
commerce, also engaged in export business. Transport facilities by air, rail and road is well developed being a  
tourist and trading centre.  
There are various factors responsible for development of Nashik into pilgrim centre one of the main  
being religion i.e. Hinduism. Nashik being the sacred place where Lord Rama, the king of Ayodhya, took  
abode during his 14 years in exile along with Sita and Lord Laxman. Panchavati is a place of religious significance.  
According to Hindu Mythology and epic Ramayana, Panchavati was the place in the forest of Danda Kingdom  
where Lord Rama built his home along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman during their exile period. In  
Panchavati there is a cave called Sita Gupha. Sita, Ram and Lakshman prayed here to Lord Shiva. The ancient  
Shivalinga still exists in the small temple in the cave and is visited by devotees. Panchavati has many temples  
like Kalaram Temple, Goraram Temple, Sita Gumpha. The Laxman Rekha is located in Panchavati about a  
kilometre away from Sita Gupha. It was from here that Ravana abducted Goddess Sita. Today this area is a  
major pilgrimage and tourist attraction. The Godavari River, where Nashik is situated on its banks, is considered  
sacred in Hinduism and revered by Hindus as a sacred bathing place. Trimbak, a town in Nashik is well-known  
for its ancient Hindu temple named Trimbakeshwar. It is a religious centre having one of the twelve Jyotilingas,  
having Shiva as the main deity.  
Nashik became a religious place due to the above reasons but yet we need to explore and identify the  
function Hinduism serves to its devotees and the transformation of Nashik into major pilgrim centre. The  
passing down of Hindu culture through folklore, beliefs, experiences and practices by its followers lead to  
spread of Hinduism. The introduction of image worship in temples lead to impactful significance on the followers  
of Hinduism and widened its importance. There are series of rituals and worship which are meant for all Hindus  
irrespective of caste but we will focus only of major among them. There are certain religious practices and  
beliefs attached to Hinduism like belief in ‘after-life’. The Hindu rites about the dead, which are obligatory and  
which every Hindu performs, is an important aspect of Hinduism The religious rites to be performed for ancestors  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
RH, VOL. 3 JULY 2013  
are believed to be held at sacred places and hence this is one the major factor that people throng in large  
numbers to pilgrim centers like Nashik. Further most of the Hindu families have hereditary Gurus whom they  
regard as spiritual teachers. These Gurus give instructions on various religious practices which are majorly to be  
performed at sacred places to derive more importance. For example rituals during marriage ceremony, birth  
and death in family.  
Pilgrim to holy places in not an obligatory duty for a Hindu as the pilgrimage to Mecca is for a Muslim.  
But in practice the Hindus are more given to going on frequent and long pilgrimages than the followers of other  
religions. The real Hindu pilgrimage is connected with water, especially the river There are various rivers in India  
which are regarded sacred and the places around it become pilgrim places. In Nashik which is situated on the  
banks of Godavari River, is raised to a sacred status due to the above reason. It occupies a very important place  
in the Hindu religious consciousness. They are praised in all the literatures of India in all languages, whether  
religious or secular. Many of the places of pilgrimage on the great rivers also have temples of one or other of the  
deities, often Siva or Vishnu (or in the alternative form of Krishna), but also of the Mother Goddess under her  
various names. It is certain, however that the places of pilgrimage got their sacred status at first as bathing  
places only, and the gods were installed there when image worship and temple cults were introduced to give  
them additional prestige. Why the rivers were given a sacred status and why certain spots on them became  
especially holy cannot be explained. There are of course, stories in Hindu mythology to account for it As to the  
spots, some had mythological associations, and some became sacred after being made the seat of a great  
deity by a king or queen in a political capital.  
The cycle of Hindu festivals belongs to the same category of celebrations as those of the Greeks and  
Romans. The festivals are arranged round the year, and the actual dates seem to have been fixed for varied  
reasons. Major festivals celebrated in Nashik are Gudhipadava, Ramanavam, Hanuman Jayanti, Gokulasthami,  
Gauri puja, Dasera, Holi, Muharram and Id the major attraction being ‘Kumbh Mela’. The origin of the Kumbh  
Mela rests in a myth. Some festivals, especially those of bathing ceremonially in the great rivers are connected  
with the conjunction of stars and planets, and other astronomical phenomena like eclipses. Some of these  
conjunctions are regarded as especially holy. Hence devotees throng in large numbers to perform religious  
ceremonies. The fairs are the economic complements to the festivals, which enable merchants to sell their gods  
and give those who come to them the pleasure of being in a crowd. So there are always such temporary and  
now permanent shops and stalls, but also all kinds of amusements.  
Priesthood was and is a profession among the Hindus, and it is the profession with the largest number of  
practitioners. But there are distinctions of status within the profession. Only Brahmins could make a living by  
giving expositions of mythology or reciting both the religious texts and the epics during marriage ceremonies,  
birth and death ceremony, naming ceremony and so on. These pundits received large fees and presents on  
various occasions. Among Hindus, faith in horoscope is much stronger, and this faith was evinced in every act  
of her/his life. This was done by family ‘jyotishi’ or astrologer Hence such occupations developed rapidly in  
Nashik as it had majority of Brahmins in Trimbakeshwar and people visit this place to conduct various acts  
based on their horoscope.  
For Hindu devotees support and protection from God through religious rites and observances had become  
one of the reasons to be staunch follower of Hinduism. There were particular deities and rites to ensure welfare  
and security. Further, another cause being consolation whereby Hindus would fall back on religion in their  
sorrows and disappointments. Furthermore, in recent centuries Hinduism for its devotees has been the major  
source of joy in their life which they experience through various kinds of festivals.  
Till recently every kind of public entertainment, display, music, dancing, plays, or banqueting, was provided  
by religion, and was hardly ever seen as purely secular amusement. It is necessary to note that movement and  
excitement in life did not come to the Hindus through their social intercourse, which was extremely formal and  
staid. These came from their gregarious associations. Thus gregariousness which makes them spill out of their  
homes in immense concourses is a very strong emotion, almost a passion, with the Hindus (Chaudhuri, 1979:  
98) Thus the irresistible attractions of religious sites and its fun filled crowd draws people from all faith and  
religion in large numbers.  
In addition to such large festivals to which people came from other places, there are also local vendors,  
entertainers, sellers who find good business in this crowd. Places in and around pilgrim sites develop rapidly as  
people come in search of work and business find it profitable to establish themselves at such places. One can  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
RH, VOL. 3 JULY 2013  
find vendors and shop keepers selling ritualistic materials, astrologers, priests, beggars, hotels, restaurants,  
groceries, flower vendors, washroom and cleaning facilities to name few.  
Transportation is of prime importance for easy accessibility to pilgrim places and hence Nashik is well  
connected through rail, road, sea and air to major cities. This again boosts the economy of Nashik and  
provides transportation business to local people. Dharamshalas and hotels also have prime importance. One  
can find variety of such short stay accommodation at varying rates. Prices are higher during festivals and  
holidays compared to non-festive days. Real estate prices i.e. development of buildings and houses takes  
places for two main reasons i.e. for the settlement of local people and people who have migrated to Nashik to  
earn their living. Secondly the devotees find it suitable to buy home as they are frequent visitors and also it  
provides solace to some people during their old-age to stay near religious place. For others it’s an investment  
for future. As business develops it leads to development of houses and there emerges need for schools and  
hospitals for the growing population. Hence an urgent requirement of schools for local population and hospitals  
for both local and visitors.  
As devotees visit in large numbers there is need for infrastructure facilities which the Nashik Government  
has taken well care of and is continuing in improving it. To attract more tourists Government has to maintain and  
beautify and advertise its area along with controlling and preventing pollution. The use of advanced technology  
can prove boon for progress of Nashik. Hence Nashik has emerged and sustained to be a prime attraction not  
only for providing solace to its devotees but also leading to employment and growth for betterment of mankind.  
Mishra, Lavkush. (2005) Cultural Tourism in India, Mohit Publications, New Delhi. Print.  
Mishra, Lavkush. (2005) Religious Tourism in India, Mohit Publications, New Delhi. Print.  
Chaudhuri, Nirad. C. (1979) Hinduism, Oxford University Press, New York, USA. Print  
Bryden, John. M. (1973) Tourism and Development, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Print.  
Gwyne, Paul. (2009) World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction, Blackwell Publication,  
Oxford. Print.  
Wikipedia Nashik at website ‘’ accessed on16/12/2012 06.00pm. Web. accessed on 16/12/2012 07.35pm. Web.  
Hindu mortuary rites are meant to secure their entry into that world and after that to provide for their sustenance  
there. These are offered at certain fixed times. The first rites are performed from ten days to a month after death,  
according to the caste of the family, and another at the end of a year. These are called ‘sraddha ’ (Chaudhuri,1979:  
52) The Sanskrit word for a place of pilgrimage is ‘tirtha’, a ford, a bathing place, in its primary meaning.  
For instance, the sacredness of the Ganges has been explained by the legend that it was a heavenly river  
which was brought down to earth to resurrect the sons of Sagar who had been burnt to ashes by the wrath of a  
sage, and also that she was received, upon her falling on earth on the head of Siva. But such stories must have  
been invented after the river had been regarded as holy for a long time (Chaudhuri,1979: 161) Jyotishi  
or astrologer would prepare the horoscope of the child, indicating whether she/he will be happy and prosperous  
at what periods and also specify events at certain ages and more especially dangers to his life or career. With  
the help of this information both the parents and the person concern would remain confident or reconciled on  
the one hand, and on the other would be able to take preventive measure against the evil predicted. These  
were propitiatory or magical ceremonies. If a particular prediction in a  
horoscope came untrue that made no difference, for it could always be explained away by assuming an error in  
giving the exact time of birth (Chaudhuri,1979: 202)