Recently I visited Nashik to attend a wedding. Nashik is one of the more important cities in Maharashtra, a state on the West coast of India. After Mumbai and Pune (formerly known as Bombay and Poona), Nashik is the third most industrialised city in the state. It is also the vineyard of India and enjoys a very pleasant year-round climate, something that cannot be said about too many places in India. It is located about 180 km from Mumbai and is connected by an excellent road.
Nashik is also a very old human settlement and is associated with many of the events narrated in the Ramayana. It has many old and important Hindu temples, and one of these hosts an extremely well attended congregation of devotees, priests and sadhus once in every twelve years.
The Ramayana is one of the two major Hindu epics. It relates the story and adventures of Prince Rama who spends 14 years in exile along with his wife and brother to uphold a carelessly given promise by his father. Most Hindus believe that the Ramayana is based on fact . Many also believe that a major part of Rama's exile was spent at Nashik. In fact there is a place, not far from the river, called Sita Gupha or Sita Cave which is where Rama, his wife Sita, and Rama's brother Lakshmana are believed to have lived. This stretch of the river is also considered holy and there are several temples along its banks.
My sketch shows the narrow street, lined with very old buildings, through which one walks from the river to Sita Gupha. The ladies in the sketch are my wife and my colleague. When I showed them this sketch each instantly identified the other, but not themselves.