After our unsuccessful attempt to breach the defenses of the Gangapur dam, we started driving towards the city. While driving towards Gangapur dam, I didn’t recall taking any turns and thus continued driving straight. However, after driving for a few kms, I couldn’t recall seeing some of the landmarks on the road and felt I was lost. Well I was lost – but it turns out we had somehow reached the city and were on the College Road. After driving for a few mins we saw a row of footwear shops and my wife said we need to stop right here and do some shoe shopping. There is something about handbags and shoes which makes my wife absolutely crazy. So we parked in a nearby mall which had one of the narrowest ramps ever and headed out to shop. We shopped for a hour or so and identified some shops with really funny names (Pics below). It was already 2 pm and we were really starving. I was not able to find any good restaurants on the College Road – may be there are some in the by lanes – but on the main road I wasn’t able to find any and we didn’t want to eat fast food. Finally we found a place to eat and finished our lunch and then headed towards Shalimar (Panchvati).
We took an rickshaw from College Road and got down at Shalimar. The best part of exploring any new city is by foot. We wanted to go towards Ganga ghat, Ram Kund, Lakshman Kund etc. and kept asking directions from various people and walked right through the market area. Seeing the market area, my wife once again got into a shopping spree – but thankfully we didn’t end up spending a lot of time there. We finally reached our destination and I was really surprised to see people taking a dip in the dirty Godavari river – all in the name of religion. We saw a lot of people doing puja’s and all. Panchavati has significant religious significance for Hindus with a temple complex on the bend of the Godavari river, which includes Kalaram Temple. It is a pilgrimage site, with the Kumbh Mela, the largest peaceful gathering in the world – involving over 100 million people in 2013, taking place here once every twelve years in rotation with Haridwar, Allahabad, and Ujjain. In Hindu theology, as outlined in the epic Ramayana, Panchavati was the place in the forest of Dandakaranya (Danda Kingdom), where Rama built his home along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman during their period of exile in the wilderness. Panchavati literally means “a garden of five banyan trees”. These trees are said to have been there during the exile of Lord Rama. However, we couldn’t find the trees. We did ask a couple of people who confirmed their existence somewhere on the other side of the road. But we didn’t really decide to check it out. We also came across vegetable market right there. The best part of Nasik is, the vegetables and grape products are really cheap. Since we had parked our car in a mall on the College Road, we didn’t buy vegetables from this market. However, we did end up buying raisins from there. We spent quite sometime over there and then decided to continue shopping in the main market area. We roamed around the market for some time and then headed back towards College Road to pick up the car.
It was around 530pm by the time we picked up the car. We then decided to make an impromptu trip to Deolali. Apparently, I had heard a lot of good things about this place and decided to explore the place. The drive to Deolali was full of traffic and we reached the place after almost an hour of driving. As soon as you enter Deolali, you are surrounded by sanatoriums on both sides of the street. We kept driving further ahead in the anticipation of finding some good looking points etc. However, it had gotten dark by then and there was no point in going any further. We then decided to go check out the Levitt market as we had heard a lot about this place. Levitt market is a place where you can find branded clothes at reasonable prices. However, what we saw was very different to what we had read. The market is relatively small and most of the shop keepers have the same stuff and the prices are relatively high too. We also explored a local military shop and Empire bakery. We got cakes, wine biscuits etc from the bakery and it is good. We then decided to head back to Nasik and as usual got lost in the between. Deolali, by the way, also has a large presence of Indian Air Force military station and by mistake we entered the military area. We asked someone inside who gave us directions which required us to go out through the main gate which was barricaded – so while coming out of the gate – the soldier started calling me shahab (Sir) and gave us a smile. I think he thought that we were someone from Air Force and not civilians. For a moment I was very surprised and then realized that he probably would have got confused with someone else. We quickly made our way out and then found the road and returned super exhausted to Nasik. Overall it was a good day spent.