Shiva temples across the country are thronged by devotees carrying milk and flowers, oil and fruits. Mahashivratri date is 4th March. Here is a story about Trimbakeshwar, one of the 12 jyotirlingas, the symbols of supreme energy represented by Shiva, in India. Located in a small town of Trimbak near Nashik in Maharashtra, Triambakeshwar Jyotirlinga Temple lies near the Brahmagiri Hill, from where the Godavari river originates.
Here goes the story for whom we celebrate Mahashivratri. Centuries ago lived a sage named Gautam in Bramhagiri Mountains in the present day state of Maharashtra. Once a terrible drought hit the region and crippled the population of the area. It was the 24th year of the drought when Sage Gautam decided to mediate and prayed to Lord Varun at Trimbak. His worshipping and efforts bore fruit and the pleased god endowed him with a never-ending supply of food grains.
The blessing, however, made other sages in the area envious who sent a cow to destroy the granary owned by him. In an attempt to shoo the animal away with blades of glass, the sage ended up injuring and eventually killing it. The sages were quick to charge at him; he had killed a religiously-significant animal, after all.
Sage Gautam did a hard penance and prayed to Lord Shiva to send Ganga to the town to be able to purify himself. And as goes the legend, the ever-so-kind-and-complacent Shiva got pleased and asked river Ganga to descend to Trimbak. And thus, the Godavari was born.
Storytellers go on to say that even Shiva and Parvati came to live in the town after being requested to do so by Sage Gautam and River Ganga. The Trimbakeshwar Jyotirling was thus formed, signifying the light of Shiva.
Historians say that Peshwa Balaji Bajirao in the 18th century got the Triambakeshwar Jyotirlinga Temple reconstructed. The temple, made of black stone, following Nagara style of architecture, has Triambakeshwar Shivlinga in the inner sanctum.
[Note: Only male devotees are allowed inside the inner sanctum.]
There are three swayambhu lingas, representing Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Another legend about the jyotirglinga says that drops of nectar fell at four places during the tussle between gods and demons, with Trimbakeshwar being one of them, leading to the genesis of the jyotirlinga.
Visit the temple to see the Godavari pouring out of the top of the lingam which is very popular on the Mahashivratri date. Step out and you will also see the confluence of Godavari with its tributary Ahilya just outside the exquisitely-carved temple.
Temple Timings: 5:30 AM to 9:00 PM
And when you are done exploring the temple or Mahashivratri offerings, here are some things you can do:
1) Picnic with your loved ones or spend some quiet moments by Vaitarna dam
Just 23 km from the temple lies the Vaitarna dam, a crucial water source for neighbouring towns and cities including Mumbai. It is a beautiful quiet place with the deep blue of a lake, the greens of woods and farmlands, the earthen hues of hills and the varying shades of the clear sky. Visit Vaitarna after Mahashivratri offerings if you are in need of some solitude or some quality time with your loved ones.
Where to stay:
V Resorts Mridur Vaitarna has gorgeous camps just beside the river. There is an infinity pool, lakeside sit-out areas, board games, and unaccounted views of the lake and the hills. Wake up to the views of the blue lake carrying the shadows of the hills behind. Go out for some outdoor activities in the day and spend your evenings sipping coffee or tea over some conversations with your loved ones.
2) Take a vineyard tour, taste some wine, do some grape-stomping
Don’t forget you are in the wine capital of India. Sign up for a vineyard tour in any of the wineries in Nashik and walk through the rows of delightful grape plants used for making your sensuous drink. Know about wine-making, stomp on some grapes, give yourself a relaxing treat. It will be a whole trip and not just focused on Mahashivratri.
Where to stay:
V Resorts E&G Green Valley Nashik is located right in the green belt of Trimbakeshwar Hills. It has gorgeous studios and villas, a swimming pool and gardens. Take a trip to the nearby vineyards or go on a cycling trail around the resort, or just sit by the pool indulging in your favourite book.
And when you are done with the day, head to the multi-cuisine restaurant and enjoy; the spectacular view outside while relishing the sumptuous food made from locally-procured items after you fast for shivratri. In case you book a villa at the resort, you can also enjoy access to the private garden, kitchen and living area.
3) Climb up the Brahmagiri Hill
If your adventurous side needs a kick, climb up the Brahmagiri Hill. Manu Joseph explains the correct route here. Start your trip with Maharashtra Tourism Office at the base. You may choose to leave your bags at the house-cum-canteen there. An easy trail of 4 km starts with a straight path, followed by some steps and then an unpaved stretch. On reaching the top, cross over to the other side to see the Godavari originating from a spring. There are many tea shops on the route to help you during those little breaks.
Tip: Take along a stick to ward off the monkeys you may find during the trail.