Our country is called the Dev Bhoomi, where the Gods reside and the Karma Bhoomi where man learns to accept karma as a way of life. These two aspects are proved by none other than Shri Ram, wherein as God he resided on this very land and made it a Dev Bhoomi. The same land became his Karma Bhoomi when he underwent the most difficult journey of his life, with a smile on his face and courage in his mind and faith of Dharma in his heart.
In his journey, the trio of Shri Ram, Mata Sita and Lakshman travelled far and wide in the Dandak forest and spent most of their exile life in this dense forest. Each And every place they visited or stayed went on to becomes a pilgrimage centre, the most prominent one being the Panchavati where their lives too took a twist and the fight for Dharma by Shri Ram was initiated. Panchavati is the place which breathes the essence of Ramayan in all air and there are many places associated with the forest life of Shri Ram, Mata Sita and Lakshman.
The major part of Shri Ram’s life is set in Panchavati. When Shri Ram visits Rishi Agastya and requests him to show a place where he could guard the sages and also spent the rest of his exile life, the noble sage asks them to reside at Panchavati, situated on the banks of Godavari. The place got its name as it is the home of five huge banyan trees ( Pancha – five, Vat- Banyan tree). Today, this place is Nashik in Maharashtra at the foothills of Western Ghats. The city takes the name of Nasik as it was here that Lakshman cut off the nose and ears of Shurpanakha who tried to kill Mata Sita enticed by lust for the brothers. The Godavari river flows through this place making it a scenic beauty and also a pious place marked with the footsteps of Shri Ram, Mata Sita and Lakshman.
Kala Ram Mandir – This is the very place where Lakshman built an ashram for the trio to reside at Panchavati. The temple here is made out of total black stone. This is also called Kala Ram Mandir for the reason that Shri Ram took the black form to vanquish demons of Panchavati. This temple was built by Peshwas of Pune in the 18th century and is one of the top pligirmage centres in Panchavati
Sita Gufa – The Gufa meaning Cave is also called as the Cave of Mata Sita. It is located near the five Banyan trees in Panchavati. The cave is a narrow one which contains the idols of Shri Ram, Mata Sita and Lakshman. It is believed that Shri Ram had sent Mata Sita and Lakshman into this cave for safety when Khar and Dushan had come to fight them. This is believed to also be the place where Ravan abducted Mata Sita.
Ram Kund – It is believed that Shri Ram used to take a dip in these waters. Hence, it is called as the Ram Kund. Today, the mortal remains of people are immersed in these holy waters to absolve them from the cycle of birth and death.
Each and every place in Panchavati breathes the name of Shri Ram and aptly the karma bhoomi of Shri Ram where he taught mankind not to lose hope and fight back the adversities of life with courage and determination and move on in the journey of life.